Vision and Objectives for the Ōtākaro Avon River corridor

June 3, 2017

“…vision and strategy are as much about creating meaning for people as they are about establishing direction.”  Andrew Smith

Comments made by a Regenerate Christchurch spokesperson, in the Stuff article accompanying the call for feedback on the Vision and Objectives for the post-quakes  Ōtākaro Avon River corridor*, included mention of the organisation “working at different levels simultaneously” on the Regeneration Area.

This devalues the envisioning phase of the strategic planning process. Work should not begin on the objectives, strategic and operational planning until the vision is crystallised and accepted. The sequence is the secret, as Andrew Smith points out in relation to his Accelerated Planning Technique.*

Comments on the Draft:

“The draft vision for the Ōtākaro Avon River Regeneration Area has been shaped by thousands of ideas from Christchurch people about how the area can be transformed into an attractive and exciting legacy for our community.”

No-the thousands of ideas are the raw material, not the shapers. Don’t confuse the clay with the potter.

“The vision and objectives have been informed by public feedback, a community needs survey, 19 workshops with a diverse range of groups, a community profile and more than 5000 ideas from adults and children….”

A lot of input to produce a weak vision and clumsy objectives!

“Our shared Ōtākaro Avon River vision
The river is part of us and we are part of the river. It connects us with each other, our communities and nature…”

The second sentence is tautologous and clumsy, which is merely irritating. But the first sentence reads like a poetical or mystical vision, not the kind of vision at all appropriate to lead off a vision statement of this sort.

A properly crafted vision describes the endpoint and outcomes of the collective journey or collaborative enterprise. It should contain the ingredients of the criteria for evaluating whether or not the journey or enterprise has been satisfactory completed.

Evan Smith’s article in today’s Press “Cleaner Avon River offers more options” * is not structured as a vision/objectives/strategy but it has key elements that could be incorporated in “Our shared Ōtākaro Avon River vision”.

These include an excellent visual and “a concept around recreational renaturalisation of the river, with a particular focus on Kerr’s Reach that allows for flat water sports and a river floodplain too” and criteria like greatly improved water quality and sustainability and parallel benefits in terms of flood management.

The benefits help to sell the concept, though it is quite clear that more work has to be done on hydrological and other ingredients of the concept.

Formatted rather annoyingly, the “vision” meanders on, as murky as the Avon River itself:

“….It is a living part of our city.
A place of history and culture
where people gather, play, and celebrate together.
A place of learning and discovery
where traditional knowledge, science and technology meet.
A place for ideas and innovation
where we create new ways of living and connecting.
Our vision is for the river to connect us together
with each other, with nature and with new possibilities.
Nōku te awa. The river is mine.
We all share in the future of this river.
Ōtākaro Avon River, together we thrive.”

More repetition and tautology: “Our vision is for the river to connect us together with each other…”. Then a switch from the collective to the individual: “Nōku te awa. The river is mine’, but in the next breath “We all share in the future of this river.”

A vision is supposed to lift our sights, focus our attention and fortify our aspirations. I am afraid that what we are offered instead is a confusing mishmash which does none of these things.

*Blinks
https://engage.regeneratechristchurch.nz/26899/documents/55615
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/93221595/reimagining-the-avon-river-for-recreation-and-nature  Evan Smith  2/6/17
http://www.lukey.co.nz/services/strategicplanning.html

Lyall Lukey  3 June 2017
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/


Shaping Post Quakes Christchurch

April 16, 2016

David Bowie said “Tomorrow belongs to those who can see it coming.” We could add and to those who are shaping the future of Christchurch and Canterbury now after the physical and emotional damage wrought by the five major quakes of 2010 -11.

But it is hard to look clearly into the future if you are mired in unresolved earthquake related problems. The St Valentine’s Day seismic reminder was high on the emotional Richter scale.

Very real progress is still mixed with uncertainty. For every new milestone there is a five year old millstone still dragging many people down, especially those with unresolved insurance claims.

Beaverish construction activity south and west of The Square contrasts with inactivity at the core of the city. A large question mark still replaces the fallen spire of Christ Church Cathedral and pigeons rule the open air roost. The cloud of uncertainty extends over the proposed convention centre and adjacent commercial and hospitality projects, all waiting for the fog to clear.

In the early disaster recovery stage there was some understanding of the need for a command and control approach from CERA, the government department charged with implementing the. Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Plans.

A different public mood has been evident for some time and will intensify with local body elections this year and national elections next. What many want is a different style of leadership, locally based, and a more active democracy. Best post-disaster recovery practice elsewhere suggests the earlier the better.

People living, working and investing in Christchurch have skin in the regeneration game and have to live with the results.

Despite starting with high hopes, CERA became prematurely portly. Leadership changes in the last 18 months have slowed momentum though not the flow of commuting bureaucrats.

The popular success of the Margaret Mahy playground stands in stark contrast to the lack of preventative action in adjacent New Regent Street which has caused the inner city tram artery to be blocked for weeks after damage exposed by the recent 5.7 quake. Quick off the mark outside the constraints of the inner city plan, the private sector has also for some time been driving the retail and commercial rebuild in the central city assisted by the directed migration of public sector government agencies to tenant new buildings.

Regeneration

“Regeneration “is the current bureaucratic buzzword and it is worth reflecting on its meanings. In Biology it is “the restoration or new growth by an organism of organs, tissues, etc., that have been lost, removed, or injured.’ In Electronics “ a feedback process in which energy from the output of an amplifier is fed back to the grid circuit to reinforce the input.’ Both are relevant to Christchurch now. The first is about organic growth, not alien grafts. The second is a metaphor for raising the depleted energy levels of the people of Christchurch by plugging into their positive inputs and feedback.

The new Regeneration legislation creates two new entities, Regenerate Christchurch and Otakaro Ltd, which have governance structures akin to commercial boards, apart from their funding, rather than government departments. From this transition point there is an opportunity to do things differently. There is also a fear that nothing much may change apart from the shuffling of alphabetical acronyms.

There is already in place the City Council’s Development Christchurch Ltd, not to be confused with the Canterbury Development Corporation, charged with looking at urban regeneration and investment. Otakaro has an anchor projects delivery role, while Regenerate Christchurch is charged with taking a long term, bigger picture approach to visioning and planning.

The new mix of central government and local government agencies is rather confusing and fraught with potential power conflicts. The regeneration proof will be in the collaborative pudding.

As would be expected after four years it is time to revisit, in the light of what we now know, some earlier decisions taken in respect to the anchor projects and precincts which came out of the closed door 100 Days Blueprint exercise for the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan in 2012. The Blueprint was a bold game changer, but the industrial descriptor was not appropriate for what needed to be, at least after its animated video sales launch, a more open and organic process which took account of contestable expert input and other perspectives.

This would have got more buy-in and enabled the Recovery Plan to have evolved more organically.

The process did not engender any sense of community ownership other than the feeling that the citizens of Christchurch were in line to pay some large tabs without having a say.

In reassuring contrast, André Lovatt , Chair of Regenerate Christchurch said recently “From my perspective, Regenerate Christchurch must and will engage with the community around what will be done.”

Drawing from his experience of working with a representative Christchurch Arts Centre board in the restoration and seismic strengthening of the Arts Centre, Lovatt has exercised real community leadership by taking people with him towards a clear vision. He now has a bigger canvas on which to outline and fill in the bigger picture.

Sustained regeneration requires open and creative dialogue and knowledge sharing not closed and defensive entities playing their PR cards too close to their chests.

The bandwidth of trust between those governing and those governed is due for a big upgrade. A well designed and well executed engagement process is community building in itself. People will support what they help to create.

For some months The Press has rekindled the enthusiasm of the pre-recovery plan Share an Idea exercise. Shaping a renewed city requires shared visions and shared strategies.

The intangibles

City regeneration is not just about building tangible structures, although they are the most visible sign of progress. It is also about developing the intangible assets which reside in its people .

The strength of the city’s intangible assets balance sheet will be reflected in the well-being of its people, their sense of community, their character, their creativity and above all their confidence in the future.

It is time for a fresh self image to reflect the changing character of Christchurch, not just in its physical appearance but because of the Ngai Tahu Renaissance of the last two decades and its changing multicultural mix, augmented by the more recent wave of rebuild migrants plus some new refugees.

Time will tell if the opportunity has been taken to create a more flexible legislative framework post CERA which promotes collaborative and innovative behaviour and reflects the sense of promise, energy and excitement which has been only the  fringe festival of earthquake recovery to date.

To date much of the focus has been on the cardiac recovery of the heart of old Christchurch, after the seismic exacerbation of pre-existing conditions of decline . A more holistic view of the health of the wider city and region is overdue. In Plato’s words “The part can never be well unless the whole is well.”

*Blinks

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/77121579/christchurch-waterways-awash-with-flowers-to-remember-quake-victims      22/2/16
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/77028472/christchurch-in-2016-see-how-the-rebuilding-city-looks-from-the-air  19/2/16
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/feb-22-how-are-you-feeling-five-years-on/13934176/Christchurch-earthquake-I-feel-like-I-failed   Jen Hastie 16/2/16
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/76898446/five-things-only-people-in-christchurch-will-understand   18/2/16
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/67471177/Drone-footage-shows-quake-ravaged-Christchurch-suburb    3/15

#Lyall Lukey 16 April 2016 http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
My other less serious blog: https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/


Nepal and New Zealand: Wars, Mountains and Quakes

April 27, 2015

The item below was written on 23 April for delivery at the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Christchurch Sunrise on 24 April, at which the club hosted 6 Gurkha Army officers in Christchurch for the 100th centenary commemoration of the Anzac landings in Gallipoli. The next day, ANZAC Day, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, with the epicentre near Gorkha, the home of the Gurkhas.

The New Zealand Himalayan Trust, mentioned in the item, is requesting urgent donations to help the people of Nepal, with whom we Kiwis have strong links.

If you would like to help please go to https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nepalearthquake 

Wrap Up- Rotary Club of Christchurch Sunrise  meeting 24/4/15

With our six special Gurkha soldier guests joining us this morning we can reflect on Rotary’s international reach and our club’s military connections via some members past and present as we prepare to commemorate tomorrow the 100th anniversary of the military catastrophe at Gallipoli.

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the Gurkhas’ special role in the British Army and international peacekeeping.  Gurkhas fought  bravely alongside New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli and Cassino, among other battles.

To cap it off this year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the origin of the Parliamentary rights and free speech we take for granted in this country.

New Zealand has a mountaineering as well as a military special relationship with Nepal. In 1953 Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stood at the top of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. The work of the Himalayan Education Trust came out of that climbing partnership.

For most of us in this room the earthquakes of 2010 – 11 are the nearest we have come to facing the natural equivalent of a war. From both past wars and past disasters we can learn powerful lessons from the past as we rebuild the future.

Our seismic shakeup brought about big changes to the lie of the land in Canterbury, both physical and metaphorical.

At the end of March I ran our fourth annual Seismics and the City forum for representatives of public, private and community sector organisations engaged in the rebuilding of Greater Christchurch in the wake of the quakes.

The 2015 theme was Creating a Greater ChristchurchSketching the Bigger Picture. It connected the dots on a broad canvas and provided rare opportunities for cross-sector feedback, input and knowledge sharing at a time when the countdown has finally started for the transition of the recovery process from centralised control to more local ownership of issues and solutions.

Speakers included Hon. Nicky Wagner, Associate Earthquake Recovery Minister, Canterbury;  Russell Stanners, CEO Vodafone; Ian Simpson,  EQC; Peter Townsend, CECC; Joanna Norris, The Press;  John Ombler, CERA;  Raf Manji, CCC;  David Ayers, Mayor, Waimakariri; Stephen Collins and Nick Hunt, Investors;  Brian Parker, Spokesperson, CanCERN;  Corinne Haines, MD, Trimble; and Neil Cox, Theatre Royal.

We also had some amazing young people, including Barnaby Bennett, co-editor of ‘Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster’, which had some very timely comments about the need for us to meet in the middle:  “The success or failure of high-level institutional or community-led responses can be spun by either side to show that their way is the best way. Generally, it’s the interface between the two – the mess in the middle – where things really happen.”

We also heard the aspirations of three other young people for a renewed Christchurch and their goals for their own contribution to it. Blair Chapell,  who graduated from the CPIT on conference day had already started his own IT company linked to construction boom in Christchurch. Meagan Veitch,  a student at the University of Canterbury decided to go teaching as a result of the quakes. Tom Beaumont, through his early stage startup CleanStreams, is developing software which assists New Zealand’s agricultural industry to mitigate surface water pollution arising from farming activities. (Tom recently completed his Masters of Engineering Management via Piet Beukman’s programme).

We also had secondary and tertiary students, working on the EVOLOCITY electric vehicle project with local businesses, demonstrating what an electrifying vehicle for young talent and innovation this project, co-ordinated by Miranda Satterthwaite, CPIT, really is!

Among some ho-hum new post -quake buildings some designs stand out like the newly started Vodafone South Island headquarters in the Innovation Precinct , the completed Stephen Collins  ‘Deloitte’ ripple glass building in Durham Street  and the new Trimble building featuring seismic sensing technology and flexibly strong high-tech wood technology emanating from research at the University of Canterbury.

It would be a wasted opportunity to do things in the same old way in new buildings.  The young people I’ve mentioned and others like them have creativity and innovation in their DNA and they are our future.

Let Meagan Veitch the last word: “I think the opportunity we have in Christchurch post- earthquake is wildly exciting and full of potential as to pave the way for a brighter future in a time of rebuild, reconstruction and building back hope and enthusiasm in our community in Christchurch. I believe that we have a rare chance to pull people together, [and] work towards joining our community and neighbourhoods…”

Videos of the plenary sessions at Seismics and the City 2015 are available at YouTube . Slide presentations can be reviewed at SlideShare. Media items and at Print Media Coverage

Lyall Lukey 24 April 2015

PS If you would like to help Nepalese people affected by the earthquake of 25 April go to https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/nepalearthquake


Post-Quakes Recovery Act II: Building Momentum

April 13, 2014

The 2013 Festival of Transitional Architecture evening parade featured some ambulatory 4m puppets. Clever examples of jerry-built woodworking, they bore a clear resemblance to national and local notables leading Christchurch’s post quakes recovery .

Unlike normal puppets their interior workings were visible so you could see the strings being pulled and the wheels being turned. Glaring spotlights on the giants did make it hard to discern supporting members of the street theatre cast. The public was left in the dark.

As the parade promenaded from the Bridge of Remembrance past the demolished Clarendon site to the Square the scene became better lit. No longer centre stage, the puppets were parked to one side. Near the grim west end of the Cathedral erstwhile spectators now found themselves in the limelight. Were they ready to act or had they been on the sidelines too long?

As Festa reminded us, the Christchurch rebuild is going to take a generation. But transitions are not just about architecture. They involve sharing knowledge and sharing power.

We may like the idea of a city in a garden but more than three years after the quakes of 2010/11 we still have only a shaky grip on the consequences of living in what for many is still a city in a swamp.

Lest we forget, the collapsed PGG building once housed the old Christchurch Drainage Board. John Wilson’s 1989 history of the board was entitled Swamp to City. A sequel might be called The Swamp Strikes Back. A new Council is coming to grips with the implications of recent manifestations of hydrological and seismic natural hazards,.

Transitions are also about changing power structures to facilitate collaboration and innovation. What was responsible leadership during the disaster response process may be unresponsive and inappropriate at this stage of the recovery.

Stirred up even more by the impending election, these are the tricky waters which Seismics and the City 2014 Building Momentum will navigate next Friday.

This is the third annual forums for representatives of public and private sector and community organisations involved or interested in the post-quake recovery process, progress, problems and solutions . It is being held at the new Rydges Latimer, on the fringe of the new city core, near the Cardboard Cathedral and the proposed Breathe Urban Village. This is an appropriate venue to reimagine the future of new Christchurch, share scientific and business knowledge and build relationships.

The rebuild may be starting to ramp up but there is traffic congestion at the on ramp and the need for a more integrated approach to get things flowing. Right now there seem to be more orange and red lights than green, though it was heartening to read recently of progress on the new library and the old Provincial Chambers.

The challenge is to balance speed and momentum with getting the direction right by avoiding the extremes of political pollyannaism and corrosive cynicism .

This stage of the recovery and renewal process should no longer be a spectator sport. People will support what they help to create not what is imposed upon them. To improve the quality of recovery implementation it is crucial that a broad range of organisations collaborate.

As David Killick points out there is a plethora of plans from different agencies and the need for a more simplified road map. But whence? Where to? How do communities and organisations get from where they are now to where they want to go? How do they shift beyond black and white thinking but also avoid too many shades of grey?

Imagineering needs to precede engineering. Engaging people starts with an initial vision. The way to evolve that is with some big picture satellite views, zooming in on the topography from different perspectives, then the main highways and finally at street level.

Bold though it was the initial inner city rebuild plan in 2011 was called a “blueprint”, a cut and dried label which neither allowed different scenarios nor allayed the suspicions of some inner-city property owners that they had been framed.

At CECC’s 2013 AGM Ian Taylor from Animation Research in Dunedin showed his animation of the Euan Harkness-initiated concept of a Living Cathedral for Christchurch. He demonstrated that visual tools can be used not just sell a series of decisions reached behind closed doors but to openly share alternative visions and designs as part of the decision making process itself.

It is good to mark positive milestones as the rebuild builds momentum . But if we are to leave a worthy new legacy, having removed much of the old, we need to welcome constructively critical perspectives on the future shape of the city which challenge us to open our minds to a range of possibilities rather than being limited to an à la cart menu.

The recent flooding, made worse by the earlier seismic land slumps, highlights the need to accelerate the pre-quakes evolution of Greater Christchurch as a polycentric city, with vibrant business and community hubs connected in new ways to a leaner and healthier city heart.

The lifeblood of recovery and renewal is the energy of individuals and organisations collaborating, and shaping their own futures in new ways and in new places to ensure the future of New Christchurch.

Recovery Act II: are we ready or have we been sidelined too long? Lights, action…

*Blinks
Seismics and the City 2014 Building Momentum was held in Christchurch on Friday 28 March. See videos of presentations and other digital resources at   http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/other/2014seismicsandthecity.htm 

#Lyall Lukey  13 April 2014 http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/
My other (bit less serious) blog: http://bluggerme.wordpress.com/   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Opening our schools to the future

September 10, 2013

The Christchurch quakes have thrown up ground-breaking opportunities to accelerate the rate of education innovation.

Ministers like opening schools, not closing them: ask Trevor Mallard. But as the present Minister of Education Hekia Parata argued a year ago, for obvious seismic and demographic reasons there has to be major post-quakes rationalization of education provision in Greater Christchurch after the  devastating earthquakes of 2010-11.

The quakes threw up earth-shaking challenges and ground-breaking opportunities for education leaders and boards of trustees to look more clearly to the future as they build 21c learning communities fit for the second decade of the third millennium.

Renewing or reconfiguring learning environments because of seismic, technological or demographic disruption is a challenging process. Closures and mergers are tough on children, parents and teachers though, as the Mallard closures show, many soon embrace fresh beginnings, difficult though the transition may be.

But crisis and change also provide positive opportunities for leaders to engage their wider learning communities in the design and use of new learning environments and activities which will better equip 21c learners with the skills to navigate to the future.

The Ministry of Education has committed an investment of up to one billion dollars over a decade to develop greater Christchurch as a leading education community.

In the words of the Ministry’s  Shaping Education document “the impact of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes… has also been the catalyst for much creative thinking. The consensus seems to be: yes, we have lost much, but these events also give us an opportunity, as we renew, to rethink how we do things in education.” 

The original prospect was that 13 Christchurch schools would close and 18 could merge. Five Aranui schools would also combine into an education “cluster”. The announcement was a cluster bomb for many parents, teachers and learners.

The aftershocks are still being felt. After consultation some changes were made: for example, Chisnallwood Intermediate was removed from the Aranui “superschool” plans. But the main thrust remains and now it must be implemented well.

It would be a pity if the timing and initial handling of the education recovery and renewal strategy has inoculated some school communities against real opportunities to accelerate some necessary changes, earthquakes or no earthquakes. All learning communities, from early childhood to post tertiary, should be open to shaking off the remaining 1950’s vestiges of Yesterday’s Schools educational arrangements and adapting to a mobile and connected age.

Christchurch is an exciting test-bed for the future of education throughout New Zealand. Post-quakes renewal, demographic changes here, in Auckland and Hamilton, and well as leaky building and ICT issues nationwide, have accelerated transitional and new education building designs incorporating safety, adaptability, UF broadband, energy efficiency, weather proofing and future proofing.

The current seismic swarm in Central New Zealand will reinforce that many of these are national issues which demand long term strategic thinking.

This has already been articulated in the Ministry’s Christchurch design brief for recovery and renewal work which is not just to repair earthquake damage but to produce schools that would have flexible teaching spaces that can be expanded or reduced depending on requirements to support the learning activities of individuals and groups.

Now is not the time to paper over the physical and metaphorical cracks in education in the region. It is an opportunity to build deep and strong new foundations for differently configured learning communities. After early input from education professionals and students there needs to be built-in learning by design and construction which meets  evolving learning practices.

In the face of rapid change people tend to adopt one of two stances: either they look to the past to what has worked historically and do more of the same; or they look to the future and develop new solutions which use the changes as a springboard.

Many people will resist change if they are not actively engaged in it. But in the words of Marvin Weisbord:  “People will support what they help to create.”  After a shaky start, success in implementing education renewal initiatives in Greater Christchurch will depend on how well education leaders across the learning spectrum engage their professional colleagues, their boards and their wider communities.

Providing a timely platform for this engagement is Education Leaders Forum 2013, to be held in Christchurch on 28/29 August, with the theme Building 21 Century Learning Communities.

ELF13 will be part topical forum and part education safari to the future, with visits to innovative learning spaces and workplaces, to show the similarities between modern earning environments and modern earning environments in terms of teamwork and technology.

In the words of William Gibson “The future is already here-it’s just not evenly distributed”. Participants can learn from the future as it emerges and embrace it rather than reflecting on past experience and reacting.

Education site visits include Clearview Primary, Lincoln University’s School of Landscape Architecture, St. Margaret’s College, St. Thomas’ New Technology Centre, the new CORE Education Building and UC’s Hit Lab.  Innovative workplaces include Schneider Electric’s  Vision Room, showcasing energy sustainability, the  Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus and  The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team.

Major Sponsors of ELF13 are Schneider Electric and the Ministry of Education-Schools Infrastructure.

Contributors include Mark Osborne, CORE Education; Prof Christopher Branson, University of Waikato; Dr Andrew West, Lincoln University; Hon Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of  Education; Jasper Van der Lingen, Sheppard & Rout Architects Ltd; Gillian Simpson, St Margaret’s College; James Petronelli,  Clearview Primary School; Robin Staples, Southern Cross Campus; and John Rohs, Aranui High School.

Education Leaders Forum 2013 provides quality thinking time for education professionals and board members to escape the tyranny of urgent day to day concerns and focus on the important longer term strategic perspective.

Note: This Perspective by Lyall Lukey, the Convenor of Education Leaders Forum 2013 Building 21c Learning Communities held in Christchurch on 28/29 August, was first printed in The Press on 20 August 2013.  For feedback and links to ELF13 presentations and videos visit Education Leaders Forum 2013


Education Changes: Preemptive PR and Preempted Strike

February 17, 2013

“The face and makeup of greater Christchurch has, and will continue to, dramatically change due to the earthquakes and our education system must respond to those changes”. Hekia Parata, Minister of Education. Press ad 16 February

A tad clumsy, with Revlon-like references rather than revelations, the Minister’s makeover message to parents and caregivers, (no mention of principals, teachers and students), is a bit of PR pro-activity before tomorrow’s “interim decisions” on the fate of 31 of the 38 Greater Christchurch schools affected by the bungled proposals announced late last year.*

Feedback-Simple as ABC?
Quick Quiz: What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: feedback.

The Minister was at pains to point out that “…I have listened to your feedback and made some changes to our proposals.” But feedback is not as simple as ABC, let alone DEF.  Feedback is only useful if it is fed into the process or system generating it. As Edward de Bono has it: “The essence of feedback is that the effect of an action is fed back to alter that action”.

Feedback is also no substitute for feedforward, which involves early local engagement, input and ownership of change.  Real consultation involves much more than the retrospective endorsement or rejection of bureaucratic plans.

Strike struck out

Others were obviously also listening to feedback. The same day’s paper had a small paragraph announcing that a proposed strike on February 19  “against Christchurch school closures and mergers” had been called off by the New Zealand Educational Institute.  The strike vote, belatedly orchestrated by the  primary teachers’ “union”,  had come reduntantly several weeks after an outpouring of criticism about the way the proposed changes had been handled, including mine*.

The call for a strike, which would have been held a little more than a fortnight after the long school vacation, was unnecessary and counterproductive. Perhaps the “strike off” announcement by National President Judith Nowotarski will mark a permanent sheathing of the archaic strike weapon in favour of more articulate ways to influence people without antagonising friends. The public and professional discourse about re-evaluating, re-defining and revaluing education in the second decade of the 21st century would be of higher quality without the trappings and claptrap of imported 19th century clothcapism.

Unsung heroes?

Apart from the stupidity of closing schools temporarily to make a protest about permanent closures and inconveniencing parents and their employers when the new school year had hardly started, the proposed stoppage date was almost two years to the day since PPTA members in Canterbury were assembling at the Town Hall as the lethal 22 February quake hit at 12.51pm. Among the 185 dead was a secondary student who was able to leave school early and head to the city centre because of the paid stop work meeting about secondary teacher pay rates.

University of Canterbury Education lecturer Veronica O’Toole has been looking at the emotional impact of the Christchurch earthquakes and seeing whether, as in New York after 9/11, “teachers were the unsung heroes.”* In many cases no doubt they were, but I’m afraid the accolade didn’t apply on quake day to the secondary teacher absentees at the PPTA meeting, though their (mainly non PPTA) colleagues who stayed behind did a great job looking after those students still at school. As I observed when leaving the CBD that day, many of those who left school early were walking the streets of Christchurch when the quake hit.  Off-site meetings of teacher unions–I’d prefer the term professional associations-should be conducted outside the normal school teaching day.

In the disruptive aftermath of the February quake teachers and students did very well, demonstrating resilience and innovation. The results of NCEA exams posted by Canterbury students in the last two years have been remarkable overall.

Network  not working
“As Education Minister, I have also had to look at how each school fits into the whole education network…” Hekia Parata

The term “education network”  has been part of Ministry-speak for some time. In terms of cyberspace a network is a collection of computers and other hardware devices interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information. The network will not work unless there is free knowledge and information sharing.

In the wake of Ministry head Lesley Longstone’s resignation Hekia Parata spent a lot of time meeting with the schools affected on their turf. This was brave lion’s den stuff, although some might say it was merely picking of schools one by one, rather than having cluster involvement from the outset. A free exchange of information and ideas would have got a better level of engagement and productive discussion  in terms of the need for post earthquake change.

What if the proposed post quakes education changes had been framed as questions for Knowledge Café discussions by a cross-section from each cluster, with an overarching question?  If the Ministry of Education could allocate $1 billion in Greater Christchurch to post earthquake recovery and renewal-say 80% repairs and capital works 20% staffing and new programmes, what collaborative projects and cost sharing arrangements would your cluster suggest, given the demographic and safe building contraints that exist?

Goal oriented knowledge sharing and creative thinking would have really engaged each cluster as part of the Greater Christchurch learning ecology. The approach actually used  was atomistic and devoid of collaboration, unlike the local  initiatives many Christchurch school communities took in the wake of the quakes.

After individual school notifications tomorrow morning the “interim decisions” will be posted at the Ministry’s  Shaping Education web-page.* School communities will be hoping that Shafting Education is not a more appropriate  title*.

*Blinks
https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-education-cluster-bomb/
www.shapingeducation.govt.nz  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/schools/8315185/
Canterbury-schools-resigned-to-poisoned-chalice

#Lyall Lukey 17 February 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nzhttps://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog


Canterbury Quake Anniversary -The Guilty Remnant

September 10, 2012

“What if-woosh, right now, with no explanation-a number of us simply vanished? Would we think it was the Rapture? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down.” Tom Perrotta “The Leftovers”.

This was the challenge faced by the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a stereotypical fictitious US small town, in the aftermath of an event known as the Sudden Departure, in which hundreds of ordinary citizens suddenly departed in the middle of living their ordinary lives.

Some of the dearly departed were more sinners than saints, to the chagrin of some professional clergy whose response was less than rapturous when they themselves didn’t make the celestial cut and had to stay behind to minister to the undeparted.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, a former businessman with a new community vocation born of the crisis, tries to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to the shattered community. But nothing is the same as before the Sudden Departure -not marriages, not relationships, not friendships.

It’s two years last week since the first big seismic event, the 7.1 Greendale quake on 4 September 2010, changed our Cantabrian landscape and our world.

In the phony seismic war before the deadly 22 February 2011 quake, we were rather nonchalant about the risk from on-going quakes. The City of Christchurch hosted the Paralympics a month earlier in late January 2011.  The sporting festival opened with a parade of athletes, many in wheel chairs, through a central city which had been shaken by the Boxing Day CBD quake just as the post-Christmas sales bonanza was about to kick off. A month later the cathedral spire toppled on the site of the VIP’s marquee which had seated the Prime Minister and other national and international notables at the opening ceremony.

Since September 2010 we’ve had 11,965 quakes*, 100 over 4.72 .magnitude* and 14 over 5.5.  The frequency is reducing: there have only been 18 quakes over the last 7 days, and the Richter scale severity is also decaying , though with the occasional spike to keep us on our toes.

One cult spawned by the Sudden Departure in Mapleton was called the Guilty Remnant, whose members took a vow of silence as they struggled to come to terms with the selective cataclysm and make atonement.

Though the central city building  which housed our offices has been demolished, on the home front my family is in the guilty minority of those in Christchurch whose houses are now spick and span in the wake of the quakes, touch wood (rough hewn rimu-strong and flexible).  Just before the September earthquake anniversary thunderstorm hit Christchurch last Wednesday, accompanied by dazzling meterological pyrotechnics, the multinational team of repairers and decorators that had been working for six weeks on our house  finished their work.

Until then most of our possessions had been stored in a container swung in precisely by the Peter Fletchers Transport driver over the fence onto the side lawn. We’ve been camping at home with my wife acting as clerk of works and tea lady. The workers left a card thanking her for the latter if not the former.

Now the grandfather clock, which came crashing down in the first quake, is restored to pride of place at the front entrance and the cuckoo clock is back on the wall upstairs, no longer mute.

In the scale of things our damage was pretty minor, with no land problems because of the lava spur our house sits on at Kennedys Bush 12 kilometres south west of the city centre. We certainly didn’t have high priority needs like many people in east Christchurch and those at the other end of the Port Hills to us.

Apart from the more than 20,000  red zoned  and vacant houses in the process of being demolished, 27,000 people live in the TC3 category zone requiring detailed land inspection by drilling and, in many cases, new foundations. 400 people still live in badly damaged houses, some families squatting in a single room.

With no obvious land damage or structural house damage the make good and makeover at our place  was very straightforward and because the damage being well under the EQC $100,000 cap our insurance company wasn’t involved.

One or two small things still to sort out but the repairs and renovations, including some extras on our own account, have gone very well and we are very lucky. Given the problems faced by some people it would be unseemly to offer rapturous applause but here’s a quiet nod of approval to EQC, Fletchers Rebuild, Renovation Specialists and the subbies.

The stubbies are in the fridge awaiting the final sign off. We’ll invite the workers over to clean them up.  There won’t be any Mapleton leftovers.

*Blinks
http://www.canterburyquakelive.co.nz/ The two year seismic scorecard.
http://www.canterburyquakelive.co.nz/QuakeMap/Top100/

#Lyall Lukey
10 September 2012
http://www.lukey.co.nz/http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com My other less serious blog