When Teresa Crea invited me to the Thinking Through The City Incubating Creativity Forum for the City of Norwood, Payneham and St. Peters, she suggested that I might like to be a provocateur. I like rocking the boat as much as the next person, but I felt that what the council is trying to achieve didn’t need that much provocation. Entering the ring of creative and digital industries through an engagement with community, business and creative practitioners seems eminently sensible. Of course that is not exactly what Teresa meant, but as it turned out it was not a role that was hugely necessary on the night. The conversations that developed during the forum, while diverse, had strong themes that demonstrated a real readiness to embrace a new way of thinking about how arts and creativity can work with business. This progressive conversation also served to highlight some of the less imaginative ways of thinking that have been plaguing a deeper engagement between creativity, community and business.
The last time I met Don Dunstan was in his restaurant “Don’s Table” on the Parade. He wasn’t well then, but he still enjoyed greeting his customers and having a chat over a glass of wine. That night he was serving the bread, going from table to table, with a basket and tongs. At the time I thought it was a beautiful and humble thing for such a visionary ex-premier to be doing. The thought came back to me recently as I was walking down the Parade, and I started to write this poem.
MEETING THE GHOST OF DON DUNSTAN ON NORWOOD PARADE
He slipped out of the median-strip trees,
carrying a humble bread roll
on a white china plate –
“Here,” he said, “A gift from the Shades.
You’re still dining out at my table.”
Heads turned at the sidewalk cafés,
all the fine-looking women of Norwood
sensing a presence, but still un-fazed.
“You’ve all gone back to sleep!” Don said,
“I wanted a renaissance, not a dormitory with malls.
i liked pliny, parsee eggs , and young men -
and I made a few mistakes.
It’s necessary to break open some tombs
if you intend to raise a dead state.”
Then parrots shrieked past
flying over the red galvo roof of the grandstand.
Still holding his serving tongs, the ghost began to fade –
disappearing into the listless night
of shop signs and car lights blinking along The Parade.
Mike Ladd South Australian Poet