Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Home thoughts from abroad

Classified as: reflective journal - updates, international comparisons

I am staying in Frankfurt, Germany, visiting my daughter.  I may not be able to post again before I return to Australia, so some quick thoughts below.

This is a great area. Not all of Frankfurt is like this, but for what it's worth: lots of apartments, lots of cafes and shops, street life, lots of pedestrians and bikes. Cars are present but don't dominate.

I know there's some reasons that are specific to Frankfurt, as it's a small city but a major financial centre. Many people commute from villages and surrounding areas (those who live here are probably more likely to be young professionals?).

Nevertheless, I still think European cities seem to do so easily what Australian cities find so hard - create medium to high density living which is comfortable, with much lower emissions than Australian cities.

Also Germans have great social security. They pay high taxes, but get a lot for it.

It's not utopia, and I am not suggesting that it is, but Germany  - and the Scandinavian countries - make so much of the debate in Australia seem a little foolish. It is possible to live more fairly and sustainably than Australians do, and other countries are doing it.

Meanwhile back in Australia the election campaigns lumber on, with meaningful discussion on these kinds of issues apparently missing. Reading blogs  and comments on the news, I am struck by the number of people who say they don't want to vote for either of the major parties.

For my money, the Greens potentially offer a lot of what people might be looking for in terms of social justice and environment, but they still don't seem to really getting through. Again I have some thoughts on this, based on my experiences with the Greens, but will save that for a later post.

As ever, I am interested in your thoughts and comments.

Next post will probably be back in Australia, and I hope to look at some emerging themes from the latest round of interviews and focus groups.

(PS: 'Home thoughts, from abroad', by Robert Browning, is a nostalgic poem about how lovely the English country-side is, with no relevance to this post!)

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