A Cup of Sugar

June 1, 2018

We love neighbours. We aren’t talking about Ramsey Street. We are talking about Fletcher Street, Johnson Street, Lawson Street and Marvell Street. We are talking about all the people in those houses and the local shopkeepers, who make our community. Our neighbours in our towns are the most important social assets we have.

We need to cherish and celebrate those relationships because they are our vaccine against loneliness.

Despite the advent of new channels for digital connection, we are getting lonelier. Of all the ways and means we have to reach out and communicate, we don’t seem to be able to do it in a way that is anthropologically meaningful.

The impact of loneliness is pretty dire, with one study suggesting that it increases mortality by 26%. Some studies have placed loneliness as one of the most significant public health issues, placing it in the same strata as substance abuse and diabetes.

It’s the way things are in the modern world though, isn’t it? Our urban organisation sees modern people living in insulated and nuclear family units, disconnected from extended families and without the support of extended families, surrounded by friends who are facing the same isolation. The insular organisations decrease the ability to defray the resources required for caregiving and support and the rising cost of childcare is an issue that disproportionately impacts the vulnerable members of our society.

In a recent blog about the cultural life of ‘women’ in Byron Bay and the Northern River’s region, local real estate agent Su Reynolds described our community as a welcoming place where people come to ‘heal’. If you look at the reasons why people might be drawn to the community for healing, these loneliness studies indicate that what they might be looking for is a place to belong.

We are designed to and have evolved to live in a connected social community. In early times, the ability to learn and communicate about where to find resources and how to avoid threats was critical to our survival. Technology has evolved to make this sharing of ‘news’ easier than ever before…however, what we seem to be missing, and longing for is the ‘sharing’ part; which is just as important.

Our community is famous for the authentic way it expresses itself, and the way it embraces new people and all ideas. That isn’t an accident. It is based on a community value that preserves the quality of relationships, over quantity. It preserves offline, over online. It preserves human over, digital. As our population grows, we must always take steps to preserve our neighbourly ways.

4 Responses to “A Cup of Sugar”

  • Jenny bannister says:

    Having to move out of your rental home , So it can be STHL
    To tourists is affecting my Byron friends every week .
    They are leaving Byron
    or living in their Vans
    STHLs and property investors have killed our town.

    • Rick Porter says:

      A property investor buys a property for a financial gain. If they can get better rent through holiday renting, then they have the right to do this. Wouldn’t you do the same? If you can’t afford to buy a house in Byron, maybe you should look elsewhere. Lennox head, east Ballina, Wollongbar etc. renters can’t be upset because their landlord wants a better return for their investment. I’m sorry but your comments are ridiculous. Ocean shores has some lovey beaches and it’s much cheaper to buy there. It you can’t afford to live in an area then move elsewhere. People can’t expect house prices in Byron to stay the same for the next 20 years. What about the locals who have worked hard to buy their home.
      Surely they want to see come growth in their investment rather than worrying about their friends being able to afford to rent in the area.

  • Christopher says:

    Agreed Jenny. Short term letting/Air BnB, etc. are not good at all for the “social” fabric of Byron.

  • Christopher says:

    Rick, Jenny was not commenting on price at all. The article was about the social aspect in the community. Jenny did not say that she could not afford to live in Byron. For what it’s worth, as both a homeowner and property investor myself, there is far more to life than making money. I bought my “investment property” mostly for lifestyle factors rather than monetary gain. There are far better ways of making a buck than through property. I deliberately rent my “investment property” in “the shire” to a permanent renter – even though I could make more money through short term letting. My priorities obviously differ to yours… High property prices are a negative on the entire Australian economy.

    Frankly, your comment comes across as elitist. I welcome all income groups in Byron – that’s exactly what made Byron so expensive and desirable in the first place – inclusiveness. If you force out all the young trendies out of Byron so us folk that can buy over-priced property and can pat ourselves on our backs, we’ll see Byron go into decline. Not many places with old, rich people are vibrant. Enjoy your almighty dollar, because you aint taking it with you. If you leave it behind for somebody else, let’s hope they enjoy that money.

    Jenny was spot on with her comments.

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