• Matt Sykes

A New Victorian Era

By Matt Sykes

Victorian icon - Flinders Street Station, 1854 -

The Victorians were a proud lot. The global institutions that they formed from the mid 1830s up until the turn of the century are an enduring legacy for which cities around the Earth owe a great deal of gratitude. Galleries, museums, zoos, botanic gardens and public baths were the markers of a golden age. Embodied in this era’s values was increasing awareness around the importance of everyday peoples’ access to nature, community and cultures. Of course, there was darkness, but also much light.

Signs of the time are embedded in Melbourne’s cultural fabric. Consider the Royal Botanic Gardens founded in the 1840s, Brighton Baths which date back to the 1860s and the Royal Exhibition Building completed in the 1880s. Over a century has passed and once again we find ourselves in desperate need of closer connections to nature, community and cultures.

So, what then, will be the legacy institutions and infrastructure that mark the post-COVID era? And how will they respond to the grand challenges of our time – a global pandemic, climate change, biodiversity loss, systemic racism and economic collapse? What kinds of innovation would the Victorians have embraced to ‘Build Back Better’? And which radical collaborations would they have harnessed to cultivate that change?

You see, we are being presented with a remarkable, creative and entrepreneurial opportunity. As brutally hard as the realities of COVID-19 are, new shoots will grow. Everything I have learned from First Nations Elders tells me that the backbone of our regeneration must be our lands and waters.

Victorian icon - Royal Botanic Gardens, 1846 -

At Regeneration Projects,

We gather inspiration from female community Rangers in India and Africa who are bridging village life and conservation.

We note London becoming the world’s first National Park City.

We monitor the emergence of swimmable urban rivers and harbours from Oslo to Berlin and New York.

We listen across cultures to Indigenous Elders of the Confluence Project.

We understand the ecosystem services provided by the Amazon rainforest.

Regenerating our bays, rivers, forests, grasslands, parks, gardens and roadsides are the key to unlocking a New Victorian Era.

Are you with us?

Victorian icon - Middle Brighton Baths, 1881 -

38 views0 comments