Christchurch City’s reinvention is progressing. It’s becoming very clear that our entire community has grasped not just the nature of task at hand, but also the nettle.
Throughout the city, groups are gathering, forming collective views and debating what they want their future Christchurch to look like. There are multiple meetings, every night of the week. It’s not possible to be at even a fraction of what is going on.
They range from cultural gatherings to meetings with MPs to a three day youth summit to various flower growing associations, neighbourhoods, families – you name it, we’re talking about what we want and don’t want our city to be going forward.
This past weekend saw TedxEQCHCH (which ill-health caused me to miss, grrr) and it too will be online later this week, having been live streamed throughout the event. The national telethon was similarly live streamed, and was therefore NZ’s first truly global telethon, its total not yet fully confirmed but in the low millions. There is no mistaking the importance the internet will play in crafting our next plan – and I am all too conscious that it favours the white, the wealthy, the well educated, the young. Digital access is an economic question that must be addressed by a future government; it is the new literacy, and one which is going to hit baby boomers hard in the next few years. Our goal of a city for life long learning will mean ensuring that people keep up with information platforms as they age or like those of us who weren’t good enough to be celestial hitch-hikers during Saturday’s “Rapture”, they will be left behind.
The council’s share-an-idea programme continues to roll out and there are still many ways to be involved – http://www.shareanidea.org.nz/net/other-ways-to-share.aspx should take you there. There are online opportunities, community meetings, a game to play.
In our weekly briefing we heard today that the first share-an-idea community workshop, held over the weekend of May 14/15 2011 has generated over 10,000 in person attendees. 18,394 post-it notes went up on the four themed discussion areas. There were 2,747 entries at the computer terminals. 1,078 forms were filled in. Over 9,000 ideas came in from the shareanidea website. 157 you-tube posts went up. As well as the councillors in attendance, over 70 council staff worked that weekend. Brilliant, as were the 21 speakers whose presentations are now online.
All this coming together of discussions and ideas will play out with the Christchurch City Council creating a draft Central City Plan by roughly the end of July, holding formal consultation with hearings towards the end of September, formulating a final revised plan and forwarding it to the Minister of Canterbury Earthquake Recovery on (in a perfect world) December 18th 2011.
It’s a magnificently challenging time frame but it has our absolute attention and all eyes are on the plan.
There is no time to waste, not just for the plan, but for the future of our city. We cannot leave her in limbo as the ordinary planning processes would.
The taxi driver who took me to the airport in Wellington last week described it as a “transient city – nobody feels like they have ownership of it.” Christchurch is starting to feel both exactly the same to me and exactly the opposite. She is feeling much more like a city that everybody feels they have ownership of, and yet no individual has ownership of anymore. I suppose until we have common agreement about what we want to see happen (or perhaps more realistically a general if not universal accord) then that slightly disconcerting sense of “I don’t know where my home is anymore” will linger.
Whatever else happens, thoughts of Art Agnos, former mayor of San Francisco, remain in the front of my mind right now. (The final oath reflects the values I’ve tried to live by throughout my time in office.) I’ve lifted this from the TEDxEQCH website, which is where you’ll find speaker’s links later this week. I commend them to you.
“Agnos used his post-earthquake popularity to build a momentum for some long-term changes. This does not however align with medium term electoral cycles and the hard decisions cost Agnos the mayoralty but have been proven, with time, to be the right ones. Public office always comes to an end eventually, but what sticks to you is the knowledge that you used that precious time to do something that is truly lasting and even historic. This is that moment in the history of the city of Christchurch. This is our moment as citizens of Christchurch. Seize it, take the risk, do the best things to fix these broken places and you will fulfill the oath of the citizen in the ancient city of Athens “I promise, upon my honour, to leave this city better than I found it”.
You couldn’t want to do anything else, now could you?