Tuesday, 30 August 2011

we the people

I am excited. It is about something new that I am learning. For some time I have been searching for a way that allows every voice within a community to be heard. I think I have found it! I am just at the beginning of the discovery, but I have a gut feeling that this is going to be significant.

The Sumner Community Group which has been doing great things in their community since the earthquakes, sent out an open invitation to meet John Buck.  They sent the podcast link with Kim Hill interviewing John Buck on National Radio.

I wanted to be there.
Jacinda (one of the other Lyttel town bloggers) and I went.
The meeting was just for one hour – in that time Manfred Friedrich whose firm was sponsoring John Buck trip here introduced the concept and John ran an exercise with us using the methodology. I was hooked.

I’ve had this experience before in my life where you hear something, don’t fully understand it, but you know you have to follow through and learn more. So as I write this blog entry I am aware that I am quite na├»ve on the subject of Dynamic Governance or Sociocracy, but I am hungry to learn more.
Cover image for We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy

As I read ‘We the People; consenting to a deeper democracy’ I can see why a lot of what we do in Project Lyttelton works so well – we are already engaged in a form of sociocracy. We could develop this far more.  Often we haven’t exactly known why what we are doing works, this sociocracy explains why and also shows us how it is possible for us as an organisation to become even more successful by tapping into the knowledge, creativity and engagement of all involved.

written by Margaret Jefferies, chair of Project Lyttelton

Thursday, 25 August 2011

lyttel stitches and a giveaway

The latest edition of extra-curricular is out with an article on the heart stitching that happened here in Lyttelton after the February earthquake. This issue has a stitching focus so the lyttel hearts project and sharing the goodness that happens when people gather together and create is a perfect fit for the "crafting for good" section of this little mag.
A tutorial on making a gorgeous foraging bag by Melissa of tinyhappy is also in the issue.
Perfect for the Spring treasure gathering that is about to begin.

I have a mag to giveaway so leave a comment here and I will draw a winner at the end of the weekend.
This has now closed.

And by the way, Sunday 4th September lyttel stitches will be down at the Petanque club stitching up a whole heap of "hero medals," commemorating the first earthquake that shook these parts a year ago, thinking of those we have lost and celebrating our resilience and shear stickibility.

Have a good weekend people.

Posted by Jacinda, also at watchingkereru.blogspot.com

Weaving a Timebank a thread at a time

What is Timebanking?
Time Banking is a way of trading skills in a community. It uses time, rather than money, as the measurement tool. Members of a Time Bank share their skills with other members within the community and are given time credits for the work they do. With the credits they gain, each member can ‘buy' someone else's time, and get the service they need.
With Time Banking everybody's time is equal, no matter what type of work is done. 1 = 1. If you give one hour's work, you receive one hour time credit. If another member does one hour's work for you, they are paid one hour time credit. Every person is equally valued.
Time Banking adds a richness to Time Bankers' lives. As a concept it brings ‘wealth', in the form of friendship, caring for one another, having our needs met from within our own community and getting help with things we can't do.

Lyttelton has had a Timebank for 5 years now, having grown in this time to 400 members. Below some reflections on the role of TB in Lyttelton, illustrated by July's Timebank activities:

Imagine that every Time Bank transaction is a visible thread connecting two people.
All around Lyttelton threads are being spun by people cooking dinner for each other because someone in the family is sick or by driving each other to health care appointments.
One Lytteltonian is sitting in his garage fixing a broken gazebo. 
A family with young children have gone for a fun afternoon to learn how to jazz up their clothes by felting designs on them.  
A couple of women have rolled up their sleeves to dig through all the bags and boxes of garage sale items donated, to get the space ready for the next sale.
Slowly a fine lace work of threads is hovering over Lyttelton, connecting not only neighbours, but also people in different parts of Lyttelton. After every Time Bank trade two strangers have become two trading-buddies, another bit of community building has happened.

 In the weeks and days leading up to the Festival of Lights, Time Bankers hunker down to plan the event, liaise with stall holders, get permits, posters, entertainers organised, cook up soups and  juices for sale. On the night dozens of Time Bankers turn up to collect rubbish, manage the road blocks, organise the masked parade, work fundraising stalls, paint faces of children and float candle wishes for Lyttelton. In only one night, the threads of Time Bank connection have multiplied into a gauzy spider web, spanning more and more of Lyttelton, even ensnaring some Christchurch people.

 The next day it's back to normal in the Lyttelton Timebank office. Telephone calls and emails pour in from individuals and groups who want to start a Time Bank in their corner of New Zealand. Leaflets and emails get send with information, hours are spent on the phone listening, advising and encouraging people in Upper Hutt, Rangitikai, Kapiti Coast, Levin and other places. Those Time Bank threads shoot out of the phone, connecting people across the islands.

Next an invitation to a Time Bank Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, USA,  drops into the computer-inbox. Every two years a four day World Time Bank Conference takes place in August. Sixty Time Banks from across America, from Chile to Canada, Israel to Taiwan, Spain to New Zealand are invited. On offer are workshops on a wide variety of subjects : 'Time Banks and faith-based organisations', 'Research and data evaluation in Time Banking', 'Youth Court and mentoring for success'. Ideas from Time Banks around the world will be discussed and aired. I like the new initiative from a London Time Bank: Time Bankers get vetted and trained to become 'commuter tutors' to teach skills to other timebankers during the many hours a London resident spends on the train travelling to and away from work. Over a hundred people have already enrolled in the program!
                                          Timebank collage activity on Lyttelton London Street: 'Joy'

We hope that by the time the next Timebank Conference comes around some timebankers from New Zealand will be able to attend. But for now more threads have been catapulted right across the globe.

written by Bettina Evans.
This article has appeared in similar format in the July edition of the Akaroa MAil 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Lyttelton's electric cargo bike

Sometime before the hot topic was earthquakes, Project Lyttelton had the forethought to fund an electric cargo bike project. At the time the idea was to use it to assist people in Lyttelton, particularly the elderly, to make use of the delivery service to get their Farmer's Market goodies back home up the hill, and thus avoid driving their cars to the market to shop. We managed a few test runs on Saturday mornings, and things were looking good.

The bike proved its worth in the weeks after the February earthquake. It was used to deliver food parcels all over the steep streets, and to deliver prescriptions from the pharmacy. An electric bike could go where cars couldn't, as many streets were partially blocked by debris. And lots of people were riding out the aftershocks at home and could not have made it down to the shops or civil defence centre. Lyttelton was reasonably isolated at this time, so using the cargo bike meant people could conserve petrol.

Now, some of you may be interested in the nuts and bolts of it. The prototype bike was handbuilt by Josh Harris of pedalOn mobile bicycle services, using part of an old adult bike frame, part of a child's bike frame and some steel tubing from a washing line manufacturer. It was adapted to its current electric form by the addition of an electric motor and battery unit from The Electric Bicycle Company. The battery is a 10 amp hour lithium ion and can be charged from either mains or solar power. At full charge it lasts for up to 30 km. There are two batteries available that can be interchanged to allow continuous use. The gear ratios are sufficient to get up even the steepest streets in Lyttelton, and are capable of carrying quite a load (two bales of pea straw are the biggest so far!).

Project Lyttelton is now looking for a working group to take the prototype bike to the next level. If you have an interest in electric or cargo bikes, please get in touch with Josh. Ideas for future incarnations of the cargo bike might be something like these European examples:

Future use of the cargo bike could include deliveries from the Farmer's Market, pharmacy, supermarket, Lyttel Piko, garden supplies, pizza, fish'n'chips, moving house:

Written by Jodi Rees

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Thoughts on What Could Be and What Already Exists

Sometimes I find myself dreaming away…envisioning what could be of this community and what we can create for future generations.

We can enrich the community through local food systems. What if we had a system where we mapped out where all the fruit trees were and had volunteers/time bankers going around and harvesting it all? What if we could Spin Farm (Small Plot Intensive) certain parts of the land? What if we had a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm? What if we had market gardens right here in Lyttelton? What if we had festivals celebrating abundance of produce, tomatoes. plums, pears, or one of my favorites, black boy peaches? What if we had a Co-op Restaurant that the excess flowed into? Sound like a dream? Well, now this is becoming a reality with the funding that Project Lyttelton has recently secured.
Now I know to achieve this level of abundance it is going to take a master plan, a diversity of systems working together, time, teamwork and development. This is all very exciting!

For my family and I after the earthquake the three best things were food that we had growing in our garden, our immediate neighbors, and the community of Lyttelton. The earthquake may have destroyed a lot, but our food was still growing without a problem. Imagine not having to go to the super market, just to the garden to get what you need. It definitely saved us from going out into crazy Christchurch for a while and even more importantly we were still eating really well. Our neighbors even shared food from their garden with us. Imagine that sense of security amongst all of the chaos. We all checked on each other making sure we each had the basics water, food, and more or less a safe shelter. Our neighbors brought us flour, we made them bread. They brought us black boy peaches and we made them black boy peach jam. The night of the February quake we went and camped on the grassy as we were afraid to be in our house and felt safe with the people, the community. That night people played music and sang all night, which helped to drown out the aftershocks and gave out the vibe that everything was going to be all right. This sense of community is deeply felt here in Lyttelton.

For more about SPIN Farming.
A video example of a beautiful CSA in the USA.

Written By: Christy Martin

community garden Spring film series.

The Lyttelton Community Garden
The Spring Film Series.

I know, I know. Spring isn't here yet, as the title of the film series suggests, 
but I am optimistic by nature and I know for sure,  it will come.

Lyttelton Community Garden, The Portal, 54a Oxford St, Lyttelton
(up driveway between playground and Pool)
Monday evenings, 22 August - 19 September.
6pm: shared dinner for those who wish.
7pm : film screening.

Monday 22nd August
DIRT! THE MOVIE (80 minutes duration)
A film which is a call to action.: This film tells you the story of the Earth's
most valuable & under­appreciated source of fertility & takes you inside the
wonders of soil. "When humans arrived 2 million years ago, everything
changed for dirt. And from that moment on, the fate of dirt & humans has
been intimately linked."

Monday 29th August
VANDANA SHIVA: The Future of Food & Seed (60 minutes duration)
World­renowned scientist, feminist, ecologist & author presenting the
keynote address at Organicology in Portland, Oregon in 2009.

Monday 5 September
THE ECONOMICS OF HAPPINESS(65 minutes duration)
The approaching energy crisis will force a revolution in farming practices & will
affect what we eat, where it comes from & even whether there will be enough
to keep us fed. Follow Rebecca Hosking as she goes about changing her family
farm to be fit for the future.

Monday 12th September
THE VANISHING OF THE BEES (90 minutes duration)
Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally
vanishing from their hives. Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia & Asia,
this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees & the
greater meaning it holds about the relationship between humanity and mother
earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alterna­
tive reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound & after years of
research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.

Monday 19th September
BACKYARD HIVE (1 hour, 25 minutes)
Become a bee guardian. This evening is especially for those people who are
interested in alternative beekeeping using the Top Bar hive in your backyard
or in your community garden.
Everyone welcome.

enjoying the seasons.

Are we masochists?
Early in the week I noticed some excitement in the air as the weather forecast predicted a significant snow storm.
I wondered how many challenges we are able to face.
Would the power remain on? Would we keep warm?
But since the earthquakes an NGO in Christchurch has been providing ‘snuggle sacks’ for older people to keep them warm as some of our houses are not as draft proof as they were.
I’m in that age group, so I have a snuggle sack to keep me warm. I’m told I shouldn’t be seen in it, but who cares, it keeps me cosy – especially at the computer.
A month ago when it snowed for the first time this winter,  I enjoyed watching and listening to young people take advantage of the new environment immediately as the snow fell. They snow boarded down Lyttelton’s steep streets, their voices heard in the eerie black and white stillness.
They did it again this time around. One of few benefits of living on steep streets.
I simply relaxed and kept warm; I had a stack of books from the library, knitting I wanted to do and entertainment provided by snowboarders that I watch from my newly double glazed window.
So no, I don’t think I am a masochist, but a lover of changing scenes, situations and challenges.

written by Margaret Jefferies, chair of Project Lyttelton

Thursday, 11 August 2011

...round and round and round...

The humble Kiwi garage sale can take on many forms, and has been adapted to great use in Lyttelton: For about a year now Project Lyttelton has run a garage sale most Saturdays in an unpainted, unheated, badly lit breeze block garage, obviously nothing fancy, but workable. It is situated close to the craft market and the Farmer's market, so all three benefit from each other by drawing different crowds and more people overall.

Like everything in Lyttelton, the garage sale has been influenced by the earthquake. In the weeks and months after the earthquakes, when people had to tidy up their 'munted' houses, the garage sale often was at the receiving end of those clear-outs. Many people felt really good about getting rid of the accumulated 'stuff' that seems to accumulate in houses over time. There were a few weeks where so much stuff was donated, that we were unable to run a garage sale, because every square centimeter was filled with boxes, bags, furniture, suitcases, baskets and containers of donated goods.
After a few weeks of hectic activities, organising a small garden shed to store all new goods and sorting through all the donations, we have started trading again. We became quite ruthless with sorting out donations, partly because our space to display and store items is very limited. That meant that every week we were able to donate one small pick-up truck full of superfluous items to a local charity barn.

The garage sale is manned by Timebank volunteers. We have a very committed group of people who are regulars and a few 'newbies' now and then. The groups receiving the money are expected to have some volunteers present also. They can can lend a helping hand while talking to customers about the group or project they are involved in.

What do we sell? Like any garage sale it depends entirely what people drop off. in the weeks after the earthquake we received an amazing variety of goods: a local chef donated her cake tins in amazing shapes and sizes, from tiny to huge; there were local treasures such as 'Godley House' beer tankards (Godley was a historic homestead in Diamond Harbour, hosting a lovely restaurant and bar, which had to be destroyed after the earthquake) and cocktail shakers, and a whole set of Japanese paper fans, lanterns and paper umbrellas (from another restaurant?).
Everyone in Lyttelton lost at least some crockery and pottery in the earthquake and some unlucky people lost everything. The only op-shop and supermarket in Lyttelton were closed and trips to town were very nerve- wrecking in the weeks after the earthquake as roads were damaged, everyone was afraid of more severe aftershocks and most shops this side of Christchurch were closed. In a lucky stroke of fate, business at the garage sale roared, people being happy to buy locally and even discerning house-keepers bought 'second-best' pottery, because Lytteltonians had become fatalistic and realistic enough to know that more quakes were going to happen.
And what about the money generated? The first few garage sales were all fund-raisers for the Lyttelton Timebank. But after the earthquakes we decided to run the sales in aid of different community groups. Every individual and every charitable organisation in Lyttelton had suffered, either through loss of housing and work space or through people leaving or losing jobs, and through this being unable to continue helping out. The following groups have profited from the garage sale, and we are always looking for more local groups:
  •  Radio Volcano, a local community radio station
  • the Sea Scouts
  • The Plunket Toy Library and 
  • the newly established Lyttelton Petanque Club, a Gapfiller project.
  • the Lyttelton Community garden, 
  • the Lyttelton Youth House,
  • the Lyttelton eARThquake therapy initiative
 While there is always a Timebank volunteer at the sales, the groups receiving the money are expected to have some volunteers present also. They can can lend a helping hand as well as being able to talk to customers about the group or project they are involved in.

So not only the pre-loved goods go round and round the community, but also the money,- what could be better?

written by Bettina Evans

Monday, 8 August 2011

Shared office space in Lyttelton – not just a dream

Many of our work situations have changed dramatically since February. Businesses have moved from the city centre to more industrial zones or closed permanently, public transport routes are different, congestion on the roads has increased, and cycle routes are in some cases more treacherous because of both increased traffic and earthquake-damaged road surfaces. Many of us have been forced to come up with new ways to meet work expectations. Working at home is now more common as people choose to put up with the challenges of working in isolation as they exercise choice about where they spend their days. 

Back in March I wrote a small piece in our local paper, the Lyttelton News, about the idea of a shared office here in Lyttelton for people who had flexible work arrangements and who would prefer to work on this side of the hill.   There was plenty of interest, and a group formed to discuss needs, timeframes and visions. The drivers for me in this include: wanting to be near my 2 year old son who is cared for at home while I work part-time; building community; and making new connections in my home town.

Now the dream of sharing office space is about to become reality. Starting this week, a small group from diverse backgrounds (ecology, telecommunications, and cycling) are sharing an office on London Street, with plans to refine the setup and evolve over time.We were keen to just get started, to show people that there are few barriers.  This project is building on the culture of possibility that Lyttelton is famous for. We will keep each other company while at the same time providing a professional work space. We will help revitalise our town centre by just being there. The aim is for this to be a long term arrangement, with possibilities for accommodating a wide variety of work needs. Right now the shared office provides desk space, wireless internet, phone and printing capabilities. Future space may also include workshops, or any other element that we figure out we need. It's even looking like there will be more than one shared office as interest grows.

Now is the time to have input into the plans of property owners that are considering rebuilding. Imagine a purpose-built shared office in the heart of Lyttelton! Once again the earthquakes provide us with the opportunity to think about a new way of being.

Written by Jodi Rees

Friday, 5 August 2011

In Steps Towards a More Sustainable Pantry - Chicken

We are always trying to find or create the best way of doing things with the food that we buy. In that I mean with the least amount of waste whether it be calculated in food miles, packaging or straight up waste that goes into the bin.

We are meat eaters, however, ever so conscious in what we buy. We want to know where our food has come from, who has grown/produced it and in what way. We feel that asking these questions about our food is crucial to helping create a better food system and making a conscious decision about who and what we support with our dollar.

We are all about supporting the local community when it comes to our food.  On Saturday we went down to the Lyttelton Farmers Market and purchased a fresh size 24 free-range chicken from Westwood Chicken.  Antibiotic and hormone free, predominately grass fed. We found out that this chicken was grown for 63 days where as the shop owner said they are normally grown for 50+ days and where the brand Tegel’s normal chicken growth is around 36 days.

Now Giulio will demonstrate how to portion a chicken. Maybe something that seems quite simple or hard. Whatever it is to you hopefully you can learn something new.

Written by Christy Martin
A link to Giulio's Blog : http://giuliosturla.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 4 August 2011

mindful rebuilding

Thich Nhat Hanh the Vietnamese Buddhist teacher has said that: “…The next Buddha may take the form of a community – a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the earth.”

Margaret Jefferies, chair of Project Lyttelton, speaks about this idea and wonders aloud if we simply consider this possibility, how would that change the way we go about being who we are? How would that show up in us as we move forward in putting the buildings back up in our community?
I am amazed and awed by this idea and it is one that for me the opportunity to move more towards understanding and less towards what I think I know already. As we move towards the future, the way we move forward in the present is perhaps the most important thing that we will do.
Perhaps this will be our way of being the Buddha. Who knows?
In reality, I don’t think knowing really matters. What does matter is having the faith that how I think about this guides me in how I interact and how I support others as our ideas emerge from the dust.

I have been passionately advocating for a process that builds our ownership of our own healing through our rebuilding - perhaps I need to listen more and support more and remember that my own understanding will be flawed?
How would loving kindness and mindfulness be in me? And what would that mean to my community? I have no answers to these questions. As usual they are just questions and thoughts that come to my mind and then I play them out as best as I can.
What I am clear about is that community is something that I think many of us have been looking for to answer some of our questions, our longings, and that this is an opportunity to find some answers. They may not be answers as we know them – they may simply be more questions.

Monday, 1 August 2011

festival time

We had been waiting for a while for this festival.
Postponed back in June due to the earth shaking, the town still needed a chance to celebrate and the light returning still seemed like the most appropriate reason.
Apparently so did half of Christchurch; last Friday night the streets of Lyttelton heaved with frivolity and celebration.
And that's exactly as it should be.
The year has been a tough one for many in this shaky town.
Tough, and yet such deep veins of sweetness have been uncovered.

It felt good; the masked parade, the fireworks, the buskers and dancing in the rain to good, homegrown music.
It felt good too to have all the currently homeless businesses back out on the pavement, once again inhabiting the streets of our town .
Many thought of those people we have lost.
Many peered into the spaces where, not too long ago, our dearly loved historic buildings stood; gaps illuminated with light shows and sculpture.
And others asked after those who are still away or waiting to hear about their homes.
And yet the exuberance present at the festival reminded us that what is left, and in fact is thriving in the uncertainty, is the spirit of the people and the strength of the ties that hold us together as a community.

Thanks to local photographer, Gill Taylor for the photography.
Written by Jacinda Giligan, also at www.watchingkereru.blogspot.com