Sunday, 23 June 2013

The city centre

I am finding it quite difficult to imagine what life is like for the average Sheffield resident/worker/young person/retiree is like. Walking around as a student I find the city quite effective in provision of interests, services and proximities of these interests and services. Sheffield is significantly different to understand, as opposed to rural Bendigo ,as community is not necessarily and probably rarely ‘locality’ based. Rather community is experienced temporarily in predominantly repetitive ways such as social institutions of interest school/work/sport/hobby. Secondly is that while Sheffield is quite different to Bendigo, it was relatively simple to ‘fit in’ Sheffield, finding places of interest and the routine of Sheffield. Sheffield is quite walkable so if you are scamp like most university students, it still works to live in Sheffield. While being here almost all of my time has been spent within the city centre exploring what it offers and seeking places of interest, that in itself says how functional the city centre currently is. One of the others things where I compare it a lot with Bendigo and not a city such as Sydney or Melbourne is that it still feels like a village in a sense, even in the centre there are relatively few massive towering buildings and the fact that Sheffield doesn’t have a permanent Ferris wheel nor is it rated highly in shopping with the exception of Meadowhall which is highly ranked.

The other day having visited Primrose children’s centre we drove back through Southey, one of Sheffield’s most deprived places, quite a way out from the ‘walkable’ city centre. Typical view of many kids playing in the streets, uninviting shopfronts and a noticeable change in house upkeep however there seems no hurry to help develop these areas. Sheffield seems to concerned with trying to make a name for itself that ideas change rapidly and largely focused on singular locations rather than broad plans of innovation. I wonder if Sheffield will be able to make a singular attractive trait that people from around the UK and possibly the world could know them once again by rather than unfortunate failings such as losing bids for city of culture or amazing unused sporting venues or accidental gun barrel making for Suddam Husain. It is possible that Sheffield is trying so hard to be known in some way that there is no identity in which they can fully commit to that attracts new comers. I wonder if innovation as a key theme would be something to strive for, the uniqueness and quality of shopping opportunities, a possible shoppers’ paradise in the North of England? This would bring further money and people to Sheffield allowing it more room to expand on and make its new mark on the world. What if there were shops, inventions or unique opportunities in Sheffield which no other place could fulfil. Rather I am surprised that people can’t easily partake in making their own steel objects. That it is still viewed as an industry in preference to an available artform, is this not an opportunity Sheffield has thought about? 
- Josh Lee (Bachelor of Community Development)



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