I had a phone call Friday morning from Bill Saravinovski, the Mayor of Rockdale, New South Wales (situated on Botany Bay, 12km from Sydney, Australia). I first came across Bill following an interview of him on the BBC website about playing Barry Manilow songs in public to deter groups of youths from congregating and potentially causing trouble in the car-parks of Brighton-Le-Sands, a suburb of Sydney.
I’m not a great fan of Barry Manilow myself, so I can understand the attraction of this particular creative solution – I certainly would run a mile to avoid hearing a single rendition of the “Copacobana” , let alone Manilow being blasted out at high volume non-stop for several hours.
When I came across a similar idea (using a high pitched whistle called a Mosquito, which only young people can hear) I tracked down Bill’s email address using the Rockdale City Council website and sent him the details.
Late last year I came across another idea, this time using pink lighting as a deterrent, so I sent that information to Bill too. Well, I thought, the young people who were gathering in the car parks of Brighton-Le-Sands might have been secret Manilow fans; playing his songs hour after hour might actually have made the night-time meetings even more popular than before... Bill replied that he’d put the idea of pink lighting to his colleagues at the council, and if they got approval, they’d try it out.
He rang me early Friday, saying that they were piloting the idea in Brighton-le-Sands…not only that, but he’d been inundated with media requests for interviews (see “Sydney creates a pink light district”, “Pink light to beat crime” in the NSW Daily Telegraph) because of it...I was delighted he called – and I’m delighted that the internet and email have allowed us to make this connection, and that in some small way I have been able to make a difference to someone on the other side of the world.
So if the spotlight wasn’t on Rockdale (or more specifically the car-parks of Brighton-le-Sands) before, it will be now. I can’t comment on the efficacy of Barry Manilow, Mosquito sonic devices or pink lighting over and above what I’ve read in the press, but I hope Bill solves the problem. I think it’s great that he’s prepared to be creative and try something on the off-chance it might work.
And the moral of the story is? When you’re looking for solutions, you might have to try a few things out before you find something that really works. Do a bit of research of course, assess the risks and prepare yourself for the flak you might get from other people (after all, you can never please all the people all the time). Whatever you do, don’t let this stand in your way. Persevere. And be bold!