Embracing our communities

It seems like the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has given the most liveable cities list a miss this year.

In saying that, however, last month a headline of sorts got my attention. While it seems as though this year we may be going without a final list of most liveable cities, but instead Time Out have released a list of best neighbourhoods, including some very well-known areas of a particular city have been ranked to compensate.

Upon further research I learned that it wasn’t the first year this list had been published, just the first year I was alerted to it.

I find it difficult to pinpoint many of these neighbourhoods outside of Australia. Much of the time while travelling, I do not give a lot of thought to the area I am in, but remember things like landmarks and street names and get so caught up in where I am that I forget to take notice of the neighbourhood name. I am confident enough to say that out of the top 30, I have visited only 4, when I have been to many of the cities these areas are located in! It is highly likely that I have been to a few more, without realising it, which only goes to show that maybe I should pay more attention while travelling. Though I do have to say, getting caught up in the moment is a great way to discover new places too. Retracing your steps to find on return trips is even better; it’s often quite a challenge, which is all part of the fun of it!

Determining factors

Earlier this month I stumbled across another similar list, this time of ‘The best cities in the world’ with populations of more than one million. This list ranks cities based on 6 metrics including Place, Product, Programming, People, Prosperity and Promotion. There were 5 Australian cities featured in the list, which makes me happy to be living here right now, and generally all the time (except when I am longing for an overseas getaway).

Similar to this blog post from last year, and also earlier this year when I looked at the need to redefine liveability in 2020, I wanted to look at some of the determining factors for these kinds of lists. Ranking factors for the World’s coolest neighbourhoods list include neighbourliness and how communities come together in times of crisis. Both of these have truly been tested in 2020, and while this post isn’t intended to point out the countries who have done really well in that aspect, I think strong, yet empathetic leadership plays a huge part.

People and community

These newly discovered lists are much more modern, which is what I was talking about in my post last year. I suggested that we needed an acknowledgement of the people who make a community what it is, and an appreciation of its differences.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how to better live together, and share common spaces. It has taught us to find new ways to interact by embracing digital technologies that were already at our fingertips. Online meetings, online shopping, online food orders, you name it, you can do it with a device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

I disagree that this has contributed to a fragmented society or a disconnected community. Experiencing something as challenging as we have done this year has not been an easy feat, and as stated in CNN travel magazine, it really is “cool to be kind”, and the community you are in plays a big part in that.

Consuming energy

I must admit that lately I have been thinking a lot about our carbon footprint and the energy consumed around the world during COVID, including the increase in technology consumption largely due to these new ways of connecting and more time spent at home. While pollution may have reduced somewhat, we are still relying on an instantaneous connection across all of our devices, which we use to work, entertain, shop and buy food pretty much all day every day. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this, and plan on covering the topic on a deeper level in next month’s blog post by looking into how the energy consumption in 2020 compares with the year prior.

Until then, stay healthy, stay kind and stay curious.

Redefining liveability in 2020

In 2018 I wrote a blog post about the top 10 most liveable cities in the world according to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EUI) and reasons that I found this list questionable. I referred to the lack of separation between developed and developing cities, and that it seems somewhat biased that one is expected to compete against the other.

The 2019 list fared similar results to the year prior, with the same cities ranked as number 1 and 2 (Austria, Melbourne) according to factors including stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure, which I agree are all very important factors.

But I do wonder how the 2020 list will play out, if it is ever released?

With COVID-19 having affected and still affecting most of the world, should our cities’ responsiveness to deal with a global pandemic also be considered?

The 2020 list

It could be argued that the entire purpose of a city and its liveability should be redefined.

After ranking as number 2 for two consecutive years, how will Melbourne, Australia fare in future lists? No longer the epicentre for work, dining and entertainment with harsh restrictions in place on and off throughout 2020, the city of Melbourne has reportedly been a much quieter place.

Will the 2020 be the year that the prerequisites are adjusted in light of the pandemic?

We are in such a strange time, so many people’s lives have been turned upside down (whether though loss or major disruption) or affected in some other way (weddings cancelled, travel postponed).

Of course, the liveability index won’t take the percentage of people affected by these inconveniences into account, this is well outside of their ranking factors. But it seems that Melbourne is no longer the place that everyone wants to be.

Life in Melbourne

During the past 6 months, it has become clear to most Melburnians that we are most comfortable when we live in close proximity to:

  • Nature, parklands or walking tracks
  • A supermarket
  • Healthcare

This year we have finally been pushed to realise the full potential of having many services available to us online. It has been said that the world has jumped forward 10 years so that we can cope with the pandemic and luckily, we can get the majority of what we need this way relatively quickly and easily.

What next?

Whether the aftermath or 2020 means packing up and leaving the state, moving back in or away from parents or staying put when the end of the pandemic is in sight, we will have to wait and see.

There has been a lot of chatter about getting out of Victoria, escaping to a place with the supposed luxury of ‘being free.’

It might seem like a good idea right now, but isn’t the appeal of a big city what drew many of us here in the first place? But now it seems that ever since we started working from home, many of us have re-evaluated our lives and what is important, realising that we can work like this from anywhere.

I have mentioned before that I hope that businesses learn from this, put employees first and find a way for their staff to continue working from home if that is what they want.

So should the 2020 (or 2021) list include cities that have demonstrated a resilience and a capacity to bounce back?

I think so. And will this list include Melbourne? Probably not.

I will be very interested to see if the list is released at some point this year, a year of all kinds of firsts for many of us.