UPDATE: The City of Sydney came through and continued the Dictionary of Sydney’s funding after all. Happy endings are nice.
The Dictionary of Sydney, a fantastic site full of unique info that’s proved useful to me countless times, is under threat! The City of Sydney Council in its infinite wisdom is considering withholding funding critical to the project’s survival. Those bike lanes won’t pay for themselves, I guess.
For three years, the Dictionary has provided us with an impeccably researched and realised archive of Sydney city history, most of which is not available anywhere else, and dude, it’s free. If it goes south, the city will lose a layer of its identity forever. Sometimes heritage buildings are lost completely, without any evidence left behind *cough* Regent Theatre *cough*, but the Dictionary allows them to live on.
So what can you do? Get involved and make a donation, or lobby the City Council to make them aware of just how necessary the Dictionary of Sydney is. I’d suggest explaining it as you would to a five year old. Here’s more from the Dictionary staff:
The Dictionary of Sydney is under serious threat. Despite our long and productive relationship with the City of Sydney, and the support of Council, the City is considering withholding the 2012 -13 tranche of the five-year funding voted to the Dictionary by Council in May of 2011.
The matter may be debated at the next City Council meeting on Monday 30 July 2012.
In the current difficult economic climate, we have not managed to raise more than $30,000 in external funding and donations during 2011-12, and it will take more time for the Dictionary to be successful in attracting philanthropic funding. The $200,000 voted in principle by the Council for the Dictionary for 2012-13 is the bare minimum that will enable the project to continue, while we ramp up a further fundraising effort and shift our business model.
Staff hours were cut in half in January 2012, and operations have been continuing on the basis of skeleton staff and goodwill. Despite this, the majority of the Council’s key performance indicators have been met, and the Dictionary has continued to publish and to seek partnerships with other organisations.
If the City funding is not made available the Dictionary will close its operations in August of this year, meaning it will lose its staff, and cease preparing new material for publication. This will mean that our current projects, including the Federally-funded Cooks River project, will cease, and material currently in preparation will be mothballed. Starting the Dictionary up again will be both difficult and expensive.
We need you to tell the Council now how important it is to keep funding the Dictionary at this critical stage in our development.
It is unreasonable of the Council to cease funding the Dictionary without prior warning and two years into a five year agreement when the Dictionary:
a) has met 80% of an extensive list of KPIs,
b) has managed within its budget;
c) is growing in content, participants, followers, status and profile;
d) is actively seeking other sources of funding and other ways of attracting revenues; and
e) when immediate cessation of funding would almost certainly destroy everything that has been built up with Council support over so many years.
Council should recognise the Dictionary’s extraordinary achievements to date and agree to continue funding at the same level for 2012/13.
The Dictionary of Sydney has been live less than 3 years and it would be a great shame to see this outstanding collaborative digital history project fold.
Please help us save this groundbreaking, internationally acclaimed digital history project. You can do this in 2 simple ways:
1. Make a donation to the Dictionary now: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/dictionaryofsydney
2. Lobby the City of Sydney Council now. A template for letters and contact emails is available here.
Remember: this issue may be debated by Council on Monday 30 July so we need your support now!
Please forward this information to interested colleagues and friends – we want the Dictionary to survive and thrive. Apologies for cross-postings; we are keen to get the word out there.
On behalf of the Board, staff and hundreds of volunteers involved in the Dictionary, we thank you in advance for your support of the project.
Here’s something completely stupid: this carriageway is the Western Distributor passing over Kent, Day and Margaret Streets near Wynyard. Below it is…a bit of road that…goes nowhere, and does nothing.
The Western Distributor began life in the early 1960s as a way to relieve traffic on the Harbour Bridge. Sydney’s extensive underground rail system meant that the Distributor couldn’t be built as a series of tunnels, so viaducts were the sensible alternative. That’s where the sense stopped.
The only reason the Western Distributor existed was because the designers of the Harbour Bridge and existing road system didn’t use enough foresight. You’d think that planners of the WD would employ twice as much foresight to make sure that further modifications weren’t necessary. Well, two times nothing is still nothing.
That’s it there, below that huge, multi-lane bridge. If you can’t see it, squint. The two-lane Glebe Island Bridge had been built in 1903 to provide access to the Glebe Abattoir, and it includes a swing bridge to allow boats through. Surprisingly, this bridge proved to be unable to handle the traffic spewing forth from the Western Distributor, and in 1984 the NSW Government proposed another bridge. Good thinking! The Anzac Bridge was completed by 1995 (!), and opened in December of that year. It features a great height to allow boats through.
Of course, when the Distributor had been designed, it was flowing towards a small bridge. Now that it had a giant, capable bridge to lead into, the one-lane road itself suddenly seemed a bit lacklustre. In 2002 (!!), work commenced to widen the Western Distributor throughout the city, which brings us back to our original ridiculousness.
This bit of suspended road was originally an on-ramp for the Western Distributor, with access from Margaret Street. When the road above our piece here was widened, it claimed the on-ramp’s space and ended Margaret Street’s usefulness in the scheme of things. For a time it was used as a parking bay (illustrating the lengths the City of Sydney Council is willing to go to to make a buck out of parking). The ramp was then severed at both ends, and now sits hanging above the street, useless and surreal.
The happy ending to this story is that after the implementation of each of these emergency patches to the highways of Sydney, traffic in the city was never a problem ever again.