Over three days in late February 2007 leading representatives of the Alice Springs community came together to discuss the revitalisation of their central business district. Expressing the view that the town’s future amenity, attractiveness and vitality depended on working together, they shared their experiences, their aspirations, and their solutions. Over those days we talked about what creates a sense of place.
We remembered connections that had been lost. We imagined reconnecting – to the past, to each other, to the river, and thus to the future. We did this by telling stories, drawing mind maps, recreating Alice Springs in our collective affections. We put our fingers on the pulse of the Red Centre, and found a vibrant, proud community eager to rebuild the town where it lives.
It has not been hard to find out what people want: reconnection to the river, better east-west connectivity throughout the CBD, reconnection to country; a renewed sense of collective identity, expressed in a revived desert knowledge economy; an improved lifestyle and a renewed social cohesion. It has not been difficult to find agreement about these aspirations. The hard part has been to marry the spatial and the social, to ensure that the new connectivity of the CBD reconnects people as well as places. The hard part has been to ensure that in the process of reconnecting places, people recognise that they, too, are being reconnected. Reconnection is at the heart of revitalisation.
The four projects described in this Strategic Summary mirror what we have learned from the Alice Springs community over 18 months of formal and informal consultation. Consultation and design work on one of the projects, the Todd Mall Upgrade, will take place in 2010-11 with the physical work commencing through $5 million in the following financial year.