A community response to the Canterbury earthquakes has received a prestigious local award as it celebrates its first year of building temporary parks and gardens on damaged sites.
Greening the Rubble, recipient of a Christchurch Civic Trust Award is a voluntary project involving students, landscape designers, gardeners and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds. The project is currently hosted by national charity Living Streets Aotearoa and will form into a locally-based charitable trust next year.
The temporary ‘mini’ parks are public spaces created on private land, under a licence agreement with owners covering from six months up to a few years.
“We are already recycling our first temporary park, made in February at the corner of Victoria Street and Salisbury Street, so that land can be redeveloped in 2012.” says project worker Rhys Taylor. “Components of the Victoria Green mini park are now relocated on Colombo Street, Sydenham, on sites both north and south of the Triton Dairy container; and more will go onto a garden at the former Piko Store site on Barbadoes Street-Kilmore Street corner, within a few weeks.”
Designing and making the Sydenham sites features in a National Radio Spectrum documentary, by local producer Deborah Nation, scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday 27 November. Another garden area was completed by Greening the Rubble during August, at 256 St. Asaph Street, near High Street at the front of a Wilson carpark. It faces the Red Zone fence and features rubble contained in wire gabions that support recycled plank seats. There are also kowhai trees in metal planters; decorative paving of bricks and lime-chip, and hardy plants, protected from summer heat and winds by bark mulch.
Work starts shortly on three mini-sites around the perimeter of the temporary car park at the central city Bus Exchange. “Look out for distinctive seats with the ‘kia kaha Christchurch’ message on them, made by Urban Paving, the firm which created our fundraiser, the Silty earthquake brick .” says Taylor.
Judith Roper-Lindsay, volunteer chair of Greening the Rubble’s Strategy Group comments: “We have three sites under construction and two in design, this spring. These involve about 50 volunteers coordinated by our Project Worker, whose part-time work is funded by a City Council grant.”
“It’s great to see how much can be achieved this way, and business support has been fabulous, with many of the materials donated in-kind or sponsor funded. This valued help has come from an almost A to Z of helpers: 360Degrees Urban, Christchurch City Council, City Care, ‘Colour Me Christchurch’ from Ashburton, Conservation Volunteers, Dulux, Festival of Flowers, Firth, Fletcher Steel, HireQuip, Holcim, Hurricane, Images Unlimited, Lincoln University, Musgroves, Oderings, PlaceMakers Riccarton, ReadyLawn, Urban Paving, UC Student Volunteer Army, Muck-in-for-Christchurch, from site owners, and professionals donating their time.” says Roper-Lindsay.
The Award citation also commends an associated project ‘Greening Spaces’ “This encourages wildflower seeding of vacant sites by nearby schools, and has had some modest assistance from Greening the Rubble. Credit is due to Andrew Drummond for making the project with primary schools happen so quickly and well.” says Taylor.