Posted by Whistler 300 words
I was listening to this song on my way home and it brought to mind the people I had seen standing on the roadside waiting for a bus in the new subdivisions around Melbourne – bleak bus stops built on the edge of a barren construction wasteland in front of dozens of near- identical houses.
The opening stanza of the song sets the scene.
“On the outskirts of town where brutish new houses rush up to meet you
On treeless streets, a freeway wind blowing, no soul to greet you
Oh hell, it is here, if you open the door
But you won’t feel a thing if you shut the blinds and flick on the screen”
What sort of lives have we created for people living in these new suburbs? Why is it that peace comes with shutting out the world and turning on the TV?
I don’t think it is just the treelessness, although it doesn’t help. Or the wind. It is the busyness stopping people from communicating with each other, meeting their neighbours, becoming part of a community, that is the real problem. It seems that in these suburbs the land is getting smaller, the houses are getting bigger, and the people are moving further apart.
“We are sold
If we work hard we’ll reap the rewards
And we work hard and never look up
But the hard work is never enough”
People are working hard. It can take them more than 90 minutes to commute to work each way. Most families have two bread winners and some of them have two jobs. Their children are minded for long periods. Mortgage stress is high. Discretionary time is small. Life is one chore after another with little relief in the immediate neighbourhood.
What sort of future are we creating? I know the State has decided that the market will govern urban growth but surely something can be done to make sure that housing is not only affordable but that it is liveable too?