Brian Parker - Project Manager, Canterbury Communities - Speaking at Seismics and the City 2015

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Seismics and the City March 2015Engaging Quake Claimants and Community NetworksLearning from complex claims and local knowledge...just as many machines reset themselves to their original settings after a power outage, human beings reset themselves to something altruistic, communitarian, resourceful and imaginative after a disaster... The possibility of paradise is already within us as a default setting.Rebecca Solnit,A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in DisasterLarge BBQs on the front lawn with neighbours, complete strangers, university students, plumbers, tractor drivers and family and friends after a morning of shifting silt and sand from properties to the side of the road.

Of course when everyone went back to work and the realities of life and work the began the living hell of business as usual hit us all squarely between the eyes. The clickity clack of Business as Usual or Business in silos. The culture of we cant, we shouldnt, we aren't allowed to, have you made an appointment, I cant tell you, its not on my computer, youll need to OIA, bring in your DRA, wait for your scope, well let you know, youll need that in writing, thats confidential, Im sorry I cant find your claim can you call back later

And so It wasnt long before neighbours were in the street, lingering on street corners and asking the hard questions like wheres our bloody toilet?

And this in turn led to people grouping together in streets and then connecting to residents associations or forming their own groups and CanCERN was born. In the absence of organisation people just got on with it and did it themselves. The will to help out and get on with the job at hand was motivation enough.

Accurate and timely informationEffective networksFace to Face communicationwith people who made shit happen

We asked for:Unfortunately over time we ran into more brick walls that clear access and so began to articulate what we needed. Believe it or not we didnt ask for much. We asked for.. But that was like asking for the moon until February and the reign of Civil Defence under John Hamilton.

Thank goodness he didnt default to business as usual but stayed connected to something altruistic, communitarian and resourceful.

Accurate and timely informationEvery Tuesday our community leaders would send us information about what was happening in their suburb, we would collate it into a CAT and then on Wednesday night after everyone had gone home we would all tramp into the cordon, passed the barriers and up two the 3rd floor of the art gallery and sit down with John and his team of experts and talk through the possibles, delete the impossibles and generally update each other AND John and his team would make something happenCommunication must be accessible, transparent and prioritize the best interests of the residents Best solutions come when engagement is designed and intentionally created with, by and for the people

John Hamilton gave us regular access to information, he was open, honest and fair. As best as he could his team prioritized in the best interests of the residents. . An efficient communication vehicle that gave our leaders and the community at large hope because everyone could see their issues and solutions going somewhere and something happening as a result. A time of great collaboration, open and transparent communication and genuine face to face connection.

Together we found the best solutions that were possible at the time and we felt a part of the solution rather than a hopeless bystanderThe wisdom of the community always exceeds the knowledge of the experts

Harold Flemming

Together we showed how the wisdom of the people exceeds the knowledge of the experts.


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