What is Suburbia?


The handbook says that the first tutorial will look at what constitutes ‘suburbia’ and whether it is ‘dream or nightmare’.

I imagine the first part of that question might be a bit easier to come to grips with than the second. I haven’t done any serious reading on this but my understanding of suburbia would be that (geographically) it is the region between the outer limits of the city eg West Perth/Subiaco and the beginnings of rural areas eg Bickley.

I say ‘geographically’ because I’m not sure if that is the only way to frame an understanding of suburban life. I have a sense that suburbia might be equally described by the values and patterns of life that give form to it. Things like stability, security, conformity and consumerism are some of the more common aspects. Its not to say these aren’t present elsewhere but suburbs do seem to foster some common values.

The lecturer today seemed to use the terms urban and sub-urban interchangeably which I found a bit odd. I understand that typically we speak of urban and rural areas, but that ‘sub’ urban would be an area either distinct to or a subset of the urban.

I hope to use this unit to do some reflection especially on my own suburban experience because there is no question that Brighton is almost a caricature of ‘the suburb’.

If you go to the Satterley Estates home page you can view the TV ads for our estate and it will speak volumes to you about the kind of community the developer is trying to sell to you. (If you look real close you will see us in the first 2 or 3 seconds of the ad – walking beside the lake)

I’d be interested to hear what you see as you look at them and what impressions you get of our community.

To check out our local area more specifically you can go here

Journey into Suburbia – Come With Me?

rowe1.JPG As you may have gathered from my earlier post I am a bit bummed that it just isn’t feasible for me to attend the classes for the course on the history and culture of suburbia. Since living here in Brighton and becoming much more aware of the rhythms and patterns of suburban life I have become quite intrigued by the phenomena that is suburbia and thought it would be really helpful to do some more intensive study in the area.

But it doesn’t look like its going to happen… well not in that format.

Here’s what I am thinking though. I am hoping to do the various set readings and write some reflections on the questions set for each of the tutorials which I will post on here. It’d be great to have some others with a passion for this topic to thrash things around with me in the comments section.

I don’t know if I will be disciplined enough to do this, but in the absence of attending the class lectures for this could be my way of expanding my learning. So if you’re interested then I’d love to have your company as I share my thoughts and hopefully provoke some interesting discussion.

I’ll try to write at least one post a week under the category of suburban reflections. If you’re interested to see where I am headed with my thoughts then you can check out a copy of the course handbook here. There are tutorial outlines as well as recommended readings.

Hope to see you in the comments!

Suburban Reflections I

As I began the class on suburbia today the quote sitting on the front page of the unit reader was this one:

“One of the best instincts in us is that which induces us to have one little piece of earth with a house and garden which is ours, to which we can withdraw, in which we can be amongst our friends, into which no stranger can come against our will”

Sir Robert Menzies, ‘Forgotten People’ speech, May 1942

In this speech during WW II Menzies was speaking about the ‘forgotten people’ who he considered to be the middle class or the ‘backbone of the country’.

He went on to define & describe the middle class as he saw them:

“First, it has a “stake in the country”. It has responsibility for homes – homes material, homes human, and homes spiritual.

Second, the middle class, more than any other, provides the intelligent ambition which is the motive power of human progress.

Third, the middle class provides more than any other other the intellectual life which marks us off from the beast; the life which finds room for literature, for the arts, for science, for medicine and the law.

Fourth, this middle class maintains and fills the higher schools and universities, and so feeds the lamp of learning.”

If you want to chew thru what he meant by those statements (and you would need to before you critiqued them) then you can read the entire speech here.

Well worth the read.free transmorphers

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I headed off to check out the UWA course on the History & Culture of Suburbia today.

I hadn’t pre-enrolled as I figured I’d slip in the back, check it out and see if it looked like being worth the effort.

Well after 90 minutes of driving in the rain and seemingly getting every red traffic light in Perth, I arrived at UWA at exactly 10.00 – lecture start time. Bugger…

I hadn’t been to UWA since I studied there nearly 24 years ago.

I thought I had the class location on the unit outline, but couldn’t find it… bugger!

By the time I found it, it was 10.20 and I finished up getting the front row seat, all hot and sweaty from traipsing around the place.

The biggest bugger is that the course looks fantastic and the lecturer showed some real passion and interest in the subject, but I’m just not sure its going to work. Apart from the 90 min drive there each week, I would have to hang around all day for the tutorial at 4pm before driving home in rush hour at 5pm – another 90 mins.

So I have bought the course reader and will probably resort to studying on my own at home.


Part of the problem of living in the outer suburbs…

The Other Thought For the Day

From Hirschy

“Michael Frost, a friend of mine was recently privy to a meeting with three Chinese leaders from the underground church who were smuggled out to a group of Western leaders about issues they were facing. When they were asked what wanted prayer for they asked for three things: Whilst acknowledging that the government has become more lenient, they were still not allowed to gather in groups of more than fifteen people and that when they grew beyond that they had to split and start a new church. Could the westerners please pray for that? The second issue they asked for prayer for was that they were not allowed church buildings and were thus forced to meet in homes, cafes, karaoke bars, and social clubs. Could the westerners please pray for that as well? The next thing they felt they needed a breakthrough with was that they were forbidden to develop separate organizations where they could collectively train leaders; they were forced to train leaders in the local church. Michael, himself a vice-president of a seminary, says in all good conscience that he simply could not pray for them in this way because he and the group gathered there realized that in many ways the Communist state was forcing the church to remain more true to themselves. Philip Yancy likewise reports on his life-changing trip to China. He says “Before going to China I met with one of the missionaries who had been expelled in 1950. ‘We felt so sorry for the church we left behind,’ he said. ‘They had no one to teach them, no printing presses, no seminaries, no one to run their clinics and orphanages. No resources, really, except the Holy Spirit.’” Yancy wryly concludes “It appears the Holy Spirit is doing just fine.”

Thought for the Day

“If one wishes to eliminate uncertainty, tension, confusion and disorder from one’s life, there is no point in getting mixed up either with Yahweh or with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Andrew Greeley, New York Times book review, (in Phillip Yancey, Reaching for the Invisible God, p.92)

As you were…

Geeky Gadgets for the Anally Retentive

Living in Brighton it always makes me laugh when people say ‘lets catch up for lunch – we can meet halfway between our homes.’

Most people have no idea exactly how far out we live so usually ‘half way’ finishes up with us doing a lot of driving.

So here’s a great tool for settling those disputes.

Enter the two addresses, click on the ‘go’ button and google maps will show you the precise half way point.watch horror in divx

Uncharted Waters – The Church of Second Life

So while we’re talking about incarnation, contextualization and pushing some boundaries, how do you see this whole deal?…

Second Life

impact point free download

is an online ‘game’ where players do literally create a ‘virtual’ second life which they then live out. For some this is serious business and can take up more time than their real life. Scary?… Yes, I think so…

Of course in second life as in real life there is the while gamut of people including ‘believers’ and ‘unbelievers’…Which raises the question, is it possible – or even important – to be a missionary in the virtual world?

And then just to complicate matters, can people come to faith in the virtual world? Can you be a virtual disciple?…

And… then to muddy things a little more, is it possible to be a Christian in second life but not in real life or vice versa?…

Ok, so it all sounds a bit whacked out and nutso, but if you read the article I think you’ll need to ponder it a little more deeply. Maybe there is a whole people group (to use missionary language) who are unreached and this could be simply doing what Paul says ‘all things to all people so that by all possible means…”

Is this something we will need to give genuine attention to in this rapidly shifting world, or is this simply an example of some people losing touch with reality?

A devoted Christian ‘second lifer’ has got involved in the comments section at Ur, so be sure to see what she has to say!