marsden_online: (write)
Today I added my body to a Women's March here in Christchurch, a sister and supporting event to one focused on Washington, DC. Because,
- as their manifesto says, Women's Rights are Human Rights and I support that. Both in the specific and in the general sense that improving women's rights will by extension improve the lot of (at least) every other marginalised group containing women
- and I feel it is important for progress that men are seen to be supporting that, because sadly many men are still more likely to listen only to other men
- but also on another level because I feel it's also important for the well-being of men that women are seen and treated as equal.

Here I just want to pull together a few threads from around the internet on why I think there is still a long way to go in western, particularly New Zealand society.

1. From an early age boys have been told to "don't be a girl", teased for being "girly" or put down for "hitting like a girl" in response to failure, asking for help, or expressing any "negative" emotion except anger. As well as indoctrinating the idea that women are somehow less than men in both boys and girls from an early age this negative approach to dealing with emotions also contributes to New Zealand having one of the highest rates of youth suicide (especially among young men) in the developed world.

Things are getting better on this front (I believe) but there are generations of us still alive who need to challenge those ideas within ourselves and strive to do and teach better.

2. If a little boy pulls a little girl's hair "it means he likes you". Not only is the reverse not held to be true, this normalises attack (physical or emotional) as a form of showing affection. Follow the chain and you get coercion seen as a valid form of obtaining affection in the form of sex, women criticised for not responding positively to catcalls or unwanted advances, and "he only hits me because he cares".

Again, NZ has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world.

3. There's this thing about queer/gay being used as a slur. Why is it that being romantically/sexually attracted to men is percieved as a bad thing by other men?. I'm theorising here, but coming back to my first point could it be that being attracted to men is something women do, so it is another accusation of girliness? Or could it be, as beautifully laid out here that a lot of men are afraid that a man attracted to them will subject them to the same form of unwanted attention they know they give the "objects" (women) of their affection (or even passing interest)?

I believe that in our hearts we men (most of us anyway) know that this behaviour is wrong because we become uneasy at the idea of it being turned on us. Knowing that it is our responsibility to try and
- firstly face up to the discomfort and accept when we are called out on it, then try and do better.
- secondly publicly represent and model for that better behaviour
- the hardest of all (and I fail at this often myself; pick your battles): call our friends and family out on it and support others - whatever their gender, orientation or colour - when they call others out on it in our presence.

If men can step up and do this instead of passively supporting the status quo, then fairness for women (and intermediate/null genders) will come a lot faster than if they have to keep wading through us every step of the way.

With all that off my chest, here is the gallery from todays march.

Victoria Square to Cathedral Square
The leading banner
marsden_online: (write)
After all I am one of the lucky ones; not only did I not lose anyone directly in the quakes I even benefited materially from the "repairs" to my home*. My life and work were mostly unaffected and since have continued on a generally upwards trajectory.

*( Like many the assessment was questionable, the workmanship left something to be desired in places and the scope was "tightened" several times between assessment and implementation meaning some things which probably should have been done rather than others were not. But my claim was acted on (un)fairly quickly and my home was still in better condition when they finished than before the quakes.)

If I only paid attention to my own situation or that of people like myself that might leave me content. But my social circles contain many who were not so fortunate. Their homes, lives, families, studies, health ... have been massively disrupted and I do not choose to disregard their experiences and those I read of from further afield. For so many people the past five years have been one battle after another; not all quake related but certainly quake-exacerbated, and so much of it seems to have been unnecessary.

In some ways the February 14th aftershock this year was beneficial. Some people might have been in danger of believing the platitudes which will have been spouted today about how well we are all doing; how well the rebuild is progressing. Instead as PTSD kicked in and "old" responses rose sharply to the surface there was an up-swell of awareness that no, everything is not all right; yes, we still need help.

In the last five years we have seen proof (if there had been any doubt) that the insurance industry is more interested in holding on to its money than in meeting it's contracted obligations. We've seen the one locally owned insurance company which was by nature overexposed to the risk "bailed out" by the government then promptly chopped up; the "good" bit sold off to one of the same overseas re/insurance companies which fights determinedly to not return the money they have taken from other insurees in premiums over the years (IAG) and the "bad" bit put into limbo (Southern Response, which can only progress so far without the goverment actually stumping up some money to cover the work that needs doing).

We have seen that we have a government who are more interested in bottom lines and doing deals with those same insurance companies than in standing up for the rights of the people they purport to represent. More interested in a magical accounting "surplus" than in the wellbeing not only of Christchurch but of the entire country. Only interested frankly, to all intents and purposes to improve the lot of "people like them" no matter the cost to anyone else. Quick to promise financial relief but very slow to spend any money which would not already have been spent.

We have learnt that our EQC disaster recovery fund had already been plundered by the government (through simply directing it to put the money into government-issued bonds), and there is no indication this government has any plan to rebuild it against future need.

We have seen control of "Christchurch's Recovery" taken away from Christchurch from the word "help". Hijacked by people who are more interested in vanity projects (which they then turn around and demand the people of Christchurch make ourselves responsible for paying for) than in the places people live. More interested in cutting costs and corners than in the human cost or actual repair. More interested in being "in charge" than in delivering what a broken city needs.

Today, the 22nd, is a day for reflecting on what we have lost in and around Christchurch. Not just people and buildings but well-being, dignity and agency. So much of which has not been taken by the quakes themselves but by the deliberate actions and inactions of those who claimed the people of Christchurch would be "looked after".

For those outside Christchurch it might be worth thinking about, "if a major disaster struck where you are, what would you lose?"

Emma summed up neatly why in her earthquake anniversary post so I am going to borrow her words to finish. "Because this isn’t about the past, five years on. Things are still happening."
marsden_online: (camera2)
On the weekend before the Paris Climate talks in December, climate marches took place in hundreds of major cities.

This was one of them.
Victoria Square
marsden_online: (write)
Environment Canterbury is currently seeking submissions on their Long Term Plan for 2015 - 2025. Locals may have found a print version in their mailbox over the past week or two. You can download the document and make submissions online at the Ecan Website

This is my first time being motivated enough to make such a submission. It may be a little wordy but I felt it important to convey a little of my personal perspective and background rather than a relatively context-less set of bullet points (which I couldn't have arrive at without writing all this out anyway).

long )
marsden_online: (write)
Stuff today had an article on some of the down-and-out here in Christchurch. Christchurch sex workers: Life on Manchester St"
An early commenter asked "I wonder though, what would it take to help them off the street?"

Now I have no direct experience helping people up from that low, but I have read a lot of their stories over the past few years and there are some strong common threads, and as the comments overall haven't deteriorated too much but felt confident enough to post a reply to that. Pending moderation but I don;t see any reason it shouldn't make it through.
What does it take?

- *Security* so they don't have to spend all their energy on accounting for the next meal or substitute high.
- *Time* for their minds and bodies to recover from constantly living in "survival mode" and start to live for a future.
- *Patience* as they learn to trust again; break the habits/reflexes and modes of thinking that living day-to-day instills; and gain the confidence in themselves and their support network to move forward.
- *Opportunity* to catch up on the things they missed as children - not only academically but also in exploring and developing interests and talents - and explore the paths open to them.
- *Acceptance and respect* that they have their own individual life stories; that they will probably carry scars and exhibit behaviours for the rest of thier lives from the traumas they have experienced; that the first path or paths they initially choose to explore not be the ones they ultimately settle on or stick to; and that this does not make them /in any way/ lesser people than anyone else.
- *Confidence* (or faith if you prefer) that they are worth the investment in all of the above.
- As any individual or organisation can only do so much (and they do), and so often have to focus on a few worst cases, it will take *raising our voices* as a caring society to *demand* of our representatives to whom we have delegated responsibility of our social welfare that they /direct the resources/ to not only pick up those who have already fallen through the cracks but to /close those cracks/ (many of which are well known).

I wish I had more resources to bring to bear.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Normally the news that a company like energy efficiency and insulation business Right House has gone into liquidation would pass through my radar with just a moment to pause in sadness for those whom have just lost their livelihoods. However this time there is an indirect personal connection - it was a telemarketing call from Right House house and the following obligation-free quote which made me decide that then was the time to start the ball rolling on actually getting grid connected solar installed here.

The first step of course was googling up solar installers in NZ and sending off for more quotes. when it came down to it though two I already had bookmarked gave the best results. A shout out here to CPS Solar (Canterbury based) who provided a lot of useful information and food-for-thought in our conversation. Definitely consider them.

My choice though has gone to Solar City despite the fact they they were the tardiest in replying to my enquiry. I'd like to write a bit about why.

First off is their innovative Solar Care offering. For $0 or $1000 down they will install panels on your house and sell you the electricity generated for a fixed monthly cost for the next 20 years. (You then use or sell excess power into the grid.) This effectively locks in the cost to you of that much power for the next 20 years, and the contract is set so that the cost-per-unit is probably lower than you are being charged now.

Personally I think projects like this are what the major generators should be doing, to conserve hydro and fossil-fuel (ugh) generation for night time and winter use. But of course they don't make money by providing people with cheap power :-/

I was almost sold on this, it works out very well for both the homeowner (who gets rapid access to solar without massive expenditure or worries about insurance, monitoring etc of the panels) and for the company who get regular cashflow (instead of constantly having to chase new installations) and to depreciate the value of the solar panels on their books :). Had I investment properties I would be having Solar Care systems installed ASAP. Any of my home-owning/paying-off friends I strongly recommend taking a look.

However the desire and years of expecting to outright own the installation asserted itself and I was unable to bring myself to deviate that far from the plan. What actually sold me on a fixed install from Solar City installation was not the price but the opportunity to become involved with / contribute to a new initiative they are setting up with the University of Otago to (quoting the flyer)
Conduct a comprehensive study into household and commercial solar energy use, to better inform and guide the nation towards a 100% renewable energy future.

(As a bonus, "Customers will have the opportunity to beta test new technologies in the energy efficiency and solar space." Eh-heh-heh ...)

This will involve a period of monitoring before the installation which is fine because for me "starting the ball rolling" on a project like this means I have a 12-18 month horizon in view for actually affording and completing it. This is something I make clear of my requests for quotes but find a lot of companies have difficulty with - and their pressure (and oft-times effectively bribes) to commit sooner is something which I find distinctly off-putting.

Companies, I am (charitably) sure that you are genuinely interested in making sure your customers get good value for money but if you want my custom please do me the courtesy of understanding that I know and understand my own values, finances and finance options and that I am not undertaking such a large project on the spur of the moment. If I am not the typical customer in this, well that is simply a sad observation on today's society.

Another issue where I have struggled to reach common ground with all the companies I have talked to is my desire to install more generation capacity than is "economically efficient" for me. (The generators don't pay a terrific amount for home-solar production fed into the grid and these tariffs have only been dropping.) The concept that I might have broader, non-economic goals like future-proofing the amount of generation on my roof (nominally economic), or happily working towards overall lower power prices for everyone else by feeding cheap power into the grid and setting an example for wider home generation is completely foreign.

(I've had to temporarily throw in the towel on that one, but the system I am getting is eminently extensible at a later date by the addition of more panels and micro-inverters.)

Speaking of finance options this entire post / mini-rant was actually triggered by a quote from the Right House article.
But the business had not had the demand for their services, from home insulation to energy advice, that it had hoped for, Fisk said.
"I think that has been influenced by whether people are getting offer subsidies to insulate their houses," Fisk said.
The company failure may seem "counter-intuitive" when there is a housing boom especially in Christchurch and Auckland, he said.
Asked if the government cuts to home insulation subsidies in 2013 had affected Right House, Fisk said he believed it had "some effect".

Now this is a Stuff article so don't assume that quote from the liquidator (probably not yet familiar with the company finances) is entirely in context. It's obviously being played a bit by the reporter and as such I believe it reflects a wider feeling that the only reason people might be interested in getting into solar (and more broadly other technologies) is the money. That's a meme I'd really like to squish out of society's group consciousness because there are so many wider possibilities once you broaden your view from what is purely best for the individual.

[tangent]For example Christchurch (City Council) is currently looking at painful rates rises and having to privatise some of it's utility assets to afford the costs of the earthquake rebuild foisted on us by the national government. But we could build a new asset as a (somewhat seasonal) electricity generator right alongside the rebuild to offset some of that cost if only by generating some of the power required. I think most households and businesses would be happy to have some council-owned panels on their roof in exchange for the promise of lower rates increases (or the offset in lower electricity costs).[/tangent]

It is true that for the majority of homeowners (unlike well-privileged, mortgage-free, no-dependants self) the availability of subsidies will probably have a significant impact on the affordability calculations. (And part of the genius of Solar Care is how it simplifies that calculation.) It is good business for eg. an installer to point out the available options which may make what they are selling more affordable.

[aside]If you have a mortgage with Kiwibank also check out their Sustainable Energy Loan (link not guaranteed to be current).[/aside]

But I don't believe it is broadly good that our consumerist, buy now (worry about paying later) culture tries to rush people into accelerating financial plans that should be taken time over and focuses on the monetary payback value of long-term purchases to the detriment of other values. And just like if your business relies on the government topping up your employees wages because you don't pay them enough to live; if your business relies on pressuring people into making financial decisions for cashflow perhaps you should take a hard look at how sustainable it / its growth path really is. When I look at who I give significant amounts of my actually-earned money to, you better believe I'm taking that into account. Often it is through [your business'] salespeople that I have the most direct experience of that.

[aside]No I'm not a fan of commission sales, why do you ask?[/aside]

Disclaimer: this has not been any sort of solicited promotion and I have no connection (yet) to any of the mentioned companies except as outlined above. (Haven't even signed and returned the quote.) :p
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life
via FB: an in depth look at the life of an 11 year old girl and her family in New York - how they got there, what the future might bring. Very long, 5 parts of mostly heartache and the occasional faint glimmer of hope.
Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.

Nearly a quarter of Dasani’s childhood has unfolded at Auburn, where she shares a 520-square-foot room with her parents and seven siblings. As they begin to stir on this frigid January day, Dasani sets about her chores.

One could be grateful that this is on the far side of the world, clearly someone else's problem. Could say that America does not have even the (increasingly holey) social security net that New Zealand boasts. Share it on Facebook as if to say "how bad the world is, how well we have it" and move along.

The NZ media does occasionally deign to pick up on these same issues in New Zealand - it was the topic du jour for a little while in 2010-11 but it seems unlikely little has changed.
- Entire families living in a relative's garage or multiple families crammed together in one home while they wait for state housing to become available. (2010)
- People's needs for accommodation deliberately not even recorded by Housing New Zealand leaving them with no option but to camp in the worst of private accommodation with no tenants rights (Both 2011 - I think WINZ has taking over determining accommodation eligibility but I have little confidence that anything has changed in practice).
- Garage life for two years (2013)

And I don't need a link for anyone reading this to know what the accommodation situation in Christchurch has been like for the past few years. "Temporary" must be starting to look like "childhood" for many.

The numbers may be debatable - perhaps things have improved in NZ since the first of these articles was written. But in the modern, caring, wealthy society which we supposedly aspire to be one person - especially one child - without even the option of a basic, clean, place to live in should be one too many.

And I am certain that the scope of the problem is still actually far wider than I can glimpse from my comfortable middle-class life. I sense a fear in me, that if I actually go looking I will be overwhelmed at the scale and feel unable to make any real difference - thus I "bide my time" and passively watch for opportunities to help within my means and not detrimental to my own (middle class) goals. Would I open my home to strangers? I've seriously considered it post-quake but decided against for mental health's sake (mine and my flatmate's (even if he agreed to the idea)).

Still we are losing bright children (truth be most if not all children are bright); now more than ever we as a society are throwing away their futures through our own inaction when we have the capacity to do better. A week ago I shared on FB an article about Variety looking for sponsors to help families pay back-to-school costs.
A charity is crying out for donors as poverty-stricken parents seek sponsorship for the back-to-school costs of their children.

More than 170 applications have been made for Kiwi Kid sponsorship so far this year, including 21 from Christchurch, and Variety - The Children's Charity needs more sponsors.

There were already 705 children - 116 from Christchurch - receiving financial support nationwide in its first year, much like that offered to children in Third World countries through World Vision.
At the time I said
This presses *many* of my buttons - children, local poverty, education...
I'm fighting a 3-way battle between reflexively signing up; knowing that I'm supposed to be keeping a tighter reign on my spending this year (and so far have been failing miserably); and feeling I could probably find someone in need that I could give the full $35+ per month to directly.
and at the time inertia won. Now I'm making a commitment to reassess my budget for the year, do some research and commit something regular on top of the irregular amounts I give the phone collectors and occasional worthy givealittle/pledgeme/etc call that comes across my radar - whether through Variety or some other avenue (I wonder if Adopt a Christchurch Family is still actually going).

This topic also conveniently leads into my next post - thoughts on the just-announced Labour party policy of an extra $60/week entitlement for families with newborns possibly following up to the age of 3 years.
marsden_online: (Cat Yarn)
Having nowhere better to be tonight I took a detour along the new southern motorway to see where it goes. The experience was actually rather disorientating. There seems to be this big empty space out there I never really knew existed.

I will have to do it again in daylight, and there appears to be a cycleway. That might be interesting as well, although I might have to work up to it. At the moment just getting out to the Springs Road roundabout (where it starts) might leave me with only enough to get home the same way.

Brought to you by not being the post I ought to be making tonight.
marsden_online: (BlueDragon)
That's what they said about Cracroft House, which met the bulldozers this week.

I'm afraid the same can very much be said of Antonio Hall. As I've said since the first visit, it would take love (as well as money) to save. And it's clear that the owners don't care and aren't inclined to co-operate with anyone who does :(

The Historic Places Trust are apparently looking for buildings to save in the residential red zone, and there are no doubt buildings worth saving. My own criteria would include "could the building have a future as something other than a time capsule" - that's why I like the Hall, but I don't know how many of the ones in the red zone will meet that.

The cabin in the above article for instance will probably stand another move. Other buildings though I could see becoming little deserted islands.
marsden_online: (elf)
I'm tentatively picking Sunday the 16th before lunch but need a solid indication of numbers. Please comment to show interest, include any others you may be bringing and any time issues. Possibly more than one tour/date will be arranged, see below.
Excerpted from email (if you've just joined us see my original post on Antonio Hall)
I am still seeing with the owners how a bigger group can go through safely. Up to five people no problem, but we need to bring in help if we have more at a time.

Yes, cameras are allowed, with provisos

The best times for seeing well is daylight, any time after 10 am, with interior , light being difficult after 7 pm.

The best time to be scared silly is, of course, after midnight. To do this though we need to tell our neighbours and police that a group is on site.

The Manager's residence is unfortunately red stickered
marsden_online: (Default)
A while back I posted about Antonio Hall, on Riccarton Road. This evening I received a comment in response with more details of the Hall's current status, and the offer of a tour.

... are you pondering what I'm pondering?
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
I'm pretty much just going to work though the sections until I get tired of reading, jotting down my thoughts.

The Big Picture
Nothing much extra comes to mind over the introduction/big picture that I don't expect to be commenting on later, until we get to Implementation where it starts talking about who/how the projects in the plan will be paid for. The most concrete part of this section is in identifying the "catalyst projects" the council plans to be take the lad in paying for - ie "public investment". While it is expected that "private investment" will be 10x that the details about where this is actually going to come from ... feel hollow. Blather about "incentives" and "leadership".

This document probably isn't the place to list the private projects which are no doubt already being planned, but I would feel better if that information was available somewhere.

Guiding Principles
Five principles were defined to draft the plan
- Foster business investment
- Respect for the Past
- A long term view of the future
- Easy to get around
- Vibrant central city living

I don't know if the order they are presented in the draft is reflective of their relevant importance (doubtless the official position is that they are all equally important) but to my mind "A long term view of the future" expresses something that people really need to get their heads around. The timeline in the plan itself covers about 20 years - the foreseeable future really. I do expect that within my lifetime we will get to the point where construction and development stops containing an element of "rebuild".
But what is being put in place here will shape Christchurch for another 100 years or more (barring sinking into the ocean), just as Christchurch to date has been shaped by street plans laid out in 1850, or by the brick buildings erected around the turn of the 20th century (there is a nice potted history on pages 17-20).

The way ahead
This section lays out the process of finalising the plan and work which is ongoing - eg further analysis. It also contains this section which describes the largest short-term hurdle to getting started...
Insurance companies and their reinsurers are facing what they describe as “unprecedented events” and Canterbury’s earthquake risk level remains a real concern to the insurance industry. The primary issue revolves around the level of ongoing seismic activity to the extent there is no appetite for insurers to take on new risk (i.e. risk they do not currently have). This has a significant impact on rebuilding with little (if any) ability to secure insurance for these projects. The banking industry is wanting certainty that standard insurance cover, including earthquake cover, is in place at the outset of a project. This issue is well known at all levels including central government and is a significant risk factor that could impact on delivery of the Plan.

Money is available from non-bank sources for the public works, although I wonder if projects are legally required to have insurance before they can start. That might require careful use of those law-rewriting powers the minister has.
But unless there is a developer out there with deep pockets and a willingness to take the risk, that vital private investment could be slow in coming. Or a bank willing to cut some slack - it can be assumed that the international re-insurers won't cut any, but our internationally owned banks are mostly based in Australia and might be a little friendlier.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Brownlees (soundbite) response to the draft plan is reportedly
Brownlee said residents would need to decide what projects they wanted to keep from "a pretty big wish list".

"It's now up to the people of Christchurch to debate the plan, prioritise its projects and decide how much they are prepared to pay to fund them," he said.

"How much we're prepared to pay?" is an interesting question, given that despite the repeated suggestions of eg: infrastructure bonds on either a local or national level - there seems to be no movement to allow the public to voluntarily contribute (invest) funds. In Chch itself we're going to make a compulsory contribution through our rates (like we get to decide how much that is [/sarc]) but otherwise it looks like you have to be some sort of big private investor (developer) or other central city property owner to be allowed to contribute anything at all.

If we're being asked to buy in to the grand vision outlined in the draft plan, then let us actually buy into it. I want a funding option which will enable Joe/Jane Person to contribute as much as they feel they can to the effort. I have a feeling there's quite a bit of loose money floating around in Christchurch let alone the rest of the country which could be soaked up into something like this.

[Official feedback channels don't open for another 4 days]

As an aside, given the vocal opposition to light rail (personally I'm for it, after a fashion) I wonder if it is in there as some form of easy sacrifice.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
The Christchurch City Council today released the draft plan for the post-earthquake recovery of the Central City, an outcome (partially) of the Share an Idea program.

The Press put it online at but it's pretty unreadable in that format - if you don't want to register an account there to get the pdf I've re-uploaded it here:

Edit: or get it from the council website:

I've skimmed it pretty thoroughly but I'm not going to make any detailed commentary until some of it has sunk in and I've made another pass or three. First impression is that it contains pretty much everything that I could have asked for and more besides - I saw nothing to disagree with. And that's why I'm going to describe it as a vision rather than a plan - it aims high and the hurdles to be overcome in achieving it are walls made of flesh. There are a lot of other stakeholders who need to buy in and stump up before even a fraction can be achieved.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
This afternoon I attended a CERA community workshop on the Greater Christchurch Recovery Strategy. This was along the same lines as the CCC's Share an Idea workshops but looking at the "Greater" Christchurch area.

At least that was the theory. From what we heard from a couple of other tables as the facilitator asked around for a sampling of the topics that had come up some people missed the "Greater" bit and focused on the "CBD".

The Recovery Plan is divided into 5 areas<
- Community wellbeing
- Culture and heritage
- Built environment
- Economy (I sat with this group, which seemed to have attracted less interest that the others)
- Natural environment

The workshop suffered for the process not being clearly explained - so we were asked to do stuff with no clear context, no understanding that there was a next step, an the commiserate confusion of some of the participants, time wastage on the first pass and lack of time on the later. (For the record the workshop was facilitated by staff from ESR.)

First we were asked to individually write on sticky notes what signs would tell us in 5 years time that the Recovery Plan was working. The next step was grouping these notes into themes or clusters. The answers focused on economic indicators and clear reporting from CERA. We picked the top 3 to continue with - Unemployment at or better than pre-September levels, the number of tourist beds back up to pre-quake levels and the tourists coming back, and reporting from CERA showing how the region's Economic recovery was matching or exceeding the targets in the Recovery Plan.

For each of these we then looked at
- what needs to be done to achieve this (me for unemployment was about identifying opportunities and needed skills ASAP, -publicising them- and getting training organised)
- what challenges and hurdles stand in the way (politics was a common theme here)

Unfortunately as mentioned above the time we had available was not made clear which meant spending far to much time on the first and then rushing through the last two as we discovered actually we only had 15 minutes left to do -all the rest- not 15 minutes left to finish the first one.

We then went through this process again for the question "What can we use this opportunity to do much better than before". This time we only had to pick one of our clusters, explain what it was about, and why it was so important. Unfortunately by this time people were becoming unfocused and kept making suggestions for specific outcomes, which wasn't what either of the questions was asking for.

We picked Transport as being important for getting resources (including labour) to and from new business locations in a timely fashion and supporting a decentralised industry (future disasterproofing).

(My initial ideas were around getting a range of industry/residential distributed around the hinterland settlements connected to Chch as a central hub by light rail. This would let people live further out of the city but commute easily, or live/play in the city but commute out to work. Or a bit more out there - "Make Christchurch the Silicon Valley of the South Pacific")

Finally we each got to write down one piece of advice we'd like to give CERA. Mine was "Be completely transparent and listen to / act on the feedback this garners you". There was also a feedback form on which I left the same criticisms I mentioned above.

There was one woman at the table who couldn't stop talking, didn't quite seem to get the point of the exercise and generally rubbed me up the wrong way. Most of the others I was on the same wavelength with to some degree. I take that as an indication that there was a good range of viewpoints and personalities present :-/

Although looking around the room I did feel that my age group and younger were ... under-represented. Still there are a number of workshops being held across the city, hopefully the average will work out.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Update: Antonio Hall now has a website

I hear the question asked occasionally, what is that big overgrown building near the Riccarton/Clyde intersection. I've wondered myself, and finally got around to googling it.
Google led me to this this cathedral newsletter from 2009 (pdf) which contains a write up of the place's history.

Bullet point version from that document:
- commissioned in 1904 by a grocery merchant - original name "Kilmead"
- sold in 1929
- purchased in 1946 by the Catholic Church to become the Holy Name Seminary. Additional buildings was done throughout the 50's and early 60's to support the growing needs of the institution
- Declining numbers led to the closure of the seminary in 1979 and throughout the 80's the church ran it as the university hostel known as "Campion Hall"
- In 1981 it was sold and the new owner ran it as a boarding house. She also changed the name to Antiono Hall - as the sign out front still declares it - after her late (ie deceased) son.
- Sold again in 1993
- Indications are it is currently used as some form of warehouse (2009)

It must be staggering inside:
Today the property sits on three and a half acres of land, and the total floor space of the house is 4283 square metres. It has over one hundred bedrooms, seven lecture rooms, a library, a cool store, and dining and reception rooms - a total of two hundred and seventy nine rooms in all.

(Including a chapel with 16 huge stained glass windows - which I guess may not have survived recent events.)

- Another link from Google to a reference to a Press article tells us that the property was put up for mortgagee auction late in 2008 . I wonder if it sold?
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
I attended one this afternoon, it took about 2 1/2 hours, we brainstormed on finer details of and ways to implement some of the themes which have emerged.

There would have been about 40 people there, reasonably representative but again I'd like to encourage all my friends in Christchurch to turn up to one at some stage and make their input. Here's that link again.

After a bit of a pep talk from Mayor Bob (which didn't do much for me) a professional facilitator took over.

There were four broad areas to cover, with between 2 and 4 questions each (which I have paraphrased below), and we each got to focus on two (one at a time of course) of our choice then quickly visit the others to slap up anything we deemed particularly missing.

I don't know if they'll be the same for the workshops, but for us it was (I did the first two listed):

- how can we make the Central City feel safe,
- how can we make the Central City welcoming to different social/cultural groups
- how can we encourage people to live in the Central City
- how can we encourage/support local artists and entertainers
* we lost far too much time with people ranting about alcohol control in response to the first question. It needed to be one point, move on.
* one very sensible and knowledgeable person (whom I recognised from media appearances over the years but am not going to name because he was there as a private individual) suggested "playgrounds for all ages". He also spoke exactly my thoughts on some other things, which saved time and was personally validating :)

- what are the key difference between shopping in the city and shopping in the malls
- how can we encourage the tourists to spend more time in the Central City and spend money
* one of the people in my group for this works in the tourist industry and made it quite clear that without the high-capacity hotels that were in the city we're basically screwed for the next 10 years as far as international tourism goes.

- what would people like to see along the key parts of the Avon
- How to encourage the use of the physical space in the city in the evenings
* one of the suggestions that I saw both groups had highlighted was "Stop calling it the C B D". I noticed in all the materials it's being referenced as the "Central City", so I think the council in already onto this but it's something all of us can do.

- consider how to move pedestrians around the Central City if there are fewer cars allowed in
- Things you think are good and bad about light rail
- What needs to be done to encourage more cycling around the Central City
* two points that came up in Life that I suggested might be better in Move were "frequent seats spaced a short walk apart" and "the ability/plan to route traffic away from the most dangerous remaining buildings in the case of another earthquake, without having to shut the Central City down entirely.

There were some people there who obviously had agendas, but fortunately neither of my groups had the friction I witnessed across the room at one point. Although the Market group did have one person I wanted to vigorously debate - she slipped her "we're doing it all wrong - this is how it should be done" in right near the end when there wasn't time and it just had to be written down. My own agenda didn't quite fit into any of the boxes, and I wasn't going to try and force it.

The time constraints on the council are so tight that I feel what is said at these workshops will have -an- influence on the draft and then final plan - and that's about as much influence as any of us who aren't directly involved in the system can constructively hope to have.
marsden_online: (globe)
Unsurprisingly Telecom (well Chorus) over much of the country, but they don't get Christchurch!

Enable Networks get Christchurch and Rangiora and outlying settlements. Enable are owned by the Christchurch City Council (ie publicly owned) and they've been building a dark fibre network in Christchurch for a while now.

Herald story covering all areas
More and More - media releases on Voxy about Christchurch + Enable.

I'll be watching the Telecom/Chorus split with some interest - assuming the shareholder vote is just a formality will Chorus (to become C2) be a listed company, adding a fraction of desperately needed depth to our stock market?
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
Met up with [ profile] shenya to wander around the expo this afternoon. First time I've been into the [whoever the sponsor is now] arena. It was busy, but not crowded although there were a lot of people listening to the speakers, possibly as many as were making their way around the stands.

It didn't take too long to wander around the displays and whack some sticky notes up. Mostly versions of suggestions I've already submitted online, but it eventually occurred to me the value of having other people there read them as well as whoever ends up making the plan - or at least whoever gets to sort out all the suggestions and report up on the themes.

A lot of the trends I'd already seen on the website/twitter stream were strongly evident - a clean green city, bike lanes, fewer cars in the city, good public transport, boutique shops, restaurants, inner-city living. One trend I hadn't noted before can be summarised as "keep the yoof out" - I didn't agree with that so I whacked up a note suggesting graffiti parks, skateboard arenas, places for youth to congregate.

[pops over to the suggestion site to add]
A city has a future because of it's young people. Don't "keep the yoof out" - give them places to be active in the way of their generation

I brought the feedback form home with me to write up longer-form answers to the questions as "homework", then I'll hand it in at the local service center.

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