Dan’s Online Diary 

# 3.6.06 by Dan

Wow! Two posts on the same day!

I'm really enjoying working for the council. I'm working in a building right on the town square, and being paid by the ratepayers - my friends and neighbours - to serve them; my local community.

I've spent some time in Switzerland and Germany, and many of the towns there are old, and built around a city square (rathausplatz), with the town hall (rathaus), including the government offices right on the sqaure. Usually the rathausplatz is the geographical centre of the town, with all the main streets leading away from it, and often a big cathedral very nearby.

This configuration evokes a sense of community, and I think this is largely missing from New Zealand culture.

Manukau Town Square is not the bustling centre of Manukau, it's just a little bit of open space tacked onto the side of a very large shopping mall.

With our sprawling suburbs and our lack of hesitation to drive more ten kilometres to get to a shopping mall, this sense of community has been lost.

Malls have become our centres, but centres of what? More often than not, they're not in our immediate community. Sure, malls are places where we can go to meet with friends and share meals, and otherwise socialise, but they've become detached from where we live, from where we work (unless you work in a mall).

Our actual local communities have lost many of their worthwhile stores and facilites and are now just streets of two-dollar shops, liquor-stores, and poker-machine parlours; hardly the vital core of a healthy community.

I hereby encourage myself and my readers to patronise the local non-chain-store shops closest to where we live, and see if we can't rekindle that sense of community if not in the hearts of others, then at least in our own hearts.

You never know, you might actually get to know your 'neighbour'.