Lessons from Mainstreet

Written on the 14 November 2016 by Melva Stone

Lessons from Mainstreet Mainstreet Australia was established to provide a forum for information, exchange, networking and professional development for the people, businesses and projects in Australia's traditional main streets and town centres.

At the recent Mainstreet Conference there were plenty of good examples of "Urban Pioneers", with great stories to tell about breathing life back into floundering towns and small communities.

One of the strongest messages, which came through a number of times, was the need for creativity and new thinking creativity being the ability to think, and not necessarily to draw.

Another strong message was what consultation should really "look like" community engagement is not about letting everyone have their say, but rather ensuring that everyone is kept informed.  Waiting for a "full house" before curtain call can result in a "No Show". A genuine "Community Conversation" entails finding talent, getting ideas, gaining investment and creating ownership.
It is difficult to create ownership before there is anything to "own"!

Diversity was yet another key message creating and using "We Q" what can one person do or imagine, another can't.  A great example given was the fact that it was an electrician and not a cartographer who ended up mapping the London Underground the mapmaker could see only a traditional map, whilst the electrician saw a series of connections!  Who would have thought?

Being boring is the real risk of not trying new things and being a little controversial never did any harm how about "Husband Day Care Centre" instead of a pub or "Tree Incarnation Services", rather than the guilt-laden title of "tree removal" (with a side-line business of creating small furniture items from re-incarnated trees!)

Small towns can do amazing things. The Elvis Festival in Parkes, with a population of only 12,000 has grown from a one-night event for 200 people in 1993 to a five-day festival, attracting 20,000. The Festival was the brainchild of one couple who were Elvis fans.

Here in Broome, we recently saw 24 of our local artists and artisans pull together the inaugural "Artist Spark" in just ten days a great example of what can be achieved when there is a good idea, backed by collaboration and enthusiasm!

Author:Melva Stone

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