Tuesday, May 17, 2011

'If we make the right decisions today...'

On the weekend i went to Shareanidea, an expo of ideas about the rebuilding of Christchurch's CBD after the earthquakes. It was run by the city council.

All up, 10,000 people went. The place was busy on the Sunday morning. Some of the area was divided into spaces for aspects of the rebuilding process - called life, space, move and market. People put post-it-notes with ideas on them on walls. They also logged them on computers, recorded them on Youtube videos and, for children, drew them or made them out of lego on wooden maps of the city.

i listened to Mark Quigley, our resident celebbrity geologist, talk about his own idea for the future CBD and how geological engineers can do anything provided they have time and money. People clapped throughout. i agreed with most of what he had to say.

There were lots of families. Groups of children were thinking hard about what to put on the walls, debating with the charming ernestness of ten year olds. An older man was talking to a young boy, saying 'If we make the right decisions today, it makes a difference to your future'. People acted as if they had a true stake in this city. They seemed to believe they were making a difference, and their views would be heard.

There were definite themes among the ideas. People wanted a small, green, low-rise, CBD with good space, art, and local colour and less vehicular traffic. There was not much call for green technologies as such, but they were often implicit.

In other words, lots of people think like me! i was genuinely surprised and pleased.

The woman i went with talked about how voting means little to her, but going to the expo and posting her ideas meant so much. We are seldom given a chance to say more than yes or no on a TV text poll, or vote for the next Whatever Idol. And more people voted for American Idol than in the US elections. On the weekend, Christchurch people thought they had a stake, so they got off their couches and came and said what they thought, with words and pictures and voices.

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