There was a short opinion piece in the Press the other day about plans for the Avon River as Christchurch rebuilds. Read it here.

The plan they’re talking about is broadly that espoused by the Avon-Otakoro Network, and envisions rejuvenating the damaged lands along the river (where much of the heaviest quake damaged land is) by creating a park and reserve.

I’m generally in favor of something like that, and commented on the article accordingly:

I strongly support turning the banks of the Avon into a reserve. I don’t so much mind the specifics: a wetland, a park, a garden, or a common use space – all would be great, I think. A combination of the above would suit me best.

I think the following are important:

  • we shouldn’t rebuild houses that will slide into the river the next time we have a quake.
  • we shouldn’t solidify the banks with concrete. It’s tragic how deadened a city looks with that sort of land management.
  • we should use this as an opportunity to build and recast our city in a way that captures our shared ideals and that offers us opportunity to create meaning in our lives (whatever that means to each of us individually).
  • we shouldn’t let a small group of powerful individuals (be they politicians, business, or the wealthy) tell us how to use the land. It may be held by the government, but it’s our city, and we should have a say in how it’s used.
  • we should cater to as diverse a selection of citizen’s interests as possible.
  • we should respect and showcase the land and its flora and fauna. They’re a big part of what makes NZ so special. Living overseas as I have on and off for the last few years, I’m struck with how much the rest of the world is jealous of our country, and it makes me sad when we take that for granted.

I’d like to see nature reserves, bike trails, foot trails, gentle banks with willows, band rotundas, parks for markets and fairs, and more. So few cities have the opportunity to remake so much of themselves, and I’m really hoping we’ll be able to meet our own dreams and take advantage of that.

I grew up near Horseshoe Lake and the Avon. I’m in the US now, but I miss my home, and it strains me not to be able to be there as it rebuilds.


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via Open the Future;

A set of photos taken during the recent earthquake in Sichuan province, China, by a wedding photographer who’d just begun taking photos of the bride and groom when the earthquake struck.

Two strike me in particular – one of masonry falling off a church, the other of the bride, resplendent in dress, veil, and dusty debris looking out over the rubble as her new husband is climbing to his feet.

It seems their photos were being taken on some steps outside the church, within which many of their guests remained. You can only imagine the shock – they’ve just experienced an intensely joyful experience, then, having only recently left the church to have photos taken, they experience horror, as the building, filled with friends and family, collapses behind them. 33 are reported missing or dead.

Photos like this, untouched by professional media, give, for me, a much more intense window into events – it was easy to see imagery of rescue workers and devastation on the news and think of it as a distant tragedy, a statistic – this brings it all into so much more focus.

In the post mentioned above, Jamais says ‘With every snapshot, every recording, every blog entry, we’re documenting our world.’ – that’s important – it emphasizes the breadth of documentary that crowd journalism can give – if everyone has a camera and a voice, so much more is captured, and so many more perspectives are presented. That said, I think crowd journalism is similarly important for the personal, immediate nature of it – there’s an increase in perceived honesty and emotional intensity that you get when you’re seeing footage and accounts by people who were actually there, experiencing the event. To some extent, I think this is what makes embedded journalism during wartime so interesting, too..


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