Be. Leadership July 2017: Leading Innovation and Regeneration

By Aroha Lowe

Our mid-year retreat was held in the still regenerating landscape of post-quake Christchurch. We were mindful that the trauma of the quakes of 2010 and 2011 are still impacting on Cantabrians, many of whom lost their homes, and are continuing to rebuild their lives and their city.

Christchurch is well poised to explore the possibilities and challenges of regeneration.

Day 1:
Margaret Jefferies drove in from her beloved home of Lyttleton to speak with us. She shared about Project Lyttleton, which she chairs, and time banking, which she champions.

It was fascinating to hear how Lyttleton has flourished through the trading and sharing of time and skills. This prompted discussion about alternative economics and parallel systems.

Margaret suggested that leadership is as practical as identifying others who have skills different to your own, then creating something new together. She is now exploring how she might apply the lessons learned through her Lyttleton work to support the regeneration of Christchurch.

Later, Andre Lovatt, the CEO of Christchurch Arts Centre and Chair of Regenerate Christchurch, joined us. He spoke of a deepening awareness that creating a successful future city is as much about rebuilding community as it is about repairing the built environment. Andre envisages a city that is more accepting of diversity, more inclusive and accessible. He proposed that this is being achieved through working with Ngai Tahu and others from local communities.

Andre asserts that creating change is a lengthy and costly process, achieved one step at a time.

Day 2:
On Saturday morning, we enjoyed discussion in syndicates before welcoming Sam Johnson. 'Earthquake Boy' spoke generously about The Student Volunteer Army, which he founded. He shared some of the successes, challenges and pressures of his work.

He was energetic and engaging. He talked about the value of simply 'staying on the bus'. It was exciting too, to hear about the Primary Schools Project.

In the afternoon, some Be. Leaders shared their thoughts about their future goals and plans.

Day 3:
Ruth Jones, consultant and co-founder of Kanohi ki te Kanohi started her session by asking us to introduce ourselves. He whakaaro Maori tena. This is usual Maori practice. It gave her a clearer sense of who she was speaking to and enriched our discussion.

Ruth's experience of having access issues, as well as her work as an advisor, has taught her that we can lead in ways that are good for ourselves and others.

She is passionate about advocating alongside and supporting people with disabilities and access needs to co-author a more accessible Christchurch.

She imagines a city where the building code is minimum standard. To this end, Ruth is currently working on an Accessibility Charter. She has also started EDLG, the Earthquake Disability Leadership Group.

Notably, Ruth encouraged us to 'Bloom where you are planted'.

Philip and Lesley workshopped goal-setting with us in the afternoon. We discussed our site visits too.

It was a great privilege to hear from four speakers all co-authoring and exploring innovation in contributing to a more accessible Christchurch, well braced for the future.