Rusty Miller lobbed over an intriguing document from the UK this week. It’s called ‘Clone Town’ and makes recommendations for how communities and local authorities can take steps to create and maintain diversity in their towns.
The publication defines the difference between a ‘home’ and a ‘clone’. ‘A home town is a place that retains its individual character and is instantly recognisable,’ it says, ‘and distinctive to the people who live there, as well as those who visit.
‘A clone town is a place that has had the individuality of its high street shops replaced by a monochrome strip of global and national chains that means its retail heart could easily be mis- taken for dozens of other bland town centres across the country.’
Like the Transition Towns model, it highlights the urgency to address our identity and hopefully a united vision for the future.
Spank the architect
Can someone please spank the architect who designed the generic Mullum Woolworths? How will the proposed Dan Mur- phy mega booze store – again owned by Woolworths – fit in with Byron’s current shop frontage?
The newly branded Retravision building on Jonson Street is now a chemist, owned and operated by Chemist Outlet, a business based on the central coast. The shop signage says to the world it’s ‘proud to be cheap’ – and is an ugly corporate looking facade that belongs in Ballina or Tweed Heads, not Byron.
A large part of this community is employed by outside interests and that means we are anything but united. These international/ national companies employ locals, and support their families and friends, just as the farmer’s market or any other ‘home’ town does.
Rent correction needed
Regardless of ‘local’ or ‘foreign’, the success of a business in Byron, especially the CBD, is often dependent on factors outside the owner’s control. It’s mainly high rents demanded by a market that has not yet suffered the correction this area needs.
The Clone/Home Town report thankfully suggests action plans. These include the following:
Given a complete lack of political and public will – mostly from State level – this report is merely bureaucratic fantasy. Lack of vision and leadership appear as obstacles for Byron Shire’s social and economic long term propsperity, and it’s going to take more than tourism to address it.
At least it is clear from ‘Clone Town’ that people are thinking about these problems, and there are solutions