Taylor Burrell Barnett

2022 – Reflections on ‘A Turning Point Year’


Lex Barnett
Practice Fellow

16 Dec 2022

Welcome to our wrap up for 2022, and my selection of random reflections of the year just gone.

Starting the long journey of post-Covid recovery, we have seen many interesting, at times horrific, events around the nation and the globe. I believe that history will show this period to be a turning point – a disruptive moment – that saw a quantum shift in societal norms and economic dynamics (wow this sounds profound – people could be looking me up in Google Famous Quotes in fifty years time!).

As a career Town Planner, it is so tempting to focus my reflections on all things planning-related – oh great, another thought piece on the evils of freeways, or a tutorial on what makes good urban design – no, it’s the end of the year, lets diversify. My focus, therefore, is about different perspectives on community.

Oxford Dictionary defines ‘community’ as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” or “the condition of having certain attitudes and interests in common”. With all of the things that have affected the lives of people throughout this year, the value of ‘sense of community’ has never been greater. My perspectives are random and varied (perhaps reflective of my mind) – ranging from the global to the back yard. And, for those who prefer something more visual than this article - our brilliant senior graphic designer (Sinta Price) has prepared an infographic for "What our 2022 looked like" - view it here.

TBB Dreaming – a journey of insight and awareness towards reconciliation

You may have seen, through our various posts during the year, that our team has been embarking on a program of cultural learning on the journey towards a Reconciliation Action Plan; and while the notion of embracing the RAP process is a great thing, I don’t think any of us realized what an enlightening and important experience it could be. Of course an important part of cultural awareness training is to confront some awful truths about the actions of our own not-so-distant ancestors; but with the guidance of some beautiful characters like Marilyn Morgan we have started on an incredible journey of discovery and working towards making a real difference towards a more a more inclusive and mutually supportive future. Creating our ‘TBB Dreaming’ artwork has been a very visible highlight, but this about so much more than the tangibles and the immediate outcomes. Explore TBB Dreaming more here

Giving back some more – helping the homeless

As a profession that is largely about creating communities for people to live work and play in the most healthy, happy and sustainable way possible, the increase of homelessness is something that deeply concerns us. However, whatever we can do to address this through the planning system takes time; and meanwhile more people are finding themselves without a roof over their heads. There are some wonderful volunteer heroes out there doing what they can to give the homeless some basic necessities and even a little bit of added cheer at Christmas.

The Perth Homeless Support Group is one such organization that works year-round to lend support to the needy, and they can only do this with the support of the many volunteers involved. I am very proud that we are, once again, able to provide some small measure of practical and financial support to them around Christmas time. So proud of all of our team who brought in donations and took time out to personally go and assist in sorting donations, making jelly cups and wrapping presents.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”. Winston Churchill

Best Planning Practice – TBB talent and effort rewarded

While on the subject of things to be proud of, one of the professional highlights for TBB in 2022 was to win the inaugural Planning Institute of Australia WA Large Consultancy of the Year.

What does this have to do with the ‘community’ theme? Well, if you refer back to the definition of ‘community’ any boss who doesn’t see his team as having certain attitudes and interests in common does not understand the value of instilling common goals, values and purpose in people.

Those of you who know me know how much I love my team, but I felt very much like the proud Dad going up to receive that award flanked by a bunch of my team from the most senior to the most junior.

TBB has a long and rich history of providing planning services to government and the private sector for over 50 years – the longest running town planning practice in the state and, arguably, Australia. We did feel that it would be fitting for us to win this inaugural award, but the reality is that this must be judged, not on your history, but on the merit of what you are doing now. And so it is an important recognition of the quality and achievement of today’s TBB family – for which we are all very proud.

Global challenges affecting local lives

Stepping out of our back yard for a moment, we are all painfully aware of the economic and social damage all communities are now confronting thanks to our global battle with the Covid pandemic. Major economies battling inflationary pressures we haven’t seen for years, and trying to hold recession at bay. Add to this the ripple effects of Russia’s chaotic attempt to wipe out one of the worlds major food producers. And then pile on top of that the seemingly relentless run of catastrophic weather events on our east coast.

While some communities are having to deal with the horrendous direct impacts of these natural and man-made catastrophes, there are few who could claim to not be impacted in some way – even in our own piece of paradise here in WA, evidenced by the growing numbers of homeless, increased pressures on welfare support services and the rise of the new phenomenon – the ‘working poor’.

I think hardship can bring out great humanity, and it is a strong reminder of the power of ‘sense of community’, the value of human attributes that exist regardless of circumstances – kindness, respect, compassion, empathy – the good feeling that comes from helping someone in need.

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about." – Margaret J. Wheatley

But with all of that, we should keep our situation in perspective.  Let’s face it, notwithstanding the global challenges, we are still blessed to live in one of the best places on the planet; a vast state with diverse environments, and Perth is still one of the most affordable, clean, uncongested Capital cities in the world. Where else would you be at this time? Or ever?

And that concludes my random pick of things that impacted the world, or just our back yards, in 2022. I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all clients, colleagues and friends of TBB. I hope you enjoy the break during Birak – the first summer here on Whadjuk country, in whatever way suits your family, your community, and have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2023.

Lex Barnett


Lex Barnett
Practice Fellow