Tag Archives: People and Environment

POLITICS of Place —New Year glums (read glue and screws)

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IS DUNEDIN weighed down by local body politics?

How do citizens separate governance from management?

How do ratepayers and residents separate truth from something else, from someone else?

Finding value in plain speaking, will the place be any better? Will the same players get knuckled, while others with over generous salaries and stipends commit more strongly to the unrelenting string of make-work schemes.

As they ignore basic infrastructure.
For a heightened slavishness to global politics.

Then, early this morning Diane said: “When will you drag us all back to politics, Elizabeth?”

Good question. Thinking about the HOWS and WHYS.
And the WHAT WOULD HAPPENS.

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With others, I received an email from an esteemed and powerful colleague in the United States. It focused my mind. The afternoon email was one of a series of calls and messages proceeding across the holiday break (as committed Canterbury people fortify, lobby and fundraise – lawyers and QCs amongst them) within the all-out campaign to fully restore Christchurch Cathedral.

The man-writer was responding to letters to The Press published today (28 December), each decrying any moves to restore the Cathedral but meanwhile expressing strong desire to resuscitate the heart of the City.

It’s understood the Press editor has been hard to win over on restoration for some years although chinks in that armour did appear after cathedral campaigners BOUGHT space to balance and convey the other side of the Anglican hierarchy’s argument to demolish Serious cultural heritage.

Right now, Christchurch is my favourite POLITICAL City in New Zealand. There is a force for intelligence, compassion, honest endeavour without fear, free speech (multiple voices joined in hardship), and far more than simple zeal for Justice there is public and private leadership in a Place recovering from the political aftermath of a damnable naturally occurring tragedy. Throughout, Christchurch people have got ‘more like themselves’ to cope, to battle —to try for the Egalitarian in the face of disgusting bureaucracies and god-awful top down disparages.

Dunedin faces something else – THAT (nameless but real) is the reason for the What if? Dunedin website. Letting it out, spilling, building confidence to challenge what is handed down as fact.

For the strong and interested, there is no acceptance of stray conduct at PUBLIC MEETINGS caught by privately-owned television for the PUBLIC RECORD. There will be no silencing of what is in PUBLIC DOMAIN. Information existing in PUBLIC DOMAIN, put there by local bodies as their official reports and media releases should not be stopped. Information requested by the public and released by local bodies under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) should be freely disseminated. No picnic.

And now, the substance of that email:

All;

It is with profound regret that I note the United States does not have a monopoly on short-sighted, narrow minded, culturally blind idiots. We have so many of them it’s easy to assume we have them all. I guess there are Rednecks and Bogans everywhere.

Fear not…neither does the US have a monopoly on brave, stalwart, far-sighted stewards of our common Heritage who are willing and able to stand strong and see this important work through to completion. You are an inspiration to me and people around the world.

Have faith…stand strong and fear not.

christchurch-cathedral [tfttphotography.wordpress.com] 1Christchurch Cathedral [tfttphotography.wordpress.com]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Related Posts and Comments:
23.12.15 Christ Church Cathedral: practical news from govt mediator Miriam Dean QC [read report via link provided]
14.7.12 Rival newspaper on historic heritage #cathedral
2.3.12 Christ Church, Cathedral Square

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‘The scrum and fray of urban life’

Book Review

### thenation.com March 18, 2010
Living for the City: On Jane Jacobs
By Samuel Zipp

This article appeared in the April 5, 2010 edition of The Nation.

Cities, Jane Jacobs famously observed, offer “a problem in handling organised complexity”. In her first and still most famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961, Jacobs argued that cities are not chaotic or irrational; they are essentially systems of interrelated variables collected in an organic whole. The challenge, she wrote, was to sense the patterns at work in the vast array of variables. Something similar could be said for writing about cities. How does one coax the thread of a narrative from the scrum and fray of urban life?

In Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, Michael Sorkin, an architect and critic, makes like Jacobs and immerses himself in the rhythms and patter of the street. He has shaped his book according to the contours of his daily stroll across a dozen or so blocks of Lower Manhattan, from the top floor of his five-storey Greenwich Village walk-up to his office in TriBeCa. Walking, Sorkin writes, is “a natural armature for thinking sequentially”, providing opportunities for heady musings on all manner of city life. Yet his peripatetic narrative is anything but linear. Proving there’s a raconteur in every flâneur, Sorkin unspools strands of free-floating observations about a scattered array of urban issues and gathers them into a loose weave along his path downtown. Any full accounting of his rambles would be impossible, but he manages to ruminate on landlord-tenant troubles, the 1811 Manhattan grid, historic preservation, the “ratio of tread to riser” on apartment stairs, elevator etiquette, zoning and housing codes, rent control, the theory of montage, green roofs, public art, crime, gentrification, traffic, urban renewal and public-private partnerships. He also takes diversions into the city thinking of Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Ebenezer Howard, Jacob Riis, Le Corbusier, Henri Lefebvre, the Walt Disney Company, the Situationists, the New Urbanists and, of course, Jane Jacobs. It’s a primer on what one might call the “New York school” of urbanism.

Sorkin is a congenial, sometimes irascible guide. Ever the Manhattanite, he lambastes oblivious SUV drivers, callous landlords and “Disneyfied” urban environments (an undying spark for his ire), but he is also aware of his own foibles, including his tendency to lapse into “high ethical mode”. Sorkin’s musings–outrages and enthusiasms alike–converge around his sensitivity to the restless yet productive tension between the city’s role as both public sphere and commercial marketplace, and the intermingled chances city life offers for making meaning and making money. For Sorkin, the city’s hum and buzz is the sound of an endless “dialogue of desire and demand” and the pitched voices of “poets” and “bandits” jostling for each and every advantage.

(via The Nation)

Other reviews:
metropolismag.com
reaktionbooks.co.uk
amazon.com

****

In March 2002, the Masterclass! programme hosted two world leaders in architecture and urban design. The British Council, Montana Wines, Fullbright New Zealand and the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) jointly delivered a stimulating programme led by Kelvin Campbell from the United Kingdom and Michael Sorkin from New York.

The Dunedin Masterclass! and Urban Design Masterclass! Lunch were held with assistance from NZIA Southern, Dunedin City Council and Southern Urban Design Forum.

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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