Drums rally, Mullumbimby, August 2007
Image: © Graeme Batterbury
the Vibe Alive
I gathered up my small brood and moved them from the suburban enclaves
of Byron to a bustling vital and slightly demented country town that
has all the North Coast colour that the Bay now sadly lacks: Mullumbimby.
It’s like dairy farm meets Newtown, with agricultural supply stores
nestled amongst rainbow crystal healing colonic gluten free flag shops.
Even the homeless man I saw rolling his own and drinking from a paper
bag in the park was reading ‘The Peaceful Warrior.’
Commercialism, rampaging real estate ratbags and the self-focused nouveau
riche have branded Byron with values that have bleached culture and
community from the town as surely as blue green algae has destroyed
The Barrier Reef. I still love Byron, but in the way you love someone
for the essence of who they once were, not what they are now. Loving
Byron is like being petulant My Space party outlaw Corey Delaney’s
Mum and Dad, a curious mix of shame and public titillation.
Apparently no one cares anymore. We’re too busy being fabulous
and rich to notice the plight of anyone else... but we are environmentalists,
we have four cars, a dishwasher, an infinity pool with a 24 hour water
feature, a 1000 square metre house for three people, but hey, we’ve
got a worm farm and once a month a direct deposit that goes to Greenpeace.
Right here on the North Coast we are facing something much more sinister.
I call it: Vibe Kill. It’s a pattern established worldwide. Creative,
bent and cutting edge communities create a vibe. Only the poor know
how to create a good vibe like that; it’s because they’ve
got nothing fucking else. The vibe creates a sensation of excitement
and vitality. Suddenly a shitty suburb or sleepy beach community has
an energy about it that can’t be articulated: it’s just
that when you are there, you feel more alive than ever before.
That’s when money moves in. Money has no vibe. It’s lonely.
It has everything and nothing at the same time. It wants to be where
the vibe is. So it moves in. It’s the creativity killer, the aching
pit that can never be filled. The increase in real estate value is in
direct proportion to the decrease in vibe. Byron’s vibe needs
to be heritage listed, because there’s only a remnant left. We
need to create a vibe corridor maintained by the long-term unemployed
on a Work for the Vibe project. Vibe eradication creates damaging culture
change, resulting in Global Boring.
Right now Mullumbimby, one of the most crucial vibe seeding areas on
the North Coast is at risk of total and absolute vibe eradication. A
multinational franchise, a well-known vibe crusher, is moving in. A
decade from now, if the vibe destruction continues at the current rate,
it’s projected that there will be no vibe left. Just a coastal
community awash with groceries. I urge the people, the keepers of the
vibe, to fight fire with firesticks and preserve our North Coast ethos.
We are (or used to be) an alternative, conscious, thinking pro-active
This is a call to tattooed arms, so our children, and our children’s
children will also know what it’s like to live in a community
with heart. A village with vibe.
Nolan, comic and journalist, Mullumbimby, 2008