If you could redesign your city, what would you do?

I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. And I typing this from a house that, more than three years after a series of devastating earthquakes, still has boards on the windows and no carpet. The doors don’t line up with the frames. We’re not poor. There are just lots of things round here that haven’t been fixed in the three years since the earthquakes wreaked their havoc.

People who follow me are (I assume) interested in Sustainable Development, Environmental Sustainability, Conservation, Innovation and Creative Thinking and things that happen in countries that are not their own. So I don’t talk to them about things that happen in Christchurch – engineering, natural disasters, democracy, policy and construction. But I think maybe I should.

And maybe three years since the earthquakes is a silly time to be asking this – given the time that has past. It’s not new news any more. But this is the right time to ask it. And you’re the right audience, I know it.

If you could redesign your city – the city you live in, the city you’re born in, or the city that you come from – what would you do? With all that you know and care about in Sustainable Development and Environmental Awareness, and Ecology, and Creative Thinking and Innovation and Business and Public Conversation and Politics and Government and Society. What would you do?

I don’t mean what shop would you like to see, what park would you like to create, what subway line would you put in. I mean, imagine you have entire city blocks that you can pull down and re-created. Whole precincts that are now gone, for your black canvases. Whole roads that you can redesign. You can create whatever you want, wherever you want. What would you do? What would you build? What company would you start? Who would you ask?

It’s not a dream. Christchurch has this – a remarkably blank canvas and the economic, political and social environment in which to do it. We’re not a poor city. We don’t have war or famine or political unrest to get in our way. We have the intellectual capacity. Someone at our University split the atom. It’s not like we can’t rebuild a city.

It’s just that we haven’t yet. And it’s been three years.

We’re arguing about heritage right now. We’ve lost a lot of old stone buildings. Someone said to me this week, when talking about the advanced ages of those fighting these heritage battles, that Heritage actually belongs to the young. It’s our heritage. We will live with this city that we will or will not create. This is our legacy. Where are the voices of the people who will live in what is created.

If you want something done, you have to it yourself right? I’m 28. I’m not young. Sigh. But I was born ‘n’ raised here and perhaps it is time for me to Just Do It.

So what should I do? What would you do?


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