busking after all these years”, Jim (Jimbo) Hamilton, Byron Bay,
Image: © Eells Villaroy
Byron Social Forum
At the 2003 World Social Forum in Port Alegro, Brazil, the Indian writer
Arundhati Roy confidently declared, “Another world is not only
possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing”.
At the 2008 Byron Social Forum panel on “Is Another Byron Possible?”
and the weekend of engaged interaction and spirited discussion that
followed, it was clear that for many people in our community “another
Byron” is not only possible, they want to see it happen.
What is the Byron Social Forum? It was conceived with a vision to create
an open meeting place to discuss, share and act on ideas for sustainable
economic, social and ecological justice in the Byron Shire.
It proposes to facilitate decentralized coordination and networking
among individuals and organizations engaged in concrete action towards
building a better community. It does not intend to be a representative
body, group, nor an organization.
A 16-point document provides a summary of the key issues identified
and points to the actions required for positive social change.
Issues identified so far are: Public Spaces, Affordable Accommodation,
Homeless Children, Transport, Living Together, Connecting Community
Organisations, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Culture, Cyber Space: Local
and Global, Sustainable Future Through Charity, Byron Bay Climate Change
and Peak Oil, Byron Bay Community Centre, Community Culture, Youth For
The Future, Water Dreaming, Youth Transport, and Core Values & Quality
of Life in the Byron Shire.
At the forum there emerged a clear call for new partnerships to ensure
our community continues to be proud of what it achieves. In fact, the
forum planted a tiny seed of hope. A seed that if nurtured and tendered
with love, care and respect will grow to ensure the needs of the current
generation are met in creative and diverse ways without jeopardizing
the legacy left for our children.
The issue of Public Spaces contains exactly such a hope for the future.
The suggestions range from forming a Friends of Railway Park, establishing
a Friday night Byron Artisan Market, and creating areas acknowledged
as Community Precincts in all the towns and villages of our Shire. All
such suggestions would require diverse sections of our community working
together to create the common wealth. Where could this lead? May I suggest
to a community that celebrates the amazing assets we collectively share
rather than just competing for their control.
We have much to learn from each other and the Byron Social Forum has
already been a wonderful teacher in this regard. The discussions commenced
at the Byron Social Forum will continue. Where it takes our community
will depend on the will, energy and involvement of the people living
here, as it should. After all, life was never meant to be a spectator
Spooner, Convener, Byron Social Forum, 2008