Monday, 19 December 2011

Annabella

I've spoken a lot about my daughter's impending arrival on this blog.  On Tuesday my wife and I finally met our beautiful little girl, Annabella.  She was absolutely perfect, with my wife's long fingers, my black hair, and beautiful lips all of her own, but died shortly before she was delivered.

Thank you to everyone who's offered their support over the last few difficult days.  It's meant a lot to me and my wife.

I'll be taking a hiatus from my blog for a little while.

--------------------
Excerpt from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, for Annabella:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab
and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Recommended reading: Do we (still) need Vancouver?

"It's time for true urbanism, a more three-dimensional urbanism where people connect at the street, and at the 3rd, 6th, and upper floors and back down to the street. The blocks will be more permeable, translucent, engaged. The street will be the entry, rather than the edge of the blocks and we will grow closer to the ground as we need less privatised security and more penetration into where people live, work and play."
                                                                                            
This is what Howard Blackson concluded after evaluating whether or not Vancouver's urbanism has been a success. The article is published on the New Urban Network website and makes for interesting reading, especially given our recent consultation on proposed Scheme Amendment 49.

Make yourself a good cup of tea and check out his article at:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Placemaking power salute to Wray Avenue residents for 'chalk on footpath'


I'm breaking out a placemaking power salute in honour of the organiser and those who participated in some chalk drawing on the footpath along Wray Avenue on a Saturday morning.

Invitation plus chalk equals a little bit of placemaking

The other day a friend of mine told me about a letter that their friends had received. In the letter to his/her neighbours the organiser encloses a piece of chalk and invites them to come out on a Saturday morning and draw a mural on the footpath outside their house.

What a great way to liven up an already great avenue plus create an opportunity for people to get to know their neighbours.



Awesome.

[Placemaking power salute]

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A welcoming place (a Parisian bistro)



These hats appeared in this little traditional Parisian bistro that my wife and I were visiting regularly either before venturing out into the Latin Quarter or checking out our photos from a day out in Montmartre.


The hats appeared one day and it took us a little while to figure out that they were provided as an option for customers to wear if they wanted to sit out in the sun. Looking back on that day, I think that the hats are a pretty cool little gesture. To me it is these little things that add up to create a welcoming place.

It is good to know that revitalising Freo doesn't have to solely rely on grand projects but rather that the little things, like making people feel welcome can play their role as well. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

What cleaning our apartment got me thinking about Scheme Amendment 49

Recently, at the FICRA Christmas drinks, I was describing to Roel how it wouldn't be long before my daughter and I were going to be rocking his roof (an activity which was the closest thing we had to excitement during my childhood in Karratha, and involves throwing a handful of pebbles onto a tin roof in the middle of the night and running like crazy).  Our baby is due Christmas Day, and my wife assures me that the pokes and punches she's been receiving suggests the baby has inherited my throwing arm.

However, I realised last week that in my haste to add rock pouches to the baby carrier ready for boxing day, I had being happily ignoring the distinct possibility that my daughter could arrive early, and was way behind with the more necessary preparations...painting, cleaning, assembling IKEA furniture.  Really, I should have been in nesting mode a couple of weeks ago.

Fortunately, after a weekend I'm not going to forget in a hurry, everything is back on track.  This is because I'm lucky enough to have a wife happily prepared to give me a swift kick fair up the clacker, especially if it even looks remotely like my head is heading towards the sand again.

Now that I can sit down again, I got thinking about how my attitude appears to match that of Council's towards Scheme Amendment 49. Council is, quite rightly, excited about getting something happening in Freo after such a long time of not much happening at all. Council is also happily ignoring the distinct possibility that something might just surprise them before they're ready to deal with the consequences. And, like me, Council could potentially be in a situation where they were wishing they'd prepared better, by having a set of design guidelines completed along with the scheme amendment.

Unfortunately for Council my wife is preoccupied with something else at the moment, and not in a position to deliver any home truths via the pointy toe of Bett's latest. However, Council could benefit from my experience and do the work now on preparing a set of design guidelines before Scheme Amendment 49 proceeds. Otherwise, we may all find out that without the necessary preparation, developers may show Council that a kick up the clacker would have been the less painful option.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Worth watching: The tragedy of suburbia


In this TED video, James Howard Kunstler discusses amongst other things, the importance of creating places that we care about - very relevant to Freo and definitely worth watching.

Make yourself a cup of tea, kick back and enjoy Kunstler's colourful turn of phrase when describing some buildings that wouldn't be out of place in the eastern end of Freo's city centre.

Thanks to Mary Del Casale for first letting me know about this video a couple of years ago.



Saturday, 3 December 2011

Kings Square lit up


Last night Kings Square was lit up by the brilliant new Christmas decorations. A job well done and I hope this becomes an annual event to kick off the festive season. 

It'll be great when we get to enjoy quality Christmas decorations along High Street and the Cappuccino Strip as well.





Three Freo places for finding your mum a Christmas present

With the arrival of our first baby just a few weeks away, my wife recently informed me that I'm going to be the one taking care of the Christmas presents this year.

No problem, I said, JB Hifi vouchers for all!  Of course, I should have been more reticent with the details.  My wife immediately put the kibosh on this idea, on the basis that the recipients would be able to quantify what a total cheapskate I am.

So, I've been given a list of shops to visit, together with rudely explicit instructions about what constitutes an appropriate minimum amount to spend.  In the interests of assisting any other retail-phobics with buying presents, here are my thoughts on the best places to buy presents this year.

Amaize, Fremantle Markets (opposite the Sail and Anchor)

At the risk of sounding like shopping for scented candle holders is something I enjoy, Amaize is actually a pretty good place for having a browse.  The interior is done up in a sort of 'French-chic' style and it has bits and pieces of everything, like cool office stuff, kitchen ware, handbags, novelty books, ornaments, and a good section of toys and activities for kids.

There's also a great range of funky jewellery, and it's decently priced (expect to pay something like $25 - $40 for a necklace).  Apparently woodland-creature motifs are in this season, if their selection was anything to go by. I really lucked out here by choosing an owl necklace for my mother-in-law, who my wife later informed me is going through an 'owl phase'.  My thoughtfulness in remembering this salient detail earned me lots of brownie points (I must have done a better job than I thought in not looking blank when she showered me with congratulations).

My nephew also scored here, with a book (complete with sound effects) on identifying farts, and a few wind-up toys for his stocking, and my mum got a colourful glass candle holder with cats on it.

My verdict: a great one-stop-shop for presents, especially for women, and not too pricey.

Remedy (High Street, opposite New Edition)

The interior of Remedy smells expensive, like organic body lotion manufactured in France, and it is - not exorbitant, but tending towards high quality / high priced items.  There's a eclectic range of jewellery, much of it from a small Melbourne brand, some old fashioned, wooden kids toys (which in my experience appeal more to the parent than the average 3 year old, who tends to prefer the noisy plastic variety), plus a wealth of arty, local, good quality homewares and decorations.

There's also a range of natural bath / beauty products, which, although kind of expensive (at a rough guess, $50 and up), at least have the virtue of looking it.  If I'm going to spend that much on soap, it had better scream class in every millimetre of its packaging.  I resisted actually testing the hand creams, etc, but a quick sniff confirmed that they were the source of Remedy's nice smell.

I got a very sleek carafe for my father-in-law here, which I know he'll like.

My verdict: good for show-off presents.

Corner Store (Market Street)

Corner Store is like Amaize's slightly richer, snootier cousin.  Also 'French-chic' in style, it's full of quirky kitchen ware, office trinkets and stationery, unusual toys, interesting perfumes and clothes - in essence, gifty type things.

I found a nifty note-holder for my brother here, and some perfume for my sister-in-law. The mums were also treated to a tea set each.

My verdict: another good one for the mums and sisters.

Thanks to these Freo shops, Christmas shopping for our mums can be a breeze.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Recommended reading: 'People are talking about placemaking'

Put your hand up if you're tired of being spoken down to by architects, urban designers, town planners, bureaucrats or councillors when being presented with a new scheme amendment or development proposal.
Keep your hand up if you're still none the wiser after their explanation of design quality versus design excellence and how it relates to allowing additional discretionary height.
If you kept your hand up, then I recommend reading this article by Fred Kent of Project for Public Spaces. In his article, Kent discusses the increasingly important role of placemaking and how it is having a positive impact on improving our places - very timely for Freo and our Council
Here is a nice quote that sums up, for me, where Council should be heading in its approach for authentically engaging the community:
“Instead we need an architecture that recognises that a community’s people are the true urban designers, and what happens where the building meets the street is critically important to the health of our neighbourhoods.”
To enjoy the rest of the article, here it is: http://www.pps.org/blog/people-are-talking-about-placemaking/
[Place making power salute]

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Chalk it up: New Christmas decorations in Kings Square this Friday


It's the beginning of the festive season and this year Council has invested in new Christmas decorations for Kings Square.
The decorations will make their debut tomorrow evening and feature lighting made up of hundreds of LED lights draped across the square’s iconic Moreton Bay fig tree and LED-lit ‘shooting star’ motifs on light poles.

The switching on ceremony will begin at 7pm, with the lights display being switched on at 7:30pm. The ceremony will include carollers from the St Patrick's and St John's church choirs as well as Father Christmas who will be available for photos. The Village Art markets will be operating with food, coffee and other items for sale.

After travelling through Paris, Venice and Lucca during the Christmas season a couple of years ago and being amazed at the Christmas lights in these cities, my wife and I returned to Freo itching to see the same happen here, so I'm a big supporter of this initiative by Council.

I'll be an even happier resident when we get some kick ass lights across the cappuccino strip and High Street!


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Getting to know Scheme Amendment 49: 'The What'

It's time to test 'the what' in my series of posts on Scheme Amendment 49.
Does Scheme Amendment 49 by itself ensure development that will be built up to a standard instead of down to a price?
No.
When it comes to the detail that is needed to facilitate quality design, Scheme Amendment 49 can be described as being a sheep in sheep's clothing - if it looks like it is too superficial to achieve quality design, then that’s probably because it is too superficial to achieve quality design.
Will Scheme Amendment 49 achieve the right mix of retail, office and residential uses?
Questionable.
I couldn’t find any requirements in Scheme Amendment 49 for a minimum number of apartments in any new development. It seems that relying on the fluctuations of the market to determine whether a residential component is included in new developments is unnecessarily high risk, especially if the goal is to have a vibrant precinct. If it turns out that the current economic phase means that retail/office development will be more profitable without the inclusion of a residential component, then this is what developers will opt for.
Where Scheme Amendment 49 allows discretion, is there enough documentation to ensure that the right decisions are made and upheld?
I’m sceptical. No design guidelines, no place making plan and no developer contributions plan.
When development proposals are eventually submitted, those proposals in excess of $7 million will be determined by Development Assessment Panel, not Council. These panels are state government run and are made up of five members, three professional members and two local government members from Council.
Here again, Scheme Amendment 49 is like a sheep in sheep's clothing, this time, if it looks a little light on for supporting documents that help ensure that the right decisions are made and upheld, then that's probably because it is a little light on for supporting documents that help ensure that the right decisions are made and upheld.
Can anyone say "baaa"?
Are the proposed height allowances in Scheme Amendment 49 too high?
Yes.
For those sites that are eligible for the additional discretionary height, I'm comfortable with six storeys plus an additional storey setback which cannot be seen from the street.
In conclusion:
I recommend finding out more about Scheme Amendment 49 by going to the City's website at:
Remember that the period for providing comments closes on 7 December.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Eating out in Freo: Courtyards II

I'm searching out Freo's alfresco dining and this week I'm checking out courtyards. Next up and another of Freo's courtyard studs is Moore & Moore Cafe in the heart of the West End on Henry Street.
Moore & Moore Cafe
Over our years in Freo, my wife and I have developed a much-treasured routine, which we repeat at least once each weekend: sometime after 10am I will put on my full face crash helmet and endure the minor scuffle it takes to rouse her from her sleep-in, and then dress my wounds before we stroll down to Moore & Moore, our favourite Freo cafe.
I doubt there's much I can tell any Freo local about Moore & Moore that they haven't already experienced for themselves.  Run by Simon (who is incidentally a top bloke), it's a slice of the best of Melbourne with the addition of a distinctly Freo vibe.  The building alone is pretty special, and the interior manages to be quirky without trying too hard, as well as comfortable.
The menu is perfect for breakfast or a light lunch, while a slice of the rhubarb raspberry tart for afternoon tea is hard to beat.  The coffee is some of the best in Freo, although my wife and I will more often opt for a pot of the chai (which is made with fresh grated ginger and cardamon pods and is really delicious) or, in summer, one of the iced teas.
The courtyard at the rear is a great place to lose an hour or two with a Moore's Rooibos iced tea and a good friend in fine weather.  Being enclosed on all sides gives it a secret garden-esque feel, particularly towards the back where the greenery cools things down.
Regular readers of this blog (hi Mum) might remember that Moore & Moore represents the single time I've been able to earn some cred for my taste in, well, anything, from my cool, ex-Melbourne, current-Mt Lawley friend.  It was the courtyard that won him over, and it's now my top spot for showing off the best of Freo to anyone new.
The Moores Building, 46 Henry Street. Open daily for breakfast and lunch.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Eating out in Freo: Courtyards I

Food is one of my favourite things. The odds were against me ever becoming a gastronome - my mum, God love her, raised me on the kind of recipes that always began 'open a packet of supermarket mince'. Her culinary career peaked with a dish of chilli con carne when I was about thirteen, but the unfamiliar praise from my brother and I that this generated went to her head and she served it for a week straight, at which point the traditional 'browned with onions' option was as welcome as anything Jamie Oliver could have served us.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, experiencing good, interesting food has become an integral part of how I like to enjoy myself. If I can get it in a place that's also appealing, then I'm a happy man.

With the warmer weather upon us, I'm going to search out Freo's alfresco dining to suit all tastes and budgets. Courtyards are the first stop on my alfresco dining tour. They are quintessential alfresco dining, often providing an enjoyable setting for meals and/or drinks in the outdoors.For the first in the courtyard series, let’s visit Gypsy Tapas House.

Gypsy Tapas House

The entrance to Gypsy Tapas House is distinctly unprepossessing. It is tucked into a low, eighties style building of sandy brick, surrounded by a random conglomerate of shop fronts that suggest the owners have realistically assessed the value of spending much time designing a window display and decided they're better off having a sleep-in.

However, the less-than-salubrious frontage just adds to Gypsy's charm - slipping through the brick pillars and catching your first view of the charming courtyard makes you feel like you've discovered a hidden treasure. Tubs of lemon trees and tangly herbs freshen the air; cleverly mismatched seating, colourful decorations, carafes of cool sangria, wait staff of the tie-dyed cotton and dreddies variety and live music create an unhurried atmosphere.

It's only on the surface that Gypsy is relaxed, though - make no mistake, these guys run a mean business and a very professional kitchen. The dishes are inventive and are full of fresh, seasonal produce and ground-up, unusual spices - mace, sumac and fenugreek, and come with huge amounts of turkish bread. You can select your own mix of tapas plates, which all go for $8 each, or opt to pay $40 a head and work your way through the menu, the idea being that you keep going till you're full.  This second option is good if you're new to Gypsy, but be warned that you'll probably fill up on dips, nuts and turkish bread before a whole lot of the really exciting stuff comes out. Plus, with two covers per evening - 6.30pm and 8.30pm - you need to eat fast.

Being the type of wine connoisseur that makes selections based on what my wife says I will like (strangely always the cheapest bottle), I can't comment on their wine list, but I can say with confidence that a carafe of Gypsy's orangey sangria on a warm summer's evening takes some beating.

The service is fast, efficient, and for the most part friendly - although I did have an off-putting experience once when a pregnant friend was told she couldn't order separately but had to pay for the all-you-can-eat option along with the rest of our group, despite not being able to eat the vast majority of dishes that were brought out. It made me realise that the Gypsy's welcoming, hippyish vibe concealed a far less pleasant approach to money matters and soured me against the place for a while, but glimpsing those lemon trees in the courtyard on a summer afternoon put me in a forgiving mood and we've once again become semi-regulars.

Gypsy's is a great place for catching up with friends in the afternoon or celebrating in the evening (when the music gets noisier). There's something about the place that is distinctly 'Freo', which also makes it great venue for showing off how great a place this can be to newcomers.

Cnr of Queen Street and High Street.
Open Thurs/Fri/Sat for lunch and dinner and Wed for dinner only. (Cash only, ATM available on premises)
9336 7135

Chalk it up: The Cappuccino Strip Street Club returns

After last summer's successful season of four events, the Cappuccino Strip Street Club returns this Thursday, 1st December where it all began behind Gino's on Market Street.

This season's debut event will run from 5pm to 8pm and will feature:

  • A frock swap happening
  • Bike decorating
  • Hoola hoop making
  • Banner painting

Fooz ball and ping pong tables are being sought for the event as well. I say, chalk it up!

Help wanted: coordinator(s) required
The Cappuccino Strip Street Club is looking for people to help out with coordinating future events to replace recently elected Councillor and founding Cappuccino Strip Street Club coordinator Rachel Pemberton, who has stood down from her role.
Facebook

To keep informed 'like' the club's Facebook site at:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wine tasting and chewing the fat at FICRA Christmas Party

On Friday night a great crowd turned up at the wine cellar of the historic Samsons Building on Cliff Street for the FICRA Christmas Party.

The cellars provided a great setting for chewing the fat whilst checking out some Plantagenent wines and chowing down on some great plates of food that were brought along by the residents. My shirt provided the Christmas decorations for the evening.

One of the highlights was getting to check out the cool museum upstairs which included some kick ass photographs of old Fremantle.

FICRA's blog is at  http://ficra.freospace.com.au/

Friday, 25 November 2011

Recommended reading: 'Beer Coasters and Soggy Design Guidelines'

For anyone interested in Scheme Amendment 49, I recommend having a read of Emma Powell's article 'Beer Coasters and Soggy Design Guidelines'.

Her article thinks through some of the implications for not having a set of design guidelines in place to accompany Scheme Amendment 49 and discusses putting all of our eggs in the Design Advisory Committee basket.

The article is in today's Herald and is also on the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association blog site at: http://ficra.freospace.com.au/?p=666

After spending some time getting to know Scheme Amendment 49 over the past couple of days, I'll be leaving a comment supporting her perspective.

Getting to know Scheme Amendment 49: 'The How'

Recently there has been a lot said by various people about proposed Scheme Amendment 49, and I thought I'd take the time to get to know it better. So I've decided to show the amendment a bit of love and I'm inviting everyone along for the ride.

The other day, Scheme Amendment 49 and I enjoyed our first date, and the good news is that my mo wasn't too scary and I've managed to score a second date!

How?

Scheme Amendment 49.

It's clear that there are many sites in Freo desperate for good redevelopment, so let's evaluate Scheme Amendment 49 from the perspective of a developer.

Do I get certainty about what is required and that a decision in my favour will be made?

Yes and no. Scheme Amendment 49 does include some hard and fast rules about some aspects of any proposals. But, Council is hedging its bets about its design outcomes by including an open-ended design criteria that possibly raises more questions than it answers. Unfortunately uncertainty is exacerbated by the absence of a set of design guidelines. The developer is left asking the legitimate question: How do I show that my proposal fits the design criteria and will they agree with me?

Is my exposure to risk lowered?

I'm thinking more yes than no. In its favour, Scheme Amendment 49 provides more options than were previously available to developers. Increasing the height that is allowable and removing minimum parking requirements for office uses for new buildings create more options than were previously available. Risk is lowered as developers can reduce their costs by not having a large parking requirement to fulfil and by including a mix of uses - retail, office and residential. If the market drops out of the commercial sector at least there is the back up of having a residential component as part of the development and vice versa.

As we'd all appreciate where there is uncertainty there is risk. As discussed earlier, when Council hedges its bets about design outcomes it wants through including open-ended design criteria with no accompanying design guidelines, uncertainty is created. From the developers perspective, the absence of design guidelines means that plans are open to interpretation without a logical basis for determining their conformity. This leads to additional risk by possibly increasing costs associated with modifying or preparing new plans, a lengthy application process, and a possible appeal process.

Will I make enough profit so that I can fund my next development?

Let's not kid ourselves, developers are here to make a profit. Scheme Amendment 49 helps to a large extent by providing more options and potentially reducing one aspect of the cost of construction (parking). There is the potential for a smooth approval process (which helps with keeping costs down) but this would be helped by increasing certainty through a set of design guidelines.

So from the mindset of a developer, it seems that Scheme Amendment 49 is a step in the right direction for attracting development. Although will it be good development?

What about getting kick ass buildings?

It looks like Scheme Amendment 49 ticks most boxes when it comes to creating the conditions for redevelopment by proving certainty, lowering risk and increasing potential profits. We need to replace the old, soulless buildings so this is a good thing.

But we don't want rubbish. Putting the developers hat on was useful as it confirmed for me that this amendment represents only one part of the equation for achieving good development that leads to people-friendly places in the eastern part of Freo's city centre. So now that Scheme Amendment 49 has planted the seed for redevelopment, what else is being proposed to ensure that we get kick ass development?

This is where, for me, Council's initiative is flawed. In considering the perspective of a developer as well as understanding our - the community's - need for great places and buildings, there is something missing. Design guidelines are missing. It is disappointing that they have not been prepared to accompany this amendment as the certainty and guidance that they would bring to achieving good development seems to present a win-win scenario for everyone. (Come to think of it, it'd be nice to have a place making plan that focuses on improving the public spaces in this precinct as well.)

So in summary, as part of Council's initiative to revitalise the eastern portion of Freo's city centre, Scheme Amendment 49 does seem to create the conditions for attracting redevelopment. However, without supporting documents such as a set of design guidelines and even a place making plan, Council's initiative can be described as "all tip and no iceberg."

If I'm lucky enough to get a third date, we'll be discussing some of the specific features of Scheme Amendment 49.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Getting to know Scheme Amendment 49: 'The Why'

This post is a little like a first date. There has been so much said about proposed Scheme Amendment 49 since it was initiated by Council, that I've decided to block out all the static and show the amendment a little bit of love in an effort to get to know it better.

Firstly, let's get the formalities out of the way:

  • Advertising finishes on 7 December 2011.
  • The best way to find the scheme amendment documentation is to get Google to do the work for you by typing in "scheme amendment 49 city of fremantle" and it'll save you the time and frustration of searching the City's website.
Why?

For me the answer is simple. Because Freo needs it...more specifically the eastern end of our city centre is crying out for it.

Go to the intersection of Market Street and Cantonment Street and start walking towards Clancy's Fish Pub. Walk about 50 metres and you'll come to my building: the old 'Woodsons Building'. It needs a good lick of paint but other than that it is a good example of what is possible if we revitalise Freo the right way. A mixed use building with thirty six differently sized apartments.

Across the road is a beautiful...car park. Opportunity lost.

Skip the ultra bland office building at the intersection of Cantonment and Queen (another opportunity lost - how was that building approved without a residential component?) and depending on the time of day we begin the 'East End shuffle' (for those of you who aren't familiar with this shuffle, it is associated with the head-down-avoiding-the-attention-of-the-drunks gait).

I've noticed that there is an exponential relationship between the need to start the 'East End shuffle' and the buildings in this part of Freo. Buildings such as the Target building, the Westgate Mall (waiting to catch a bus outside the old Spotlight store must feel a little like being in the middle of a boxing match), and last but certainly not least that ode to East German 1970s Stasi style architecture, the Point Street car park.  These buildings are just plain ugly and, to their lasting detriment, they have failed to become places. 

In my three and a half years living in the centre of Freo I don't recall ever needing to do a 'West End shuffle'. For me 'the why' for this amendment has to be about getting rid of the need for an 'East End shuffle' and creating some great, vibrant and people-friendly places in the eastern end of our city centre.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

How about vending machines for bike parts in Freo?

The other day, whilst trawling through my list of urban planning related websites, I found an interesting article about a vending machine that holds bike parts like lights, patch kits and tubes for cycling commuters on 'The City Fix' website.

The 'Bike Fixtation', located in Minneapolis, is a customised self-service bicycle repair station and rest stop. 

Here is the link to the article:


Here is the link to the 'Bike Fixtation' website:


The concept offers a great opportunity for Freo to continue becoming a more bicycle friendly city.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Movember

If you've seen me out and about sporting a bit of bum fluff on my upper lip and are a bit worried about my state of mind, you can rest easy...this year I'm participating in Movember.

I'm glad to report that being a town planning geek, a scheme amendment for my upper lip that facilitates new growth was recently approved by my very own Minister for Planning (my wife).

Everyone will be glad to know that the early stages of the scheme amendment involved consulting with my wife early in the project. After a number of workshops and the preparation of detailed design guidelines supported by an economic feasibility study we agreed on a 'win-win' and now it's full steam ahead!

Anyone interested in donating can do it online at: http://mobro.co/MichaelSwanepoel.

For anyone wanting a good laugh, I'll be posting some photos to chart the progress of my mo.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Doctor will continue

An unexpected highlight and one of the most enjoyable aspects of my experience campaigning was creating my blog and posting my thoughts about Freo.


I enjoyed it so much that I'll continue with my blog. I'll keep blogging about Freo and place making. Every now and then I'll also branch out and post about other topics and about places around Perth and the world.


So keep visiting the Doctor every now and then.

End of campaign

For a first timer, I enjoyed my experience campaigning.

My thanks for the support I received during my campaign and to those people who gave me their vote.

Congratulations to Rachel for winning election to Council.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Questions from 'Meet the Candidates' events

Becoming a teacher, I found, means you’re suddenly part of a club that includes some pretty amazing interrogators.  I’d been teaching for only a few months when my head of department taught me a trick for getting information out of a misbehaving student that to my knowledge has never failed to get results. 
It works like this: you spot a student with a guilty look and beckon him or her over with a crooked finger.  You fix them with a hard stare and then say slowly “So, why do I want to talk to you?”  (Part of the beauty of this method is that you needn’t know what the kid’s been up to.)  After a few minutes of nervous dissembling, the student will inevitably end up spilling his / her guts.
Participating in last week’s three ‘Meet the Candidates’ sessions was a great experience, not only because it gave me a taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of some world-class interrogation techniques.  There’s certainly nothing quite like that heady rush of adrenalin you get when someone in the audience puts up their hand, fixes you with a hard stare and opens their mouth to deliver what you know is going to be a corker.
Some of most interesting questions I received were:
What do you do if an inner city resident regularly complains about noise from a café at 9pm on a weeknight?
Reflexively, I suppose, most people’s first instinct would be that 9pm isn’t that late.  As an inner-city resident myself, I’m very aware that being able to step outside and enjoy the bustle of urban life does go hand-in-hand with putting up with a bit of noise.  The only reason I have any knowledge at all of current music is because the Newport keeps me up to date on Friday and Saturday nights, and similarly I’m aware that King’s Square isn’t a safe place to hang around at night because I regularly hear fights from our bedroom window. 
To me, if traders are restricted from being able to produce a reasonable amount of noise after hours, there’s also the potential that the vibrancy and ‘urbaness’ of the inner-city would similarly be curtailed.
Having said that, I want to be the type of councillor who listens, and I believe that part of that is approaching complaints – in fact, approaching everything - with an open mind.  So I wouldn’t be jumping to any conclusions about whether someone’s complaint is unreasonable without looking into things first. 
If you were given $300,000 to spend on something in the City of Fremantle, what would it be?
Where do I start?  Again, being the type of councillor who listens, I’d want to hear from the community.  If one of the conditions of the $300,000 was that I had to make the decision all by myself, then I’d probably go with something pretty boring like great lighting and the bare minimum of a facelift for our public spaces and heritage buildings, and if there was enough left over then outdoor movie nights or a bouncy castle for kids in summertime in places like Kings Square.  I reckon that would be great.
What other places do you see as being good examples for Fremantle?
Paris (incidentally one of my favourite places).  Paris is so rich in heritage and atmosphere, just like the best parts of Freo – and manages to pull off a maximum height of six / seven storeys without jeopardising the streetscape.  To me, a great example of what happens when developers are compelled to build up to a standard, not down to a price. Parisians have so many opportunities to get out and enjoy the public space as well, which will be an important lesson for us to get right in Freo.
Bath (Somerset, UK).  This beautiful Georgian town with its Roman baths recently completed a major redevelopment program in its southern section.  Using materials (beautiful Bath stone) and a style that was sympathetic to the existing surrounds, the results were pretty impressive.
What do you think about there being more men than women on council?
My wife saw an ad in the Herald relating to this a few weeks ago.  She looked me up and down and said “Well, with man boobs like that one could argue you’ve got a foot in both camps.”
I’m all for diversity on council.  In an ideal world, it would obviously be best if we could have a mix of residents / traders, men / women, with / without kids, independents and party apparatchiks, from different ethnic backgrounds, etc - and that these people could be elected on the merit of their ideas and experience, not as nods to tokenism.
However, in a practical reality, I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t believe I was the best candidate for the City Ward.