Life in suburban lockdown: a photojournalism feature

A view of Marrickville's post-war suburban homes and their occupants during lockdown

Henson Park, Marrickville
Henson Park in Marrickville. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Every day when I go for a walk I see scores of mostly older people sitting on their porch, talking with their neighbours, their families or nodding as people pass by. For my feature I am interested in exploring the importance of the porch or veranda as a means of socialising during life in lockdown.

My feature will be a photojournalism and interview series involving the people who sit outside their homes that I pass during my daily exercise time. I will invite these people to tell me about themselves, their thoughts on the world during lockdown and what sense of community or enjoyment they might get from sitting out the front of their homes.

Newsworthy values

This will be a human interest story but is also timely due to the overarching setting of life in lockdown. While the focus of this story might seem narrow, being confined to my suburb of Marrickville, I believe that the themes explored here can extend to a number of multicultural suburbs across Australian cities.

The area in which I live is a classic example of mid-century suburban architecture, where many of the dwellings still standing are a product of a post-war boom fuelled by various waves of migration. I will use the angle of my story as a means to prompt reflection on the lasting impact of post-war migration on Australian suburbs in the broader context of a global pandemic.

The article will provide a counterpoint to the vast imagery we have seen of people cooped up in apartments in larger metropolitan centres across Europe and the US. I want to focus on life in lockdown in the unique setting of Australia’s suburbs with a focus on detached dwellings.

Furthermore, I will touch on themes of the fixation of home ownership within the broader Australian psyche and issues of housing security. This, I believe, broadens the scope of impact and relevance.

Marrickville Road
Marrickville Road. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Experts and context

To provide context and expertise to the story I am hoping to interview an expert on housing and demographics, either from the Marrickville Library, Inner West Council or from the Marrickville Heritage Society. I would also like to interview a mental health expert, especially one who focuses on the health and well-being of older Australians.

Publication

I believe this piece will be well suited to ABC News Online. I have seen similar photojournalism pieces, such as this one, on post-war suburban architecture, and this one, about people in their driveways. Furthermore, it touches on broad themes of national identity and uniquely Australian stories within a global context.

Target audience

I am hoping this will have a broad appeal despite the subjects being older Australians. Marrickville has a changing population with higher than state averages for people aged 20-39, group households and renters, according to the 2016 census results (ABS, 2016). These are perhaps people who also feel somewhat locked out of the housing market. I want to engage this audience with themes of home ownership and suburb gentrification in a less polarising manner than can be observed in existing media discourse (see here and here).

Sources:
Fiddler, M. (2020, March 19). Balcony spirit: hope in face of coronavirus – in pictures. The Guardian. Retrieved from:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2020/mar/19/balconies-sites-hope-coronavirus-in-pictures

“‘We clap because we care’: New Yorkers applaud frontline coronavirus workers – video”. (2020, March 28). The Guardian. Retrieved from:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2020/mar/28/we-clap-because-we-care-new-yorkers-applaud-frontline-coronavirus-workers-video

“Community History”. Inner West Council. Retrieved from:
https://www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/explore/libraries/community-history

Marrickville Heritage Society. Retrieved from:
https://marrickvilleheritage.org.au/

Weedon, A. (2020, February 10). Retrofitting Australia’s post-war suburbia. ABC News Online. Retrieved from:
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-09/post-war-australian-housing-future-urbanism-southern-europe/11924116

Middleton, S. (2020, April 4). Driveway photoshoots of families having fun keep connections alive during COVID-19 isolation. ABC News Online. Retrieved from:
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-04/driveway-project-brings-fun-to-coronavirus-isolation/12114400

McCutcheon, P. (2020, March 6). Lower house prices not translating into more affordable housing, as loans become harder to get. ABC News Online. Retrieved from:
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-06/housing-affordability-worsens-despite-house-prices-falling/10874978

Zhou, N. (2017, February 1). Sydney’s last stand: the residents holding out against gentrification. The Guardian Australia. Retrieved from:
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/01/sydney-last-stand-gentrification-public-housing-sirius

“2016 Census QuickStats – Marrickville”. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved from:
https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SSC12504?opendocument

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