Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is #14 on The 2014 GOOD City Index.

Melbourne is at once a rebel and a class act. The dynamic and independent arts scene means creative spaces and projects flourish, while engaged citizens, artists, and entrepreneurs realize they can achieve things here that simply would not be possible elsewhere. The past year has seen rapid gentrification creep into even the most neglected areas of the city. In the CBD and many inner-city suburbs, huge rent increases have forced many businesses and residents to leave, while critics have denounced so-called efforts at regeneration as a threat to the city’s diversity. But, even as their space becomes contested, the city’s creative community has shown remarkable resilience. For every live music venue or artist studio under threat, a new one pops up. As areas that were once bastions of bohemia become unaffordable, members of Melbourne’s creative class explore pockets of the city that they previously overlooked.


Hub for progress

Schoolhouse Studios offers affordable spaces for artists and businesses. The studio occupied what was once a school but was forced out when the site was earmarked for development. Support from a property developer and a successful crowdfunding campaign enabled the artists to secure a new, permanent location in a huge warehouse in the alternative, artsy suburb of Collingwood.

Civic engagement

Melbourne city council members have shown that they understand the importance of maintaining and creating space for the people who have made the once-derelict warehouses attractive to property developers. Creative Spaces is a newly revamped City Council-run website that currently boasts 1,000 active listings for affordable studios, desk spaces, warehouses, and pop-up venues around the city.

Street life

Once a working class heartland and historically home to brickmaking, brewing, and bootmaking, the suburb of Collingwood has undergone a rather rapid gentrification this past year. It’s now home to some of the most interesting bars and cafes. However, a large development plan for Smith Street, the area’s main thoroughfare, has forced the suburb’s creative residents to take refuge in the industrial back streets. Smith Street Action Group, an organization calling for responsible development of the area, has publicly and loudly opposed the development plans.

Defining moment

Plans to build a multi-billion dollar 18-kilometer toll road, a project known as the East West Link, has become one of the most contentious issues facing the city. The Trains not Toll Roads opposition movement—loud, organized, and connected with thousands of Facebook likes—insists the money should be spent on a better public transport system. The fact that a would-be infrastructural issue has managed to divide the city so profoundly is indicative of the conflict between Melbourne’s developers, residents, and political parties.

Connectivity

To mitigate the pervasive problem motorists face when finding a parking spot, a homegrown startup called Parkhound launched earlier this year, allowing residents to list a spare residential parking space for a nominal fee. Though the concept of renting out parking spaces has been banned in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Parkhound’s co-founder said he has received cooperation from the Melbourne council, who see it as a way to address urban congestion.

Green life

Edinburgh Gardens is a popular city park that often takes on a festival vibe with music, bikes, and picnickers. The gardens have become a popular place to celebrate New Year’s Eve, although restrictions were placed on alcohol consumption this year after a huge 2013 clean-up bill. The move was met with opposition, however, from Melbourne residents who pointed to other Australian cities where the same problem has been met without an outright ban.

Diversity

Just 3 miles west of Melbourne is the suburb of Footscray. Still sometimes referred to as “Footscary” (the scenes of racial violence in the cult film classic, Romper Stomper, were filmed at Footscray Train Station), the suburb is now better known for its arts center, Vietnamese noodle houses, and some of the best African restaurants. With the redevelopment of Footscray’s train station recently completed and further plans to turn the western suburb into a university town, what was once one of the city’s no-go places has turned into a hub of multiculturalism.

Work/life balance

Melbourne is eerily quiet during January, when the majority of residents migrate south to the beach. It’s not unusual for local cafes, small bars, and independent businesses to close for the first three weeks of the year, particularly as most leisure activities in Melbourne revolve around food and drink.

Jane Marx is a social entrepreneur, a refugee rights advocate, and a coffee lover. She is the founder of Long Street Coffee, a local coffee shop that provides hospitality skills training and employment to refugees living in Melbourne.

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National Tell a Joke Day dates back to 1944 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was having a meeting with Vice-President, Henry Wallace. The two men were tired and depressed due to the stress caused by leading a country through world war.

During a lull in the meeting, Wallace said, "Frank, to cheer you up I have a joke I'd like to share."

"Let's have it, Henry," Roosevelt replied while ashing his cigarette.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Wallace asked. "Not sure," Roosevelt replied.

"To get to the other side," Wallace responded.

Roosevelt laughed so hard that the bourbon he was drinking sprayed out of his nose and onto the floor of the oval office.

RELATED: A comedian shuts down a sexist heckler who, ironically, brought his daughters to the show

The joke was so funny, and did such a great job at lightening both their moods, Roosevelt proclaimed that every year, August 16 would be National Tell a Joke Day.

Just kidding.

Nobody knows why National Tell a Joke Day started, but in a world where the President of the United States is trying to buy Greenland, "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back on TV, and the economy is about to go off a cliff, we could all use a bit of levity.

To celebrate National Tell a Joke Day, the people on Twitter responded with hundreds of the corniest dad jokes ever told. Here are some of the best.

Culture

The Judean date palm was once common in ancient Judea. The tree itself was a source of shelter, its fruit was ubiquitous in food, and its likeness was even engraved on money. But the plant became extinct around 500 A.D., and the prevalent palm was no more. But the plant is getting a second chance at life in the new millennium after researchers were able to resurrect ancient seeds.

Two thousand-year-old seeds were discovered inside a pottery jar during an archaeological excavation of Masada, a historic mountain fortress in southern Israel. It is believed the seeds were produced between 155 B.C. and 64 A.D. Those seeds sat inside a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv for years, not doing anything.

Elaine Solowey, the Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, wondered if she could revive the Judean Date Palm, so in 2005, she began to experiment. "I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" Solewey said.

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There's been an uptick in fake emotional support animals (ESAs), which has led some airlines to crack down on which animals can and can't fly. Remember that emotional support peacock?

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Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.

"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.

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via Liam Beach / Facebook

Trying to get one dog to sit still and make eye contact with a camera for more than half a second is a low-key miracle. Lining up 16 dogs, on steps, and having them all stare at the camera simultaneously is the work of a God-like dog whisperer.

This miracle worker is Liam Beach, a 19-year-old animal management graduate from Cardiff, Wales. A friend of his dared him to attempt the shot and he accepted the challenge.

"My friend Catherine challenged me to try to get all of my lot sat on the stairs for a photo. She said, 'I bet you can't pull it off,' so I thought 'challenge accepted,'" he said, accoriding to Paws Planet.

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via Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

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The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike path that will connect Washington state to Washington, D.C., is over 50% complete.

The trail is being planned by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is working with local governments to make the dream a reality.

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