TEDxEQChCh Salon #1

A week ago, Christchurchians braved the aftermath of the snow and met at the Bush Bar for the first TEDxEQChCh Salon*. Previous TED talks were shown, and people were invited to share what they were involved in post-quake, or something else the audience would be interested in. Someone I talked to summed up the difference between May’s TEDxEQChCh well: this was more about the people than the buildings.

Cathedral made out of #eqnz tweets made by Kunst Buzz on display in the TEDxEQChCh lobby

Kunst Buzz‘s tweet cathedral, the ChristChurch Cathedral made of a random selection of almost 1000 #eqnz tweets (approximately 98,000 characters) which was on display in the TEDxEQChCh lobby, among other TEDxEQChCh memorabilia that has been given to Te Papa.

The talks

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability

Brene Brown hacks into lives for a living. She talks about banana nut muffins, worthiness, being imperfect, her office supply addiction and human connection, which led her on a quest that sent her to therapy, but changed the way she lived.

Something she said seemed very relevant post-quake: “they had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others.” Very similar to advice given in a pamphlet dropped in our letterbox yesterday.

Tony Robbins asks why we do what we do

Tony Robbins usually runs 50+ hour coaching seminars over weekends. He talks about patterns, resources, needs and describes what happened in one of his seminars of 2000 people from 45 different countries in Hawaii on the day of 9/11.

Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter

Mark Bezos usually fights poverty, but also volunteers as a firefighter. He talks about his first fire, and that we shouldn’t wait for something to happen before we try to make a difference.

Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy

Dave Meslin tries to make local issues engaging. He talks about barriers that keep people from getting involved.

The people

Tim Taylor

Tim Taylor talked about Project Regenerate a subsection on the Rebuild Christchurch site which shares visions for a future Christchurch in video form and lets people vote and comment on them.

Trent Hiles

Trent Hiles talked about the creation of a multi-purpose arts complex in Lyttelton and Lyttelton’s Act of Art, a Gap Filler project whose first installation, a tribute to James K Baxter and the town, is up.

Grace Duyndam

Grace Duyndam talked about the 350.org Moving Planet September 24th worldwide rally against fossil fuels.

* TEDx Salon’s are intended to engage the community between larger events through small recurring events, keeping the spirit of TED alive—ideas worth spreading.

The National Interest of Foreign Espionage

A van was crushed by rubble following the February Canterbury earthquake, containing Israeli tourists. One of them, Ofer Benyamin Mizrahi, was killed instantly. Michal Friedman, Liron Sadeh and Guy Yurdan escaped. It’s been revealed that Israeli involvement after the quake has been investigated by the SIS and the police.

Fact checking

What appears to be the original Southland Times article that broke the investigation seems to have been poorly fact checked and shows a lack of editorial oversight. Shemi Tzur, Israeli’s ambassador in the South Pacific is said to have flown from Australia, where he is based, except a quick Google search shows that he is actually based in Wellington.

The same article talks about a piece of suspected Russian malware named “agent.btz” and says that “attempts to remove the malware have so far been unsuccessful”, which gives the impression that the computers of the United States Military are still infected. The next part of the sentence states that “new, more potent variations of agent.btz are still appearing”, so what is probably meant is that attempts to eliminate the malware out of existence have been unsuccessful, which isn’t surprising considering the nature of malware and software in general.

Red flags

9000 passports!James Bond cameras

The Southland Times article says that Ofer Mizrahi “was reportedly found to be carrying at least five passports.” John Key said “according to his information, Mizrahi was found with only one passport”, of European origin.

The group of three that left Christchurch gave Israeli representatives his Israeli passport. So that makes at least two passports.

Shemi Tzur says that he was handed Ofer’s effects and they contained “more than one passport.” Does that makes at least three passports or does this include the Israeli passport handed off at the airport?

He says it’s common for Israelis to have dual citizenship because Israeli passports aren’t welcome in some countries, which is understandable. However that doesn’t explain why Ofer was traveling with both/multiple passports—I am an expert thanks to watching Border Security on TV and conclude that less eyebrows would be raised at an airport if, when searched, someone wasn’t in the possession of more than one passport.

12 hours

Passport stamps

Within 12 hours of the quake the three remaining Israelis had evacuated Christchurch, driven to the airport by Shemi Tzur himself.

This raised eyebrows because they left Ofer behind in the van, but in their defense there was nothing they could have done and it wasn’t like they were leaving someone injured behind. Guy Yurdan, one of the three, said that Ofer was killed instantly.

The advice from many countries to citizens in Christchurch would have been to get out of there as soon as possible. The potential lack of accommodation, food, and water, plus the risk of further aftershocks would have supported their decision to leave as quickly as possible.

A mysterious seventh Israeli

Concerns were raised about a “mysterious seventh Israeli” who was in New Zealand illegally and was reported missing after the earthquake, but weeks later was reported to have left the country. Not sure whether there was anything suspicious about the person apart from their visa situation.

Five Facebook likes

A Facebook tribute page for Ofer came to the attention of investigators because it only had five likes over four months (now 32). Apparently many Israelis don’t have social network accounts. Perhaps those on Facebook who knew Ofer didn’t know of the page? It seems a stretch to say that this is suspicious.

Four phone calls

It’s been reported that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned John Key four times on the day of the earthquake. John Key says that they only actually spoke once in “those first days.” It seems reasonable that a Prime Minister is hard to get hold of, especially during a state of emergency. I’m not sure what the significance of prime ministers calling each other is, I assume representatives from many countries spoke to John Key as a result of the earthquake.

Two search and rescue teamsMission control

There was reportedly one Israeli search and rescue team but then there were two? Either way it seems at least one either wasn’t allowed access to the red zone or was removed from the red zone by armed personnel. According to Shemi Tzur, a team was sent by the parents of Ofer Levy (other Ofer?) and Gabi Ingel, two Israelis who died in the earthquake.

The article says “Israeli families reacted that way when their children needed help anywhere in the world, often because it was demanded by insurance companies.” Insurance companies often demand that families hire and fly to a foreign country private search and rescue teams when search and rescue is already underway by the country?

Strange.

Perhaps stranger is Hilik Magnus, who runs the search and rescue company in question, Magnus International Search & Rescue:

“He served in the Israel Defence Forces in an elite paratrooper battalion specializing in special operations. He fought in the Attrition War, first lebanon war and the Yom Kippur War, remained a reserve officer for twenty years and served also in the intelligence community.”

Stranger?

Their team entered the red zone “accompanied by police, only to retrieve the personal effects of two people who died.” “There was only one rescue team and it was allowed inside the red zone to accompany police to retrieve backpacks belonging to Mr Levy and Mr Ingel.”

One Israel Civil Defense Chief

The Southland Times article says “In the hours after the 6.3 quake struck: Israel’s civil defence chief left Israel for Christchurch.” The New Zealand Herald reports that Matan Vilnai did visit Christchurch, but nine days later. And not from Israel, but from Australia where he was for a visit.

This doesn’t seem suspicious.

A groups of forensic analysts

An Israeli forensic analysis team sent by the Israeli government worked on victim identification in the morgue. A security audit of the national police computer database was ordered after someone connected that the analysts could have accessed it. The police say that their system is secure. Someone from the SIS says that it could be compromised with a USB drive:

“An SIS officer said it would take only moments for a USB drive to be inserted in a police computer terminal and for a program allowing remote backdoor access to be loaded.”—Stuff

It’s questionable why USB access would even be enabled on computers that have access to such confidential material.

Why New Zealand?

Intelligence

Gordon Thomas, who has written about Mossad says that Mossad trainees, possibly picked during compulsory military service, were usually planted overseas in groups of four. He says that the CIA and MI6 have offices in Auckland and have “held high-level meetings with New Zealand spy bosses”. They want to know what sparked the SIS investigation, what investigations were carried out and what passports the group possessed. He thinks New Zealand is a credible Mossad target because al Qaeda cells could expand into the Pacific Rim. Israel would want to know what our intelligence agencies know, what they are sharing and how good they are at getting information.

He says that Mossad has a reputation for using students as agents and that using two couples is “standard Mossad operation style. The reason they have a man and a woman … it’s easy to pass unnoticed, unchallenged, and the woman acts as back-up.”Passport

Passports

New Zealand passports are readily accepted around the world. Anyone gaining one who had nefarious purposes would likely face no contest at a border. Paul Buchanan, who has worked at the Pentagon says that it’s unlikely the four were Mossad agents because of their age and the apparent low-level task of passport fraud they were undertaking, but they might have been recruits operating as sayanins, the Hebrew word for helper. He says that after the September earthquake, Christchurch may have been seen as a good target to get names of New Zealanders to use for false passports.

 

The three survivors from the van gave an interview to Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, days after the earthquake. It would seem unlike spies to put themselves out in the public eye like that, but maybe that’s reverse psychology. Who knows.

Image credits: Ian Rutherford, Ludovic Bertron, J Aaron Farr, Tom Raftery

“So how do you feel about your light bulbs being stolen?”

Arie Smith-Voorkamp was the face of Christchurch earthquake looting because of the media attention he received. He made it onto at least one of the <insert bad thing here> the [email protected]@#%^## Facebook groups. Shame on the looters! There is no excuse. Who are they to pick on the poor people of Christchurch?

The loot

The story gets interesting when you find out what he is alleged to have stolen. Two light bulbs from an untenanted and vacant building. Police describe the nature of the offending as serious and say that there is a strong public interest in the case. Arie was in jail for 11 days.

Asperger’sEarthquake Damaged Building

Arie has Asperger’s syndrome which fuels his obsession for all things electrical, including old light fittings. “Sometimes I get that excited about it sometimes I can’t sleep.” He had walked past the building many times, and became fixated on a switch in the shop. Once inside he found that the switch was too modern, but found two light bulbs that he thought he could clean up and display in his house. He says he was not thinking about theft, or the danger he was placing himself in.

Sunday programme

The Sunday programme ran a story about Arie last week, which seemed to excite the Police. Canterbury Central Police Area Commander Inspector Derek Erasmus suggested to the building owners they call TVNZ to try to stop the story going to air.

“On Friday the Sunday programme received an email from Inspector Erasmus advising us that we were under criminal investigation in relation to our story. So we’ll keep you updated on that.”

The victims

Building owners Andrew and Irene Matsis didn’t even know about the “theft” until Sunday contacted them for the story. This seems to contradict the Police calling the offending serious. Surely in serious offending the victims would actually be notified.

“Well since Sunday interviewed the Matsis’ a fortnight ago, senior Police have visited the couple twice. The first time Thursday and again Friday. On Thursday in a press release Inspector Derek Erasmus, said the Matsis’ were now happy for the case to proceed to court, where the matter should be resolved. Sunday spoke to Andrew Matsis just hours ago, he’s happy for the case to go to court but hopes Arie’s name will be cleared.”

On the programme, Andrew says if he knew about the alleged looting he would’ve been angry at Arie for putting himself in danger, not for pinching anything.

Andrew and Irene say they would not have pressed charges if they were contacted by the Police. The interview resulted in the hilarious question: “So… how do you feel about your lightbulbs being stolen?” to which Irene replied: “We do not care about our lightbulbs, he’s welcome to them. And you can tell the Police, I mean we have more important things [to deal with, our] house is falling down and we’re going to worry about light bulbs? No.”

I know stealing is stealing (though is it in this case if the building owners say he is welcome to the light bulbs, abeit after the fact?), but common sense dictates there is a better use of court time and money than to make an example out of someone who offended as a result of a documented disability, who has an unblemished criminal record, and who has already served jail time just because he took a couple of lighting fixtures.

Andrew Matsis: You said you never had any other history of doing anything like that before?
Arie Smith-Voorkamp: No.
AM: First time with the Police?
ASV: Yes.
AM: And they make a court case. What a waste of money.

What do you think? Is there no excuse for looting, no matter the situation?

Image credit: Me

The Probability of Celebrities Gardening in the Red Zone

Red zone Christ Church CathedralProbability

Sue Wells “released” figures on her blog regarding the likelihood of another earthquake in the near future (23% chance in Canterbury within the next year, between 6 and 7 on the Richter scale).

Some people said that it’s horrible to release statistics because they thought the earthquakes were over. February’s quake taught us the importance of not being complacent. It also taught us that the Richter scale does not accurately measure disaster or loss of life, that it could be a 4 or a 5 earthquake that we should be concerned about.

Context should be given with statistics so people reasonably prepare, rather than worry. Sue Wells provided appropriate context for the statistics saying that she had no information on “Mercalli scale or g-force or depth”. The information was appropriately attributed to a CERA meeting at the top of the post and more specifically to Roger Sutton in the comments.

“Those figures might not have seen the light of day for at least another couple of weeks if Cr Sue Wells had not included them in her blog at the weekend.” Information is empowering and should not be held back behind closed doors.

Celebrities

Rachel Hunter, Russell Crowe, Kevin Rudd, Prince William and Julia Gillard have been allowed inside the Christchurch red zone.

Some people are unhappy and are calling it celebrity tourism. They’re angry that they aren’t able to see their city but “important people” are.

However all of these people had a reason for being in the red zone. Prince William spoke at the earthquake memorial. Rachel Hunter and Russell Crowe were both fundraising for the earthquake appeal. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard came to experience what their Australian personnel were dealing with over here.

It’s unfair to say they were just there to push past residents to have their little look.

Gardening

There is currently a debate going on regarding whether people who are paid to care for plants should be caring for them in the red zone… A business owner, who I’m assuming was actually in the cordon accessing his business for a similar time that the gardeners were there, took a photo of City Care workers… working. Business owners are confused as to why City Care workers are allowed in an outside area that would’ve been approved as safe when they’re not allowed in their buildings that have either been deemed unsafe or that they aren’t able to access because of surrounding buildings.

The different parts of Christchurch’s recovery aren’t going to line up in a nice timeline and tidying up of gardens would have to happen eventually. The glass, food… still lying around the city and in businesses is likely to be around or inside buildings that aren’t accessible or otherwise would’ve already been cleaned up. “David Lynch, who gave The Press the photos, said the businessman wanted no unnecessary work in the red zone.” This seems like a selfish mentality of ‘if I can’t get into the red zone NO ONE [email protected]$%@[email protected]’. The recovery is in progress. What’s able to be done is being done.

A safe and carefully planned public tour of the city should happen and the media tours have shown that is possible, however that doesn’t mean that other recovery work should be hijacked until then. Issues around the earthquake are always going to have opposing views. I’m sure if a public tour goes ahead there will be business owners talking to the media about the security of their buildings.

“The Press could not contact Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button yesterday.” As a Stuff commenter put it, maybe she was tending to some plants. But it seems like some of the complainers should take up a hobby too.

Image by me

TEDxEQChCh

The people who made TEDxEQChCh possible.
The people who made TEDxEQChCh possible.
Rubble from demolished Christchurch buildings on the stage at TEDxEQChCh
Rubble from demolished Christchurch buildings on the stage at TEDxEQChCh.
The tweet cathedral: Kunst Buzz developed a piece of art of the ChristChurch Cathedral made out of #eqnz tweets on display in the lobby.
The tweet cathedral: Kunst Buzz (in the in the Netherlands) developed this piece of art of the ChristChurch Cathedral. Made out of a random selection of almost 1000 #eqnz tweets (approximately 98,000 characters) it was on display in the lobby.
There was a TEDxJapan poster for signing in the lobby to show our support for them.
There was a TEDxJapan poster for signing in the lobby to show our support for them.

More photos of mine from TEDxEQChCh are here.

Now today, you’re part of a truly remarkable global phenomenon. Around the world, thousands of people have been gathering in meetings to experience the power of ideas. The surprising thing about today’s meeting is that we here at TED have had almost nothing to do with it. We lent our name, our format, a few simple guidelines and some of our content. But the really hard work to make today happen has been down to your local organizers. And we’re truly in awe of the passion and dedication they’ve shown to make something like this work. Thank you to you too for taking the time out to come and be part of this exciting conversation about our shared future. Please write and tell us what you make of the event today. But for now, on with the show. -Chris Anderson

TEDxEQChCh was streaming live.

Kaila Colbin thanks the alcohol sponsors who’ll make sure everyone’s too sloshed to care if this all goes badly and admits that TEDxEQChCh is probably the most cumbersome event name ever. The event opened with a performance from Joe Castillo, who was beamed in from overseas, and Ariana Tikao.

Lessons learnt:

  • Change has to start on a grassroots level. That means every single one of us. CERA etc. are full of smart people, but they aren’t going to read our minds. Do we want decisions to be made for us?
  • Give the displaced residents control over condemned buildings. If they want to, we need to let them into their yellow and red stickered buildings for a short period of time if they sign a waiver. They need to be there when their building is demolished. People need to be able to go through the rubble piece by piece and recover what they want from their home or business.
  • Give the displaced residents control over their rebuild—phone numbers of builders and workmen working on their new home so it gets built or repaired quickly. Let them manage the process and funds themselves.
  • Let’s make sure we have a record of what people are feeling. People will want to look back on memories recorded in the years to come.
  • We want more green, people, pedestrians and trees in the new Christchurch. We want less traffic.
  • Fill in the gaps that have been created. They can be more than a Wilson’s car park. Some gaps will have to stay gaps because they can’t be built on again, but this gives us options for amazing green community spaces.
  • We don’t want to be a city of commuters and consumers. We want to be a city of communities.
  • The first thing to fix is the building codes. Can we retrofit buildings with rollers so they roll with earthquakes like San Fransisco did with their City Hall?
  • Christchurch and San Fransisco both saw neighborhoods band together. Let’s train rescue and recovery teams in all neighborhoods. Give them the skills they need to help each other get through.

Context

Bob Parker

Bob Parker is here at the Aurora Centre for the third time recently. The first two times were for memorial services because of the earthquake, but this time it’s for something optimistic. Ideas are being shared about how we will move forward.

Hugh Nicholson

“We need to grieve and acknowledge what we’ve lost before moving on. The hardest thing is seeing an empty city—it’s not buildings, cafes and cars that make a city, it’s the people that live, work and breathe within it. As Nicholson has been walking within the central city he’s had to look twice, it’s disconcerting that almost all of the buildings in the central city are unstable or on a lean.”

Hugh’s wearing the central city’s uniform—a hi-vis vest. Christchurch is the only city in the world where you wear a hi-vis vest so you don’t stand out. His love affair with brick is now over. He showed photos of behind the cordon. The photos don’t do the devastation justice. There is rubble on all sides of you, including underfoot. There’s the smell of rotting food. The central city is silent except for the birds singing. There are no people. A photo was shown of workmen busting out the windows of the Brannigans building because the glass was deemed too hazardous to stay.

About 10,000 people attended the Share An Idea community expo. 40,000 ideas were shared.

Christchurch citizens want: green—spaces; people—living, friendly; pedestrian—friendly; trees. Less: cars, traffic, concrete, buses.

Cameron Sinclair

How long should a building last? 100 years? What will be our perfect city in 100 years?

After Hurricane Katrina, Architecture for Humanity lived in the area and witnessed the issues around re-homing misplaced residents. In Biloxi, Architecture for Humanity got homes designed and built in six weeks. We need a community led design process. Even the craziest ideas are important, like solar powered camels. People care about the small things like: how do I get my business started, how do I get home? There needs to be transparency.

“Follow your heart, break the rules, get it built.”

Coralie Winn

There was already a problem with gaps in the city, but the earthquakes Christchurch had made it worse—“the gaps now are that much bigger and will remain empty that much longer”. Gapfiller proposes that we use those spaces well. Temporary solutions that fill those gaps. The temporary offers us innovation. What incentives could there be for landowners to offer up their land? Possibly a rates rebate. A travelling bar in Melbourne works out of a shipping container. Pallet art fills a vacant space overseas. In a Christchurch gap: 31 bands played, 12 films were shown. The gaps were filled by poets, circus people, galleries. The vacant spaces were used. Gaps were filled.

Marcus Spiller

The New Zealand economy is flexible and Christchurch is blessed with high value businesses. “We need to leverage innovations, skills, infrastructure and leadership.” “After the quake Christchurch will be better equipped, better skilled and still more innovative…”

James Howard (recorded talk)

James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia. To make ourselves feel better we use nature band-aids. You know what the last sentence was at some design meetings—“fuck it”. Let’s build places worth caring about. There’s not enough Prozac in the world to make people feel okay about going down some blocks. We don’t have to have a craft fair to get people to come to good public spaces.

Opportunity

Rod Carr

We must remember our past. Acknowledge those who have created our world. What was it that caused us to want to be here? Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island. This city is still open for business. AMI Stadium will be functioning in February. The university has over 2000 running courses with 15500 students enrolled. We have the amazing revamp of our airport. Let’s not scare the world away, discourage tourists from visiting or define ourselves by what happened on February 22nd. Let’s define ourselves by our response. When our children look back, the defining moment should be us understanding the importance of what we can do for our city, not what the city can do for us.

Karen Blincoe

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming. People have dreamt about creating utopia for their city. Masdar city in Abu Dhabi will be carbon free, totally self sustainable with people traveling around by electric vehicles. Using shadow of buildings to cool spaces. Planned to be completed in 2016 but now 2020/2025 costing $22 billion USD. “Cities are not the problem, they are the solution” – Jaime Lerner.

10 principles of sustainable cities:

  • Rediscover the city
  • Redefine city value
  • Involve everyday experts
  • Break down silos
  • Redistribute urban decision making
  • De-design urban planning
  • Promote corporate urban responsibility
  • Go global
  • Embrace chaos, crisis and change
  • Encourage passion in urban leadership

She wants to come back and say ‘I can use Christchurch as an example for a sustainable city’. Cities are like living entities with a soul, heart, mind, body. We need to react in the short term but plan for the long term.

Hugh Morrison

We all entered a world of uncertainty after February 22nd. But we also entered a world of opportunity. Huge collaboration and enormous leadership will be needed. Let’s have a clear and shared milestone. The uncertainty is around our homes and where we work.

Christchurch has about 190,000 homes. 5,000 with no insurance. There are homes over the $100,000 ECQ cap. 60% of those homes will be rebuilt. 40% repaired. There has been just under 300,000 building claims, meaning there’s been multiple claims because of the earthquake—it’s reached every house. Hugh Nicholson’s house (previous speaker) is ruined, but he’s still going. Questions homeowners have: will my house be rebuilt? Is the land okay? If I get relocated, where do I move to?

Building owners, tenants, workers and visitors are all linked.

Old data – 4,300 buildings in the city. 1,000 red stickered, 1,100 yellow stickered. Rest green. 42% of Colliers clients said their buildings were either demolished or red-stickered. Catching up on the fine print of insurance isn’t a happy time or conversation. Insurance and financials are complex for building owners. Without a city plan business owners can’t move forward.

How to create certainty? When is this going to happen? What’s the framework to put my framework around? A programme for building certainty should cover the home, workplace and playground.

10 step programme to building certainty

  • Land retirement decision – July 2011
  • Rebuild or repair decisions – December 2011
  • Residential zoning plan – February 2012
  • Deliver on ‘Project Restart’ – end of October 2011
  • Central city plan – February 2012. Probably the most critical plan ever developed.
  • Demolition penalties post – June 2012
  • Charter of seed CBD property owners – 2012 build
  • Government tenants commitments – 2012 build
  • Government contribution to QEII facility – February 2012
  • Government contribution to Arts & Entertainment precinct – February 2012

Majora Carter (recorded talk)

Greening the ghetto. In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx — and shows how minority neighborhoods suffer most from flawed urban policy.

Daniel Cullum

Wants to mobilize the young people in the city to rebuild Christchurch but maybe not in the usual way. The human spirit in the city is still strong but has taken a hit. The young people now have an opportunity to rebuild the human spirit of Christchurch.

Barriers for young people to help rebuild:

  • Isolation. We need to be connected.
  • Time. On top of school, job etc. It’s difficult for young people to get involved with the community.
  • Expectations (of themselves). It doesn’t have to be massive.

Dan’s one year t-shirt challenge challenges young people to wear the same shirt for a year (Dan has an ‘I am Dan’ shirt), get sponsored for doing it and donate money to the causes they care about. The city is being rebuilt for young people and the generations after. Even if your idea is simple—like wearing the same t-shirt for a year, run with it.

Humanity

Grant Schofield

Grant explains what walking is to a passing car who thinks he and his kids were walking because their car must be broken down. Kids of today are used to sitting—the new normal. Sitting in front of the TV, in cars—to school etc. Children are 30% less active on weekends.

Grant’s children’s school is putting a fence around the school to keep predators out. They’ve never had a problem with predators. They have a staggered end time because of the huge amount of parents picking up their kids in cars.

Kids need to be outdoors and in constant motion. When you confine kids they suffer badly in all ways. Our kids might be the first generation in human history that was a shorter life span than their parents do. The paradox of this risk aversion is in the long run they’re less able to handle risk. The prefrontal cortex develops during childhood. When is risk better developed? When a kid is six and climbing up a tree, or at 15 behind the wheel of a Subaru. Five when they’re having a fight with the kid next door, or learning about fighting when they’re 25 at a bar. When there’s a huge benefit from a risk, it’s a no brainer. Successful parenting should be based on the number of band-aids used that week, not how many activities you’ve taken them too. The kids are up for it. The parents should be too. It’s easy—hang the car keys up, open the backdoor, kick the kids out and open a bottle of chardonnay. Free range parenting is essential for kids’ health and development.

How did we get here? We became car dependent and built cities for cars and not people. We can redevelop Christchurch where local living is normal. Where kids have a place and permission to range around the neighborhood. We saw this immediately after the earthquake. The children came outside because there was no TV, computer. Neighborhoods connected when utilities were off. Let’s re-imagine Christchurch as a city that doesn’t have just physical change, but social change too. Let’s lead New Zealand into this change. We’re not building the city for us, but for our children, their children and their children again.

Grant Ryan

“Let’s compare San Fransisco to Hamilton”. If our vision of Christchurch is like Hamilton with a smaller river people won’t want to come here. It’s worth being iconic rather than boring. Grant compared Wollongong vs the Gold Coast and Leicester vs Oxford and said that “cities that are innovative, creative and iconic thrive whereas those that are boring do not”. Some cities are such great places to live that people choose to live in the city and commute outside it for work. Grant asked who was here that wasn’t born in Christchurch. A huge majority. They’ve moved and stayed here. We’d be poorer if it wasn’t for those people. When you have a full CBD great ideas come to life.

We should cross off anything that is too expensive, but also anything that’s too boring. People need to want to say to each other once we’re done “have you heard about Christchurch city?” because of how great it is.

We don’t want to be known as the city that got slapped by a couple of earthquakes, but the city that came roaring back from them.

Bjarke Ingels (recorded talk)

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels rockets through photo/video-mingled stories of his eco-flashy designs. His buildings not only look like nature — they act like nature: blocking the wind, collecting solar energy — and creating stunning views.

Let’s change the idea that a sustainable city is a boring city. The Chinese character for crisis is made up of the Chinese characters danger and opportunity. Christchurch has an opportunity. Bjarke sent a personal message to the audience at TEDxEQChCh that was very well received by the crowd.

Sacha McMeeking

Sacha got the audience to hug their neighbors in the audience. She said that’s what it felt like after the earthquake. The project of rebuilding is ours. We are our own creators. We’re talking to the powers that be. 10,000 people had a linear conversation with the powers that be last weekend at Share An Idea. They have to make decisions that will affect us and our children based on that linear conversation. CERA is populated with good and talented people. This is going to be a decade or more of a collective journey to our future. We have the common trajectory of a sustainable and vibrant city. We’re here not just for recovery, but for transformation and change. We have already experienced the incredibly moving experience of the Christchurch pledge.

How do we want our children to learn, play, know each other?

“Democracy—some assembly required.” “One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings.” “Collaboration is the new black.” “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.”

Andie Spargo

You know you live in Christchurch when…:

  • Every house is a crack house.
  • Where’s my [item]? It’s on the floor.
  • A group of students appear on your street and you don’t call the police.

Comedy is watching something happen to someone else. But what if something bad happens to you?

Christchurchians used comedy in the weeks after the quake too, with the ‘You know you live in Christchurch when…’ Facebook group and with the ‘Show us your long drop’ website. A giant rock destroys your house? Are you angry? Yeah. But do you sell the rock on Trade Me in a hilarious auction? Hell yeah.

Things Andie has learned from the earthquake:

  • The Earth is made up of plates.
  • Earthquakes were once measured using the Richter scale. In Christchurch we use the HMDIJPIMP scale—the ‘How much did I just piss in my pants scale’.
  • Drop cover and hold is still the recommended advice from Civil Defence. If you’re in Christchurch, when there’s a 3.0 and over you pause. 4.0 over you pause and hold… your wine glass. 5.0 you pause, hold your wine and put a status update on Facebook. When there’s a 6.0 and over you drop, cover, hold, and scream.
  • It’s now okay to go to the toilet in your neighbors backyard.
  • Trips to the doctor are free if they’re earthquake related.
  • People with 4WDs are now getting to go off road everyday. When they go to work, the shops or back out of their drive.
  • Yoga is a really good way to calm my nerves, except when we have 5.3, downward facing dog becomes outside screaming scardy cat.
  • Munted.
  • A new drink: gin and tectonic. Pour gin. Wait for earthquake. Gin and tectonic.
  • When a 100 litre fish tank explodes on the floor, highly carbonated Soda Stream water is not the best way to save a catfish.

Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and move on.

James Lunday

We need to change the language we use: ”In the first quake the city got munted. It’s fucked now.”

“There’s no justice in the world. The ugly buildings are still standing. Can you give me a bunch of red stickers so I can run through town and slap them on all the ugly buildings?”
“What you’ve created instead of American Pie is a huge donut. A bit stodgy on the outside, a little sweet on the inside, but not good for you. In the middle, fuck all.”

Let’s create new green networks based on nature. Give power back to the communities. Let them be self-reliant. Not being able to build on a space isn’t the end of the world. Gives freedom for open spaces.

Dresden, Germany and Hiroshima both came back from disasters. Remember that leaving memories is okay.

Is it worth resetting, rethinking, rediscovering, re-visioning, regenerating, renewing? Evolution is gone. There’s the opportunity to build a new.

“We live in faceless suburbia—blank meaningless little boxes. Retail centres with no soul. It’s disgusting and offensive and it’s wrecked the CBD. A district plan that is full of rules and regulations yet still delivers terrible outcomes. We have a city of commuters and consumers—is that an aspiration? We can create a city of communities.”

Let’s:

  • Set
  • Think
  • Discover
  • Vision
  • Generate
  • New

Let’s reinforce the villages. Make them real. Let’s turn ourselves away from the car.

With minimal cars you start to see the street. Not being able to build on a space isn’t the end of the world. Gives freedom for open spaces. Forget the CBD.

We’ve got the money, skill, passion and talent to create places to love and live in. There’s opportunity for new beginnings.

Possibilities

Paul Downton

Christchurch is undergoing a crash course in disaster planning and urban reconstruction. What happens to Christchurch is important to all of us, even if we live half a world away. Other countries will be watching our response for when it’s their time.

Everything adapts:

  • Things breathe where they could not otherwise breathe.
  • Stay warm where they would otherwise freeze.
  • Stay cool where they would otherwise be too hot.
  • Reproduce where they could not.

We build like a bird builds. We need to. When buildings come down it’s personal to us.

Buildings serve many purposes. The rate of change is really really fast. Cities are ecosystems.

Let’s encourage accidental meetings.

“The entire planet is becoming a village, and as a result, the smallest neighborhood or precinct must be planned as a working model of the larger world.” — Lewis Mumford

Helena Norberg-Hodge

Most economists are ecologically illiterate.

We’re going through a fundamental change in society. The highest priority is fundamental change to the economy, moving towards the localization of economic activity.

Opening up the economy of Ladakh with subsidized food, roads and fuel brought in from thousands of miles away destroyed the local market. There was unemployment and friction between people.

Worldwide there’s a split between the government and the interests of their people. The governments are pursuing an economic model that’s outdated. More trade, more export, more foreign investment—they say is the formula for prosperity.

The most inspiring movement is towards local food. People have 10x more conversations while shopping in the Farmer’s Market than in the supermarket.

Alain de Botton (recorded talk)

A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.

According to your answer to ‘what do you do?’ people are either incredibly delighted to see you or seem to have something else to do. It should be a sin to come to a conclusion on who you should talk to based on their business card.

When you next see someone driving a Ferrari, don’t think they’re greedy, think that they’re vulnerable and need love.

We don’t envy The Queen. She’s weird. She speaks in a funny way.

There’s basically two kinds of self-help books: you can do it, you can make it, anything’s possible. And how to cope with low self-esteem.

The words ‘unfortunate’ vs. ‘loser’: we’re changing the belief in whose responsible for our lives. We’re in the driver’s seat. If you’re doing well that’s great. If you’re not, it leads to increased rates of suicide. People take what happens to them extremely seriously. They own their success but they also own their failure.

Someone may have slept with the wrong person. Taken the wrong substance. Passed the wrong legislation.

Success might be seen as having money or being renowned. You can’t be successful at everything. You can’t have it all. Any success has a loss. There’s going to be an element where we’re not successful.

Alain de Botton sent this message to TEDxEQChCh:

I don’t for a minute doubt that your TEDx is going to be a fascinating and highly useful affair. At a time of unprecedented upheaval and pain, ideas – which are at the heart of what TED does – are what will pull us all through and give meaning and direction to our efforts. I so wish I could have been with you today.

Gerry Brownlee

Connecting with the community is great. TEDxEQChCh is awesome because it’s Independently organized so everyone’s views can be shared.

Art Agnos

Knows that it’s extremely important what Gerry Brownlee etc. are doing. Showed footage of San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake. Said he is going to offer some common experiences that he went through and the city went through with the long term recovery process and the politics.

Start with strong building codes. Fight bureaucracy. Alternative channels of communication might have to be used.

Money is an issue. Red Cross raised $70 million dollars. Art only saw it being used on coffee, donuts and blankets. The rest of the money was in a bank far away. He had to fight to get access to the money donated to the city.

There’s always another alternative. When the city needed to use the convention center that was housing homeless people, they moved them to an aircraft carrier. The rooms and sleeping space were too small, but other crew areas were found on the ship that would be suitable.

Their City Hall is much like our Cathedral except it was badly damaged and didn’t collapse. Each piece of the building was marked, photographs were taken and it was taken apart piece by piece. The pieces were stored and rollers were installed in the foundations of the building so it would roll with the tremors. The building was then reassembled.

After watching people standing in lines trying to get access back into their homes for just a few minutes they invented new techniques on the spot. All their residences were tagged red yellow and green like Christchurch’s. If someone insisted on going into building and signed a waiver, they could go in for 15 minutes. It was a risk, but was important to kick start recovery process. People felt they were regaining control over their lives.

Soft take down measures were put in place. Residents could stand in the street and watch the building be demolished and taken down. They were allowed to search through the wreckage of the building floor by floor for things that they missed in the 15 minutes they had in their house when it was standing. The rubble from each house was stored separately in a landfill so homeowners had another chance to go through it. People need to be put first in the recovery process and these were important steps.

Strong emotions weren’t limited just to people who just lost their homes. They got children to write down feelings. People still go back and revisit what was written down.

They revamped their emergency plans with the understanding of what people will do to help others in their neighborhoods after a disaster. All sorts of people from neighborhoods were trained in teams and given valuable rescue and leadership skills.

Perhaps the greatest thing in long term recovery is not to automatically assume things should be put back the way they were.

The capital for a politician is popularity and it comes with doing good and meaningful things for the community, not just things to get themselves reelected. Art ended up losing a reelection after making tough decisions for the long term success of his city. The time frame for important decisions doesn’t necessarily line up with the election time frame.

He said to use the ideas we’ve heard all day. Fix the broken places in the city. And then the whole room stood to take an oath to promise to leave the city better than it was when we came into it.

Closing

We know that we’re not forgotten when people like Art come to talk to us.

The speakers the sponsors, the organizing committee, the volunteers. Wow. Thank you from everyone who was at TEDxEQChCh.

The TEDxEQChCh name tag and programme looking very flash.
The TEDxEQChCh name tag and programme looking very flash.

Death to the Death Penalty

Electric Chair ProtestThe death penalty is nothing new but it caught my eye because of Osama Bin Laden reportedly being killed and because of the “let’s shoot the looters” comments I saw on a Christchurch earthquake Facebook page.

Death to the death penalty (video)
Stop the death penalty (video)

Let’s assume that Bin Laden was killed and buried straight away in the… ocean? This example is interesting as he wasn’t killed after he was sentenced to death by a court. However Obama said he: “…[made] the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority…”

Whether Bin Laden was killed intentionally or not I’m not sure. Now his body is in the water so we might not ever know. However I found the outpour of support for Bin Laden’s death and even the celebration resulting on sites like Twitter extremely interesting. And a lot of people were celebrating. I wondered if all of those people would support capital punishment in less extreme circumstances, like for the murder of one person? Or whether this event has changed their views to support the death penalty?

Did this bring about justice? I say no. A civilized trial would have created justice, in my opinion. Some said that the celebrations were justified because it symbolized the fighting and winning against terrorism. Because a figurehead of terrorism was downed. But Bin Laden was just that, a figurehead. Did he encourage hate, hurt and violence? Yes. Did he pull the triggers himself? No. Will someone take over his place leading Al-Qaeda? Yes.

More importantly, does this mean I’ll be able to take my bottle of water through airport security now?

@robinbogg Twitter Two Wrongs Make a Right - BREAKING: Children everywhere confused by sudden implementation of two wrongs make a right

The permanence of capital punishment is concerning. How sure would you need to be of someone’s guilt to support an execution? What if mistakes were made? Are a few false positives alright?

Does the death penalty grant relief to the suffering victim’s families?

This editorial in the New York Times says no: ‘In an open letter to the Connecticut Legislature, relatives of murder victims — 76 parents, children and others — wrote that “the death penalty, rather than preventing violence, only perpetuates it and inflicts further pain on survivors.”’ The death penalty deepens the wounds and the pain of victims’ families and the accused’s family. It creates more victims and continues the cycle of violence.

This page has stories from inmates’ families on how they’ve been affected by an execution. Bill Babbitt turned in his brother for committing a murder and was under the assumption that his brother would get the help he needed. His brother who was a paranoid schizophrenic was sentenced to death. Robert Meeropol talks about having both of his parents executed when he was six-years-old.

The death penalty makes it easy to “solve” re-offending without having to deal with the policies behind parole. It’s also easy to say prison officers would be protected, when in reality issues surrounding staff security need to be sorted.

Instead of putting forward the death penalty as a solution for crime, let’s create better policies. Policies that identify youth that are at-risk of offending. Better mental health services. Let’s remind ourselves that people released from prison need support starting well before they’ve been released to successfully assimilate back into society.

Alternatives to capital punishment might be the way out. Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Johnny Holmes says “you’re not going to find 12 people back-to-back on the same jury that are going to kill somebody when the alternative is throwing away the key.”

Is there a humane way to kill someone?

By poisoning with the lethal injection? Where are those drugs coming from?

Texas was reluctant to release where the drugs they use in their death row come from. Besse Medical, apparently. Feigning ignorance, Besse say they “…[have] no way to determine what its customers, including the Texas corrections department, does with its products.”

That article reports a shortage of U.S. made lethal injection drugs and says states have had to import from overseas. As overseas countries ban the export of those drugs for use in executions (“that supply dried up after the British government in November banned its export for use in executions”) and drugs are imported from dubious sources or drugs are reappropriated, concerns should be raised over the quality and efficiency of the drugs being used. Are they going to kill someone quickly and painlessly? Oklahoma is using an anesthetic, pentobarbital, that’s used in animal euthanasia solutions.

What level of training do the people administering the drugs have regarding administration or dosage?

Short answer: University of Miami researchers say none. It appeared prisoners were assumed to be successfully anaesthetised if they were given a standard dose of thiopental, but this wouldn’t be true if the drug was given incorrectly, the execution took longer than anticipated or the prisoner had anxiety or serious substance abuse issues. After analyzing autopsy data for 49 prisoners who had been executed, researchers found that in 43 cases the concentration of anaesthetic in the prisoners’ blood were lower than required in surgery. Out of those 43, 21 of the concentrations “were consistent with [the prisoner] being aware of what was going on.”

…the researchers, led by Dr Leonardis Koniaris, said: “We certainly cannot conclude that these inmates were unconscious and insensate.”

“However, with no monitoring and with little use of the paralytic agent, any suffering of the inmate would be undetectable.”

They add: “The absence of training and monitoring, and the remote administration of drugs, coupled with eyewitness reports of muscle responses during execution, suggest that the current practice for lethal injection for execution fails to meet veterinary standards.”

As a society we can do better than a primitive band-aid on the long-term problem of crime.

See also: an eye for an eye ends up making everybody blind.

Image credit: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty