Rainbow Dreaming  

Still busking after all these yeaers

“Still busking after all these years”, Jim (Jimbo) Hamilton, Byron Bay, 2008
Image: © Eells Villaroy

The 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 sport.

Paul Spooner, Convener, Byron Social Forum, 2008

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