#BeMoreBarrio: Going Back To The Neighbourhood

I really love the fact that Brisbane band Sheppard has been getting some love from international YouTubers lately.

Sure there may be a little bias on my part since I lived in Brisbane for two years and consequently had the chance to see and experience the beauty and creativity that’s born in a small city; like the thriving local bands and artists, craft cafes and cool restaurants, comfortable outdoor spaces, sub-tropical forestry, friendly people, etc. … sounds really nice and familiar, right?

But I guess that’s the point of Sheppard’s song:

Cities? Nah man. The neighbourhood, that’s the place to be … no maps, no cars … Say hi to him, maybe to her, end it all on the patio, let’s just … Be More Barrio.  

If you don’t already know, ‘barrio’ is the Spanish word for district or neighbourhood. I first heard that word from my mum but I still thought I’d check with handy dandy Google… Yep, we all live and learn in the digital neighbourhood also known as the internet.

I’ve only recently moved back to my hometown Sydney and have only now realised how much a place can really be a part of you. There are certain values instilled in you by your family, friends, teachers and mentors when growing up, and those very values were reinforced by your surroundings without you even realising it.

For example, the notion of diversity (whether it be ethnic, cultural, religious, political, etc) was something that was somewhat commonplace in Sydney. The notion that ‘difference’ had a potential to be negative and breed unfamiliarity may have been present, but the emphasis on inclusion and dialogue were even greater.

I was taught the importance of making an effort to be open, accepting and welcoming because, if I looked right around me, there were people from different backgrounds living in the same place we all wanted to call home.

While I admired the strong sense of Queensland pride that could be felt among people in Brisbane, their sporting prowess and their general health and fitness culture, the family-friendly atmosphere, the unaffected charm and friendliness of people … It just wasn’t quite home for me. I couldn’t quite rub Sydney off the back of my mind no matter how much I liked Brisbane.

I really missed Sydney. The fast-paced energy, the dynamism and the cultural diversity, the openness and acceptance of others, and that beautiful harbour which I never tire admiring … such a beautiful city! (Yeah, I know, I’m biased)

I guess that’s what I really like about Sheppard’s song; it emphasises the fact that, no matter who you are or where you’re living, we all want that sense of home: that very place where we feel most free and loved being just who we are.

When you think about it, what really defines a place is its people; It’s not so much the landscape, the weather or whatever, it’s definitely the people and the culture they create, foster and pass on to others.

We all have a part in making that. Home doesn’t just happen. A lot of love and effort is put into creating a sense of home for others and ourselves.

SO… what can each of us do to make the places we live in Be More Barrio?

One obvious step could be making an effort to know the people (beyond their names) who work at your fave cafes, or your local meat shop, or even the people at the magazine stands you pass by on your way to work.

With a bit of courage and creativity, we can make our cities/towns/neighbourhoods a real home for others and for ourselves.

We really all have something to give and it might not seem big or significant at first glance but it has an impact. Think about it.

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