I’m getting fed up with lots of talk everywhere, but nothing new seems to be happening with the promotion of new ideas for this City’s future. It’s like everybody is sitting back waiting for somebody else to act. Well I’ve decided that somebody is all of us. That’s what this epistle is about.
On Friday night I attended a session called by Simon Watts as a follow-up to some of the discussions which have been conducted at the Tuesday Club during lock-down. It was a really interesting group of people. Everybody was so keen to share ideas, that it was the litany of the deaf, as shared ideas poured over each other as those present excitedly debated what, and where, we should be heading as a City.
I left the gathering full of chips, beer and ideas. Thanks for arranging it Simon.
I’ve been thinking over the weekend that there must be heaps of people desperate for leadership in this City that fosters ideas, and supports them to happen. It’s about getting in behind good people with great ideas and supporting them to happen.
We need our economic development agency, which absorbs $13m of our rates each year, to be the place which supports ideas to make this place hum again. It ain’t happening right now. Despite good intentions.
In April the Financial Times, that famous conservative publication wrote:
“Radical reforms – reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades – will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.”
When I reflect on this statement, I this encourages us to think hard about new ways to rebuild our City and Province. Ideas which embrace people, the environment and our economy.
On Friday it was reported on RNZ, by yet another economist, that they could see the economies of Auckland and Wellington starting reasonably quickly post Covid-19; but that the South Island would not experience the same immediate recovery. This infuriated me for a while. Then I sat in front of my fire and thought “no, this is a good thing”. While we are off the radar, because all Wellington politicians seem to worry about is Auckland and its surrounding area, we might be able to get into some serious thinking about new ideas. As an island. And make them happen.
Let’s start thinking creatively. One important thing is for us to start our own employment programmes here, tapping into the funds which Central Government has put aside to assist those who have lost their jobs, post covid-19. I have been involved with a small group of people reviewing employment schemes of the past and considering the elements of what these schemes could look like in 2020. We will be sharing this with the City soon. It is an essential function of ChristchurchNZ and we will be presenting our findings to their Board as soon as they will meet with us. Then we will expect them to act, not form another committee.
We need a sense of urgency. With everything. Ever since the earthquakes we have had a grey cloud of gloom hanging over this City. We need to punch through this. It’s time to let the sun shine through this greyness. Each week a seriously good group of people meets at the Tuesday Club to talk mostly about public policy. Isn’t it now time to focus on how we can expand our network and start challenging those we expect to lead us to step up and start doing things differently?
Why wait for politicians to lead us? We will wait forever for that to happen. Let’s take the ball into our own court and start creating some new South Island rules. We need politicians to understand and accept the need to change. However, the power to change things must reside within our community; of which elected reps are part, not them being relied on to be the arbiters of good ideas.
I thought about what organisations around the world have impressed me over the years. Organisations which exist slightly outside the system. Which drive the system, rather than being subservient to it.
The organisation which came to mind was the “Thousand Friends of Oregon”. This organisation was founded in 1974 and was sponsored by the then Governor who wrote:
Each of you might suggest different words, but our goal is certainly the same:
A better Oregon
Tom McCall, Oregon Governor and co-founder of 1000 friends of Oregon
Since this time the organisation has flourished and has been a big influence on the development of the key City in the State, Portland. Imaginative and creative solutions have been found by the “Friends of Oregon” pushing and lobbying those in political office.
That’s what we need. Imagine if we just ripped off the phrase above and said:
“Each of you might suggest different words, but our goal certainly is the same: a better Canterbury”.
Doesn’t that have a ring to it? Lets’ start something which will drive change in our community. To call our political leaders to account. To work with them to promote change. To get in behind people with ideas and ask “why not?”.
It is our responsibility to plan for those who will follow us. I recently read this quote:
If there are to be problems, may they come during my life-time so that I can resolve them and give my children the chance of a good life – Kenyan proverb
We have problems brought about by major disruptions in our lives. We can remain victims, or we can respond. We must promote change in the way we conduct decision making in this area. It’s change time.
This was recently written in the Guardian:
The premise of change is that risks and chances need to be taken. And the movements that will be born from that demand will never be neat, and never have been. Process by its very nature is conservative. To insist that the aggrieved must “follow the rules” or lose our support is to ignore the lessons of history. Many of the rights we now take for granted were won by people who knew when the time had come to give up on the establishment.
In a recent publication by the Engineers for Social Responsibility they had this list of desirable outcomes for a world post-Covid 19:
- The recovery should not be a return to ‘business as usual’ – because that is a world on track for 3°C or more of over-heating;
- The recovery, above all, must be guided by an adherence to public health and scientific expertise, in order to assure the safety of those who live in our cities;
- Excellent public services, public investment and increased community resilience will form the most effective basis for the recovery;
- The recovery must address issues of equity that have been laid bare by the impact of the crisis – for example, workers who are now recognised as essential should be celebrated and compensated accordingly and policies must support people living in informal settlements;
- The recovery must improve the resilience of our cities and communities. Therefore, investments should be made to protect against future threats – including the climate crisis – and to support those people impacted by climate and health risks;
- Climate action can help accelerate economic recovery and enhance social equity, through the use of new technologies and the creation of new industries and new jobs. These will drive wider benefits for our residents, workers, students, businesses and visitors;
- We commit to doing everything in our power and the power of our city governments to ensure that the recovery from COVID-19 is healthy, equitable and sustainable;
- We commit to using our collective voices and individual actions to ensure that national governments support both cities and the investments needed in cities, to deliver an economic recovery that is healthy, equitable and sustainable;
We commit to using our collective voices and individual actions to ensure that international and regional institutions invest directly in cities to support a healthy society.
Who would disagree with this list? It really is time for us to stand up and insist that equitable change emerges in our society. We need to organise.
I was sent an article late this afternoon by Carl Davidson from the Correspondent labelled The neoliberal era is ending. What comes next? Here’s the link to it https://thecorrespondent.com/466/the-neoliberal-era-is-ending-what-comes-next/61655148676-a00ee89a
The article concludes with this statement:
Now a space has opened up for a different, more realistic view of human nature: that humankind has evolved to cooperate. It’s from that conviction that all the rest can follow – a government based on trust, a tax system rooted in solidarity, and the sustainable investments needed to secure our future. And all this just in time to be prepared for the biggest test of this century, our pandemic in slow motion – climate change.
This challenge summarises what I have tried to say above. Let’s do something. Who would like to get involved in looking at us forming something? Or do we have it in the Tuesday Club?