'Killing Sydney' by Elizabeth Farrelly
‘Killing Sydney - The Fight for a City's Soul' is a beautifully written, inspiring call to arms but it is not a polite book. As Elizabeth Farrelly argues so eloquently, the stakes are too high now to waste time pulling punches.
Blooming on the shores of our lovely harbour, Sydney has largely managed to balance progress and nature or greed and goodness - what Farrelly describes as Primate and Angel - producing the jostling, messy, colourful, vibrant, sassy Sydney everyone loves.
But greed’s been let off the lead and Sydney is in dire danger of death by development. Farrelly isn't anti-development, but she is furiously anti-exploitation and the scale and rapacity of the plans and construction sweeping Sydney patently favour short-term gain for some at the expense of the long term health and welfare of many.
This is a book about Sydney, but its wisdom and insights apply to the struggles facing all modern cities. In fact, I'd argue that they apply beyond the city limits and out into the country where the tricky discussion of self-determination versus the urgent systemic change in agricultural management required to mitigate climate collapse is getting hotter.
'Killing Sydney' ends with the lovely 'A Citizen's Manifesto - for everyone who wants to help Sydney find its better self' - a practical, inspiring list of all the positive things that anyone can do to become a better citizen. It starts with 'Make noise' and finishes with the promise of 'a bigger, richer, more imaginative life' and by the end I had my hanky out and would have willing trotted after Farrelly into a battle for our city's soul.
What's at stake here is community. Yours, mine, ours and theirs - the generations to come. What happens next depends on each and every one of us choosing to engage, to fight for the health and prosperity of diverse, thriving, vibrant communities at every level.
Start by reading this book.