Don’t you just love your local Facebook community forums as places of thoughtful sensible adult interaction?

This photo appeared on one of our local sites recently and I had to withhold comment because anything I was going to say was not likely to be helpful. Its a photo of a group of school-kids from QBC kayaking from Two Rocks up the coast to Moore River with their Outdoor Ed teacher and two adult assistants.

From the hysteria on the Facebook page you’d think they were about to grow big beards and hop on a plane bound for Syria…

A bunch of kids were off on an adventure – doing something that will stretch them, challenge them and mature them, as well as teaching them some valuable lessons along the way. Remember when we used to think that was a good thing? Remember when setting young people a tough challenge was considered part of growing up?

It was before the wussification of young people began… before we started to worry that they might get cold, hungry, home-sick, that they might get wet or that they’d miss their ipad…

A bunch of young people who’d prepared for the activity, were doing it and today they will get back home – probably cold – probably hungry – probably wet, but tougher, tighter and better equipped to face many of the other challenges life throws at them. And it will form memories in them that will last for many years. I still bump into my ex school students from the days when I ran the survival camps and inevitably we go back there in our conversation – because those were valuable times… maybe not that safe… but then that was the 80’s.

When will we realise that cocooning young people does not prepare them for the world they are living in and that we do them a disservice by shielding them from struggle? But when we take them out of their comfort zones and push them to new limits they grow and flourish and become better people for it, and as a result we become a better society…

Great work Brock and crew – I hope my kids are out there one day cold, wet, hungry, weary, but tougher, sharper, better people for the experience!

The Community Killer

No, not the bloke in the picture… but Costa Georgiadis says the double garage door is the great community killer and he’d love to rip them all off.

In this interview he offers some great insights into how we can live in healthier communities and facilitate interactions between generations, including using your front verge for a veggie patch. Maybe he got the idea from here?… (as if..)

Maybe even some goats in the street to clean up the weeds?…

Here’s the ABC recording and its worth taking the time to listen to if you care about your community and want some creative ideas for making it a little more friendly

Thanks to my mate Terry for the heads up.


Last year I read The Slap while on holidays and found it both intriguing and gruelling. The makers of the series on ABC have done well to capture that same car crash sense of ‘This is terrible, but I want to keep watching’.

My friend Andrew Menzies posted this on his facebook wall – a comment he overheard:” ‘The Slap’ should be compulsory reading before refugees leave for Australia… It will certainly make them think twice as all the people are so awful!!”

There certainly isn’t much redemptive or hopeful in the story. There really is’t a single likable character and there are plenty of horribly dislikable ones. The secret of The Slap’s success, I would suggest, is that it is a very raw slice of reality and as we watch we see familiar people, feelings and responses. Tim Winton offers a slice of reality also in his novels but he writes in such a winsome way that the rawness has a beauty about it. In The Slap that rawness is ugly. Dog ugly. And I don’t think its a failure on the part of the author. I think he wants us to see how messed up some of our lives really are.

As Danelle and I watched it last week we saw the tragic story of Aisha and her screwed up life. A messy unhappy marriage held together by kids and convenience, a random affair as a result of pain, a husband (half) wanting to make amends for his infidelity and so it goes on. Maybe its just the world I observe, but it feels affrontingly real – very much like life in the suburbs of this city.

There are a few moments of hope and happiness amidst long periods of struggle and darkness, but they fade quickly and the dominant landscape is bleak, cold and conflict ridden. People have spoken of how harsh and vulgar the language is in the story, but as I observe the world we live in, its pretty much par for the course. Its just that we don’t hear that stuff regularly on TV.

To some degree The Slap evokes a deep sadness in me and on the other hand my response is to want to ‘slap’ the people for being such self centred morons. Perhaps at the core of this sad story is the inability of people to have relationships and resolve conflict in a healthy way, and maybe that is why it is so tragic. Take away relationships in this world and what do you have?

I’ve seen too much of ‘The Slap’ in the world around me to call it a caricature or an aberration. I’ve seen friends cut friends off in a heartbeat rather than resolve conflict. I’ve seen husbands play up, regret it but then do it again because they are miserable in their marriages and feel trapped. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.

The good news?…

There isn’t much in the story. But if you read this blog regularly you’d know there is good news and hope. You’d know there is someone who invites us to follow him and live in a different reality. I don’t think Jesus way is easy – not at all – but I find myself wanting to speak to the people in the story and ask ‘have you considered a different way?…’

And then again I just want to slap them back… And therein lies some of the struggle for us as missionaries in the west. To love those who don’t look very lovable is a challenge. If not for Jesus I don’t think we’d have a hope

You’re Probably Not Going to Change the World… Get Over It

I remember as a youth pastor that I had a fair swag of ‘you can change the world’ sermons in my kit bag. It was a regular theme in my own communication and in most of the talks that I heard other youth speakers give. I even got pretty good at it!

The basic gist was that God wants to do extraordinary things in this world thru you. And if you were in touch with him then you would be able to be a ‘history maker’ or a ‘world changer’ or a ‘person of prominence’ or…some other equally wanky term.

You know the deal?

I remember when I was giving those talks I really believed what I was saying to be true. However today I am less inclined to believe that I or you will actually tilt the earth on its axis one way or another. In fact chances are that God doesn’t

want you to be a Martin Luther King or a Nelson Mandela. Chances are you will live a life of indescribable ordinariness and apparent insignificance….

And I’d like to say ‘that’s ok’. Most of us are ordinary people, living ordinary lives in ordinary communities and it is extremely unlikely we will ever be world leaders or superheroes.

The problem with the rhetoric of ‘you can change the world’ is that if you don’t, then you can feel like a failure – like your measly suburban life really doesn’t count for much at all and you are a nobody in the scheme of things, or maybe you have missed ‘God’s best’ for you. (just to keep the jargon rolling 🙂 )

“My pastor told me I was made for greatness… that I could change the world… and all I do is change people’s sprinklers…”

When we speak about people like David or Gideon or Paul, or other biblical heroes and suggest that it is our responsibility to live lives of similar consequence then – while I would agree that it is a possibility some of us will be world changers – I would also suggest we disempower people from fully living the life they have been given.

When we suggest that God has a destiny for us that is much greater than humble suburban living we inevitably finish up with people who live perpetually dissatisfied with life as it is right now and who are constantly waiting for their ‘moment’, when the planets align, when they are ‘called up’ by God and when they get to shine.

In the mean time life – real life – goes on and passes us by… and if that day never comes we wonder what all the fuss was about… all those prophetic words we were given…

My message these days is that God does

want to use your life in all of it beautiful ordinariness and simplicity and while you may never be written up as a hero of faith, you will get to live a life of great meaning and significance if you can view your weekly endeavours thru a different lens.

burn after reading dvdrip

We Shape our Suburbs and then our Suburbs Shape Us

We have often said this in relation to church buildings.

We build our places of worship and then they can so easily exert control over us and even dictate how we live our life of faith. By calling them ‘sanctuaries’ we already give shape to how we will view them. I could give many examples here, but probably the most obvious is that once we have a building of a certain size we feel the need to fill it and to keep on filling it – so we can build a bigger one. This in turn determines how we see our mission and what form our ecclesiology takes. I’m sure there are some exceptions to this rule, but our buildings definitely shape us. For those of us who meet in homes this applies equally but there are different strengths and weaknesses.

So I have been pondering how our suburbs shape us.

I’m sure that the type of buildings we erect and the form of the suburb gives shape to our interactions. Its noticeable that in almost all of today’s homes the primary living areas are at the rear – away from the rest of the world and that these days very little living is done ‘out front’. A second obvious factor is the remote controlled garage door phenomenon. Now almost everyone has a garage with access to the house and no need to be seen at all by the neighbours.

I’m sure this has changed the way we interact in communities. I have noticed that two of the families in our street use their garages as outdoor living areas and they are subtantially more ‘interactive’ with the rest of the street than those who live ‘out the back’.

I remember reading Simon Holt’s book God Next Door and appreciating his observation on the loss of the front porch. Now we have the rear alfresco area in its place. I began to wonder about a social experiment where a group of 4 or 5 families moved into the same street and intentionally built ‘back to front’ houses with living and alfresco areas at the front and where the primary social activity occurred out there. I began to wonder how it might affect the vibe of the street if half of it were built this way.

What do you observe about your own suburb in terms of how its form affects the shaping of its community

Speaking of Suburbia…

There’s no question ‘suburbia’ gets a pretty negative rap around the place and yet for all of that the vast majority of us live there. There has to be something that we like about it, or some advantage to suburban living… you’d think… Right?…

Its easy to throw mud at suburbia for its blandness and uniformity but is there something latently attractive about it that actually lures us in? Or have we just sold our soul to convenience, security and beige?…

However its a complex question because when we are speaking of suburbia we need to delineate between types of suburbs also. Just to name a few categories in my part of the world, there are:

– the wealthy western suburbs of Perth with lots of ‘old money’ (think Cottesloe & Floreat)

– the inner east where houses are older, cheaper and there is a legacy of being a homeswest ghetto (think Koondoola, Lockridge),

– the ‘new estates’ where aspirational families build, sell, build, sell and climb the ladder to wealth and true happiness… (think Butler, Canning Vale)

– the hills where large blocks still abound and where alternative living is more prevalent (think Kalamunda, Chidlow etc)

Chances are your suburb won’t fit any of the four categories above. How would you describe it?

When we speak of ‘suburbia’ we inevitably need to speak in generalities and perhaps even caricatures for a meaningful conversation to occur. Otherwise we will be forever qualifying and defining what we mean.

Certainly in our part of the world suburbia is so diverse (as shown from the 4 examples above) that it is impossible to describe it uniformly.

So what do you think actually constitutes ‘suburbia’?

Can we even speak that generically?

Those Bold Pioneers?…

Do you ever think of suburban people as courageous pioneers?

Chances are you don’t.

I certainly don’t equate suburbia with courageous living in untamed environs, yet that is something of how the suburbs began here in Oz. As a nation that lived either in the bush or the city, the ones who pushed out to the fringes and lived in the suburbs were often the ones who went without and did it tough as they ‘pioneered’ those new developments.

They were the ones prepared to be uncomfortable as they set up house in areas that didn’t have the same amenities and services as the city. (See ‘Suburban Pioneers’, in The Cream Brick Frontier: Histories of Australian Suburbia for more discussion on this idea.) They lived where roads were poor and infrastructure was non-existent, so in many ways they really did take some risks compared to the urban dwellers.

Of course that was ‘then’.

Nowadays I think we’d be hard pushed to see suburban living as pioneering. Even when we came to our own home here in Brighton it didn’t feel like we were doing it tough. Its true that public transport is poor (but then that’s Perth in general) and there are few public services, but the way in which new estates are managed tends to almost give a feeling of luxury rather than struggle.

Community development companies bend over backwards to provide events for residents and all sorts of activities to engage in. The savvy developers do their bit in creating suburbatopia by giving everyone front landscaping and by providing beautifully landscaped parks and surrounds. Of course this beautiful landscape does not last, but it does the job to convince people that this estate is heaven on earth.

I doubt too many people moving to new suburbs would see themselves as pioneers these days!

Perhaps a couple of questions that flow out of this are:

– where do the pioneers go now?

– what does it do to the pioneering spirit if there are no longer any ‘frontiers’ to settle? Do we simply become more and more comfortable and less and less adventurous?…son of rambow movie

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

hitch free download