The marketing line for the development we live in is, ‘Brighton – it’s what a community should be”… and the images are of landscaped parklands being enjoyed by happy families, where everyone is friendly and where there is warmth and friendliness like you haven’t found anywhere else. Its suburbatopia.
Would it surprise you if I said it isn’t quite like that?
Well, it was for a while… but things are changing and there are some interesting times ahead for this little suburb in Perth’s far north.
When we first arrived in 2003 the central parks, playgrounds and barbecues were new and beautiful. The landscaping still had price tags on it and the environment was pristine. In some ways it felt way too artificial for my liking, but it did have that ‘new car’ smell about it and you enjoyed being one of the first ones to benefit. When you went to the local playground and let the kids play on the shiny new equipment, inevitably you would sit and chat to other parents who were also enjoying the provision of great facilities and were seeking to get to know their neighbours.
The demographics showed a large swathe of young families and the overflowing primary schools were evidence of how many pre-teens were in the area. With kids everywhere, it was often noisy, but it was also safe and felt like a very family friendly environment. The developers had worked hard to create an attractive suburb and had done a good job. I know many people moved here because the marketing of ‘what a community should be’ was appealing to them.
There were community development officers and specialists employed to help the community find its feet and get established. They did (and are doing) a good job. They genuinely seek to encourage the locals to get on with the job of creating their own community structure. The Anglican priest even had a large slab of his salary paid by the developer for the first 3 years of his time in the suburb. They wanted to create a community that would feel warm and inviting even down to having a community church.
However the social landscape has shifted in the last 18 months or so and our pristine suburb, that once resembled a scene from the Truman Show is now no more. Something has changed…
I’m not even sure if its all bad, but there are signs of this once happy, friendly, safe community morphing into something that no-one expected….
I want to take some time to reflect on the changes that have taken place in our backyard over the last few years, so if you are also a suburban missionary stay tuned for observations on the challenges in suburbatopia.