Thinking Ahead

There was a high profile event on in Perth today, run by Landcorp.  Called the C2030 Summit, it was about what Perth would look like in twenty years time.  I had the privilege to attend this event.

What I enjoyed most about the day was the positive focus, and particularly the progressive approach being taken from a Government agency.    Many of the comments and questions focussed on our collective ability to forge a unique identity for Perth, instead of drawing comparisons to the lifestyle and cultural planning issues of other Cities.  I sensed that for the first time some people were looking at Perth’s isolation as an opportunity as opposed to an inhibitor. 

Sometimes it is easy to get cynical about a talkfest, but in terms of understanding that community planning is about the people, culture and lifestyle of a city (as opposed to the people being subservient to the Town Planning, infrastructure and urban development that is imposed upon them), this event was very positive.  There was only one speaker who I felt did not hit the mark, ironically the one person I had been looking forward to hear the most. 

The keynote speaker was Peter Cosgrove, drawing leadership and military planning lessons into community development.  He contended that all problem solving at a strategic level must be lateral, but when it comes to the delivery of solutions, there needs to be a linear approach, so that there is always a logical next step.  The risk of non-linear implementation is the risk of not staying on message.  He also noted that good planning always makes you look at alternative futures, and that the art of good planning is reducing complexity to simplicity.

Of what relevance is this to the Jewish community?  Apart from being one of the smaller cultural influences of Perth, there are many aspects of our lifestyle and community development that should impact the way in which Perth looks in twenty years.  Our planning issues are many; amongst them are the eruv, affordable housing near Synagogues, security, service accessibility, and immigration policies.

Looking inwards, there is much that the Perth Jewish community can also do to plan and map out its future in a collective manner.  I would like to post more about this over the coming weeks.  As an introductory comment, the biggest buzzword in community building is sustainability.  This can mean economic, environmental or social sustainability.  The time will come when Perth needs to examine the number of organisations it sustains, the amount of capital infrastructure it maintains, and the ability of our small Jewish population to sustain so much in the way of facilities and activity.  Currently there is no syndicated method, or community structure which can accommodate a sustainable growth strategy.  The risk of not modernising this is that resources get directed towards less effective outcomes, that cost structures are duplicated, that we forgo opportunity costs and limit our potential to develop.  

Landcorp get my thumbs up for what they delivered to Perth today, and they certainly have me thinking about what could be done to enhance our own ethnic community within our wonderful city.

Of all the speakers today, the standout was Lindsay Fox, the Melbourne based founder of LinFox.  He made a big impact with his “get on with it” message.   He also noted in jest, that he often gets mistaken for being Jewish.  However the remark that resonated the most with me was when he was talking about lifestyle and social structures.  He used Jewish people as an example “who go home on Friday to be with the family. They make Shabbos and break bread”.  It was for this reason I had to leave the forum early.  It is wonderful that Jewish observances are recognised for their ability to create social capital.  I will appreciate the Hamoitze bracha moreso than usual tonight. 

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom, and in the sprit of Shabbat Nachamu, much comfort and consolation as the Jewish seasonal focus now shifts towards Rosh Hashana – a time to think of our future potential at both an individual and communal level.

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