Sunday, April 10, 2011


If there's an upside to this whole quake sequence, it's that we're constantly learning about new things. Few of us in Shakeytown knew much about liquifaction before September, now our city provides a prime example of this phenomenon and many of us have experienced it first hand. Check out this video of a wheelbarrow experiment - liquification in action! That our land behaved in this manner did not come as a surprise to some... as far back as 1996 there was even a documentary that mentioned the dangers of liquifaction in Chch...

Most of us however, had no clue about this sort of thing and blithely carried on building where others had before us or bought cute old houses because they had character & charm, not for their sound construction methods. So many of the decisions about where & how to build were made using knowledge from distant lands and times and it is just too hard to remove cities or even suburbs and start again using new knowledge and technologies...unless something drastic happens.

Well, something drastic did happen - not just once but twice - which now gives us the opportunity to re-imagine what our city should do and be, to use modern ideas and technology that will work with our environment in a multitude of ways. Cities are not just buildings, they're people too... and it is the people of Christchurch who need to get involved, who need to make their ideas heard or at least to be informed about what other people's ideas are. We need to hear and be heard and we need to keep learning and thinking about what our future could hold, and what our new city could look like.

I attended a forum at my son's school recently, aimed at providing information about the current site-sharing arrangement with the residential college, to answer questions and to gather ideas about the way forward. It was at this forum that I learnt another new word and was introduced to a tool - an event really - that facilitates and structures the sharing of creativity. It's called "PechaKucha", which is the Japanese term for the sound of chit chat. It was originally designed as a way of stopping architects from talking too much when sharing their work, using a 20x20 format - 20 slides, 20 seconds each. These days it has become a worldwide collective, with over 230 cities holding regular PechaKucha Nights, helping millions of creative ideas to be shared among groups of various sizes, from people of all ages and interests.

After the earthquakes in Christchurch and northern Japan, there has been a worldwide desire to help, to share and collate some of the brilliant thoughts and ideas that are happening. This coming weekend, a global PechaKucha Day is taking place with the theme of "Inspire Japan". The C-city event, entitled "Inspire Christchurch" will kick off the event on Saturday April 16th at 8.20pm, in the CPSA building at CPIT's Madras St campus.  The three main themes of this event are Inspiration, Issues and Recovery... anyone is welcome to present on any aspect as it relates to Christchurch and/or Japan. If you're keen to share ideas then get in touch with the local organisers (email

Me, I'm just going along to watch and to soak up the creativity, to learn more new things about this place we live in and about how we might rebuild a shattered city. Information is power, knowledge is essential, and ideas are everything. Nothing visionary has ever happened without the daydreams of people who are both involved and informed.

Listen, learn and share... a simple plan for a complex situation but one that I can cope with.

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