Welcome to the second edition of The Westsider – our first for 2015!
Firstly thank you for all of your emails, messages, social media comments and ‘shares’, and for supporting this, your newspaper.
Citizen journalism provides a unique opportunity for you to speak and for others to listen, and for all the achievements of our modern society – space travel, microchip technology and One Direction – a less admirable outcome is that many of us seem to like talking more than we do listening. Couple that with our reluctance to recognise the contribution of others, and we end up with a blanket dismissal of anyone ‘old’, powerless or without a forum to voice their concerns, or tell us their stories.
Here’s an example which you may identify with. For years I’ve watched my elderly neighbour totter about his business. He wanders down to the corner shop to pick up his newspaper and milk, he trims his hedges, and offers a smile and a friendly wave whenever our eyes meet. We converse occasionally with the usual; health enquiries, the weather, and vague invites to share a cup of tea, but I’m too self-important and busy to take the time to delve further.
At a glance he’s typical: harmless, pleasant and banal, just another nice old man, filling similar homes in a street near you.
Finally, after not having seen him for a while I knocked on his door to check that he was alright. He was, we got talking, and over the next few weeks he told me a bit about his 88 years; meeting his wife 70 years ago at an army dance in Footscray, working as an engineer, pioneering several industries, employing hundreds of people, and giving back to the western suburbs. An entrepreneur before anyone knew what the word meant, leading a life so much fuller, interesting and valuable than mine to date.
It was a humbling lesson. Subconsciously or not, I had simultaneously overrated myself and dismissed him as effortlessly as I raise my daily latte to my lips.
So as the year rolls on, I hope you will take advantage of this forum – tell us, because we are here to listen.
Managing Editor, The Westsider