Author Archives: John Baxter

Proposal: a Vision for Adelaide to Guide and Inspire

We need a vision for the future of Adelaide that will shape our path over the coming decades, that will inspire and enable us to work together to reach our potential.  We need a guide to direct our efforts, and a beacon to affirm our identify and the value of the place in which we live.

The visions we have had for Adelaide are not fit for this purpose.

Government has taken the lead setting our path into the future, but its plans and messages are fluffy and fail to identify the strengths and challenges that make us unique.  Do we really need to be told we aspire to be vibrant, liveable or innovative?  The collective vision for Adelaide – what you hear talking to people on the street – seems stuck either in pessimism, or a sense of pride with no meaningful shape or direction.

The coming decades will see change in South Australia.  Our dependence on defence, manufacturing and mining is holding back our economy, and it is becoming clear that our cities and lifestyles are not sustainable.  The deterioration of community has left us frail and dependent on a government going broke.

Adelaide has an exciting and vibrant scene of innovative grassroots initiatives.  They are proving we can overcome our challenges and look forward to a bright future.  But they are still swimming against the flow of a culture that ‘looks to the top’.

To drive change in the right direction we need to join the top and the bottom, to remove barriers between the fringes and the core, and work much better together.  We have some great examples bridging the space between the two extremes – IDC, Hub, Renew, TACSI, Fringe, GovHack – but none of these are without their problems.

We need a vision that will inspire the grassroots to grow up towards the sun, and draw down the top so that we can join in the middle – and work towards a shared vision of the Adelaide we want to live in.

So where to from here?

The above isn’t my personal opinion.  It’s a summary of a group discussion at Trampoline Adelaide, 26 May 2013, (notes here) between a diverse mix of Adelaide’s most active change agents.

It was an exciting discussion – much more constructive and insightful than your average musings on Adelaide.  But it did close with an invitation none of us had an immediate response to – what does this mean we should do?  How can we take this beyond the first stage of discussion?

Governments have typically lead big picture thinking and ‘community engagement’, to create shared visions and plans.  But in this day and age, they needn’t be the only ones – with a network of support we can do this ourselves, we can create a shared vision with a network of citizens and stakeholders, we can lead public discussions, and genuinely help guide the future of Adelaide and South Australia.  What might this involve?

We need to broaden the discussion beyond the 15 of us that were present.  We need a much larger set of conversations to engage many more people in shaping a shared vision.  We need partners to help us reach out and engage and to resource the effort.  But first off, we need to pull together a team to make it possible.

  • Do you think this is a goal worth pursuing?
  • Do you want to join a team to make it happen?
  • Can you offer other assistance?

> You can make your first contribution by getting in touch here <