Urban activation seems to be all the rage. If you aren’t sure what it is, rest easy. It doesn’t mean wearing lycra and joining an aerobic workout at Perth Train Station. Activation is about giving cities and towns a heart and soul by building the human connection and creating neighbourhoods.
Perth is a city with two personalities. We all know the fresh, sunny and engaging place with river and Kings Park vistas. It’s the home of a vibrant arts industry, universities and the world’s most diversified resources sector with massive new infrastructure projects such as Elizabeth Quay, Yagan Square, Optus Stadium and the coming-very-soon Madagarup Bridge offering more options and experiences.
But it’s about more than nature, glass and concrete. For some, the city has another personality, and it can be a lonely place. Its a paradox that we are part of a globalised society and never more electronically connected, yet have fewer opportunities to experience the incidental social interactions that create a sense of community. Where once we lived in houses and spoke to our neighbours from the front porch, now we might improve our sense of well being and belonging with a visit to the supermarket or a cup of barista coffee.
It’s no accident that cafes have multiplied like a caffeine-laden virus. For many, they have become our community hubs.
And that is also good for business. Urban activity creates street vibrancy which in turn motivates consumers. Activate Perth’s mission is to create community connection in the City of Perth through novel partnerships and projects between business, the community and government.
The not-for-profit association grew out of the August 2017, Perth City Summit, convened by John Carey, the State Member for Perth. The summit brought together residents, city workers, business and building owners who wanted to have a say about what they wanted their city to be. number of people were expected to be part of the summit in August 2017.
The board members are people with skin in the game, representing major city stakeholders such as Lendlease, Historic Heart of Perth and the Property Council of Australia (WA) as well as small business owners and residents like me. We are a diverse group who share a common interest in creating communities by turning old and new city spaces into people places.
We’ve established an Activation Army of residents and business owners willing to help and a roll call of corporate partners. Projects already on our short-term “to do” list include a pop-up park and a pot plant uprising. In the medium term, we'd like to develop a clearly marked walking trail directing patrons to Optus Stadium.
We are also working to fill empty retail and empty spaces that create energy vacuums across the CBD by negotiating free monthly rolling leases for small start-up businesses and not-for-profit enterprises. Expect to see cheeky and fun activation projects on our streets and longer- term strategies such as helping to promote Perth as a City of Neighbourhoods and Precincts.
As the Activate Perth tag line says: Watch this Space.