OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD an exploration with Auckland city centre residents

Auckland city centre neighbourhood builders Splice, took a camera and went to apartment-dwelling residents with three simple questions:

What do you love of living in the city centre?

Where are the places outside of your apartments that you love?

If you had a magic wand what would you change?

The result is a short film, giving the city centre residential community of 50,000, a voice to express their love of the place they call home and consideration of how it could be even better.

 

The very heart of Auckland city has been undergoing a transformation in the past three decades.  Once the sole preserve of business with a strong tertiary presence, the city centre is now a neighbourhood encompassing the various communities who live, work, study, create and play. 

 

Heeding the call to go up rather than out, the ever growing residential community are increasingly expressing their place and identity in the city centre.  Commercially it can be seen by the presence of supermarkets and dairies but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover engaging neighbourhood opportunities, like a playgroup for parents and their under-fives, an active residents group, a community centre, tai chi on Thursdays etc.

 

Not everything about living amongst towering buildings is necessarily rosy. The risk of isolation in apartments is real, along with noise and particularly poor singing by late-night revellers, being some examples.  However for many who choose to call the city centre home, such issues are more than compensated for by the convenience of proximity to everything, the reality of walking rather than driving, some stunning parks, proximity to the water and the vibrant diversity of the neighbourhood.

 

Here’s some feedback from the initial screening:

“This is amazingly cool”

“You demonstrated the key messages and awareness including a collection of iconic places, great music & song with a taste of multicultural environment.”

“You should make another one”

“Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!! It really captures a beautiful vibe and spirit. We're very proud to be part of it.”

 FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE FILM (12 minutes long)

 

The Quietly Raucous Feijoa Festival 2018

It comes but once a year, with small green fruit and a passion for neighbourhood.  The Guild of the Feijoa, formed in August 2015, with the planting of the neighbourhood’s only feijoa forest at the bottom of Constitution Hill, holds an annual feijoa festival.

Local historian Edward Bennett gave us an insight into the history of elephants of the immediate neighbourhood and beyond.  With ever increasing local celebrity status, Tom the elephant from Sri Lanka, gifted by a royal to the city, once lived in Albert Park – well the remnants of Albert Barracks when the perimeter wall was still in existence - and played a working role in city infrastructure development.

Segway from Tom, to the making of elephants from feijoa – with the winning entry from a trio of apartment – dwelling neighbours who will share the joys of the Guild of the Feijoa Celebratory Jug until 2019.

Closing out the evening was a film made by with and by locals, expressing their love for the neighbourhood (see the separate splog - “Our Neighbourhood”)

Much thanks to hosts TABAC, the perfect intimate bar tucked away in the heart of the city.  To Active Building Management for assisting in promotion in apartments.

“This was a whole lotta neighbourly fun, as well as being educational and ever-so-slightly crazy! Check out the feijoa elephant competition.” City Centre Residents Group facebook post the next morning.

Open to all who identify as being of the city centre neighbourhood - a highlight of the social calendar.  See you there next year!

Splicing with balancing elephants, wriggly worms, children and parents

Conversations with Plunket, the Auckland City Library and Sandy Ritchie (Splice) identified an ongoing need for building community for parents and children living in the city.

 So new chaplain at large, Jill Kayser, leaped at this opportunity to connect with children and families by planning Auckland City Centre’s first nature playgroup.  

The planning and preparation for and delivery of City Explorers Nature Playgroup is supported by Katee Waetford, Housing First’s Early Childhood Centre Manager.

Each Tuesday morning Jill, early childhood teacher Angela Cottrell and volunteer Michelle Twiggins off with mums and babes/toddlers to Albert Park to play, sing and explore in this beautiful natural playground.

City Explorers nature playgroup promotes the importance of children playing, exploring and learning in a natural environment. It creates opportunities for city kids to do what children have done for centuries – play with nature, climb trees, splash in puddles and make friends across age and culture. 

Up to 50 mums (and an occasional dad), babes and toddlers join the exploration of this beautiful natural playground.  The massive roots of majestic Moreton Bay Fig trees make perfect tightropes for the balancing elephant song or rowing boats and even become imaginary backs of dinosaurs.  The hollows in the trunks are dens for hiding in.  And then there’s the “forest” floor full of treasures like autumn leaves, seeds, worms and more.

And this nature playgroup creates opportunities for parents (and children) of all cultures, languages and faith to interact, make new friends and support each other in their vital task of parenting.

 

Neighbourhood Basil

Splice issued a challenge to all staff this Neighbours Day (2018) to connect with their neighbours and send in their stories and photos.

Basil meets the neighbours

Splice Sandy Ritchie rose to the challenge in way that truly reflects her title of Splice “Community Connector”:   

Sandy shares: “My basil crop this year was far beyond anything I (alone) could manage.   I really love pesto but there’s a limit to how much I want to make! I couldn’t see all that basil go to waste so what better way to meet the neighbours than to knock on their door with a supermarket bag full of basil! 

So off I went, armed with two large bags of fresh, organic basil (no doubt about this - note the occasional holey leaf) to meet the two targeted neighbours.

No offence to the neighbourhood, but Dedwood Terrace has never seemed a very ‘neighbourly’ street - everyone pretty much keeps to themselves.

So I was surprised and delighted when neighbour “No 1”, thrilled with my offerings, told me about her daughter’s love of pesto, and her ‘thermomix’ that can make pesto in minutes. She invited me to use it any time. I was even more delighted when she appeared at my door within half an hour with a jar of delicious home-made pesto!

Neighbour “No 2”, invited me in for wine and sent me home with a jar of home-made kasundi!  Who said Dedwood Terrace isn’t neighbourly!

Housing first gets creative with our neighbours

Elizabeth Elliot (special projects) got chatting to some Housing First tenants from Grey’s Ave flats in Merge café one morning.  “They were feeling a bit negative about moving into Greys Ave because of historic problems. We asked what could make it better to live there and one of the things they suggested was creating a welcoming mural,” says Liz.

Dreaming and scheming sessions in Merge Café, door knocking at Greys Ave apartments and flyers inviting tenants to a paint and pizza party on Friday 23 March had occurred.  So armed with loads of test pots and brushes thanks to the generosity of Resene, food, drink and more, Liz set off for Greys Ave.  She was joined by Chaplain at large Jill and her dog Dusty, Julia (Merge), Hono (Housing First/Merge).  And slowly, as the creation emerged, others were persuaded to add their bit of love and creativity to the mural. 

Beer and Boeries with the Neighbours

And Jill Kayser, Splice Chaplain at Large hosted a “beer and boeries” picnic with her husband Paul and Boxer dog Dusty with their new neighbours in Eden Terrace.

Splice Tuesdays update

2018 is off to a great start with

Splice Tuesdays at the Ellen Melville Centre

Neighbourhood is about people connecting. Seeing so many people getting together, enjoying friendship and sharing interests is a heart-warming start to the year.

Why not be part of it? Head over to www.splice.org.nz/splice-tuesdays for our latest brochure about the Splice Tuesdays Programme or drop by the Ellen Melville Centre to say hello anytime from 9.30 onward every Tuesday.

Walking Group

We’re still trying to get this one off the ground (or on the ground??)
If you’re interested in meeting people for a friendly walk, contact sandy@splice.org.nz to talk about suitable times.

Currently meeting outside the Ellen Melville Centre, 9.30am on Tuesdays.

Tea, Talk and Culture Share

Language, laughter, food and fun – sharing cultures is great for everyone. Non-English speakers get to practice English, and we all learn from each other. All ethnicities welcome and ‘Kiwi-ness’ is in demand, so come on Kiwi neighbours, join us! We promise you’ll enjoy and learn from the experience – and if you have any migrant neighbours, bring them along. This is what neighbourhood is all about! Contact sandy@splice.org.nz

10.30 Tuesdays in the lounge.

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Lunchtime talks

Bring your lunch and hear engaging speakers on fascinating topics – brain/computer interfacing systems, women’s empowerment, art …

In the lounge, every Tuesday at 12.30pm

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Creative Writing

Where writer’s block meets explosive inspiration. Join fellow writers and inspire each other.

In the lounge, Tuesdays 1.30pm

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After work yoga

This newly formed group proved very popular from its very first session.It’s a great way to finish the work day and go home feeling chilled out. Contact Yulia; namaste@yuliayoga.com    

Upstairs at the Ellen Melville Centre. 6pm Tuesdays

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Social Justice Hour

The opportunity to ‘chew the fat’ on a range of social justice issues.

First Tuesday of every month in the lounge 6pm.

City Centre Neighbourhood History

Discover the fascinating history around everything from street names to volcanoes, tunnels, fashion, buildings (and so much more) in our neighbourhood,.

Second Tuesday of every month in the lounge 6pm.

Tuesday Book Club

Our first meet-up saw a keen and committed group of readers get off to a great start, both socially and with focus on reading! Early feedback suggests that everyone is enjoying the first read - ‘The 10p.m. Question’ by NZ author Kate De Goldie. We’re looking forward to discussing it at February’s group and choosing our book for next month. Come join us!

Contact Sandy sandy@splice.org.nz

6pm in the lounge, third Tuesday of each month.

Splice Bottling Co-op

Bring a jar and join Splice’s master ‘bottler’ to make and take home pickles and jams, using the season’s plentiful produce.

Fourth Tuesday every month at 5.30pm

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Find something that interests you or come along with your own ideas and see if we can help you to make it happen!

 

Life is not a spectator sport

A SPLOG by Peter Matheson

In the  Spring of  1989  I was in   Halle, in  Communist  East  Germany,  for  a  history  conference. Although the natives were obviously restless   none of us there had a clue  that  the balloon was  about  to go up,  the  Berlin Wall to  disintegrate,  the  face  of  Eastern  Europe  to be  forever changed. Secret police control, army loyalty, party hegemony seemed unshakeable. One lives through life-changing  events but  is  seldom  aware of  them ahead of time.

Could  it  be  that  our  recent  elections signify a sea-change of similar magnitude,   that  they  are  much more than the usual  three year  political roundabout, more  than a  generational  shift?  Could it be that  the neo-liberal apple-cart  is  being upturned, and  that  the  common good  can  again figure  as  a political imperative?  Certainly the  sense of empowerment  during the election was  palpable,  the flow of energy  for  fundamental  and  redemptive  change.  A new  Prime Minister   actually spoke  about  kindness as a  prerequisite.  Capitalism’s need of serious revision apparently  made  the  case for  the  coalition  .

The  elections, of course, could have  gone  either way. We  won’t  forget  in a  hurry  the anxious wait  for Winston’s Delphic  utterances.  But  what  of the future?  Here in  Dunedin  Claire  Curran’s  sleep-out  in the  Octagon  had  already signalized  something new in the  air. When  we arrived  an  hour  and  a half  early for  Jacinda Ardern’s  Hunter Square  address we  barely  got  a seat.  The  atmosphere  was electric;  her brief talk electrifying. The same  at  the Univ  campus.  There is  a new  spirit in  the  air. David Clark amassed unheard of  support, a whole army of  enthusiastic  door-knockers.   For once cynicism and  resignation have been  at a  discount, grass-roots democracy vibrant, agency has been recovered.

There  had been, however,  as  much despair  around  as  hope. Professor  Jonathan Boston’s  critique  of political short-termism had long gone unheard.   Not  least in  respect  to the  environment. Teachers, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists  were often exhausted and short-staffed, weary of being fobbed off  with empty promises about social investment.   The  cheapening  of  social  discourse  seemed unstoppable as ‘alternative  truths’  piled up in the election campaign. Metiria  Turei,  a  figure of integrity  if ever there was one,  was  stopped in her  tracks  by a mixture of  selective moralization and media  assassination. This  was not  only a calamity for  the  Greens.  It  highlighted the  extent  to which we have become  two nations, the  prosperous  one blandly unaware  of  the  pressures on the other. Behind  all this lurked  the  convenient  myth of  the market, which would  eventually regulate  everything.

This  despair, however, has  become the  tinder for the  activism.  We are beginning to realise  that we  are living  through apocalyptic  times, nowhere  seen more  clearly than in  the  renewed spectre of nuclear war, the  self-mirroring lunacies of  Isis and  Trump. A succession of  weather calamities  is  at  last awakening  people  to the  “lethal realities” of climate  change, though,  as the London performance poet, Kate Tempest puts  it, “It’s  safer just  to see what we can bear”? 

“Business as  usual” is  a  mantra which no longer convinces. We know we have  to change. The  first  hundred  days of  the  new government  have begun with some élan, and  the silly obstructionism by the  National opposition which is already in evidence will  not go down  well.  Yet  the  challenges  ahead are formidable.  If, indeed, we  are on the cusp  of  a  more humane era the  resistance of  those  who  have profited  from  the previous dispensation  can be imagined. We cannot  leave it  all to the new  government.  We  will all have to put our shoulders  to  the  wheel. Life is  not a spectator  sport.

Chinese Dumplings - a recipe for connection

-        Take a group of patrons at Merge Cafe.

-        Add a small group of senior Chinese women (who don’t speak English) and a large dollop of goodwill.

-        Chop, knead and shape together to produce perfect dumpling dough, laughter and friendship.   

-        When preparation is complete, cook and enjoy food together.

-        Exchange beautiful cultural songs to show appreciation, goodwill and friendship.

This was the recipe that connected unlikely neighbours from Merge Café and the Chinese community when a group of senior Chinese Splicers taught homeless /recently housed patrons at Merge Café how to make traditional Chinese dumplings. The result was delicious food along with newly blended trust and understanding.

Courage is required every time a senior migrant steps out into our community, even when the community is reasonably familiar. Stepping out to teach (in a foreign language) a section of the community that is totally unfamiliar, requires even more courage.

This message from a member of the Chinese group says it all; ‘Made the two cultures together. We were all happy this afternoon.’

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KINDNESS - the power to transform communities

Kindness, the incredibly positive value we all understand and have experience of, was once again ramped up on the streets of the city centre neighbourhood for Random Acts of Kindness Day 2017.

Combine, two teams armed with 5000 “Little Pots of Kindness" filled with the sweetest of bush honey and “kindness cards” encouraging both the consideration of kindness and a call to action, with 19 neighbourhood "Cafes of Kindness" handing out free coffees and you have a sweeping wave of kindness through the city centre neighbourhood.

Along with all the surprise, the hugs, smiles and appreciation, what better way to describe what happened than some of examples of the impact a small act of kindness can have on each other in a community:

“This is wonderful – it’s just made our day even better” - An older couple going for a wedding anniversary lunch

One lady came up to me after “S” gave her a pot of honey and she started crying – she said that she needed this today, she’s been going through a lot of hardship lately.  

“This is amazing. I’ll go in to work with a big smile on my face today” 

Walking up Queen Street to work this morning feeling a bit jaded after a broken night's sleep and with a sore throat, the offer of a small jar of honey was so unexpected and gratefully received. A few spoonfuls throughout the day made all the difference. Thank you Splice 😊😊 

“Received this (photo of a honey pot) on the way to work. It touches me to see this is happening.” 

“After receiving your free pot of honey I was generally pleased as I arrived at work. I am a debt collector and I have the autonomy to make people's lives much harder or much easier, depending on the level of commitment they make to resolving their situation.  A person called me this morning to settle a significant debt they had really battled to raise money for. They had mentioned they had not been overseas for many years due to their debts and that this was their last debt. Let's just say they have some extra cash in their pocket now, can take that overseas trip and will not be worrying about that debt ever again. Let’s put it all down to a small pot of honey.” 

You can read the full list of feedback here

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

A special Splice thank you must go to the following people and organisations, who make the spreading of kindness possible: 

Kindness Splicers – the residents, students, workers and others, who generously were able to find the time to put normal life aside for a morning and pluck up the courage to hit the streets to give kindness to others on a Friday morning.

Hikutaia Honey – Barbara and Allan for their honey and the warmth of their hospitality, as the team knuckled down to manually fill the “Little Pots of Kindness” that create the magic that touches the hearts of those who receive them.

Methodist Mission Northern and Aotea St James without whom the work of Splice in connecting the threads of community would not be possible.

Activate Auckland Council – for their contribution to the funding of the action and understanding, that a city that invites kindness, is a place we all want to live, work, study and play in.

Cospak and Mainfreight – Cospak who gave us a great deal on the jars and lids and Mainfreight who readily came to the party in delivering them from Auckland to Opotiki.  Kindness from business in support of community engagement and enhancement is always welcome from an NGO who can’t always stretch to cover all avenues.

Active Building Management and Network Media – communication within the city centre can be tricky without a swanky marketing budget.  Our thanks to these two and others for getting the message into a good number apartments and in front of people on the Red Bus that circulates the neighbourhood.

Kindness Cafes - it is heartening to engage with so many neighbourhood cafes, who see themselves as active participants in their community and leapt at the chance to be part of the day.

Finally to Everyone who engaged in Random Acts of Kindness, acts big and small, on this day and beyond – keep up the good work and - practice makes perfect.

Active Citizens - Coming Soon to Auckland

Earlier in the year, the Splice team had a couple of meetings about how we could continue to raise up the people in our community. Gareth had heard about a program called Active Citizens, and set to work to see if it could be the toolkit we needed.

Active Citizens is a social leadership program developed by British Council UK. It promotes intercultural dialogue and sustainable development. Active Citizens has been incredibly successful in over 46 countries launching almost 8000 social action projects and creating over 210,000 global citizens. 

So after a taster workshop in April, John (our Chaplain at Large) told me and five other Splicers that we were going to Fiji to see how we could bring Active Citizens back home. I was ecstatic.

Then John told me we were sleeping eight to a room, with cold showers and no internet! I was slightly less ecstatic. Nevertheless, 2 months later I stepped onto a plane at 2am, armed with a lot of Vodafone roaming data, dry shampoo and ear plugs.

 SIDENOTE: We actually forgot to take a Splice team photo together. This is the superwoman half the team. Barbara Manarangi, Tara Solomon, Serena Solomon, Maddy O’Dwyer.

SIDENOTE: We actually forgot to take a Splice team photo together. This is the superwoman half the team. Barbara Manarangi, Tara Solomon, Serena Solomon, Maddy O’Dwyer.

Over the week in Fiji, the Active Citizens course was very engaging, exploring concepts through movement, games and open conferencing. The master-facilitators (Professional World-Changers in my opinion) delivered the content in a way that encouraged us to unpack concepts instead of reducing them down into academic one-liners.

 Our Amazing Facilitators: Charo, Karen, Michael, Apolonia.

Our Amazing Facilitators: Charo, Karen, Michael, Apolonia.

I realised how easy the course made it to be open minded, to listen to hear instead of listening to reply - we weren’t looking for one right answer, so we didn't have to agree or disagree on anything. I discovered a really beautiful space in conversation where the ideas got bigger and bigger while the barriers disappeared. 

When we practiced facilitating, I found myself enjoying creating conversations between others even though I am naturally quite outspoken, and once would have been quite happy to tell everyone how I was saw things.

My biggest revelation was learning something I thought I already knew how to do. I learnt the difference between being tolerant of someone different to you, and being authentic with someone different to you. I realised that even when we hold different beliefs around life, God, LGBT+ communities and all those other things that can seem so important, our inter-connectedness is always precious and always worth investing in.

 Ravuni, Frank, Ana, Sai and Sevu

Ravuni, Frank, Ana, Sai and Sevu

On Wednesday, we went to Cautata village to visit a group of woman selling crafts to build infrastructure in their little community. We sat in a beautiful bright blue hall they had raised the money for and there was a formal Kava Ceremony. When I talked to the village woman they told me how they loved village life but also how small it was. One woman told me of how she sold mats for over a year to buy a boat for her husband to start a little fishing business. The village was so hospitable providing an array of afternoon treats and Tara sought out fresh coconuts, we watched a young man wield a machete expertly to open them. One of the ladies offered me a puppy with big green eyes for just $50 FJD, I had to work very, very hard to say no. Then the Fijians began to sing songs of the different provinces, and we danced.

 The sign outside the Caucata Woman's Kitchen & Hall

The sign outside the Caucata Woman's Kitchen & Hall

The night before we left was Cultural Night and I have to describe the quality of dancing for you (not something I could personally contribute to). David from Columbia had snake hips and could get almost anyone on their feet & on beat (again, not me); ALL the Fijian’s moved like water; Peruvian Charo made it look effortless, and Ingrid belonged in a ballroom. But the biggest stars of course were Tara and Serena with ‘if you’re an Active Citizen and you know it, clap your hands.’

I tried to convince the kiwi's to do a rendition of Fred Dag's 'if it weren't for my gumboots, where would I be?' or Split Endz - 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat' to no avail. Wayne sung Hallelujah and we all melted into the night (the Kava might have helped).

 Iavil,  Gareth , David,  Frank , Sai &  Wayne  performing on Cultural night. This is the only photo with all the  Splice boys  in it!

Iavil, Gareth, David, Frank, Sai & Wayne performing on Cultural night. This is the only photo with all the Splice boys in it!

Having done the course now, I think I could expand on the official description of Active Citizens. It’s about giving anyone and everyone the skills to participate meaningfully in their communities, to splice together different kinds and take charge of making a difference.

The Splice team haven’t hashed out the details of our plans for Active Citizens yet but very soon we will begin making the course available to the city centre communities, and then… well, those plans are still top secret. (My personal goal is to create an army of community superheroes!)

 The AC team and the Caucata Villagers: Superheroes united!

The AC team and the Caucata Villagers: Superheroes united!

At one point we learnt about a southern African bantu word – Ubuntu. It describes identity in terms of an individual’s relationship with others and is sometimes explained as:

“I am because you are, because we are.’

That’s what I’ll be remembering while I continue to practice my new Active Citizens skills.

That and my one run-in with a fruit bat.

Click the right side to scroll through photos.

 

Thanks to Splice, Waitemata Local Board and all our Splicer's for this wonderful opportunity!
Maddy

 

If you’d like more information about the Active Citizens program, visit https://www.britishcouncil.org/active-citizens or email maddy@splice.org.nz .

 

 

Sharing Food and Telling Stories

Throughout history story sharing has been a process whereby connections were made and trust was built both between individuals and within communities. Exchanges often took place while trading with a pedlar, participating in shared work or while preparing or sharing food.

Today, story sharing continues to provide a means to ‘know’ others, to recognise ourselves in them, and to understand our differences through sharing experiences; but in this fast-paced world, how often do we take the time to share our stories and really listen to others?

In order to do our work of connecting and building community in our city centre, Splice needs to hear people’s experiences of living in the city centre.

In any community, it’s impossible to ‘assume’ what people want or need.  Add in the huge diversity of cultures and languages in Auckland city centre, and it’s even more complex.

Splice recently gathered together a group of Auckland city centre Chinese residents, many with little or no English, to enjoy shared food and tell their stories about arriving and living in New Zealand. With the help of a wonderful group of volunteer interpreters information was recorded and will be used to plan,  with members of the Chinese community, what ‘we’ and ‘they’ can do together to make the city centre a neighbourhood where they feel at home.

Story sharing can, without a doubt,  capture people’s hopes, dreams, and vision and provide the collective power to turn ‘ME’ into ‘WE’ in terms of building community.

The Enjoyable Business of Splicing with Business

The Auckland city centre neighbourhood is a resource rich environment, abundant with the skills and willingness of a raft of locals, e.g. the Auckland University students with whom Splice collaborate around public spaces every year, the bi-lingual residents who help us cross the language barrier in the absence of the team’s ability with Mandarin…the list goes on.

It is also the businesses of the neighbourhood, both local and further afield, who are willing to pitch in and play their part in building a community of courage and compassion. 

Splice’s contribution to fundraising for the Lifewise Big Sleepout 2017, was an approach to local restaurants asking “Can You Spare a Meal” to be auctioned over Trade Me.  A “splicing” and all-of-community approach, where the generosity and willingness of the business community and the compassionate desire (and tastebuds) of the general community, were brought together in order to raise funds to effect change in the lives of another sector of the community, our neighbours without homes.

On 1 September Splice will be going back to the street for Random Acts of Kindness Day – raising the profile of kindness, as a key element to building positive communities we value and love. The project has the support of Hikutaia Honey, a hefty discount on 5000 jars and lids (Cospak Ltd) and an offer to transport the empty jars in Auckland, to meet the honey in Opotiki (Mainfreight).  Businesses one and all, who have a genuine willingness to widen their perspective beyond their own bottom lines, to support the prospect of something bigger and in this particular instance kinder, for everyone.

So a special thank you from Splice, to all of the businesses who splice with us and in particular for those who supported the “Can You Spare a Meal” campaign and for those in support in the build up to Random Acts of Kindness Day. 

Here they are: 

"Can You Spare a Meal" - The Caker, Madame George, The Lantern Alley, Saigon, Citizen Q, Carmen Jones, Gemmayze Street, The Hipgroup, Marvell Grill, Café Hanoi, Monsoon Poon, Heart of the City, Britomart Group, Trade Me.

Random Acts of Kindness Day - Hikutaia Honey, Cospak, Mainfreight, Active Building Management.

“Individually we are one drop but together we are an ocean” - Ryunosuke Satoro

Neighbours, Feijoa ZeppElin & Heritage Conveniences doth a small green fruit festival make

As the month of May drew to a close Splice in partnership with the Guild of the Feijoa (est. 2015) climbed the spiral staircase to TABAC for the annual festival of celebration of the tasty green fruit and community connection – “A Most Unanticipated Feijoa Festival”.

Come one, come all of the neighbourhood and they did – residents, workers, reps from: CCRG (resident’s group), Downtown Dogs, Chessmates, the Waitemata Local Board, splicing students from Auckland Uni, Tai Chi’ers, the Civic Trust, ACPC etc – new apartment neighbours lured in as they happened to pass by (and then stayed the whole night) even visitors from the Caribbean.

Understanding local history is often a cornerstone to building a collective sense of belonging to a place.  So it was with this year’s festival speaker Hannah Alleyne and her aptly named presentation “A wee story about Auckland city’s heritage toilets”, the type of social history too often hidden away in the water closet.  As an early example of inequitous user-pays (and as designated by male burghers of the city council) while Women’s “restrooms” once required the spending of a penny, Men’s “toilets” operated free of charge.

With The Guild of the Feijoa, Celebratory Jug once again up for grabs, local judge Chris van Ryn of Freestyle Photography www.freestylephotography.co.nz – a man who knows more than a thing or two about photographic composition, had the tricky task of adjudicating the winners of this year’s competition “The Neighbourhood Feijoa - a photographic study of small green fruit in their neighbourhood". 

From the individual shots, to the plethora of photos from local groups, winners were sought - including the supreme winner, local resident Julie’s stunning montage of feijoa zeppelin.  Absolutely no photoshop involved in this creation, though there were apparently some questions being asked around Devonport about a hybrid-pohutukawa bearing green fruit.

Good fun, plenty of conversation and connection - great neighbourhood.

The Language of Shared Food and Culture

Ni Hao – a Kiwi Christmas Dinner!

Language need not be a barrier to sitting down and eating together and so it was just prior to Christmas last year at the Auckland Chinese Presbyterian Church Hall in Vincent St, when Chinese from local apartments were invited to come “splice” over a traditional Kiwi Christmas dinner.

The evening festivities had it all - Santa in traditional red suit with presents, a surprise visit by the Auckland Street Choir, turkeys, gravy and a liberal distribution of pavlova.

With the invaluable help of some bi-lingual splicers, traversing the language divide was a lot of fun, as connections and understanding revealed themselves across the evening.

The city centre neighbourhood is incredibly culturally diverse.  By the official numbers Chinese make up a significant proportion of the residential community.  There is now a local Chinese WeChat group – WeChat being a well-used social media platform by Chinese.  Go to “AKL City Centre Neighborhood” if you can read Chinese and want to meet new neighbours and stay informed.

Regardless of your cultural heritage, if you are someone who believes that being welcoming and building connections between people is both interesting and important then feel free to get in touch or keep an eye on the Splice Facebook page.

In the forthcoming Year of the Rooster - 2017, Splice will be looking to facilitate further opportunities and you’re welcome to join in the fun.

Xie xie.

 

 

Heartful Art

As a celebration and culmination of the Jean Marc Calvet Tour of 2017, Aucklanders got the chance to leave a mark of hope on the city centre. Splice teamed up with Auckland Libraries, the Fringe Festival and Resene to arm the public with paint, brushes and an empty wall outside the Central Library.

As with the rest of the tour, the theme was suicide prevention and artful healing. The wall was filled with messages of hope and declarations of love (in many different languages), self-portraits, a mural of our Chaplain at Large, and a beautiful Jean Marc Calvet mural in the centre of it all.

The event was a great example of community, compassion and courage. Those who claimed they couldn’t paint spent hours engulfed in the art-scape, kids painted with strangers, and streeties alongside professionals in nice dresses or suits and ties. The community artwork will remain up until the street art is painted over or fades, a nod to the transience of the city.

 

Thanks to Wayne Hapi for performing, and Resene for the paint sponsorship.

Just old enough to remember ‘Scotch ‘n Soda’!

I dislike brands so much that I will cut off labels, or ‘black ink out’ logos on my shoes and so on.  Forest Gump told me that I should never advertise someone else’s product, only my own.  He is right of course!

But there is a brand that I like, not because it does anything for me other than prompt a memory.

‘Scotch and Soda’ is a clothing brand that I have purchased twice.  The first time in an op shop on Karangahape Road, $40.00 for a ‘Scotch and Soda’ shirt.  The second time, another shirt, but this time in the department store that I only ever ‘browse’ in, Smith and Caughey.  On the last day of their last sale I saw a ‘Scotch and Soda’ shirt on their going going gone rack, $25.00!

 

I was just old enough to remember, maybe kindergarten days.  It was time for Santa Claus to begin appearing at events and in malls. My father was a ‘Service Manager’ at the time at a garage selling Vauxhalls and Chevrolets.  Clive was the name of the boss.  He seemed a very kindly man, very quiet, smoked something very smelly, and drove cars with names I couldn’t say, like Wyvern and Corvette.

I was just old enough to remember this time when Clive invited all his staff to his place. It was early evening I think, and we were all squeezed into the front room of his house.  I remember this being a big house in town, but when I see it now it was a very small modest stucco bungalow.

I now suspect the huge crowd that I think I remember gathered, was not so large after all, but I do remember being squeezed in, and the same smell of the cigar that Clive smoked. Clive stood by the fireplace and he had a glass in his hand.  I think he often did.  And then it started to happen! Clive started asking everyone around the room what they wanted to drink. ‘Scotch and Soda’ was the drink that somehow implanted itself in my mind, and so when Clive asked me what I would like to drink, of course I said ‘Scotch and Soda’!

The huge room of mainly men bursting forth with laughter.  I was terrified but tried not to show it.  For the next twenty something years I’m sure those manly men smiled at me remembering my ‘Scotch and Soda’ request, and certainly Clive considered me his friend.

 

Thirty something years of theological immersion though, has bought me back to ‘Scotch and Soda’.  Back then I was invited to this house of mainly men but my mother was there too.  Friendly people who didn’t all know each other well or at all, but we were all invited.  I was probably the youngest but I was welcome, and I remember standing in the middle of this room, in front of Clive.  And Clive was generous, asking people what they would like, and he was including everyone in his hospitality.  And when it came to my turn to say what I wanted, I felt the freedom to tell him amongst a crowd that instantly responded.  It was my introduction to a world that was for me and not against me.  As shy as I was growing up, that moment when I wasn’t shy sticks in my experience as a moment of freedom, hope, love, care, company, a feeling that has had a longevity beyond anything else I can remember at such a young age.

I think this season is about that kind of experience infiltrating our lives in such a way that we want those moments for those around us in our families, our work places, but also in the communities that we stand with as journey-women and men. 

‘Scotch and Soda’, Slangivar!

-John

Arms not Arms in this Neighbourhood

It disturbed my father that the Royal Navy maintained its nuclear fleet in Scotland and not in London, on the Thames. And so when the French insisted on destroying a tropical island in the south Pacific Ocean he was equally as disturbed.  A recent work colleague recalls being present at the Greenham Common Peace Camp, where young women from around the world gathered to express their peacenik concerns.

Soon after moving to Auckland and the birthing of Splice, I met two young artists who had crafted a Celtic/Pacifica version of the peace symbol that appeared as a sign of dispeace in the west against the proliferation of nuclear weaponry and nuclear power as was happening.

I was a teenager when I first carved my first peace symbol on a gate post.  The basis of the symbol are the two semaphore signals, ‘n’ and ‘d’. Nuclear Disarmament was the cry of those generations post World War II in particular.

As I started wondering the streets of Auckland, many suggested that I need to find some way that people could identify me. The immediate suggestion was a ‘cross’, but then I wasn’t pronouncing one religious persuasion over any other. Or perhaps a uniform, but that symbolises a regimentation that was not symbolic of diversity or community and yes, a bright red hat might work, but then the symbol that my, and subsequent generations considered ‘life saving’, seem very appropriate to my task of leading a values based movement for community connection.  

And now I am disturbed that there are younger generations of Splice movement people who have no idea of the journey that was New Zealand’s, in becoming a symbol of nuclear free possibilities in the face of world powers.  I have met many young people in recent weeks who haven’t considered the abhorrence I feel in the arms sales conference about to be held on Auckland’s water front.  This is a political coupe, an insidious slipping under the radar by our leaders who want our nuclear free status to become a fiction.

Over the next weeks Splice hopes that we take the opportunity to understand the ‘in your face’ action of local and international leaders in politics and business, in securing this event on Auckland’s harbour edge, 1 km away from the sight of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior when she was about to sail for peace.  

John MacDonald.

Splicing Our Way into 2017

 

Looking into the year ahead - plans of great intent are formulating.

On the splice agenda is increased engagement with the ever-growing Chinese community that lives in the city centre. Often these neighbours are recent migrants for whom the city centre is an environment in which newness, another language and finding a sense of belonging (versus isolation) are challenges to be negotiated. Current thinking revolves around themes of – welcome, inclusion, cross culture, the notion that many of us have a story of migration to these shores to share, defined to varying degrees by length of time or generations. Read more. 
 
The annual City Centre Neighbours Day event for 2017 will occur on Sunday 26 March. For a residential neighbourhood of 40,000 + often struggling for a sense of identity in what was formerly just a business district, this event is a key promotion of connections between apartment dwellers that quietly grows each year.
 
Local Body Elections present Splice with an opportunity to engage with the Waitemata Local Board in the establishment of priorities for their plan for the next three years.  Here is the link to the current board plan:  http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/representativesbodies/LocalBoards/Waitematalocalboard/Documents/waitematalbp2014.pdf
 

The Splice team are putting our heads together next month in preparation but we would very much welcome input from the Splice community.  If you have ideas and suggestions of where the local board could or indeed should place their focus in the ongoing improvement of the neighbourhood of the city centre, send these through to mik@splice.org.nz 

Kindness is contagious - pass it on

With the arrival of Spring and the annual 1 September Random Acts of Kindness Day Splicers took to the streets to challenge people of the city centre neighbourhood to act with kindness. 

Small pots of Opotiki’s finest honey and a “kindness card” encouraging active participation were handed out on the street, while 10 local cafes also got in on the act surprising their patrons with a free morning caffeine fix.

Why Kindness?  Consider for a moment the nature of a community where kindness is the norm, where compassion is valued and sharing and fun become commonplace?

Splice’s own thanks goes out to the for the kindness received particularly from Hikutaia Honey, Auckland Design Office, K’Rd Business Association and as always the Splicers who were able to be on the street engaging with community.

This piece of feedback received via social media perhaps best sums up in its heartfelt simplicity, the rationale behind the action:
                   “Thank you, someone showed me kindness today”

Read more here!