OPINION

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Liveability: ‘that which makes life worth living’
Liveable communities and resilient cities are current buzzwords. Critical factors are that residents feel safe, socially connected with access to affordable and diverse housing options linked via public transport. Individuals need walking and cycling infrastructure to access employment, education, local shops, public open space and parks, health and community services, leisure and culture. They are needed to promote health and wellbeing in individuals, build communities and support a
sustainable society.
The authoritative journal The Economist does many things, among which is an annual assessment of the world’s large cities to establish which is the most ‘liveable’. Melbourne has held the title for seven years, but it was bumped off by Vienna last year. How might greater Hobart compete? The award is worth a great deal in terms of prestige and bragging rights, but also in more practical respects, like, for instance, tourism. We weren’t invited to the awards process, but it’s quite transparent and readily accessible on the internet. We went to have a look at the criteria and relay them to you here so you can assess how liveable your address is.
To compete, our capital city, Hobart, would have to become more sustainable and healthy, reducing urban sprawl and car dependency, increasing public space, public transport and ‘active transport’ such as cycling and walking. This will reduce noise and ‘heat island’ effects, and increase physical activity and well-being. It, and any other Australian city vying for the title, will need to put people at the centre of its planning, changing the hierarchy from cars and motor vehicles to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. It should reduce the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour in
lived neighbourhoods.
Modern cities are ruled by cars. But cities are for people, not cars and more common space should be devoted to living in the city rather than getting through it or around it. Barcelona, in Spain, is famously liveable; not only has the city clamped down on Airbnbs with their transient, non-contributing population, it has come up with a new mobility plan to reduce traffic and free up nearly 60% of streets currently used by cars, to turn them into ‘people spaces’ not carparks. The plan is based around the idea of super blocks – mini neighbourhoods around which, not through, traffic will flow, and in which spaces will be repurposed to ‘fill the city with life’.
To achieve this, Hobart will have to make the city more compact with  no more high-rises. Uses need to be mixed up rather than zoning and isolating them, with schools, workplaces and services all in together. It will need to reduce long travel distances for basic needs, and create a city centre liveable for all, not just students, with small and specialised retail outlets like the CWA shop, which is putting up a brave and determined local presence in Elizabeth Street, amid a welter of student bars and eateries. And while I’m about it, let me say that Hobart needs to wean itself from the infatuation of becoming a ‘university town’. We are already beginning to have reservations about the Gadarene rush to populate the city with students: our ‘housing crisis’ can only be exacerbated by Airbnbs and an influx of students wealthy enough to pay for residence rents.
We might aim at having a public transport stop every 400 metres on suburban streets with frequent service, at least every 30 minutes. No Australian capital city yet achieves this target, least of all Hobart. We could make Hobart more sustainable, liveable and healthy, but it will need a strong joint effort and vision. It would be worth making the effort to find councillors with the vision and courage to make the necessary decisions and pursue them to conclusion. I know it will be said that the provisos above are ambitious, but they are not impossible to achieve. All elected officials respond to praise as promptly as they do to criticism. And having gone to some length to define it, don’t most of us in the Huon and Channel enjoy a considerable measure of ‘liveability’, and isn’t that why we live where we do? Think Cygnet, Huonville, Dover, Snug, Geeveston. Each is extremely liveable, people acknowledge each other on the street, businesses are local and schools and other services accessible.
Let’s keep it that way.
John Fleming II

500 words... Jasmine Smith-Browne holds forth on matters close to her heart
The scan that saves lives

This article is not meant to be a happy one, but rather one that is deadly serious. Recently, I found out from the results of a skin biopsy, that I have joined the ranks of melanoma sufferers.
Friends and family have asked if I was shocked, but I guess the truth is, I have faced it quite calmly. My father died from melanoma over ten years ago, so I make sure I stay alert and aware by having regular skin checks. The risk of developing melanoma is higher for me because of the familial connection, plus I have a low immune system, which does not help the situation.
The good news is, that if melanoma is caught in its early stages, it is curable. Waiting too long to be checked can prove to be of dire consequence, as melanoma can grow very fast. Sometimes as  quickly as six weeks.
I thank God I have regular scans, as it was a scan that proved to be  the vital step in ridding my body of this terrible silent killer. It is in a very prominent part of my body and I received eight stitches from the surgical procedure, but any scars left can only be better than the cancer spreading. I will wear my scar with pride to show I have not succumbed to this insidious cancer and count myself as one of the lucky ones.
This type of cancer kills 1,700 Australians a year, which is more than the national road toll. That’s a scary thought, and good reason to protect ourselves from the threat of melanoma at all costs. Our country has the highest rate of melanomas, with New Zealand coming a very close second. That is almost double the amount of people affected  in North America, so it is vital we make early intervention a priority by having regular body scans. Even though the disease occurs with the highest percentage in people aged between 60 and 69, it can still occur in even older or younger people. Ultraviolet light is our enemy.
Melanoma can appear suddenly and without warning, so if you have a changing spot on your body, don’t hesitate to get it checked. The vast majority of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but a small significant number are diagnosed as melanoma. Melanoma rates are  more prevalent in males – one in 14 – while for women it is one in 24. The cancer does not have to appear on a sun exposed part of the body and can also show up in the mouth, intestines or eyes.
Some people might find themselves too busy or just too plain scared to get a body scan, but it is well worth the time of fifteen minutes spent to allay any fears. A wand with a camera is passed over any body marks and the doctors are very well trained to know what might look a bit suspect. If the cancer spot needs to be removed, which mine was, a procedure is done under a local anaesthetic, it is removed and then analysed through a biopsy. Being stitched up is a mild inconvenience for something that could be deadly.
The amount of people terrified by spider or snake bites or other life-threatening species, is nothing compared to the potentially fatal threat we face from what might be on our own skin. This article is not meant to frighten readers, but encourage them to be more vigilant about skin checks. Watch for changes in existing moles or spots, or any marks that suddenly appear on your skin. Keep in mind, mine was not a mole but an age spot, so any changes are worth checking. If I can save lives by imploring you to have the necessary medical assessments done, then I feel I am doing something good and that my own situation has not happened in vain.
Jasmine Smith-Browne

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