Historic Buildings Top the Charts in Glebe Society Survey

The survey by the management committee seeking guidance about members’ priorities for the Society was completed by 130 participants, or about 34% of the membership. ‘The preservation and conservation of Glebe’s historic buildings’ was the top priority for participants (64% of respondents), closely followed by ‘appropriate development of the Bays and Foreshores’ (60%). Reflecting a relatively crime free community, only 8% of participants ticked ‘the safety and security of the Glebe Community’ as a priority.

In response to another question about the preferred events organised by the Society, members made ‘tours of historic buildings ‘their top priority (60%), closely followed by ‘guest speakers’ (58%). ‘Children’s events’ rated just 4%. ‘Meet the candidates for Federal/State/Council elections’ was surprisingly popular (52% thought it should be a priority). Significantly, 16% of respondents chose ‘other activities’ as a priority – events they could write-in. These included ‘animal rights activities’ and ‘picnics in local parks’. Quite a few respondents expressed disappointment that the Society does not organise more events – ‘I remember when we used to have an event on almost every month’.

A common response to the first question was that it was difficult to limit the choice of priorities to four activities. Some respondents thought all the choices should be priorities, suggesting that the management committee should not concentrate on the top priorities to the detriment of other important activities, including the social cohesion of the community. In response to the question ‘why did you join the Glebe Society?’ a common reply was ‘to support the local community’ – the word ‘community’ was used in 29% of the 122 responses.

It’s probably no surprise that the majority of respondents were not in paid employment (72%), suggesting a high proportion of retirees within our ranks. Similarly it’s not surprising that 79% of the respondents were over 60. Disappointingly, only 8 respondents were under the age of 45. 43% of the participants were male, 56% female. One respondent commented ‘I find it worrying that the Glebe Society has become so PC that you’ve put ‘Other’ for gender … really?’ Well yes, really, one respondent ticked the ‘other’ box.

The Society needs to think hard about its membership base and address the age imbalance and diversity issue. We celebrate our fiftieth anniversary in 2019, – but if we are just a group of aging retirees, it’s possible there won’t be a celebration for the sixtieth anniversary. Already the committee is working on plans to attract a younger membership.

 For the most part, participants praised the Society for its work and hoped the survey would provide useful information. But there were some critical comments, including this one – ‘a survey should be sent to people living in Glebe but not members of the Glebe Society. This survey is limp and will provide no useful information to assist in the future’.

Hopefully, that criticism will prove to be mistaken. The management committee is elected by the members, but that doesn’t guarantee it automatically represents their views, or that the members are always satisfied with its performance. This survey gave members an opportunity to communicate with the committee, but that should not need a formal invitation.

End of an era: Liz Simpson-Booker retires as Heritage Convenor

It is with profound regret that I must report that Liz Simpson-Booker has resigned as Convenor of the Heritage subcommittee. Her dedicated support for the Society’s important function of the preservation and conservation of our community’s built heritage has earned the respect and admiration of the management committee, the Glebe Society membership and the wider community. I know I speak for all members of the Society when I thank Liz for her efforts on our behalf.

Liz has told me that her leadership of the Heritage subcommittee was both a ‘rare privilege’ and a ‘pleasure’; because it enabled her ‘to explore aspects of Glebe’s heritage, to seek to throw light on and to raise awareness of, the treasures around us as well as to champion their preservation and conservation’. Liz has also commented on the results of the membership survey: ‘it is heartwarming to know that history and heritage continue to rate highly within the Glebe Society’s membership. Given the strength and calibre of that membership, I hope it will not be too onerous a task to find a new Convenor.’

We are indeed fortunate that Liz intends (health permitting) to continue to contribute to the Society – albeit to a lesser extent – by updating some of the heritage entries on the website and perhaps by continuing to write for the Bulletin.