Sunday, May 22, 2011

TEDxEQChch #1

As days go, Saturday was a long one. I can't remember the last time I concentrated so hard for so long on so many different and interesting speakers. The main theme of yesterday is one that's been echoing today, with the Rise Up Christchurch telethon. We will rise again, we will have a thriving city once more but it's going to take time, thoughtful consultation and pragmatic decision-making.
Aurora Centre, TEDxEQChch venue
The TEDx team did a fabulous job of organising the event and I was most impressed to see people sorting out the lunch rubbish, with all the organic & recyclable waste being diverted. Big thumbs up! Also to the guys who arranged the stage decorations - made from local earthquake rubble. 
To see more pics of the inner city rubble... check out this album from the TEDx crew...
For those who weren't at the event yesterday & couldn't catch the live stream, here's a very quick roundup from my rather brief notes...

Hugh Nicholson from the council was an engaging speaker & provided an informed perspective. Among other things he told us was that over 18,300 post-it note ideas were collected at the recent expo, and there's been another 2700 submitted online. The main ideas coming through were that residents want more green spaces, a city that's geared around people living, walking & cycling, and has more trees in its central district.

Artist Kunst Buzz from the Netherlands has made and donated an image for Chch: a picture of the Cathedral made up of almost 1000 #eqnz tweets and based on Vincent van Gogh's masterpiece Starry Night.

Hugh Morrison from Arrow International provided some useful figures and perspectives... even though he warned us all not to expect anything creative - "after all,  I'm just a builder" - he seemed to capture a lot of the thoughts & questions many of us have. He showed us some scary figures: of the 190,000 homes looked at by EQC 15-20,000 will be over the EQC cap (100k), and 60% of those will need to be rebuilt. Of the 4,300 buildings within the '4 Aves', 1000 have been red-stickered, and 1100 yellow-stickered.
He talked about timelines, and about how people are feeling helpless with so many decisions being out of their hands, and how we all just want to know "when" things will happen. It took all of my willpower to not leap onto my feet and ask "when" they would be getting round to my house. Talking with hubby later (who was watching some of the live stream at home), he said he was half-expecting me to yell something at that point!

Andrew Holden, editor of The Press, was an amiable MC for the day and provided this pithy observation towards the end of the day: If CERA is a success, it will be because of Roger Sutton. If it's a failure, it's Gerry Brownlee's fault. This, of course, was just before Gerry got onto the stage to address the crowd & introduce Art Agnos, former mayor of San Francisco.
Andrew Holden

As expected, Art was a delight to listen to, and he had some cautionary words with regards to politics and rebuilding efforts. 22,000 people disagreed with his decision to demolish a waterfront expressway in San Fran by signing petitions and then marching on City Hall to protest. Even though now, that decision is widely regarded as beneficial and necessary, political terms do not match the length of time needed to rebuild a shattered community. Just two years later, Art was voted out of office... but has no regrets over that decision and would do exactly the same again. A word in the shell-like ears of all our politicians: please, make decisions that are in the best interests of the city & not your own political careers.
Art Agnos
Although I already knew a lot of what Art had done in San Fran through having heard/watched him speak on different NZ media in the last 3 months, I still learnt something new... and there were 3 points in particular that gained approval from the audience...

Like Christchurch, San Fran had many damaged and dangerous buildings that contained important items for their tenants or owners. Unlike what's happening here, business/home owners & tenants were allowed a 15 minute window in which to retrieve items. There was a realisation that these people have a right to be allowed to take the risk upon themselves. Of course there were legal waivers to sign and hard-hats to wear, but they were allowed to enter dangerous buildings to retrieve what they could.

Like Christchurch, San Fran had many buildings that needed to be demolished. Unlike what's happening here, they employed a 'soft takedown' method which allowed home/business owners & tenants to retrieve items during the demolition process.

Like Christchurch, San Fran had a lot of rubble from demolished buildings that was sent to landfill. Unlike what's happening here, the rubble from each individual site was allocated a specific 'landfill address' which related to the original street address of the property. Property owners/tenants were given one final chance to go through the rubble to retrieve any treasures they could find.

I didn't take very many notes on the day but I have recorded 13 of the day's speakers with my little digital device. Audio only, and I have yet to figure out how to attach the audio to a picture so I can pretend it's a video and upload it here. I think I might make a little TEDxEQChch's greatest hits compilation because there were many fabulous moments that I would love to share. Which is why I've labelled this post as #1 - there will be more to follow (assuming I find the time & techy skills).

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