Thursday, September 04, 2014
Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch - Book launched in Christchurch
On 30 July 2012, Prime Minister John Key launched the Central City Recovery Plan - the Blueprint. Two years on, Freerange Press was pleased to announce the release of Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival last weekend.
This important book offers the first substantial critique of the Government’s recovery plan for Christchurch, presents alternative approaches to city-building and archives a vital and extraordinary time.
New Zealand has to rebuild the majority of its second-largest city after a devastating series of earthquakes – a unique challenge for a developed country in the twenty-first century. The earthquakes fundamentally disrupted the conventions by which the people of Christchurch lived. The exhausting and exhilarating mix of distress, uncertainty, creativity, opportunities, divergent opinions and competing priorities generates an inevitable question: how do we know if the right decisions are being made?
Once in a Lifetime brings together a range of national and international perspectives on city-building and post-disaster urban recovery.
· foreword by Helen Clark (former New Zealand Prime Minister and UNDP Administrator)
· 55 written essays from a range of contributors including Kevin McCloud, Rebecca Macfie, Sally Blundell, Raf Manji, journalists, economists, designers, academics, publicans and more
· 39 visual essays that document community, business and government responses to Christchurch’s recovery.
Barnaby Bennett and Ryan Reynolds, members of the editorial team, are available for interview.
Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch
Edited by Barnaby Bennett, James Dann, Emma Johnson and Ryan Reynolds
Foreword by Helen Clark
Freerange Press, August 2014
512 pages, full colour. Includes photos, maps and index.
55 essays, 39 visual essays
Around 80 people packed into the Physics Room for the launch of Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch on the final night of the Christchurch WORD Writers and Readers Festival.
The interest in and need for Once in a Lifetime was attested to by the numbers that turned out to the launch and panel discussion earlier in the day. The book, conceived of and published by Freerange Press, is the first substantial critique of the Government’s recovery plan for Christchurch, presents alternative approaches to city-building and archives a vital and extraordinary time.
As members of the editorial team gave speeches in the warm central city space of the Physics Room, all the authors present at the launch stood behind them, providing striking visual proof of the range of voice in the book’s pages, which one editor said reflected the ‘many voices that make up a city’. From publican to citizen, from journalist to designer, they had contributed ‘considered, multi-disciplinary perspective on post-disaster urban recovery’ and had helped to make critique a ‘creative and positive process’.
The panel also demonstrated the fruits of a discussion that involves a variety of perspectives. It featured contributors journalist Rebecca Macfie, Councillor Raf Manji, academic Dr Suzanne Vallance and co-editor and Gap Filler co-founder Ryan Reynolds in discussion with co-editor Barnaby Bennett. As Giovanni Tiso observed in his recent blog: ‘It was, like the book itself, a blueprint of the kind of discussions that need to be had. If the panel and how it was received by the packed room are any indication, Once in a Lifetime will become a significant tool with which to think again about the task and find new forms of engagement.’
A great celebratory weekend for Once in a Lifetime, amidst a festival programme that celebrated not only literature’s liberating potential, but also that of Christchurch. In essence, Once in a Lifetime is about discussion and part of a wider one, and every discussion is infused with its moment. The energy and direction of the book comes from the city around us, and in the contributions you can hear that distinctive Christchurch mix of disquiet, careful hope, frustration, sadness and desire combined with the strains of promise and potential.