Ok this and the next post I am pretty pumped by, these guys offer some contrast to the Newcastle story. In my journey spending a day meeting people and exploring Newcastle through peoples stories you get a common theme. It has happened with every different place I have visited so far. But what I enjoy finding is the contrast on the street, those stories that deviate from the narrative a bit and offer something different. Without contrast everything else is boring. Contrast is very cool and so is RAD.
This is Cal his store is RAD in Newcastle. I went into his store during the day and thought to myself I really needed to include this place into the Newcastle story. If Newcastle is described as the ‘surfer’ then these guys are on skate boards. I want to describe Cal and his style as rockabilly but then I don’t know if we need to put everyone we meet into a nice box and say “you fit here” and that is what I liked about Cal, his store doesn’t fit a category that is Newcastle, maybe more Newtown than Newcastle, but then it is exactly the fact that it doesn’t fit the perfect picture of what Newcastle is that makes it work. Rad is the right store for Newcastle, it is what every town needs, contrast.
When I asked Cal for his photo he was only too happy to help. I grabbed a few snaps then joined him and his mate (who will be the next post and you wont want to miss his picture) and I asked him about Newcastle. I asked him like I always do, what is it like in Newcastle, he told me it is “SHIT” and he laughed. I get the feeling this was both tongue in cheek and truthful in a way, there are things about Newcastle that are shit and shit him and the difference is with Cal you not going to get bullshit, you will get what you asked for no apologies.
Cal talked about Newcastle as a nice place to live with a real strong surfing culture which is great if that is what you are into but there are big holes that could be filled. Now it would be easy to say that Cal is being negative about Newcastle and here is what I want to make clear. I didn’t get that feel, Cal was passionate about this place and bloody frustrated by the lack of vision for what is a amazing space. Newcastle biggest challenge is that it is a big city stuck in a small town mindset. It holds itself back by not fully embracing what it can be. Good ideas about how to better use the space in Newcastle gets blocked by small town thinking. It is like new ideas and progress are some kind of threat to a way of life, yet when done right they can enhance a way of life. It is all a matter of perspective.
What I also admire about Cal is that he just doesn’t have his opinions he has his ideas and solutions to improve Newcastle. First areas for him would be to see the mall area rejuvenated. To be honest I couldn’t agree more, I walked around for ages trying to find the mall only to realise I passed it two or thee times but not a single shop was open on Saturday so it didn’t register as a mall for me. Cal would like to see more local business back in the mall, reclaiming some of the empty shops of Newcastle to make it more of a community.
I think we often see business as something that erodes communities and when I think of companies like Coles, Myer and Westfield I tend to agree. They bring in their brand, their way of doing things to any community they move into regardless of the culture of that place. Where as the small business owner, like Cal, who brings their originality, their soul and their energy and they add to the space. Few people celebrate the opening of a big Westfield few people leave with a memorable experience of Coles but I guarantee you go into Rad, meet Cal, see his friends turn up to the shop and hang out and you will celebrate that Newcastle has contrast, it has originality. You don’t need to buy what he sells to see the value that he is there.
Thanks Cal for your Newcastle