When we first came to this area back in 2003 the marketing slogan that captured so many was ‘Brighton – its what a community should be’, and it was sold so well that many people moved here expecting a healthy, happy community.
Maybe it was just the space we were in personally, but we certainly found our early years in Butler (the proper suburb name) to be that of a community of people who seemed to want to create something more than a dormitory for busy, heavily mortgaged commuters.
We had a lot of involvement with the community and made a heap of friends in the early days. It was fun, exhausting at times even.
But then things changed…
I’m not sure exactly when, but with the growth of the suburb came investors, rental properties, people who didn’t want to know their neighbours, graffiti, a lack of care or interest in the wider community and a general malaise about the development of the community.
Right now I’d say we are really just another bland suburb in the outer mortgage belt Perth with little to distinguish us from any other suburb. It’s no surprise that the slogan has changed from ‘What a community should be’ to ‘Brighton – Its All Here Already’.
As I reflect on the most significant contributor to the decline in ‘community’, I’d have to say it is the increase in the number of rental properties. When people rent for the short term (as many do) they have little desire to get to know the others in their street. Why would you when you’ll be gone in 6 months?
Some would cite the number of homeswest houses as one of the factors in upsetting the utopia that many were expecting. Its true that there are some shockers of homeswest tenants in the area, but also some ordinary decent people… kinda like those who own their own homes.
I have a feeling its just a part of ‘growing up’ as a suburb, and becoming more established. At the end of the day our ability to be a community and be part of a community depends largely on our willingness to give of ourselves to the local community.
I certainly haven’t been doing that in the last couple of years and I reckon if you ‘reap what you sow’ then I’m pretty much where I ought to be.
In 6 weeks we leave this community for another one, 10 minutes further north but with a very different vibe. We go here with a different mindset to when we came here, but I’m still not sure quite what to expect. We are moving into the established part of Yanchep (‘old Yanchep’) and it is a mix of long term residents, retirees, low income earners and then some people like us.
I don’t know what to expect in terms of ‘being part of the community’, but I’m guessing it will be very different to that of Butler.
I hit Butler with more evangelistic zeal than a newly converted pentecostal, but I’m not there today. Its probably a good thing. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I’m still very much committed to living out the mission of God, but I’m more prepared to trust God to do his bit these days and just stick to doing what I can do.
So the next leg of the journey for the ‘backyard missionary’ will be different to this one. Still hoping to see the kingdom come here on earth, but coming at it from a different headspace.