Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Relocation in the digital age

In a digital age where Facebook ‘friends’ and linked in connections are often numbered in hundreds, where speed is of the essence and we seemingly know every thought, every movement, every happening around us, it can be a lonely place out there especially for newcomers. Australia is encouraging and driving its digital revolution with great innovation and flair but as new technologies explode onto the Australia market and more people communicate with clicks and touch than spoken words there is something else happening, something all embracing which in successful in part because of Australia’s climate, in part to do with our multiculturalism and in part to do with the intrinsic values that have honed a nation. Australia’s young cities have invested in community: real physical connection, magnificent human gatherings to celebrate almost anything, assuring our many newcomers that they belong as much as the next man.

 With each oohh and ahhh as the fireworks catapult through the sky there is a wave of certainty in the commonality of the experience. The crowd holds its breath while the tightrope walker teeters high between the buildings and the people below reach out to each other with gasps and murmurs of admiration. It is addictive, that togetherness, that belonging to community and Australia does it so well!
Every weekend, all over Australia there are festivals, fairs, community markets, events which in other countries would not happen or be so well attended merely because the weather prevents such experiences happening with such regularity. We are lucky in Australia, that it can be cold, it can be wet, it can be windy and it can be incredibly hot but the chances of good weather are relatively high for a good portion of the day.
If you are new you can guarantee that you will be able to wander along to any number of events, often at almost no cost, and that the people will be genuinely friendly! This collective experience will be made up of peoples from almost every nationality because Australia is truly a melting pot of many nations and so, as well as often connecting with people because of the communality of having relocated, it is not unusual to strike up conversation with people from your home country! Even if you don’t meet other newcomers, there is a deep sense of connection n Australia which sits at the heart of its values: reaching out to others, helping ‘mates’ whether you know them or not, genuinely being interested in others. This is something as old as Australian time when aboriginal culture instilled community values and passed them down generation after generation. But there is something more than this happening as well.

Australia is taking its vibrant and dynamic art and culture into the community. Recently Melbourne staged White Night where almost half a million people descended on the city to take part in one of the most spectacular artistic triumphs in Australia. The experience was mind boggling and even as the crowd jostled to see more and more of the city on show there was a sense of collective pride. Over 300 artists across the city made Melbourne visible on an international scale but most importantly reinforced the drawing together of locals. Recent newcomers felt as much a art of the dazzling spectacle as old timers! Australia really understands taking art to the people, drawing a crowd and harnessing community energy.
The Sydney Festival, Australia’s spectacular arts and cultural festival showcases  music, theatre, dance and other events right across Sydney while every major city is doing the same thing. And then there is food! Every city has it’s community markets, farmers markets where everybody gets to know the stallholders and there is an easy opportunity to catch up with new found friends with no pressure.

You will also find that different nationalities have celebrations around the cities and this is usually a food fest as much as anything else. Again a great opportunity to meet up with others. And we mustn’t forget sport: wonderful events from triathlons to team sport to horse racing and the list goes on: Australia does it with enormous flair. There is a craving for more and more coming together in ways which are reminiscent of past ages but offer amazing opportunities to connect and Australia is right ahead of the game.

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