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welcome to the new wild west

October 11, 2012

His Majesty’s Theatre on the corner of Hay and King streets.

Having spent 3 days at the ACEC2012 conference last week, I was intrigued by images appearing in my Twitter stream; what views of my adopted home town were participants from interstate and overseas sharing?…..Schism: Hotel room back alleys & graffiti vs. rose gardens & river views, it seemed.

What is my view of Perth? Has it changed since the 70s when my family migrated from England? Has it recovered from the 80s-fever when America’s Cup madness culminated in then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s tears (the fame really belongs to Fremantle), or are we still living large and too-lavishly on the mining boom? Does it matter what we think, anyway? (The city appears to exist as a formidable presence despite us and our misgivings).

The mosque on William Street, Northbridge.

Rhetorical questions, but it does seem ironic that travellers, particularly those exploring an unfamiliar terrain, take photos as though chosen fragments – pixels, selective views – will resonate long after any holiday has dimmed to a memory of the weather, or a meal, or a disruptive eventuality, perhaps a chance encounter.

I wondered what would happen if I staged a re-entry to my city.  Would I see things differently?

Entry via the back door – the cityscape from William Street (Horseshoe Bridge).

Modifications to train access with our new stadium tucked behind crane silhouettes.

The strange green-shrugging-cactus sculpture on Forrest Place; Myer pretending to ignore the upstart.

Look what happened to Raine Square! Love this re-imagining (Murray Street).

Feeling the squeeze on downtown St George’s Terrace.

Chinese dragon graffiti in an alleyway off William Street, Northbridge.

Newish and golden State Theatre on the corner of Roe and William Streets, Northbridge.

A view of central TAFE up Francis Street from William; I took the photo, but this is strikingly unreal.

What did I learn?

  • The city is organic and evolving
  • We act upon and within it (the place is NOT impervious)
  • Beauty is relative
  • Few people look up
  • I should do this more often

Two hours of walking – wary pedestrians, fluoro-orange jacketed surveyors, school holiday crowds and shoppers aside – I took an opportunity to reconsider the familiar with new eyes.

Perhaps that’s what we need to do in our lives as teachers, too; and I’m wondering if the inquiry walk will translate into my school setting next week. New beginnings in fourth term. Think I’ll pack a camera.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” – Shunryu Suzuki.

My plan is to practice maintaining the open curiosity of the beginner.

Selected reference

Suzuki, S. (2006). Zen mind, beginner’s mind. Boston, MA: Shambhala Press.


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