"There is genius in this", Wired


25/09/2015: The random number generator at Random.org coughed up 44 and 35, corresponding with the entries of B Tyler (Apollo Bay) and John (Goulburn). Congratulations to the winners and thanks everybody for the fascinating entries. Bendigo got the gong for best regional centre over Newcastle, 7 nominations to 4.


Marcus Westbury is probably best known to readers as the writer and presenter of BESPOKE, currently showing on ABC TV. But he’s also a writer, accidental urbanist, festival director, consultant, and speaker.

He’s the founder of Renew Newcastle and Renew Australia; between them, these two organisations launched more than 200 projects in over a hundred once-vacant properties around Australia.

Creating Cities is his first book. It was published last week and is already in the top 10 best-selling books on Amazon in the Urban and Regional development category.  Here’s the blurb:

In 2008, Marcus returned to his hometown of Newcastle, Australia and found more than 150 empty buildings lining its two main streets. Three years later the world’s largest travel publisher, Lonely Planet, named it one of the Top Ten cities to visit in the world.

Creating Cities is about the unlikely events in between. How a failed idea to start a bar morphed into a scheme that has helped transform Newcastle, launched more than two hundred creative and community projects across Australia and is fast becoming a model for cities and towns around the world.

In an engaging, thoughtful and observational style, Marcus Westbury argues that most towns and cities are wasting their most obvious opportunities: the talent, imagination, and passion of the people that live there. In a globalised age, local creativity has access to new possibilities that most places have barely begun to grasp.

Marcus weaves a local story of how identifying and fixing small scale failures in Newcastle into a larger set of ideas and “why-to” strategy with potential applications in cities and towns around the world. Creating Cities is an inspiring must read for creative people, civic and business leaders, town planners, citizens and anyone who cares about the communities that they live in.

The publication of Creating Cities coincides with ABC TV’s BESPOKE, an irreverent but thought provoking look at the rise of the handmade. The third and final episode of BESPOKE is broadcast tonight at 10:03 pm on ABC1.


To be in the running to win one of two print copies, all you have to do is nominate your choice for the best regional city or town in Australia and give at least one reason why you think it deserves your personal accolade.

As always, the quality of your nomination has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you’ll win. The winners will be determined strictly at random. You just can’t be in the running unless you make a nomination. Of course, a little elaboration and even a modicum of wit would be appreciated.

If you can’t think of one (seriously?), no problem; I’ll accept “Newcastle” or “Maitland”.

Submit your entry below, using the Comment box. Entries close  in one week (midnight, Thursday 24 September). Only one entry per person and you must have an Australian address.