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City of Fremantle

fSpace Magazine – Balancing Act

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The following is from FREMANTLE Space, the fSpace magazine that explores work, life and community in Fremantle.

Balancing Act

The Mayor of Fremantle on acting from integrity, balancing his public and personal life, and building a port town into a vibrant and creative city.

Words: Kristen Marano, Photography: Sabine Albers

fSpace: In 2013 you published a post on your blog and said: “Being the Mayor of Fremantle is a fantastic and stimulating job, but I have come to realize that it comes with the occupational hazard of possibly falling out of love with our amazing city. How’s your heart feeling about Freo now?

Brad Pettitt: Basketball player Luc Longley, who was very supportive when I became mayor, said to me, “the danger of what you’re doing is that the place you love and want to get involved with ends up becoming your patient. And it’s hard to love your patient [laughs], because you’re always trying to fix it, rather than enjoy it.” That’s always stuck with me. Look, it’s really important that I take days when I put on a semi-disguise; I put on my hat and sunglasses and I go into Fremantle, and I’m not the mayor; I don’t have conversations about fixing Freo.

You were re-elected in 2017. What did you learn about yourself in the first two terms that you’ve applied to how you lead now?

I’ve learned the importance of being clear about who you are and what you stand for; acknowledging your weaknesses, but not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Then some of the haters will fall away, because they’ll see what they were opposing really wasn’t that bad.

The first two terms were each defined by a strong community battle. In the second term we decided to move our celebrations from January 26th to another daythat didn’t just blow up locally, it blew up nationally. That was hard because there was a lot of extreme hate and anger. But again I knew what we were doing was right, and we needed to stick to the message and continue.

Do your professional and personal values ever conflict?

No, I can’t think of when they conflict. I guess that’s part of integrity, is making sure that what you do is aligned. I remember someone asking me around the Australia Day stuff, “how do you wear it all?” I wasn’t that stressed to be honest. I was slightly frustrated around what I thought was a stupid conversation, and the hysteria and unwillingness of people to have a dialogue. It was pretty clear in the conversations with the Aboriginal community, that it was what they wanted to see happen. It was logical, and it was a conversation the country needed to have.

Then I realised the reason I wasn’t stressed was because, if you’re doing it from a space where you don’t feel internally conflicted, then it’s easy. There are a lot of small battles you could have out with people and I think, where’s it going to take you? I don’t always succeed at that, but that’s certainly the goal I try and set for myself.

Yeah. You’re present in the community. You’ll enjoy a drink at Who’s Your Mama, stroll around MANY, and DJ at events around Fremantle. Does being open work for you? Do you ever feel suffocated?

Occasionally but not often. I still go to a café at least once a day and read the paper and do some emailing. Sometimes people come up and ask a question, or they come up and say hi and leave you alone. That’s pretty cool. The balance still feels okay.

How do you like to spend your time at home?

I enjoy pottering and making things, whether it be making a sand pit for my daughter, which is what I did last weekend, or little things like gardening. But, I also like writing; that’s one of my new ambitions for the next 12 months is to make a lot more space for writing.

The idea is to step out a bit more and think bigger picture about, what does leadership for livable, sustainable cities look like? What are some of the lessons that Freo and Freo’s journey can share with other places, and what can we learn from other places?

How isn’t Freo realising its potential?

Oh, hugely, in so many ways. WA as well. We haven’t realised our potential as amazing destination for tourism with a heart. We get a sense that international tourists are really fascinated by WA and it’s uniqueness; a big part of that uniqueness is the fact that we’re home to the oldest culture on earth.

We have potential for an amazing city where jobs can be next to where people live, which is next to where they recreate, and we can really build a community on that basis. But we don’t, we have everybody traveling by car to the same location for a job…we wonder why we have congestion. They’re a result of the choices we make, but all those can be fixed and solved.

Fremantle is an accessible and welcoming place for creativity. How do we keep people here, so they don’t go off to Sydney and Melbourne where they think a larger population will create more opportunities?

That is our challenge: we’re isolated and small. But, I think there’s enough here. So, this is where it’s got to be part of a plan. It needs affordable spaces. You need creative structure, Internet, and those sort of things. You also need housing. We don’t want people, who are working here to live half an hour away. How do we actually make it, so that one of the reasons that you chose to work in Freo is because you live a 10-minute walk away?

This is what has been exciting about fSpace. There’s a sense of momentum building towards Fremantle becoming a hub again for people who are creative, who are innovative entrepreneurs, who are willing to try new things, and fail fast and willing to be in Freo.

Look out until the end of your term in 2021. Where do you wish for Fremantle to be?

I want Fremantle to be a real beacon for others, because it says look, here’s a place where you really can live in interesting housing, work in interesting diverse jobs, and play in great new bars and cafés all within walking distance of each other. Because that’s rare in WA.

I want Fremantle to be a vibrant community, but one that celebrates its difference in diversity. One that’s really welcoming and inclusive. And part of that difference is it will be a leader in sustainability and renewable energy and non-car based transport and good clever, urban density.

You’re a new dad. What’s important for you to show Aoife in her first few years?  

Having a daughter you think about the future much more, and it makes you see the city differently again through the eyes of somebody else. It’s kind of that sense of what it’s that she loves in the city…mostly just swings, but you know [laughs]. She loves people. She loves going to places where there’s people, there’s life, and there’s movement.

I want Freo to be a place she loves as well, but also one where, when she’s 20-something, she can afford to live in by herself. I don’t want Freo to be one of those places, where it just gentrifies, and it’s a place for a small elite and a lifestyle seeps out of that. The other really big challenge is really working hard to keep affordable working spaces and affordable living spaces in the heart of our city.

Business Development Program Open for Applications

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fSpace recently celebrated our 4th birthday with an event that included a visit from Mayor Brad Pettitt.

The mayor was on hand to formally announce funding for a third Business Development Program – a collaborative program between fSpace and The City of Fremantle that provides financial support to businesses within the creative industries.

Mayor Pettitt said, “The Business Development Program is a unique collaboration between the City of Fremantle and fSpace designed to promote the local creative and knowledge economy, assist start-ups and small business to grow and to encourage innovation in Fremantle.”

“This program has been a great driver in attracting individuals and businesses from outside Fremantle, with the majority of participants still going strong here in Fremantle.”

fSpace owner, Sabine Albers, said that over the two previous years, this program has helped over 20 businesses develop and grow in Fremantle.

“In addition to the financial support towards a professional workspace, businesses have benefited from the inspiring energy, collaborations, and strong sense of community at fSpace.”

She added that some former program participants have grown their businesses and are now in larger, dedicated offices in Fremantle.

“Our members, including former program participants, are doing ground breaking and award winning things in a variety of industries, including creative, health, professional services and technology.”

The Business Development Program offers qualified businesses and start-ups three to six months of subsidised workspace at fSpace.

To be eligible for the program, a business must fall within the creative industries sector. These are businesses that are primarily focused on individual creativity, skill and talent.

Curve Tomorrow was one of the first participants of this program when they expanded to Western Australia from offices in Melbourne.

Mo Jaimangal, a cofounder and director of Curve Tomorrow, previously explained during an fSpace Talks Event that they seek to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people by applying their knowledge of technology in health and medical services.

 

When the mayor asked for an example of this, Mo spoke about the work they’ve done with leading autism researchers to automate the diagnosis of children on the autism spectrum.

He explained, “We’ve taken what they were doing – a very manual process with psychologists observing children playing with toys, timing them with a stopwatch and making notes with pen and paper – and created a game that can be played on an iPad.”

“In addition to a quicker and more efficient diagnosis that leads to earlier treatments, this assessment can be done anywhere. We collect and store the test results on a secure cloud, where psychologists can look at them and decide on treatments.”

The Business Development Program is available to new business start-ups as well as existing businesses that are looking to develop and grow from Fremantle.

This year’s program has added optional coaching and mentorship towards developing a formal business plan – a crucial step for any new business start up.

Sabine Albers said she loves the diversity of the people who share and make her fSpace what it is.

“It’s really exciting to have such a mix of passionate people doing so many interesting and helpful things. The energy this creates is just fantastic.”

Sabine added that values of empathy, respect and support continue to create an inspiring atmosphere that not only helps maximize productivity, but also creates an environment that people want to a part of.

To learn more about the Business Development Program, visit fspace.me/business.

fSpace Talks – Troy Gerwien

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Troy was the latest to present at our fSpace Talks series, but he took his presentation in a different direction.

Troy is an IT consultant, software developer and web developer. He’s worked in and consulted for a variety of businesses, NGOs, as well as in the health & education sectors. Troy recently started his own company, Structable, but instead chose to focus his talk on some interesting volunteer work he’s involved in.

CoderDojo is a grass-roots charitable organization that was created to provide free mentoring to children aged 7-17 on how to code software. CoderDojo was founded in 2011 by a teenager, James Whelton. In 2010, young James enjoyed 5 minutes of fame for successfully hacking an iPod he’d won.

Just a few years after opening the first CoderDojo, there are now over 1000 locations spread across 63 countries. CoderDojo has a goal of 1500 locations teaching coding to 100,000 children.

Each Dojo club operates independently and while there are some structures, there are no curriculums or strict frameworks. Kids can (and are encouraged to) create whatever they want, including games, apps, music, and websites.

Troy volunteers at the Fremantle Dojo and he shared how he applies the fundamentals to coding (steps, loops & decisions) in helping kids learn how to code. Troy showed that unlike the typical black screen with all the lines that professional coders live in, CoderDojos use Scratch – a visual and intuitive coding program created by some very smart people at MIT.

Some good reasons for kids to learn coding include:

  • It helps opens doors
  • Much like our smartphones, technology is becoming simpler
  • It provides an endlessly creative outlet
  • It promotes systematic thinking
  • Lots of kids love it

Another good reason is the surprising prediction that by the year 2025, roughly 50% of all jobs are likely to be obsolete. Creative thinking and the ability to break down steps to work out options and processes will be critical skills as new jobs emerge.

Troy showed us that coding with Scratch is much like playing with Lego – you can select options, move things around and create a lot of different things.

With our input, Troy created a basic spaceship game from a blank screen in about 10 minutes. As he would with a kid at the Fremantle Dojo, he described each step in creating the game as he used the intuitive drag-and-drop blocks the Scratch programming tool provides.

Visit coderdojo.com for more information or visit the Fremantle Dojo, which meets every Wednesday from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm at the Fremantle City Library. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or enrolling a child can stop by during these hours.

Thanks Troy for the presentation!

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fSpace as a finalist

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FBAwards2016

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce recently organised another great event, The Fremantle Business Awards for 2016. Held at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, a broad and colourful selection of Fremantle’s business community gathered to celebrate their hard work and achievements in business.

The Esplanade Hotel filled up with business owners and entrepreneurs, most of whom looked spectacular having dressed to the theme of the film Casino Royale. Bright lights, classic Bond music, casino ballroom décor and even a shiny new Aston Martin all made the event something to behold.

fSpace was a finalist for the Excellence in Professional Services Awards. Although we didn’t walk away with the award (or drive away in the car), we did leave feeling even more inspired thanks to the other finalists and winners.

fSpace is ready for another year of great community, inspiration and success!

City of Fremantle & fSpace join forces

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The City of Fremantle and local co-working space provider fSpace are pleased to announce the launch of an innovative new business incubator program to help small businesses within the creative industries sector.

The City of Fremantle and fSpace Creative Industries Program offers qualified businesses three months of subsidised workspace at fSpace, a vibrant co-working space located in the heart of Fremantle.

To be eligible, a business must satisfy a number of criteria, the most important being that they operate within the creative industries sector. Architecture, IT & software/computer services, design (graphic, fashion or product); and film, TV & video are just a few examples of creative industries.

The program will help small business owners looking to take the next step by subsidising their workspace costs and providing them with an opportunity to work alongside and collaborate with other successful business owners and professionals.

“The City views the continuing emergence of creative industries in Fremantle as a key driver in Fremantle’s ongoing rejuvenation,” said Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

“The partnership with fSpace is a great fit for us and we look forward to being able to help kick-start some innovative local businesses that hopefully go on to become industry leaders,” said Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

Sabine Albers, owner of fSpace, said she was excited to be partnering with the City to help creative businesses.

“Each month, people come into fSpace wanting to start their own business but struggle with the financial commitment to make a go of it,” Sabine said.

“This program will provide the opportunity for people to work alongside some fantastic entrepreneurs at fSpace and will help get innovative business ideas off the ground or take an existing venture to the next level”

The program is available to new business start-ups as well as existing businesses looking to develop and grow in Fremantle.