Since the weekend I have developed a teeny, weeny niggling fear. And while I don’t want to get caught up in a political debate, I do want to plead for the Adelaide that has emerged in the time that Stephen Yarwood has been Lord Mayor to stay. She’s cute and I wanna keep her.
I am sure it isn’t just Stephen. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing at the council or the product of state and local governments working well together or just the culmination of decades of creativity and ideas coming to the fore. Whatever it is it is really working. Things are exciting for the first time in years and I want us to keep moving in this direction.
My fear is that this will change. I am worried that ‘old Adelaide’ will begin to assert its influence again. I am worried that we’ll continue a range of useless debates about who did what and whether it was good for the right people rather than doing cool things like we have been.
I am worried we are hooked on the whole business thing and we are forgetting about people.
Adelaide should be more than a place to do business. It should be an experience and a destination. That experience, if we get it right, needs to acknowledge the users, not just those that create the content.I, like many others, move in and out of different user types. But there are some things I think we have in common.
We want an experience that entertains and is uncomplicated. We want things that work, like the bike lanes on Frome Street (for when we are cyclists). We want good traffic flow (for when we drive) and we want more of those digital countdowns on traffic lights and open crossings (for when we walk). We don’t want money spent on undoing things – to us this just looks like time wasting and insular conversations. We want things to move forward instead.
We also want to quit the debate about food trucks. To us they are just another form of entrepreneurship (which is the one thing we seem to all agree on) in food form. We don’t eat from the trucks because they are cool, we eat from them because the alternative is a boring $12 chicken focaccia in an unatmospheric café and this isn’t what we want anymore. The popularity of trucks is not about margins, it’s about the Adelaide we are interested in being part of. This can be replicated in bricks and mortar it just requires a new way of thinking about things. We want a way found to do both. We also don’t want temporary seating removed because, actually, we quite enjoy using it.
We want to be surprised and to visit old places, like Victoria Square, that have been reenergised. We like seeing kids playing in the fountains in bare feet in our lunch breaks and the vegetable gardens planted in old wooden boats make us smile. We want to see the dark corners of this city lit up with Splash Adelaide events that we can point out to interstate friends as an example of how cool we have become. We want them to visit us more. And because our crush on this city grows, and we come to see her more often, we are more likely to spend our money with the businesses that live here. Bike riders and food truck eaters have disposable income too.
I couldn’t vote in the election because I don’t own a business or a house in the city. Yet, I am in Adelaide almost every day. I’ve lived here, I’ve worked here and I play here. I also really really love this place. Economics is important – but so are people. People are what really make a city. We (at least some of the people) think Adelaide is cute. We also think she is feisty, arty, surprising and really great company. We want her to stay this way.