Tag Archives: sustainable settlements

section 72 Dickson

An Opinion Piece

Dickson Section 72 – Community Consultations – 20th Oct 2014

P1080436On a cool Monday evening, more than one hundred local residents from surrounding suburbs gathered in the Dickson College hall in response to the invitation to attend a workshop staged by the ACT Government.

Continue reading section 72 Dickson

Architecture discovers the bleeding obvious

Comment: Architects realise something is wrong with cities

rmitJust read a short article about how an architect at the world architecture festival stated that something has gone wrong with the design of our cities!

Wow! Now there’s a revelation from the profession largely responsible for the problem.

Continue reading Architecture discovers the bleeding obvious

Big Coal

Comment: there’s hope yet on how to hinder big coal.

coaldrag2Many national governments, including Australia, persist in allowing Big Coal to influence its environmental and energy policies. However there is hope as a world-wide trend continues as corporations start to divest themselves of investments in the Big Coal companies.

Continue reading Big Coal

LA for bikes

Los Angeles a city for cyclists?

LALA wasn’t always a driver’s town. In the 1920s, it had the longest urban rail network in the world, and innovative infrastructure was built for cyclists as well. Despite this, Angelenos fell in love with the car early on and moved for more highway projects, making it the road-based city it is today.

click here for the story.

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Paul Costigan, 19 August 2014

Urbanity: Canberra Planning & Development

Commentary: The problems of Canberra’s Planning & Development

watson-House-P1030003Canberra, as with most major centres in Australia, is caught up in complex and sometimes nasty urban planning debates.

On the one side there is the property council groupings that include the gung-ho developers*, and their colleagues amongst the architects, planners and the planning authorities.

Continue reading Urbanity: Canberra Planning & Development

Wind Power and Heritage

Comment: Wind Power aesthetics

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Recently a colleague expressed doubts about how he viewed a new wind farm that appeared in a landscape that he and his son loved to escaped into when time allowed. While he is totally committed to alternative energy, the issue he was working through was that the wind farm challenged his aesthetics, or to be more accurate he was still having trouble accepting them in this landscape that had been part of his memory since childhood.

Continue reading Wind Power and Heritage

Al Gore: New Hope for Climate

Al Gore writes on optimism in dealing with Climate Change

In an article in Rolling Stone, Al Gore provides some very welcome optimism on how we may yet deal with the coming climate change events.

The article is very very long. It takes quite a commitment to allow the time to get through it all.

It is worth it! Happy reading. Click here.

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Paul Costigan, 20 July 2014

 

National Capital Authority

The NCA is no longer relevant

An opportunity has presented itself with the Commonwealth Government’s announcement to allow the National Capital Authority (NCA) to open up the Parliamentary Triangle to more commercial opportunities. (CT 12 July, Page 1, Shopping in the triangle? It’s a private matter)

I have no problem at all with more commercial activity happening within the Parliamentary Triangle. The question is just how to intelligently implement such a change to this landscape that presently serves as a national monument.

Continue reading National Capital Authority

Trees and sustainable settlements

Comment on the Art of Trees

 

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I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it.

Continue reading Trees and sustainable settlements

Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two

Review: Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane
Part Two: The Urban Development Atrocities

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The Queensland state government spent millions on the Roma Street Parklands. This parkland was set to add huge value to any apartments built around its edges. One would have thought that the City would have insisted on at least some higher levels of design for such buildings. Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two

Architectural Eyesores

Comment: From James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler’s blog often has interesting points to offer in the debate about design and architecture and how it is assisting, or not, with solutions for the future.

Click on the image for eyesore of the month of June 2014. I do not always agree with what he sees as eyesores. But it a great start to any debate. In this case, yes, the tall towers’ days have gone but the developers and architects will stay with them while there is money to be made. Stuff the environment!

Click on the image.

Continue reading Architectural Eyesores

2014 World Architecture Awards

Comment: World Architecture Festival Awards

53b6e562c07a80a343000206_shortlist-announced-for-the-world-architecture-festival-awards-2014_montage-530x387The 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards shortlisted projects have been listed online. It makes for an interesting read.

I have provided two links below. One with categories only  – which means you have click-through to see more. The other is the full list. A number of Australian projects have been listed, including The National Botanic Gardens – these I have reviewed (click here) , so I will say no more.

Continue reading 2014 World Architecture Awards

Value the Landscape

How can we work with the landscape to make liveable places?

A video, about six and half minutes, introducing the concept of valuing landscape and the link to liveable settlements.

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see also – Sustainable Sites Initiative

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Paul Costigan, 24th June 2014

 

Solar: Good Behaviour at Home

Political Comment

The Prime Minister and Solar and how good behaviour starts in your own backyard.

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It well established that how people behave in their own back yards normally reflects their attitude to the world outside their household. Our Prime Minister is having his house, The Lodge, refurbished. This was well overdue.

Continue reading Solar: Good Behaviour at Home

GoodBye to Big Coal

Report Just in

Utilities wake up to threat of mass grid defection

 

rabbott01A report on that the wake up call may at last have been heard by some of the energy suppliers.

As the reality hits home, some energy companies are realising that coal based energy may not be as a sustainable business model as the proposed by Australia’s foolish Prime Minister; he who is soon to be the rabbott caught in the bright lights of change!

Click here for the story.

Sydney Urbanity and Architecture

Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One

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There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..

Continue reading Sydney Urbanity and Architecture

Canberra Urbanity and Development

Recent Canberra Government development announcements

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In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity and Development

Just Say No

Comment: on being True to the Planet can mean sometimes you have to just say no.

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How are we being served by our professions in their provision of buildings and landscape projects? The highest priority for the future of the planet remains that every action be taken in the context of addressing climate change adaptation.

Continue reading Just Say No

Rural Health

Rural Health and the Budget 2014-15
making it work beyond the Big End of Town

logoMuch of the response to the Federal Budget has been on the extent to which the proposed cuts and savings would affect those who are already vulnerable.

In health, the main focus has been on a potential co-payment for people who are bulk-billed. Access to primary care is critical – and it should not be forgotten that some people have no access to general practitioners at all. Underlying the whole Budget strategy are questions about whether the challenges in Australia’s fiscal circumstance have been exaggerated and, if so, for what purpose and to what effect.  click here for more

all that green-wash

How those carbon offsets can do more environmental harm than good
q3gx4hds-1401170769Beware of all that green-wash.

Yet again there’s a nice piece on The Conversation about how we need to be far more serious about carbon. It also points towards the use of Green-Wash by corporations to allow them to continue with business as usual.

I have commented on this on our other blog – The Sustainable Settlements Institute – click here

Joe Hockey for Coal

Opinion: The Australia’s Treasurer’s anti climate statements

Even when you know you have one of the most stupid governments on earth, it is still amazing when the Australian Government’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says wind turbines ‘utterly offensive’!

lake-george-CanbTimes

Read the article: click here

But wait! we have the solution for Joe. Let’s get rid of those horrible things on the horizon.

Continue reading Joe Hockey for Coal

New Acton Precinct, Canberra

Review: Urbanity
New Acton Precinct, Canberra

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There was much ado about this whole precinct development when it was being built and this continues through to today. Having visited the site a few times now, to meander, to eat, to meet for coffee and the occasional business, I have to say that it is a very mixed result. It is worth a visit on a busy day to see for yourself. But it does not match some of the rhetoric that has been put about – click here for an example of some project-porn spin*.

Continue reading New Acton Precinct, Canberra

Democracy and Tecoma

Opinion: Democracy at work – or not

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The McDonalds versus the town of Tecoma story as reported earlier, click here, has come to a sad close with the locals having lost the battle. Despite the majority of the citizens not wanting to have a McDonalds outlet within their village like precinct, the planning regulators ruled that what the citizens requested had no bearing on the outcome.

Continue reading Democracy and Tecoma

Los Angeles in 2033

From The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.

Continue reading Los Angeles in 2033

North Canberra Greenway

A brief concept proposal:
The North Canberra Greenway and Artwalk.

This is a proposal to enhance some present green infrastructure within inner north Canberra.

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The North Canberra Greenway could be formed by linking and then enhancing the present green infrastructure elements throughout inner north Canberra.

Continue reading North Canberra Greenway

wetlands

Comment: Wetlands and Climate Change Adaptation

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Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.

Continue reading wetlands

Canberra Urbanity – Fast Track Developments

Opinion: Proposals on fast track development precincts
Introducing democracy into ACT planning and development

crowd-P1020498Feathers have been quietly ruffled locally as the ACT Government (local government for Canberra) has announced it is to introduce a new proposal that would see identified precincts developed using a fast-track development process. This change to planning has been reported on in the Canberra Times and should be read before reading my comments that follow below – click here

What follows was edited down as  a ‘letter to the editor’ on this subject.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity – Fast Track Developments

Equity and Parks

Urbanity: Parks for everyone

glebe-P1000979There’s many a piece of research and publication about the links between access to parks and people’s health and wellbeing. Any urban area that includes ample public green spaces will always be sought after and the benefits are evident in the community attitudes towards their residential areas. Parks enhance the sense of community.

Continue reading Equity and Parks

Michael Moore of Canberra

Comment: the widening inequity gap
by Michael Moore of Canberra

The ideology of ultra conservatives now dominates the current Australian federal government and we all know that this mantra simply reflects those pulling their strings, being the same industry groups who managed their ascension into government.

There’s so much written, but not read, about the inequalities in today’s society. It is welcomed to see a lone voice in our local media occasionally urging people to step back and think about what sort of society is being created.

Continue reading Michael Moore of Canberra

IPCC and climate change

George Monbiot: Loss Adjustment

Following the IPCC report earlier this week, it was predictable that these dire warnings received just token media attention. The reporting was more along the lines of ‘just another report’. With the current Australian Government stuck in ‘business as usual’ mode, being just do what we did in 20th Century, I suspect this important report will be quietly ignored by the population.

George Monbiot has used a another story to make his point – click here

The Farrell Review UK

Report: The Built Environment

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In January 2013 the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned a review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.  The recommendations covered: Education, Outreach and Skills; Design Quality; Cultural Heritage; Economic Benefits; and Built Environment Policy.

See our other blog for more details and comments click here

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Paul Costigan, 2 April 2014

Climate Change

Report from the IPCC

rabbitt01Dear Sir Rabbott: The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, calls for both mitigation and adaptation. No further information is necessary – it is all in the reports – please read them and bring Australia’s national action on climate change into the 20th (and then maybe the 21st) century.

The Guardian – click here – or – The UK Independent – click here

Climate Council

Report: The Angry Summer

ba9e755e8d612a34ae915d28114d8f1fContinuing hot on the heels of the ‘Angry Summer’ of 2012/2013, Australians again endured record breaking extreme events this summer. The Climate Council’s report provides a summary of extreme weather conditions in the 2013/2014 summer, illuminating a continuing trend of hotter summers and more weather extremes in Australia. click on the graphic for more.

Empires of Food

Review: Book

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

Evan D. G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas.  Random House, 2010

empiresoffoodAs if there was not enough information available on how the world is not paying attention to all the warning signs, this book was recommended to me to make me aware of the dire situation coming our way in relation to the supply of adequate food for coming generations.

This is all linked in with the issues of climate change, population growth and the way we have allowed our food supplies to be controlled by particular market and political forces. This book is a must read for all.

Continue reading Empires of Food

climate’s dark art

dealing with climate’s dark art

The desperate need for frank, honest, timely and evidence based advice.

 

max-P1020481Remember how things were during the more optimistic days of living in Australia, when climate change was not a dirty word or two?I am referring to the times of the Kevin Rudd and then Julie Gillard governments.

Back then the country was known internationally as taking a whole raft of initiatives to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Continue reading climate’s dark art

Lawns of Kingston

Opinion: the Lawns of Kingston return

Beware politicians and designers: We love our Lawns

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In a previous post I had spoken of Australia’s love of the lawn. (click here)

In particular I mentioned a local battle over Green Square at the Kingston Shops in Canberra whereby the local government had replaced a green square of lawn with a designed space,  complete with brick walls and seating and drought friendly, low maintenance plants.

Continue reading Lawns of Kingston

Drought

Opinion: It is hot!
Drought

I am writing this while the temperature outside is about 38 degrees Celsius. It is hot and dry in SE Australia and has been for weeks and it may be this way for a couple of weeks to come.

Australia had its 10 year drought and now the yearly temperatures have settled down to being the hottest on record. And it just keeps on being hot and dry. Yet the government does not think it there is anything to worry about.

Continue reading Drought

Leadership in Design

Leadership in design of the built environment

watson-House-P1030003 I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.

As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.

Continue reading Leadership in Design

Leadership in Landscape Design

Leadership in Landscape Design
Online Presentation:
The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

olmstedDespite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.

Continue reading Leadership in Landscape Design

Big Coal

Big Coal: It’s time to celebrate (or not) Australia Day
meanwhile people in North West NSW, continue to battle Big Coal.

 

From the Guardian (Friday 24 January): ; an article by Phil Laird.

9833f4cd-5e93-4db0-9d04-d5bb6bd07f9e-460x276Protest at Maules Creek. Photograph: Kate Ausburn

This Australia day, us underdogs will fight Big Coal to save Maules Creek. In the battle that is gripping my community, my fifth generation farming family and I are siding with traditional owners and environmentalists against miners to save the land we love.

Continue reading Big Coal

Banks and Climate Change

re-post from ACF website
Banks and Climate Change

In a piece by Ian Lowe, President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, he speaks of the links the ANZ Bank has to climate change. Apparently the bank makes big loans to coal export companies.

This link between bank (and many other organisations) is explored in Guy Pearse’s book Greenwash.

Continue reading Banks and Climate Change

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Opinion:
Be Afraid, be Very Afraid of balance as provided by the ABC

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Once upon a time I was a rusted on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) watcher. I relied on the ABC, and SBS, for most of my news and current affairs.

Over time as a reaction to the style of gotcha journalism that became the norm on the ABC, radio and TV, I started watching less and less. Today as the result of this quiet reduction in watching and listening to the ABC, I have found that I now routinely do not watch or listen to the ABC.

Continue reading Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Urban Heat

Opinion: Urban Trees and Heat
A case study of neglect and willful blindness?

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There was a routine piece in the Canberra Times about the current heat wave, temperature around and above 40 Degrees Celsius, and backyard trees or in some case about the lack of them. The article pointed to the now well established reality, that during such times those residential properties that lacked shade were suffering higher temperatures.

Continue reading Urban Heat

Education in Biodiversity and Ecology

Re-Posted from The Sustainable Settlements Institute

The urgent requirement for education to address ecology and biodiversity

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Our cities and towns need to be adapted to deal with the cur­rent and future pres­sures of cli­mate change. This requires a new level of expertise. One essential element in this the education of the professionals who must deal with climate change adaptation in the design, planning and development of our urban spaces. Green wash, which is the current standard, is no longer acceptable. Continue reading Education in Biodiversity and Ecology

Central Park Sydney

Review: Urban Development

Sydney’s Central Park development, Chippendale, Sydney

view-P1020666photographs by Paul Costigan – click on image for larger

The Central Park development of the old brewery site opposite UTS in Sydney, has attracted much attention in the last couple of years. Most of this was in the form of churnalism, being column space based on using the developer’s media releases. There has also been the expected paragraphs of praise by ‘industry’ experts in profession’s trade magazines.

Continue reading Central Park Sydney

Canberra Urbanity

Opinion: Northbourne Avenue re-development

I quote from the Canberra Times 10 December 2013: “Strong commercial demand is expected for ACT government-owned properties along Northbourne Avenue that will be sold for redevelopment.”

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Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity: Marsden Street

An Anniversary

About two years ago, during 2010 – 2011, this quiet residential area in the inner north of Canberra was the battle ground over a very silly proposed redevelopment of two blocks of land.

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Once the residents had been through the tribunal process, and before the decisions were handed down, the complex chain of events was documented. It is called Do Onto Others.

It is a long read – click here.

Canberra Urbanity

Climate Change adaptation falters in the suburbs

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Dealing with the complex issues of climate change adaptation should by now have become a priority and part of the everyday for any local government in their oversight of design, planning, development and the re-development of our settlements.

Here in Canberra we have been the subject of a decade or two of pronouncements from newly appointed chief planners on how they are to oversee development that is sustainable and .. lots of other spin that always sounds so sensible!

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity: Jack Ross Park

Review: Landscape Architecture/Parks

Jack Ross Park, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

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This is a first venture into the new park within the slowly evolving foreshore development at Kingston , Canberra. First impressions are of lots of detail, very contemporary and any park besides the lake is to be a welcomed addition to local amenities.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity: Jack Ross Park

Singapore Bishan Park

Review: Landscape Architecture/ Park Design

Bishan Park Singapore

Question? Can a professional in a large bureaucracy bring about change?

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The above image is of Bishan Park in Singapore until a senior landscape architect within the Parks Board had a great idea. Why not change this unattractive engineered solution back to being part of the river? Apparently he pushed hard for the idea to be taken up and eventually won the day. We visited this park in 2012 and were impressed by the difference a great idea and determination can deliver to the local population.

Continue reading Singapore Bishan Park

Canberra Urbanity

Thinking outside that box

originally published Monday, 16 September 2013

Civic was established to be the main metropolitan centre of Canberra. Back in the 1970s and into the 1980s this was the heart of Canberra and had developed its own culture. People would go there to be seen, to meet and to shop. The outer centres were yet to offer the same level of amenity.

The Canberra Centre was a small mall. So most of action was out in the open areas, Petrie Plaza and Garema Place and the spaces along City Walk.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity

original published November 2010

DESIGNS ON THE FUTURE FOR CANBERRA RESIDENTS

The debate in Canberra, particularly around my own suburb of Dickson, of the future of infill and the need to redevelop our suburbs has now focussed on the dire need to change the way this territory does the business of planning and development. The Canberra community is not fighting to halt development, but is wishing to influence the planning and development decisions to ensure that development delivers on the needs of present and future generations, the young and the elderly, and need to address the full range of human and environmental issues – being housing, health, ecology, transport – and you know the rest. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

The Art of Trees

Trees

originally published May 2013

If you had not heard, Canberra is celebrating 100 years.  Right now the city is in the advance stages of winter, with all signs being that it will arrive seriously on our leafy door steps this time next week.

This is one of the pleasures of being up here on this hinterland and in the middle of the countryside where someone about 100 years ago thought it wise the plonk the national capital. Because of the location, we get to experience the full gamut of the changing seasons. And right now it is getting cold. Continue reading The Art of Trees

Canberra Urbanity

Are we being served?

Originally published January 2011

Christmas meanderings through Canberra inner north suburbs was a very pleasant way of exercising. The streets were very quiet and the weather very accommodating for these excursions. It was also a timely chance to observe the local levels of commitment to dealing with climate change. It seems every other street in inner Canberra has some form of house being rebuilt or refurbished. But the real attention within the local communities has been on proposals for knocking down adjoining homes and their replacement with multiple units. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity

The Dangers of being Malled

originally published December 2010

In late 2010 I took a photo of a Christmas tree in the main street of Geelong. The structure was all lit up and stood a proud three stories high. What is striking about this image, taken around 5pm one evening, is that there are so few people in the photograph. Elsewhere at this time of the year the streets and plazas are busy with Christmas shoppers and those out for a very warm evening’s promenade. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity

Views from the front veranda

originally published December 2010

There’s something very peaceful about returning to this suburban street after working interstate for too long and too often. Here we sit amongst the intense greenery of Dickson, the rush of breezes amongst the lush trees with the occasional squawk or chirping of birds. Layered on this filters in the voices and music of the three young renters next door, the sounds of the baby from the newly arrived couple across to the left, the chatter of the seven-year old with her parents heading out on bikes, the sound of students coming and going down the road, and of course, a dog or two (as there always seems to be around here). Maybe soon this will be joined by the sound of one of the immediate neighbours and their teenage children enjoying dinner outside tonight. A diverse mixture in such a small part of Dickson. And this is what the ACT Planning Minister sees as a threat! Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity

ROAMING your backyard

originality published 2010

I took a call recently from a local newspaper. I was being asked to comment on the future my own neighbourhood and a recent meeting between residents and ACT Government officials. What the journalist did not appreciate is that I was sitting on the side of my vege garden having been interrupted planting the summer crop of vegetables (it was Sunday). However the situation of talking politics from my own backyard was very appropriate. Continue reading Canberra Urbanity