SUBURBS | Losing our way

Posted on 09/08/2011

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There’s an unsurprising set of bigotries about what and who should be located in suburban areas. As suburban poverty grows (more dramatically in the USA), we see the smoke and mirrors of government controlled planning activity in all its exasperating glory. Yes, I am banging on about the lost opportunities for the former QUT Carseldine campus … again. I’ve just posted a few links to my facebook wall, which all point have bearing on suburban communities and economic development.

The State Government wants regionalisation but continues to cluster activities in specific precincts. It dumps some departnments in outer suburban communities. The Brisbane Times reports that the State Government, together with five universities will establish the Queensland Centre for Social Science Innovation at the University of Queensland. A new building will cost $10 million. The Centre will provide co-ordinated research of the anonymous data from the Queensland Government’s Office for Economic and Statistical Research for the first time, including NAPLAN results, population growth and employment figures and information on regional Queensland. So the obvious question is why not locate that in Carseldine where it can benefit from the broadband and a pre-existing facility? The obvious response is about strengthening clustering and knowledge precincts despite the consistent commentaries that silos continue to prevail and structural reform in most government and higher education organisations is rather a long way off. Having said that, I also see the potential for some reorganisation based on the enhanced connectivity availed by broadband.

The other links I posted addressed topics such as rising poverty in suburban areas, growing childhood poverty in Germany and growing interest in online community engagement. But even with Public Works mooted for the Carseldine site, you’d think there could be some potential for the Urban Informatics researchers to look at what’s happening across community, communications and infrastructure and to address these questions of informatics in suburban contexts. There just seems to be a paucity of both imagination and analysis in the decision making of government and higher education, which tends to ultimately reproduce planning biases and hierarchies in the worst possible ways. How will a Public Works node be a resource for the broad sweep of northern communities located on this ‘supercorridor’ in the face of social stresses, mortgage and energy stress, job losses and manufacturing decline?

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