As urban sprawl continues its unabated growth, house sizes get bigger with an average of 2 cars, communities become more and more fragmented. Contrasting that is the inner city’s increased density, smaller residencies and no room cars.
This evolution of community and individualism coincides with our ever increasing connectivity. Where it was once an exciting trend to login to ‘facebook’ on our iPhone, or to even have access to high speed Internet, it is now an accepted, almost routine and habitual part of lives.
It’s often complained that social media and the Internet are reducing the need for physical contact. I will declare that nothing can ever replace face-to-face contact. What this new found connectivity gives us is a way to reshape and redesign our communities to suit our own tastes, interests, passions and personality types.
In the past, where we were born, the friends we made at school, university or our workplaces largely dictated the structures of our social lives and our lifestyle choices. The only way to pursue a passion was through the local community group or on the football field.
A few years ago I decided it was time for my career change, to pursue my passions. I joined Twitter, started connecting and following people that shared my interests, my passions. It sounds so passe now as I know this story is quite common. Interestingly, this is not the norm yet.
Sydney is experiencing a renaissance in creativity, web tech, social/business with purpose. These are entrepreneurs and groups that are connecting, learning from each other, supporting eac
h other. Their building new businesses, pursuing their passions, or their at the stage where they’re dipping a toe in to test the current and whether it works for them. They are connecting online, sharing events, research findings, new methodologies, and finding trusted thought leaders.
This to me is a definition of “social innovation”. A persons circumstance does not make them. It’s now a possibility for any person, from any background, experience and passion to create “their world”. This connection, this opportunity to find meaning and purpose is exciting. And this is only a glimpse of what’s possible.
NB. This post was developed after attending the Gratten Institute’s delivery of report findings on “Tomorrow’s Suburbs”. When questioned they responded that they did not see value in people being in front of their computers as it took away from one-one contact. It seems it may take some time for large organisations and research bodies to understand the impact of these reengineered communities.