|A spectre is haunting Brisbane..... Beginning with such a phrase will no doubt evoke strong images for the knowing reader, however - in this case - the irony will, unfortunately, become sadly apparent. I wonder whether there is anybody living in my hometown who has anything 'left' in them at all to fight what appears to me to be (well, from afar, anyway) the final death throes of the soul of the city. What is the soul of the city anyway? Well, the city that I live in has an omnipresent soul which thrives for all to view - locals and tourists alike - in every neighbourhood and street for 64 square miles. You can just feel it. What does it look like? Well, I know what it doesn't look like - endless modern apartment complexes housed upon historic landmarks' sites, such as the former Gabba Hotel and, from what I read today, soon-to-be-former Yungaba in Brisbane.
Some might say the soul of a city reflects that of the inhabitants of the city, and, unfortunately, this might just be the case for Brisbane; love you Brisbane? I have made the trip back home every year or so for the last five years, and have realised that the two topics of conversation that I cannot get away from almost wherever I go are that of money and property (for those who want to read into the latter, yes, it means whatever you want it to mean). Brisbane has been swallowed up by the desire for "scoring a bargain before it is gone", and it just seems to get worse each time I make the trip back. Is this driving the current trend of "progress" I keep reading about? Are people in Brisbane (to use a simple old analogy) missing the wood for the trees?
The people in the city I live in came together as one to stop freeway developments - literally in midair - to preserve the natural beauty and livability of the city; the impact to traffic flows, profits, increased efficiency, political gain (actually, let's just group them under the term "progress" for simplicity) was of secondary concern. Virtually every other week there is some fight to stop "progress" in San Francisco in some shape or form, one of the reasons it is one of the most vibrant, diverse, accepting and educated cities on the planet; Brisbane, take note.
Where are all these people in my home city? Where are the people that actually care more about social issues than whether they have a "better" house or job than the person living next door to them (come on, let's be honest about the inherent driver of this "progress")? Is there anybody left in Brisbane who is actually left of centre, and not just that way for appearances? What's wrong with you Brisbane? Why can't you band together and make a difference to the city you live in?
Those who consider themselves to be liberal thinkers (no, not the "Liberal" party thinkers, but true liberal thinkers) congregate in an area of the city where the "dress code" is stricter than that in the most capitalist "suit and tie" areas (umm, do we still call them "yuppie" bars?) of the city; stop the act and think about why you are doing it! Do any of you actually think? Does anybody get that feeling in their gut that things are just "not right" and want to do something about it, or is it all just for show? These people who one would expect to be the socialist thinkers (no, "socialist" is not an evil word, but is derived from "society"); the group of people who I would expect to be fighting this kind of "progress" all seem to have lost their voice. Is there anybody out there, or have they all left town? Have we just left behind a city of wannabe property developers who will turn the city (oh, and those ugly and way-too-underdeveloped coastal areas, while they're at it) into a soulless wasteland using excuses of "progress" and "population growth" in their wake?
Oh well, I guess we'll all get fat and rich; probably not as fat and rich as the next guy, though (well, not yet anyway).
"SOULS OF BRISBANE UNITE!"