The world’s biggest retirement village?

July 29, 2013

Low tide on creative youth in Adelaide and one local’s vision to reverse the trend.

Picture – Natasha, The Lab.

On my first, of hopefully many, trips to Adelaide, I had the good fortune of meeting Josh Fanning of Merge, Collect and most recently, CityMag.

Josh likes to publish and is rather good at it. In 2012, Tyler Brûlé (editor-in-chief of Monocle) happened upon his work on the other side of the globe, and was so impressed, he flew Josh to the UK to work on an edition. Josh’s experience was career highlight material and made all the more remarkable because it was born out of enterprise in humble Adelaide – a city repeatedly described to me over the past 4 days as ‘the forgotten state’; dwarfed and dismissed by the East Coast epicenters of commerce and culture.

It has become Josh’s ambition to put Adelaide on the map. He, like many other young South Australians, commented on the inertia of the state. The passivity and resistance to change or progress. Whilst most respond with resignation and prompt departure, Josh has been spurred to action. He identifies young creative types as the requisite agents for change, and is making a good case for them to stay with his latest publication CityMag.

“I asked myself, why does Adelaide always stay the same? It’s because no one stays to change it….our seeds are blown elsewhere, it’s become the world’s biggest retirement village.”

He attributes the mass exodus to a lack of recognition and validation by the local community. The young are lured interstate and overseas by the promise of bigger opportunity and like-minded communities. In a measure to stem the flow, he created this new, free publication “to show that something world class can come out of Adelaide”. The magazine is a vehicle for celebrating homegrown talent, intended to build local pride and show others that they too can have innovative, successful futures here, if they only open their eyes to the possibility.

The most recent edition showcases a local fashion house, fitting out the likes of Sienna Miller, Nicole Richie and Beyoncé, as well as Rising Sun Pictures, the world-leading visual effects specialists working on some of Hollywood’s biggest films – just two of the cities little known success stories. Josh hopes that the calibre and entrepreneurial spirit of these profiles will help reshape perceptions of Adelaide.

As we are increasingly witnessing – ‘things’ such as people, communities and places, rather than ‘products’ are becoming brands. Adelaide is in need of an image overhaul and perhaps Josh Fanning is just the right brand manager for the job.