“My place” was a place to take risks and feel safe: Mary Lynne Pidcock on making communities

Words Mary Lynne Pidcock / Interview Fay Edwards / Image Jessica Lindsay, City of Sydney

Mary LynneThe word “place” has special connotation for me and takes me to a physical location and an emotional realm in my memory. The context is my childhood.

Here, in the parlance of the country kids I grew up with, “place” was personal and understanding of it was shared.

We knew our way around, we felt that we belonged in our neighbourhood, we recognised, and were recognised by, most of the others we came across each day. We felt safe and we took risks. Sometimes we acted together, sometimes individually, always with growth and understanding as outcomes – along with a few broken bones and other reminders that not everything works out according to plan. We enjoyed personal freedom within a strong network of family and community elders who reminded us of our responsibilities. We grew resilient and knew we could depend on others if we needed help. Everyone seemed to be engaged in a hobby which required hours of dedicated effort, not all of which produced the expected result. The enjoyment was in “the doing”, not in “the having”.

Besides the place of my neighbourhood, the other most valued place in my memory was my home. I remember it filled with activity, music, friends, visitors, relatives, strangers speaking other languages, parties, animated discussions and arguments, food and beverages! It provided lots of opportunities to join in, or watch listen and learn, or simply disappear in the crowd and engage in “me time”.

My place” was special and of its time.

I do not write this with nostalgia for the good old days, but rather with a desire to reflect on and appreciate the things that made this place special to me and others who shared it with me.

At 107 Projects, we focus our efforts and talents on “creative placemaking” because we believe that in so doing, we can support individuals, strengthen communities and encourage expression of talent.

We are inclusive, welcoming, irreverent, safe and accessible. We love to hear and interrogate new ideas from disparate groups and we encourage creative risk-taking. We love to get together at social gatherings with music, food and beverages to set the scene for unexpected magic. Our enjoyment of conversation is grounded the knowledge that respectful exchange of views is the key to mutual understanding and personal growth.

Although the physical aspects of 107’s two centres (107 Redfern and Joynton Avenue Creative Centre in Green Square), differ from each other in many ways, the principles of creative placemaking apply to both. At the base is connection to community in order to gain insights, to encourage participation, to learn and respond, and to celebrate the diversity of talent and experience which makes each “place” special and resilient.

We help build communities which are strong and sustainable. Such communities are generous in spirit, respectful of the past, engaged in a vibrant and energetic present, welcoming of an exciting and promising future, founded on mutual respect, nurturing and protection of the vulnerable, support and encouragement of the young.

Just like “My Place”.

Mary Lynne Pidcock, Board Chair, 107 Projects

Mary Lynne Pidcock is the chair of the 107 board, president of the South Sydney Business Chamber, and an active and passionate member of the Redfern community.

This piece is part of a larger series on making places – what it means, why good places matter, and how we can create spaces that really work for the communities that use them. Read the full placemaking series here.

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