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Low fences make good neighbours February 17, 2007

Posted by Amanda in Observations, Personal.

How long is it since you talked to your neighbours? Do you just nod when you see them in the front yard or do you have the sort of relationship where you chat about the weather and borrow the whipper snipper occasionally? Do you think that your answer to those questions has any relation to how tall your fence is?

So often now, we lock ourselves behind six foot fences and don’t have any eye contact with those who live around us. Formerly we had mostly chain link fences that were no more than waist high and we could interact with the people next door.

It makes such a difference when you know the people in your street. We loved living in Summer Hill in Sydney because we knew lots of the residents of the area including those who lived on either side of us. It felt like a community and not just a suburb.

One of the reasons that we moved back to Brisbane was because we might have a snowball’s chance of buying a house here and I have been lamenting the fact that we are going to have to move to the ‘burbs. But from talking to friends who have already ventured out, a new perspective on this has emerged. It seems that in the older suburbs with the lower fences, people get to know their neighbours more.

One of the interesting results of talking to neighbours is that several of our friends have mentioned that their inner city predjudices have been broken down. The people who live next door mostly lead very different lives, but by talking to them, the commonalities and conversations that are discovered can be a pleasant surprise.

I once read something by a futurist that said that as affordability of housing drops, the creative types will be in the suburbs and they will become the more interesting places to be- maybe this was always the case anyway.



1. Phil - February 17, 2007

I love to know who said that. Richard Florida? Of course Summer Hill isn’t a suburb in a modern sense, it’s a village.

Agreed, creatives do move to cheaper housing as affordability declines – here in Sydney the migration is Paddington to Newtown and from there to Marrickville. But these are still not suburbs in a modern sense, they are also villages.

Real tract suburbs have structural problems for creatives, one is close walkable proximity, and the those suburbs don’t have that, the distances mean you have to drive everywhere, that’s why grunge creatives are still in villages like Newtown, and that’s why the corporate creatives (advertising/media) love villages like Paddo. They are still willing to pay the proximity cost to be close to others like themselves.

What is happening to some creatives though is an even more drastic migration out of cities and ring suburbs, beyond exurbia and finally settling in country towns, tree and sea changing. Building smaller communities of creatives like themselves. Broken Hill is an interesting example.

Nice post Amanda.

2. Amanda - February 18, 2007

Thanks Phil!

You are right about the villages in Sydney. Brisbane is very much a city of suburbs and we will miss the community feeling of Summer Hill.

Brisbane does not have strip shopping anymore. There is no getting to know your local shopkeeper in the suburban shopping centres that are the mainstay of Brisbane retail. There are not even really corner shops like you have in Sydney- it is all 7-11s, Nightowls and IGAs.

Chris and I loved Broken Hill when we were there. We would not have minded working out there for a year or so.

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