Just found a fascinating website milkbar.com.au which is documenting change and the impact of change on a local community – Fitzory in Melbourne Australia. This is an evolving body of work which is considering, among other things, the impact of technology and globalisation on the local community. As the abstract at the website says: “this project is an attempt to historically objectify the process known as globalisation in an inner urban community (in the developed world) using online interactive tools.”
At the website you can view video interviews with Fitzroy residents about the impact of globalisation on their lives and their community – providing valuable documentation for today and the future when others assess this generation’s choices.
In explaining why Mild Bars are important, the website creator quotes Collins, Jock (et.al.) A Shop Full of Dreams: Ethnic Small Business in Australia, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1995:
“The story of ethnic small business in Australia is a remarkable one. Locked out of the opportunity to prosper in the mainstream labour market, many Australian immigrants took the very risky step of opening their own business. The Chinese Restaurant, the Greek milk bar or Italian fruit and vegetable shop gradually became enduring-and endearing-features of contemporary Australian life. As the post war Australian immigration net was cast over a wider area, other newly arrived immigrants followed the small business dream. Australian cities began to be transformed into cosmopolitan communities. The economic success of ethnic small business is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of Australia’s immigrants, sharpened on a strong desire to survive and to create prosperity for their children. Collective family and community resources and networks were mobilised in an effort to make their shop of their dreams an economic success.”
Milk Bars, fruit shops, newsagencies, bakeries, flower shops, butchers, dry cleaners, delicatessens and hair salons are bastions of the local community. We need them if Australia is to retain its identity. They carry our culture for the next generation and the next generation.
Independent retailers need to mobilise their local community, friends, employees, colleagues and suppliers to support their businesses and similar independent businesses just as Australia’s immigrant communities did decades ago. We need to look after our own if we want the independents to be here for the long term.
We’ve been playing in this space for 24 years, helping small businesses compete. It’s a mission we feel passionate about.