Look guys, give me a minute here. Newcastle is kind of a bit shit at the moment. Now before you freak out, I’m talking ridiculous traffic, jackhammers on the reg, and small iconic businesses shutting their doors. I get there are many amazing projects happening in Newcastle right now, and I’m 50% excited about what the future of our city looks like. Call me nostalgic, but the other 50% just wants to go back to dial-up internet because at least we’d be closer to the glory days of ’97. Okay, maybe I’m just one of those notorious Novocastrian whingers, stuck in the past and couldn’t care less about progress or change or making the city a better and more liveable place to be. Maybe I’m one of those Novocastrians who *apparently* doesn’t actually care about creating or fostering an environment we all love and adore and are proud to call our home. I mean, I do spend my weekends hanging out with a bunch of left-winged weirdos chaining ourselves to trees and protesting for protest’s sake: ‘What are we protesting for again’ ‘lol wut who cares it’s just what we do #newystuffduh’. Haven’t you seen me around?
In all seriousness, we are experiencing a period of rapid change (also rapid chaos and delays, but anyway…) and I really really want to believe that everything will eventually work out for the better. I mean, as one local publication likes to ever-so-frequently point out, that’s the glass half full outlook on life, right?
Unlike bears, beets and Battle Star Galactica, we are so much more than what we have been categorised to be. Novocastrians always have and always will be, a pool of passionate, hardworking people, and if we have something to say, or an action to put forward, (or chains and trees and the like) we do it for a very good reason. It’s recently been reported that the new tourism vision for the economy is set to be ‘game changing,’ setting tongues wagging wallets waving and oh wait, small businesses failing. Because what I want to know is, what kind of Newcastle will we be building and shaping for the future? Because at the moment, all I am seeing is small businesses shutting down, and the livelihood of families being sacrificed for the want of a billion dollar tourism industry.
There is a very big difference between the natural life of a business coming to a close, and a family being blindsided by foreclosure. There’s also a vast difference between the livelihood of a local family, and the simple loss of revenue for big business. Vinyl Cafe, for example, has been forced to close its doors after many years of faithful and quirky service to the community. Sure, you can pass it off as just another cafe, just another small business, just another boo-hoo-whatever, but when a store like Frontline Hobbies (with over 40 years in the one CBD location) is forced to partially relocate, well… you can shove the whole glass half full concept back to where it came from.
Maybe it will get better, and we won’t live to see the day where we pave our Newcastle paradise and put up a Gloria Jeans. And maybe in a few years time, awesome businesses in the CBD that were able to hold out through the chaos will be overloaded with revenue and sprouting dolleydoos out their eyeballs, but for now… what’s going to happen? How will everyone survive? Where’s the contingency plan?
I’m not talking about halting the progression of the town or the city or the people who call Newcastle home. I guess I’m just hoping we are able to maintain the parts of Newcastle that make a house a home, and not just a place to dump our stuff before we move onto ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ things.