They jumped up on the soapboxes, they jostled to grab their moment with the mic. It was an event organiser’s dream.
At one point, about half-an-hour into the proceedings, one of Sydney’s leading architects turned and said, “You’ve nailed it”.
Yes, this Surround Sound for Sustainable Precincts was very exciting. Yes, it got just a tad out of hand. And yes, there was some serious provocation from the likes of Ed Blakely from the United States Studies Centre and Alex Harrington from The Warren Centre at the University of Sydney. And, of course, Committee for Sydney’s Tim Williams, who’s garnered an excellent reputation as agent provocateur after his controversial comments on the WestConnex, and who did his part to prod and provoke from his spot amid the nine-member panel.
If we had any twinges of doubt about such a huge panel they disappeared on the night, with each member proving critical to the debate and bringing serious insight to the topics at hand.
Skilled MC and keen Jenny Brockie fan Maria Atkinson, however, knew how to muster the troops. She turned from audience to panel, eshed out and teased out the most interesting comments, and cut to the chase on those whose love affair with the limelight ran a little too hot. When one of the panellists asked if they could say yet one more longish comment, she shot back with a “no”, followed by a charming smile.
If there were some criticisms that could be fairly levelled it was that the questions far outnumbered the answers.
Well you could have predicted that simply by looking at the state of our cities; so much to do, and so many challenges.