Port Places mark 2
Port Places begins 2021 with a new website.
In 2013, I started Port Places – a project to observe and document the changing places of Port and South Melbourne, Fishermans Bend and the lower Yarra – writing about whatever caught my eye as I explored the area and the issues of the day.
Over the years, the Port Places website had become cluttered and untidy. It was time for a New Year spring clean. However, like a house, it had also become a place where relationships and connections were made and strengthened. The website had become like the footpath that doesn’t connect and the bike path that peters out. Better wayfinding was definitely needed. It was time to get a new website but who to approach?
When the Yarra Riverkeeper Association* upgraded their website, staff reported how easy and smooth the process had been. I was struck by the running River on the home page. It expressed a freshness of the essence of Yarra. That strong first impression led me to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see that the web developers were Digital Next. The name registered.
Last year on 14 October on one of my 5 kilometer radius wanderings on the bike, I rode down Buckhurst St in Montague to get a sense of how that street was faring during the lockdown. The wide street was free of parked cars and people. Buckhurst St has always held a strong interest for me. In 2007, I happened upon these houses in Buckhurst St, cue to an earlier period. I became curious about how it was that so many people I met in Port had been born and bred in Montague. That interest has grown and deepened ever since.
And that was when I saw the Digital Next sign jutting out from an unremarkable grey office building. A man on a bicycle (always a brownie point with me) was entering the premises. I stopped to introduce myself and say how much I liked the Yarra Riverkeeper website. A pleasant follow up phone call and Buckhurst St, bike and Yarra Riverkeeper all came together. I engaged Digital Next for the next iteration of Port Places.
Digital Next came to locate in Buckhurst St when founder Nathan Elly, the man on the bicycle, came out from England to build the business in January 2014. He took a desk in a shared office creative studio. The office at 133 Buckhurst St was a modest building in a modest street, anchored by the Golden Fleece Hotel and several motor vehicle servicing businesses. Nathan saw the potential of transforming the workspace into a thriving hub. By 2021 the street has changed. Canon Sun Studios, Image Box, Canvas House (an events venue) are near neighbours while the Golden Fleece adapts with most admirable flexibility to changing circumstances. It’s turned out that the location of the office, with likeminded occupants and the potential connections in the neighbouring area was a perfect choice of location. Their customers respond positively to the location and they are proud to be in Buckhurst St.
For marketing manager Steven Lord, also from the UK, who made the whole process of transitioning the website so seamless, things have worked out really well. From being unhappily in a driven corporate role in the UK, he has found a valued business partner, and a much happier mix of work and the other dimensions of his life.
*Janet Bolitho is a member of the Board of the Yarra Riverkeeper Association
With grateful thanks and acknowledgement to Susanna Duffy from Smooth Stuff who got me started and supported me through thick and thin with Port Places mark 1
You may be interested in how 119 & 121 Buckhurst St looks today