Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Future of Christchurch

The politicians, town planners and guardians of heritage buildings are on the radio and television discussing the future of Christchurch. Their views can be summed up in the following statement. “We must decide what kind of Christchurch we want.” What they are really saying is that they want to decide what kind of Christchurch we want.

What they do not realise is that the shape of a city is not decided by the politicians and planners, but by the people and businesses of a city. As they make millions of decisions, the future city will be formed.

People will decide, if they want to live in Christchurch, or move away. I am staying, because this is where I am called, but many will move away. Homeowners will decide what to do with their homes.

The owners of destroyed buildings will decide what to do with them in (conjunction with their insurance companies).

Businesses will decide if they want to stay in Christchurch. Many will decide to leave the Central Business District (CBD). Lock-downs during a crisis make it a risky place to do business. In the past businesses needed to be concentrated in the centre to ease communications. With modern transport and communications, there is very little to be gained from being based in the CBD I suspect that most manufactures and many office-based businesses will decide to re-establish in locations where they are not surrounded by risky buildings and risks of costly shutdowns. Some will go to the suburbs temporarily, but decide they like it there.

Christchurch people decided long ago that they prefer shopping in suburban malls, so they are unlikely to go back to the central city for shopping now. Many retailers will leave the CBD and take their businesses to where the people want to be.

Christchurch may become a centre-less city. More and more business activity may be pushed back out to the edges and suburbs, but be joined together by communications networks. This may be a better model for a modern city.

The hierarchical-control model has everything clustered at the centre. A more Christian model is decentralised but joined together in networks. If the Holy Spirit is at the centre, that is enough..

There is one important ingredient that the politicians and planners have left out of their discussions. God has a purpose for Christchurch. Men like Robert Godley who were involved in the planning of and founding of the city came here in response to a God’s calling to advance the Kingdom of God. They believed that they were establishing something specific for him. That vision still stands and will in the end carry more weight than the speculations of the politicians and planners.

1 comment:

.:kate cremisino:. said...

Great thoughts and AMEN (your last paragraph). We stand with you in this!!