Can you pass the Northern Rivers "local" test?

SETTLED IN: Local sisters Mary and Emily Betteridge have lived at Lismore for almost all their lives.
SETTLED IN: Local sisters Mary and Emily Betteridge have lived at Lismore for almost all their lives. Cathy Adams

I don't have any qualms about considering myself a local because I went to school here, I know how to get to most places in the region without a map and I remember when Franklins was a shopping destination at Lismore Shopping Square.

The "local" test

John Drysdale recently wrote in the Clunes community paper Clunes Clues about the idea of "localism".

I never questioned my local status until talking with Mr Drysdale.

He offered the suggestion that being born and bred in an area was the only way to be awarded "local status".

"Is it possible to make a transition from blow-in to local or are those, not lucky enough to be born here, doomed to forever remain outsiders?" Mr Drysdale asked.

When I posed the question on The Northern Star's Facebook page, the majority of responses also leant toward this view.

However, Lismore City Mayor Jenny Dowell offered an alternate view on localism.

She said being a local depends on "who is asking", noting she had "only" lived in Lismore for 22 years.

"If someone who has been on the land for generations is asking if I'm a local, then I wouldn't be compared to them," Cr Dowell said.

"But, if it's someone walking around town with a map and a camera then I would be a local."

Cr Dowell said belonging to a place isn't about how long you have been some- where; it's about having a deep sense of connection to where you live.

"If you ask yourself where you would like to live forever if given the choice and you chose here because this is where you feel like you belong - that's what makes you a local."

I think she is right - being local isn't a birthright, it's about being part of a supportive community.

Betteridge sisters

EMILY AND MARY BETTERIDGE have lived in Lismore since 1934 (aged a few years).

They've seen floods and remember when there "weren't as many jobs" in the area".

"We've seen changes some good, some bad," Emily said.

"But, we love the place and we've lived here all our lives and that's what makes us local."

Do you pass the "local" test?

If you're still in doubt about your local status I've composed a (by no means comprehensive) list of things I think make a true local.

  1. You appreciate that you live in paradise... even though it rains a lot.
  2. You know where all the potholes are on our roads.
  3. You know what it's like to pack your entire house up during a flood.
  4. You've ridden the mini-railway at Heritage Park.
  5. You know where a secret waterfall or dam is.
  6. You consider the 15 minutes of traffic congestion between 9am and 9.15am as "peak hour".
  7. You have, at one stage in your life, gotten excited when the phrases "fog night" and "movie marathon" were uttered.
  8. You wave to the drivers of oncoming cars, even when you don't know each other.
  9. You can't walk around Lismore's city centre without stopping at least once to chat with someone you know.
  10. You know how to stand up for a cause: to stop CSG, fluoride in our water or events that support local charities.


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