I’m Julie Rudner. Prior to starting up this blog space, I was an environmental planner in regional NSW, and then a PhD student in urban planning. I now work as a Lecturer in the Community Planning and Development Program at La Trobe University.
I started this blog space for reasons of self-interest and altruism. My self-interest stems from my concern that successive generations may not gain the exposure nor have the experiences required to learn how to love the public spaces of our cities and towns. I wonder, ‘What types of places we will create for our future if we do not have an intimate knowledge, appreciation, and connection with our living spaces and each with other (even strangers!)?’ When I am old, I want to be able to enjoy the public realm, so I want to make sure I have all the help I can get by encouraging discussion about how we can do things to get to where I, and hopefully others, want to be.
From a more altruistic stance, I realised many adults and young people are thinking about issues of risk, competence, adventure and independence. Many are trying to understand and grapple with these matters by talking, whinging, worrying, debating, and even blaming while meeting at coffee shops, school events, dinner parties, and so on. However, there did not seem to be a space in this part of the world where people could communicate more broadly. While I would have preferred someone else starting up a blog, I did not have the patience to wait.
I became interested in how we think about risk in relation to children when I was doing my PhD studies which was about conceptions of risk and children’s independent mobility. I discovered that parents around the world are concerned about potential dangers or ‘risks’ their children might encounter if they go out alone. While parents share similar concerns about traffic in Australiasia, Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Europe and the UK, parents’ concerns about stranger danger were different.
This got me to thinking: How do we understand risk, and how does it impact on children’s freedom to go places on their own? I found some really interesting and valuable insights in books by John Adams, Tim Gill, and Frank Furedi, but I still wasn’t satisfied. So I spent a bit of time trying to find out how parents’, local government officers’ and policy (local, state, federal & international) views interact to create a public knowing of risk.
After all those years of study, I came to the following major conclusion:
We need to rethink our notion of risk.