30 March 2011

Getting Organised, no matter what life throws at you!

Check out Totally Organised who gives advice on being organised . . . and has a new perspective after living through the earthquakes and aftershocks that plague Christchurch.

She has wit, common sense, good tips and an easy to follow writing style.

For a taste from a recent blog . . .

* Never ever compare natural disasters, no one is worse than another! BECAUSE For the people who are in the middle of a situation regardless of where they are or what the disaster is, it is the WORST thing that will ever happen to THEM in THEIR lives.

* Know that if you have been effected by a NATURAL disaster then it is tragic, scary and energy sapping. However the reality is there is nothing you can do to stop them happening, so live each and everyday with gusto and one at a time.
"Follow your own instincts" trust your gut and do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Do not ask permission or wait for others to take the lead, do what you need to do when you need to do it, survival is key.

Once the dust has settled and the reality of the situation starts to sink in then you will be heartened to find a community that will come together and do what needs to be done. Be part of that community and build a new strength together.

Totally Organised, the organising guru. Follow on Twitter @totallyorganise

Click here to read previous posts on Conversations@Intersections about organising well.

29 March 2011

You wouldn't?!

If you've seen my hair, you'd know why I think this is funny.

Check out more cartoons at American Hell.

28 March 2011

Is your God a "cosmic butler"?

Whaddaya think?

“So the quest for salvation has been replaced by the quest for wellbeing. And the danger is Christianity will end up looking like the empire of Oprah, in which God is a sort of cosmic butler who delivers things for us... We need to return to a biblical world view that grapples with suffering, rather than avoids or denies it, and that recognises that man is not the focus. God is. And that God is not going to transform you into this buff entrepreneur with a beautiful wife. There is a much deeper reality than that.”
Mark Sayers
Read more from Mark Sayers on his blog, in The Vertical Self, or The Trouble With Paris, both books are available from Amazon and other retailers.

Mark is Australian. That helps him look at things differently from some.

27 March 2011

Accommodating Diversity Within an Organisation

Think with me?

Consider the factors involved when managers make decisions in contexts where the extent of diversity is almost unbounded.
What has been left out of this mind map? Generally speaking, what else must be factored in?

This could be a volunteer organisation, a university, a for-profit company, or a governmental agency. The diversity is most pronounced amongst the staff/students/customers/clientele.

What, if anything, needs to be taken in to consideration as decisions are made to serve the common good? I'm not interested in rule making per se, but in the way the decisions are made and the factors taken into consideration in the process.

Practical wisdom, as conceived by Aristotle, cannot be acquired solely by learning general rules. We must also acquire, through practice, those deliberative, emotional, and social skills that enable us to put our general understanding of well-being into practice in ways that are suitable to each occasion. Read more at Stanford Univ edu.

26 March 2011

Insidious Influence of The Worst Kind of Power

"The worst kind of power doesn't come from a dictatorship. But, from the quiet, manipulative, "for-the-good-of", management of the passive-aggressive. This kind of evil deceives the young, controls the good hearted, and hides in the "righteous."

24 March 2011

Endangered Species: Religion to 'die out' in 9 Countries?

Without reading the study, or the reasons for the study, why would you think the following might be true?

New research suggests that religion will "die out" in nine countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. The rate of "religious non-affiliation" has skyrocketed in each of these nations, and researchers speculate that religious identification will cease before too long ...

Research using census data from a selection of countries concluded there is a steady rise in people claiming no religious affiliation.

The findings, unveiled at a American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, was drawn from data stretching back 100 years.

The study was carried out by Northwestern University and the University of Arizona.

Read more

I anticipate your comments . . . . whether on Conversations@Intersections or Facebook.

23 March 2011

When is it fear mongering? Christchurch Earthquake Potential in 1996 Doco

I love old buildings. I love to go to places that reek with history and stories and a sense of how things were before iPhones and cruise control.

Some want to now demolish the old dodgy buildings and move on, rebuild in a new style. Others want to retain what they can, to restore.

So many questions arise.
Who pays for strengthening of buildings, or for the mess afterwards? How do city councils weigh the costs and risks, and decide with prudence? There are many risks all around us. Can we protect everyone from all of them?

Who's responsible? The building owners, or those who built them? Some in Christchurch are nearly 100 years old, heritage sites with the plaques out front to prove it. Well, the plaques were there. Now they are mostly under rubble.

Who approved construction on soil that might be unstable? Who decided the Canterbury Plains would be a good place for a city? Asking questions of generations long gone, of men who only knew what could be known at the time, is not possible, as is laying blame nearly useless.

Early settlers build near water where there are enough natural resources to sustain life. They build where there is access to hunting grounds, building materials, commodities that can be traded. They build with what's available and things improve over time. Or do they?

Later generations make the most of what they're given, and try to build upon the bones and pot shards they find. But then, when new discoveries are made, new dilemmas arise.

Notice the date of this documentary; 1996.
Aired by TV3 in July 1996, an Inside New Zealand documentary called Earthquakes.
How many other doom docos have been made and are still lying dusty in the archives?

"... to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, The Bible, New Testament

22 March 2011

Between the Equater and the South Pole

Have you ever been between things?
Maybe between jobs, relationships, homes, countries . . .

I have written about liminality, the state of being between two things, before in Conversations@Intersections.

When I saw this marker in a garden on the edge of Lake Wakatipu (pictured) in Central Otago, liminality of space came to mind.

In the hiking/tramping I had done in the previous few days, I felt like I had been between things. I was between mountains and rivers. I was far from communications and news. I was somewhat alone in the midst of gorgeous trees and birds.

Sometimes when I am in those places I think of staying, of not rejoining my life in the city. In those places being is paramount, with doing mostly related to comfort and safety. If I stayed out too late or if the weather changed, I'd need to do some things, but otherwise, there was no call for my attention or drain on my energy.

I have the same sense when I've been on trans-Pacific flights, about 5 hours in to the flight I become acutely aware that I am between things. I like the freedom that gives, whether in the wilderness or in the air.

Check out the other posts on liminal spaces. See if any of it resonates with you, where you are or where you've been, spatially, spiritually or emotionally.

4985 kilometers equals 3097 miles.

21 March 2011

Blue Spot?

Do images ever just grab you?

Do you ever just stop in your tracks and look longer, closer, deeper?

Do you ever wonder what story there is behind what you see?

18 March 2011

Cindy Ruakere: Karakia & NZ Anthem

Download a version of New Zealand's national Anthem in both Maori & English with a karakia by Cindy Ruakere.

This song has been widely used since the Christchurch Earthquake of 22.2.11

"Get over it." "Move on." Nope, not just yet.

New Zealand is a small comma on the broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean, and our small comma has been shaken. Even those of us who didn't feel the ground moving have been moved by the scope and nature of the disaster; quake shaking buildings already destabilised by the previous quake, aftershocks that don't seem to ever stop.

We have new neighbours or classmates, people who've evacuated Christchurch and are trying to get on with life in Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington or Hamilton, often only taking part of their family with them and not knowing where to bury those they've lost.

Most of my posts for the last few weeks have been about the Christchurch earthquake. Some of my readers may think it is time to move on; there are disasters everyday somewhere in the world. We're seeing horrific photos from Japan where people I know and care about live and work.

The problem is, the headlines move on while the people from the previous disaster are still trying to find their loved ones and sort out their lives. Think tent city in Haiti! the devastation remains and people there still need aid to rebuild their lives and communities following the 7.0 earthquake of January 2010. Oh, wait, what about Katrina, New Orleans and her citizens?

Back in New Zealand, certain products, tools, etc are in short supply as they've all been rounded up and sent south to Christchurch. Who knew wheelbarrows, toilet seats and baby wipes would be so sought after? After Katrina, FEMA sourced trailers from all over the country to rehouse displaced people.

Rentals were hard to find before and were getting more expensive. Now, less than a month later, they are rare and prices soar. Supply and demand. When thousands of homes are unliveable and people don't trust the ground under their feet, they'll seek greener, more stable pastures.

The media is, of necessity, fickle. Consumers' attentions wander. Headlines shift on to new
news in new places affecting new faces. I get that. Gotta sell papers, ads, etc. But there's not much new happening yet for many people in Christchurch, or in Haiti, or in lots of other places that were yesterday's news, but are now just a mess for those who don't have the means with which to rebuild, restock or restart.

So no, I'm not quite ready to
"Get over it." "Move on." Nope, not just yet. There's something about the shared human condition that is worth maintaining. There's something about tragic suffering and loss that should connect with who we are at the core, without it seeming so remote that we reach for the remote to change to something entertaining.

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

14Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. ...

21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

The Bible, newer covenant, Romans 12:9-18 & 21, mixed translation, NLT & TNIV.

Need help? Want to help? Photos: An aerial view Photos: Before and after Earthquake photos Video coverage Earthquake victims What you need to know Full coverage

17 March 2011

Lake Sylvan, Central Otago: LOTRs Country

If I could bring my dad to New Zealand, I'd probably try to show him Lake Sylvan.

It's in a valley between foreboding mountains, many of which featured in The Lord of the Rings films.

I'd pack a lunch, grab the binoculars and walking sticks and we'd set out for this place where you can hear nothing of human invention.

The worst part would be the swaying cable bridge over a tributary to the Dart River. After that, it's all easy walking, escorted by cheeky New Zealand robins.

The mosses were thick and varied. The air cool and fresh. The water clear and reflecting the gorgeous vistas towering above.

Yep, I'd bring him here for his birthday. Might even pack some cake.

16 March 2011

Photos: Before and after the Christchurch earthquake

If you have never been to Christchurch, you'll not understand what has been lost. In addition to the lives of over 166 people, the homes of thousands, the comfort & sense of security that people develop as they tend their gardens, paint their homes, and live their lives . . . Christchurch has lost much of it's heritage, the buildings that gave Christchurch it's dignity, it's history, it's feel.

I have been in many of these buildings, Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, church buildings and others. To see them reduced to the mangled sticks, bricks and bits of metal is astonishing.

By clicking on the Stuff.co.nz link, you'll go to a site that has before & after photos side-by-side with a slider you can drag to see how the building was in it's glory, and how it is now in disarray.

I've seen lots of photos, watched some video and heard many stories. These photos clarify what has been lost architecturally and spiritually, economically & historically.

I'm not illustrating this at all in this post because it is too well done via the Stuff.co.nz link to even dabble with it in a static way within this blog.

It hasn't even been a month yet, and the degree of devastation is not even known yet. In chiShona, the majority language of Zimbabwe, to say "I am sorry." is to literally say, "I have sorrow." That's the emotional response I have to the Christchurch disaster.

15 March 2011

Christchurch Earthquake: Refugess Pitch in with Shovels, Food & Money

Social Services & Support Agencies work with all kinds of people who are at risk. During a natural disaster such as the recent earthquakes in Christchurch, those services must sometimes be stepped up to make sure these people are not marginalised or overlooked and the tragedy compounded.

Some people were able to leave Christchurch to stay with family or friends in other cities. Others were able to move in together with family in less affected suburbs. What of those without extended family in New Zealand? That would include any immigrants, but especially refugees.

Refugee Services reports, "In addition to the support being provided by government, Tāngata Whenua and the agencies and volunteers working with refugee background communities, refugee communities themselves are banding together to join the relief effort.

“In the days after the quake, families rallied together to support each other, and many of the ethnic group leaders have been working tirelessly to help their community members,” says Peter. “Many former refugees have told us that they want to give back to Christchurch, the city and its people who took them in and gave them a future in this country.”

A group of Somali former refugees put together food supplies to be passed through the fence to workers on the inside of the cordon. Numerous refugee background communities, including the Afar community in Hamilton and the Rakhine community in Wellington, have held fundraisers and donated the proceeds to relief efforts, and the Afghan and Somali communities in Christchurch have come together to help clear liquefaction, which has affected many Christchurch residents.

WebsiteLiquefactionTeamWhile many challenges still lie ahead as Christchurch and its residents recover from the quake, Refugee Services will continue to partner with other support agencies and refugee communities to offer whatever support is needed to former refugees. “Our primary goal at the moment is to ensure former refugees are aware of what support is available to individuals and families and to assist them to access that support,” says Heather. “We are working closely with other agencies and service providers and providing a link between them and the former refugees affected by the quake.”

As those affected by the disaster make decisions about whether to stay in Christchurch or relocate to other parts of the country, Refugee Services staff are providing up-to-date information that will ensure all clients are able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

“For those who opt to stay, there is and will continue to be increased and targeted support specifically to assist earthquake victims,” says Heather, “and Refugee Services will do whatever we can to help clients to access that support. Our goal is to work with all former refugees to rebuild and re-establish their lives in Christchurch, if that’s what they decide to do. And for those who decide to leave, we will do whatever we can to link them with the appropriate support systems to start building their lives in a new area.”

14 March 2011

A Prayerful Poem in the Wake of an Earthquake

Listening to the shaking foundations by John Howell

The mountain's eyelids are closed with cloud;
snow etching its face with a moko;
a chiseling winter mirrored in the lake's lips;
layers of landscape stacked on the horizon.

The earth cracks and fissures,

like teeth grating in its jaw's vice,
squeezing the rim of a broken plate
while the land shivers with grief.

Treating nature as a commodity is folly;
Richter scales a different mountain.
A shaking foundation is a fragile dwelling place -
travel light through the place we call home.

Go and stand on the mountain.
It is time to dance to a different tune
to listen to the sound of sheer silence,
and songs of the suffering servant.

Creator God,
Tune my ears to the voice within,
that sings your evolving power.
Place my feet in the cosmic dust,
grounding your regal design.
Fill my heart with humility
to find my place in a community of wonder,
kneeling beside the Holy One, Amen.

12 March 2011

Toilet Tips: For when you must build your own. It happens.

"About 60 percent of (Christchurch) residents have access to a flushing toilet but breaks in the system were causing sewage to leak into the ground. Residents were advised to make use of more than 1400 portaloos around the city, with 1160 more due to arrive this week. More than 30,000 chemical toilets have also been ordered" ODT, Thu, 10 Mar 2011

Word is that Christchurch has exhausted the world's supply of chemical toilets because their sewer pipes have either been broken by unstable ground or blocked by silt.

Who woulda guessed it? What will the next shortage be? Invest now!

What would you use for a toilet if your sewer pipes were twisted, busted or blocked and you weren't likely to get resolution for days or weeks?

Kiwi Ingenuity to the fore!

Long Drop Tips can be found at Show Us Your Long Drop, a site set up to showcase how clever Cantabrians have been since the earthquake that rocked their city, killed over 166 people, toppled their cathedral spire, and crippled their sewage system.

What would you use for a seat?

What to stabilise the whole thing?

What about privacy?

What about going outside to use the new garden feature in the rain, in the dark?

Learn-as-you-go is often the rule.
Many added a bit of flooring just in front of the seat so trousers didn't get dirty.
Others figured out ways to keep the loo paper dry.

What of the odor?

You can sprinkle ashes, fresh pine sawdust or kitty litter on, but built in ventilation was a much appreciated feature when I lived in Africa and commonly used such long drops.

"The vent pipe needs to be about 100mm diameter and extend straight from the pit to 500mm above the roof. If you put it on the sunny side and paint it black it'll improve the vent performance." Write to paul.lewthwaite@livelearn.org for an instruction guide.
Would you put the surplus on your garden as fertiliser? Many do, and not just after earthquakes. I'd suggest composting it first and thoroughly. Instructions pdf

Peter commented on the Long Drop Tips page saying, "This number 8 fencing wire mentality is still alive and well."

11 March 2011

Pacific Basin is Quaking & Shaking: Tsunamis Expected

Expected Arrival times of tsunami to
coastal areas:

2:59 am HST
6:23 am NZT first wave of approximately 1 meter, with others to follow, but no way of knowing details at this distance in time or kilometers.

See NOAA for specific times GMT.

Australian authorities say there is no threat to mainland Australia.
The Age

Super Loos in Christchurch

What you do when your sewer pipes have been munted by an earthquake and thousands of after shocks.

Christchurch has long been known as The Garden City.

You may remember that I've pointed you to Cake Wrecks in the past, a blog about professional cake decorators who've gotten things really really wrong.

Well, how about a little Kiwi ingenuity as people in Christchurch cope with the damaged sewer lines running under their earthquake devastated city?

Kiwis have long celebrated their ingenuity, using No. 8 wire to fix things and making do, or making things do things they weren't necessarily intended to do, but can. Ha!

Disaster brings out the best in people, causes them to adapt, to be innovative. Some people appreciate the challenge. Others are tired of knowing their neighbours more intimately than ever before.

Check out Show Us Your Long Drop . . . meaning out house, dunny, johnny, litter box, privy, restroom, sandbox, throne . . . you get the idea?

One family used their chimney pipe that came down in the quake as the base for their outdoor toilet! Many used the bricks from toppled chimneys.

Some have used garden chairs, old crates, garden sheds and tarps.

I've shown you a few here, but really, click on the link and go see the lot of them.

It'd be a real hoot if it weren't for perfectly good flushable toilets sitting in their houses unusable.

And of course, this site is only accessible to those who had electricity and internet to upload their photos.

This in what
was New Zealand's 2nd largest city with a population of approximately 400,000 people. With all the evacuations, I'd say Wellington is second now.

10 March 2011

Weird Church Words: Lent Links

If you'd like to guide yourself through some meaningful, private, creative preparation for Easter, check the following links for ideas.

Liturgy is not a word commonly used in my faith community, though it is common in older more formal Christian communities.

Words are often adopted and absorbed by users and the meanings evolve. At it's core, liturgy means a customary repertoire of ideas, phrases, or observances; a form of public worship; ritual;
a collection of formularies for public worship; a particular arrangement of services.

Loosely applied, many of our sporting events have a liturgy, an accepted common arrangement of doing things, practices that are expected in certain circumstances. In America, tailgate parties might have an expected liturgy. In New Zealand, you'd never have fish & chips without tomato sauce, it's part of the liturgy.

Typically though, litrugy is used in more narrow ways, specifically applied to what might happen in a church or even a public service. As New Zealanders gather in various locations around the world next week to memorialise those lost in the February 22nd earthquake, there will be liturgies followed in the public gatherings.

Liturgy also comes in to more common usage this time of year as Easter celebrations approach.

You could, as an individual or in a group, use some of the following resource links to mine deep material to be used as you contemplate Jesus on earth in the days leading up to His death, and then in those days of fear and uncertainty for His followers afterward, until He appeared and ascended. See the biblical version in Luke 24.

So, have a look through these pages and see what might work for you No one size fits all. Find your own pace, flavour, and way of being with God in the weeks ahead.


09 March 2011

Basic Citizen Journalism

Having studied Journalism back in the day, I appreciate the efforts of these people who have taken a local view of a citywide disaster.

They've collected information the way we used to, by talking to the people who know. They've then shared the information with those most concerned, locally.

All of our fancy technology and info gathering is only good if the power's on.

Check out Vicki Hyde's Musings on the Nature of Information Flow in a Disaster Situation

Here's an excerpt:

" ... The only real source of useful information for our area was gained by stopping people on the street and asking "what do you know?", then writing that down and sticking it to the whiteboard we'd lugged down the hill and duct-taped to a telephone pole.

We spent three days down there hooked up to a Telecom cellphone generator at the corner of the street, giving people a plugbox for their cellphones and getting some internet via a laptop and mobile phone hookup. The noticeboard continued to gain notices -- lost pets, the location of the neighbourhood water tanker (as it shifted on a daily basis), offers of help, where the nearest functioning supermarket was.

We got a bigger board and kept going, kept asking locals what they knew..."

Reminds me of how the Romans used to 'post' a letter at the crossroads for another traveller to carry onward.

08 March 2011

New Zealand, The way National Geographic sees it.

New Zealand is beautiful.

National Geographic magazine has pictures to prove it.

My effort to get tourists to realise that NZ is open for business.

The money they spend will help to rebuild.

Enjoy the photos.

07 March 2011

Christchurch: Would you like to be Mayor?

Christchurch is still struggling after a massive quake 2 weeks ago, and will struggle long after the headlines shift to newer news. Rebuilding a city, from sewers up, is more than a Sim City exercise.

NZ needs the tourism dollars as it is nearly 20% of the economy. The money they bring will help to rebuild a gorgeous city, raise the cathedral spire & boost business, jobs, etc.

I'd hate to be mayor.
Much of what needs to be done is underground or out of view of people in the eastern suburbs who just want flush toilets. He must rely on reports from engineers, technicians and logistic advisors.

How would you prioritise your response?
Getting sections of the city operating again where more people will benefit? Getting business and manufacturing up and running so people can get back to work?

In the mean time, people are scared, suffering and tired of camping in tents. It'll get cold soon in Canterbury.

More than 50,000 people have left the city, increasing stress in other major centres.

Spread the word!
NZ is gorgeous and the affected area is quite small. Christchurch Airport is open for tourists with rental cars & campervans available. Lovely destinations are scattered all over the South Island from Abel Tasman National Park to Slope Pt, Akaroa, Milford Sound and Dunedin. Lord of the Rings sites can be accessed by air, road or kayak. Breath taking beauty, with or without hobbits!

05 March 2011

Christchurch: Refugee City

Christchurch has a hierarchy of needs, but most are not acknowledged, let alone met, as the scale of the disaster overwhelms all normal local resources. Peaceful, conservative Christchurch has been overwhelmed and is now exhausted. Batteries are flat and nerves are frayed.

Students and volunteers shovel dried liquefaction from suburban streets, risking respiratory difficulties as the wind kicks the dried sewage & silt into dust. Water is captured in any useful container and hoarded as a precious commodity. transportation options are limited as roads are dodgy and many cars were abandoned, unusable or blocked by rubble.

Redcliffs resident Peter Hyde says many people in the worst-hit areas of Christchurch have had scant help in the struggle to get back on their feet

From The NZ Herald website, insight into the suburbs by Peter Hyde.

It's 2am and, like many people in Christchurch, I am not sleeping well. But at least we now have power in Redcliffs, so I can use the time productively.

What happened to me in the quake is not important. What is not happening in the post-quake period is important, because the official response is dwarfed by the size of the problem.

I don't have all-seeing eyes, or a helicopter. I certainly don't have any kind of special view of officialdom - though not for want of trying to make contact in the past five days.

So this is based on my perspective.

Christchurch is three cities right now, not one.


This is the cordoned off area.

That means almost all our knowledge of it comes from the news media. It's given us tales of injury, tragedy, loss, broken buildings, heroism, sacrifice, leadership and gratifying international response.

It's extremely television-friendly. My quake experience started there, but almost nobody lives in Rescue City. The resources and attention which are seemingly being poured in are not addressing the most urgent post-quake needs of the people of Christchurch.


This is any part of Christchurch where you can take a hot shower, because you have electricity, water and sewerage. By latest estimates, that's about 65 per cent of the city - much of it out west. The media naturally lives in Shower City, and they talk almost exclusively to the business leaders and the Rescue City leadership who also inhabit it.


This is the rest of Christchurch - mainly the eastern suburbs, perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 people, only half of whom have power and almost none have running water. Batteries have run down, gas has run out and other supplies are low or gone.

Houses may or may not be intact. Streets may be clear, broken, or full of silt or sewage. There are no showers, ways to wash clothes or heat the "must boil" water. No refrigeration, no working toilets, and precious few Port-a-loos.

No internet and no phones. The papers - if you can get one - are rapidly dated, and usually far too general in their coverage. It really doesn't help someone without a car in Aranui to know that Fisher & Paykel is providing free laundries in Kaiapoi.

As a consequence, locals have few resources, little information, and no "voice". It's remarkably hard to call emergency services when your landline is out and your cellphone battery is dead. Maybe you have just enough charge to call the sole Government helpline - but to stay 20 minutes on hold?

We saw Opposition Leader Phil Goff the other day - he stopped for a photo op with the army group which had paused briefly at the cordon. He did not talk to any of the locals waiting amid the dust they'd stirred up, hoping for a nugget of information.

The official response in this part of the city sounds reassuring, but is not; relief centres and a field hospital - if you can get to them. The army - two drivebys in the past week. ...

Read the rest of the article on The NZ Herald's site.

04 March 2011

Kia Kaha, Christchurch!

Who knew when I wrote about bucket toilets a week ago that Christchurch would desperately need thousands of them as 80% of their sewers have been damaged by more quakes & aftershocks?!

Think of all the things you crave for in a day? Does a portable radio, running water and hot food top the list?

Friday most of New Zealand will be wearing Red & Black in support of the Canterbury region.
Students will hit the streets again with shovels and wheelbarrows scooping up dried dusty liquefaction and debris from shaken and damaged buildings.

Volunteers will deliver sandwiches, fruit and drinks to neighbourhoods without safe kitchens or refrigeration. Vans will try to help ferry people to vital appointments to sign up for aid, insurance or repairs.

Schools are still closed and call centres are frantic as people try to access government assistance, social services and plumbers.

Churches are not meeting as their buildings are unsafe. No one is thinking of going to the movies or malls as they don't want to gather inside.

Rents will rise as housing is in short supply, though 50,000+ people have fled the area thus far. The economic impact will be felt throughout New Zealand and the region. Many frustrated defeated Kiwis will likely go to Australia seeking work and a new start.

In the mean time, there is already talk of rebuilding the cathedral and the rest of the CBD.
People in the suburbs east of Christchurch just want flushable toilets.

To keep up on the news of recovery and rebuilding, check TV3 News, Stuff.co.nz or follow #eqnz on Twitter.

I'll try not to dwell on the tragedy here in Conversations@Intersections, but in NZ right now, it's about all we think about and talk about. The sadness is nearly palpable.

01 March 2011

Changed, Utterly Changed: A Thoughtful Post

Consider NYC before The Towers fell.
Consider New Orleans before Katrina.

Look around you. What would it all look like if violently shaken, destabilized from foundation up, then encased in silt and sewage?

How would you cope without ATMs, coffee, TV, Internet and a toilet? Your car may very well be entombed in a parking garage that may have pancaked into a solid mass half the height it used to be. Hope you didn't leave anything important in it.

Such is life in Christchurch. Still better than Haiti, but, at the very least, inconvenient and exhausting; at the most, heart and gut wrenching.

Noelle McCarthy wrote well in The NZ Herald this week, saying, 
"There is a scale to measure earthquakes, but how do you quantify their toll? Where do we start? Amid the rubble and the timber, the splayed foundations, the wounded and the lost? The falling rocks, the blasted Cathedral, the men in fluoro bearing stretchers of the dead?
We start with the people. The people of Christchurch, divided for now into the rescued, and their rescuers, the survivors, and the lost. The people who have suffered so unfairly, we begin by acknowledging their loss.

We watched agog, those first appalling images from the city centre as dazed Cantabrians became people on the run, racing past wailing car alarms and away from falling masonry, jumping off footpaths, diving out of harm's way, desperately trying to get home.
... It was raining in Auckland, a wild end-of-summer rain. I took a bus up Queen St and everywhere I looked was carnage and despair.

Not really, thank God, the pictures were just in my mind. Queen St was teeming, crazy, safe as houses. A thousand miles away Christchurch was riven and Auckland felt obscenely unscathed.

By then we knew about the people who died on the buses. I imagined the Whitcoulls Building in Victoria St coming down around us, Smith & Caugheys, the Old St James. Why should it be them and not us, here, on the number 24? That simple geography could decide that fact seems too cruel.

... The people of Christchurch are just people, the same as us. We share their humanity at the most basic level, we're all mortal, all hopelessly fragile in the same way.

We know this with certainty now, after Christchurch. I tried to be nicer to the people on my bus.

We start with the people. We finish with them too. Nothing else matters, not buildings, not possessions, the places we make our homes. Only people. He Tangata.

"All is changed, changed utterly," the great poet of collapse, William Yeats, wrote.  by Noelle McCarthy