The building of community culture is about nation-building from the ground up – but a different kind of nation-building. It’s not so much about bridges, dams and buildings but about connections and skills and capabilities and social institutions that can make a country worth living in.
Chou En Lai once famously (and perhaps actually) said when asked what he saw as the long term effects of the French Revolution, that it was too soon to tell. I like that sort of sense of history. We all have different histories that steer us in different (and similar) ways. My uncle was a navigator on the bombers that burned Dresden. My father was an engineer who built dams. He was part of that generation which helped build a modern Australia that embodied diversity and tolerance – his generation turned from dam busters to dam builders.
It’s a mantle I am happy to have tried to pick up. It’s partly why I feel an affinity with Canberra – it’s integral to a sense of national development as opposed to the narrow state-based view we seem to be moving back towards and it is central to the nation-building vision I identify with so closely.
|Disused mining equipment near Maldon, Victoria, © Stephen Cassidy, 2012|