Small Town Pioneers
Three years ago I moved from the corporate city of Sydney, Australia, to Noosa, a small town in southeast Queensland. No traffic lights - a subtropical paradise kissed by the Coral Sea.
I was in my 30s and I’d had enough of corporate culture. I mean I never did like it, having an art school background and all, but now I couldn’t stomach it a second longer. I'd had my fair share of "critical incidents" in Sydney to turn my back on it for good. It wasn’t easy to find a job and did I mention I didn’t know anyone in Noosa?
After a year I realized there were thousands of people like me, working people from the cities, who chased the same dream and only about a third of them managed to make it to the five-year mark. So, after another critical incident with the Local Council where I was working, I enrolled to do a full time PhD on the topic, and it’s called Small Town Pioneers.
SmallTownPioneers.wordpress.com is research in progress that explores the escape of working, urban people, to sea change /tree change utopias, or lifestyle destinations. It follows their personal stories to find out how they reinvented their lives and themselves through this "lifestyle migration," just by surviving.
I interviewed 22 people in depth to find out why they took the economic and career risks that they did in making the move. Risks? The natural environment that is such an asset to the place also makes it kinda hard to stay in the area due to the restricted industry it imposes. More importantly, I wanted to know how they made their move sustainable.
The challenge means that these people had to change in a whole lot of ways in order to make it stick – what they do for a living, their perspective on status, and what success means now. Did they discover a more "authentic" self and place in the world through this ordeal? How did they do it? What impact did the natural environment have on this change? Forget Escape from New York, this is for real!
This is a social sciences study and it links the fields of education, anthropology, geography, philosophy and creativity. The study threads these together through creativity theory, identity theory and narrative inquiry in suggesting that to reinvent yourself is the ultimate creative act.