The Streets of Your Town
Many Australians will know the song by The Go-Betweens, Streets of Your Town. A band that ended in tragedy and heartbreak, their songs have a beauty that is so local and so understandable to us that they pull at your heart strings and light up old memories. As the title suggests, this one speaks of the places we grow up and live; the streets we know like the back of our hands, the local-ness, the deepness. It might sound silly and maybe dramatic, but when I hear this song, so much floods back to me—my childhood growing in a tiny country town with dirt roads and open space; my young adult life in inner Melbourne (a big city, but still very homely) amongst the bustle; and now living in the eastern suburbs, children and animals and trees and the buzz of a highway a kilometre or so away. Australia has a dream, and it’s always been about connection, to each other, the countryside, and the places we live and grow. The streets spread across the nation, connecting us to one another.
You see, I have been doing a great deal of thinking about the value of community recently. Communities can be big, and communities can be small. Of course, with the Internet, we now have a global community we can contribute to with the click of a button; this is actually something incredible to me. You see, in the past five or so years, I have made wonderful connections and friends on my travels, and social media has meant we have developed our relationships regardless of distance. So yes, this is a big community I love. However, today it’s my local suburb I feel most amazed by. My street is a great community: we all know each other, our kids play together, it’s safe and quiet and there are gum trees and bees buzzing around. At the front of the house is an honesty box where we sell Ben’s Bees honey. Locals come down to buy my produce, as they have heard about it from other neighbours. They also love the fact it’s an old-fashioned honesty system, and this simple stall fits right into the community spirit. I often get people knocking on the door, chatting with me about their day, or asking an interesting question about bees or other animals they have seen around. My family and I have a vegetable garden out the front where we grow food for our dinners, and, in the summer evenings, we have barbeques in the backyard. It’s a real Aussie home.
As wide and encompassing as community can be, and as important as it is to remember we are all part of one huge and equal family, I also love the simple and deep bliss of the small community found just outside your door. Remember to nurture and consider those nearby, check in on each other, and offer a helping hand when times get tough: we are all in this together.