I am guessing that the Redfern suburb in Sydney is named after William Redfern, a guy I read about in The Fatal Shore. He seems pretty awesome. He was a convict turned surgeon who ended up being a doctor to Governor Macquarie. Why was he good? He fought for changes in how the convicts were treated on the ships--helped introduce luxuries such as ventilation, fumigation, disinfection, and exercise.
Now I'm consulting the wisdom of Lord Wiki. He says: Redfern is subject to extensive redevelopment plans by state government to increase the population and reduce the concentration of poverty in the suburb and neighboring Waterloo.
I translate that to say: Come in the day instead of the night.
Okay. Yes. Lord Wiki confirms my suspicions about its name origins. He does fail to talk about the heroic efforts of Redfern. Instead it just says that Macquarie granted him some land in the area and that He built a country house on his property surrounded by flower and kitchen gardens. Yes, I'm sure these kitchen gardens are more important than what he did for the convicts.
Sorry. That just cracks me up.
Here's something exciting. There was some problem with a mail machine. I think in the 1960's? Some machine at the post office destroyed a bunch of letters.
On February 14, 2004 a young Aboriginal man named Thomas TJ Hickey thought he was being chased by a police car that seemed to be following him. He had a bike accident and got killed on a fence. There was controversy over whether proper medical help was called in time by the police or not. The incident led to anger and riots over the relationship between police and the Aboriginal community.
This news article has a photo of Hickey and a quote from one of his aunts. If you're black and you see a police car, you just run.
I think that's a feeling common in America too for African-Americans. Heck, I'm a white female and I get incredibly nervous when I see a police car. I can imagine it's a million times worse if you're a black male.
What seems to be the story is that Hickey WAS wanted by the police for various crimes, but the police claim that on the day Hickey died, they weren't chasing him. They were searching for someone else.
I don't know. Does it matter if they WERE chasing him? I guess what would make the police the bad guys in this story is if Hickey was innocent despite his criminal record. If they were chasing an innocent man and he died; then they would be more to blame.
But if police chase a criminal and the criminal flees and gets killed; wouldn't it be the fault of the criminal?
I don't know what to think about the medical bit. The police claim his injuries were so bad that Hickey would have died anyway--even if the ambulance was more prompt.
I definitely feel for Hickey, his family, and his community. I just don't know if I'd blame his death on the police. Maybe I'm just not understanding the full story.
Redfern has some interesting demographics. One out of four residents is classified as having no religion and/or being atheist. Lord Wiki says that's higher than the national average. I personally don't think they should lump atheists and no-religion together. You can have no religion and still be very spiritual. And you can belong to a religious group and not truly believe in God.
41.6% of Redfern residents live in public housing. That seems fairly high to me.
One of the most significant areas in Redfern is The Block. It was purchased by The Aboriginal Housing Company; but prior to 1972 it was not owned by the Aborigines and the white landlords tried to evict all the Indigenous Australians.
An Indigenous man named Bob Bellear led a campaign to get Whitlam's government to transfer ownership to the Aborigines. For those well tuned in to Australian history, they'll notice that this was the same year that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy popped up in front of Old Parliament House in Canberra.
The Block became a place for Indigenous Australians to find affordable housing.
Unfortunately, the area has a high crime rate and is avoided by taxi drivers. We have areas and problems like that in NYC as well.
Switching gears to a more trivial touristy topic--this website says Redfern is a good place to get Indian Sweets. I used to LOVE those. I mean I still do, but I'm less obsessed than I used to be.
That website also says that Caroline Chisholm was one of it's well-known residents. Like William Redfern, she worked to better the lives of people who got dealt a lousy hand of cards. She upgraded the quality of the immigration barracks and then helped the new female residents gain various skills such as cooking, cleaning, math, etc.
The Redfern-Waterloo Authority follows in the footsteps of Chihsolm and Redfern by working to better the community. It seems one of their primary goals is increasing employment levels of Indigenous Australians. One of their projects is the Yaama Dhiyaan Hospitality Training Center.
My only complaint is that the training course costs $250. That doesn't seem cheap to me--especially if you're unemployed. I'm wondering if they offer any scholarship programs. The classes run from 9-4 Mondays thru Fridays so it would be hard to find a job to support your schooling. It's too bad they don't have a work-study type program. Or maybe they do. I'll keep reading......
Well, I don't see anything about that. It says the program has connections with various restaurants in Sydney for employment possibilities. It seems to me it would be better to train the people for a lower fee and then have them work at the Yaama Dhiyaan's cafe or Function/Catering center.
My husband used to work in retail; and when they hired people they would train them. You didn't pay to be trained. You learned some stuff on the job by watching and learning; then you also had studying to do at home, and tests for certification. I think those people were actually paid to learn in contrast to my student-teaching days where I paid for the opportunity to work.
Before I started graduate school, when I was not sure if I wanted to be a teacher or not, I volunteered to work at two schools. They got free labor and I got a free education. It worked out great for both of us. That makes more sense and seems more fair than what happened when I went to graduate school. I paid TONS of money and the schools in which I did my official student-teaching got free labor. Is that fair?
I will say that the cafe sounds pretty cool. I wouldn't mind eating there.
I'm now going to Cityhobo to see what they say about Redfern. I can't wait to see what kind of shoe Redfern is.
Hobo says the cool spot in Redfern is a restaurant called Strangers With Candy. I saw their website a few minutes ago when I was Googling. It looked a little too cool for my taste--which probably translates as too expensive. I'd rather go to the less cool place with the cheap food.
Okay, Redfern is a Puma.
I need to find a suburb that's shoe is overpriced sandals that are over ten years old and no longer made by the company that made them--treasured shoes that you cling to and that you fear will become worn out, broken, or lost. I really love my shoes and I fear I will never find anything good enough to replace them.
Hobo says Redfern has areas that will make some people feel on edge, but other parts such as east Redfern will make you feel less on edge. They have trees and cafes. I guess trees and cafes make people feel less on edge. Gunshots and bars on windows make people MORE on edge.
I'm now going onto Google Maps--that's always fun.
Ah....I found a mistake I made. I thought for some reason that the University of Sydney was IN Redfern, but it's not. It's north from there--in Surrey Hills.
Okay, now I see why I got confused. Redfern has the closest train station to the university, so I guess they get a lot of students trampling through the area.
The Yaama Dhiyaan hospitality House seems to maybe be in The Block. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to go there. I guess it would depend on what the current reputation is like.
Maybe we'll go onto Baptist Street. It's in east Redfern which Cityhobo labels as being the less frightening part of the suburb.
Another thing I'm thinking (based on the map) is that it LOOKS like Redfern is fairly close to the Farmer's Market in Moore Park. Maybe we can take the train into Redfern--explore the area a bit and then walk over to Moore Park. OR we could do Moore Park on another day and head to the University from Redfern. But would there be anything exciting for us at the University? Would Jack get any joy out if it besides his mother trying to brainwash him into one day becoming a student there?
Timeout Sydney has a fairly good article about The Block. It talks about the basic challenges in gentrification. How do you improve an area and make it more attractive to the people who have money without alienating or kicking out the people who already live there? Can you improve an area without making it impossible for the current residents to afford it?
In ten years, The Block may be a safe pleasant area that is frequented by annoying American tourists like me. But will the current residents be purged from the area?
It's all a bit complicated and sad.
When we were in San Francisco last September there were a lot of homeless people begging for money. It was annoying and uncomfortable for us. We feel better being in a place where there's no homeless people pestering us for money. It's nice to imagine that a place is lacking homeless people because they're all in a lovely shelter eating fresh fruit, getting facials, and watching political debates. But it's more likely that there are no homeless people because they've been chased away to make things more pleasant for tourists and wealthier residents.
I remember talking to my cousin who is a SF resident. We complained about the amount of homeless people--seeing it as a negative. But she then said something like Yeah. San Francisco is a great city for the homeless. It kind of gave me a different perspective.
This guy on Virtualtourist says Eveleigh street (part of The Block) is off limits to non-indigenous people. I'm not sure what off-limits means exactly--not that I'm into testing the definition.
Tim and I were talking about city websites and we said there should be one where it rates the welcoming aspect for each type of person.
Let's take for example gay/lesbians. If a neighborhood is rated one star, this means that you'll be shot as soon as someone finds out you're homosexual.
Two stars means it's okay if you jog by quickly, but you might be in trouble if stop to buy something or eat in a restaurant.
Three Stars means you're safe. No one is likely to give you grief. You can even buy a house here without the neighbors complaining that you're ruining the neighborhood.
Four Stars means you're welcomed. They might even have some venues specifically geared towards gays and lesbians.
Five Stars means this neighborhood is THE place to be if you're gay.
I'm guessing the Block in Redfern won't be a four or five star for us American white people. But would it be a one star? Two star?
ETA-I have been contacted by someone who has given me further insight into the Hickey case. As we all learned from Elphaba, there's two sides to every story.
I said above that if someone is chased by the police for criminal activity and they die during the chase, they are the ones to be blamed. The factor I didn't consider is what compels them to run. In the eyes of a sheltered white girl, running from the police is about avoiding responsibility. For Hickey, and other people who are not white, it can sometimes be about avoiding police brutality. From the articles given to me, it seems that Hickey was terrified of one of the cops following him because of a previous experience with this particular officer.
Also, according to some witnesses, police removed Hickey from the fence instead of keeping him there and waiting for an ambulance. I think most of us intelligent people know that you do not move an injured person--especially one that seems to be impaled.
For more information on this subject, please email the Indigenous Social Justice Association at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also watch this video of an interview with Ray Jackson of the Indigenous Social Justice Association.