So You Have Marched? Now What? UPDATE: Urbanism in Play

How will you improve your community today?


So you have attended a march over the weekend, Tweeted some reckons, post a selfie and a spiel on Facebook and converse over a caffeinated beverage over the state of the globe. The question is though:

How are you going to make your neighbourhood – or your whole city (or even your nation) – better this year?


Source: Sunday reading 22 January 2017


Why have I asked that question at a time like this?


Because the Far Right (and equally the Far Left) are able to assume power when there is break down (or more often) the perception of the break down of social liberal institutions that our democracy and communities enjoy and have enjoyed since the end of the Second World War. We have seen this perception of the breakdown with Brexit when people thought the European Union was the source of all ills to the United Kingdom (was actually more social policy on the domestic front). We also have just seen the perception of the breakdown with the election of Trump who came on the back of rural White America thinking they were disadvantaged (where as they will be actually disadvantaged when Obamacare that they so rely on is repealed). Back here in New Zealand we have those who would try to spin the deception that there is a break down of our institutions at both Local and Central level.

Whether it be a particular Party spinning the xenophobic lines with elections coming up this year, or a certain “Ratepayers” group saying our local institutions are all evil we are not immune from their sinister propaganda. Fortunately though at local level for Auckland the progressive side of Council increased their majority under Goff and could very well do so again if English remains Prime Minister and two of our Councillors go to Parliament (triggering a by-election). At central level it is yet to be seen how that goes but at the moment I am predicting a swing to English on stability grounds given the issues overseas.



What can you do in staving off the fringe?

Okay first of all an acknowledge and a check.

In writing this I acknowledge and check my White, male and heterosexual privilege that forms the dominate system in our social liberal democracies.  In saying that if I want things better for all peoples and I mean all peoples I also need to do my part in breaking down barriers to those who are in a position of lesser advantage that I enjoy. This breaking down to form both equality and equity amongst the people can take varying forms depending on the given environment and what actions are warranted. What I must not do is throw up new barriers to protect that privilege I enjoy, if I do please point it out. 


So I ask the question again:

How are you going to make your neighbourhood – or your whole city (or even your nation) – better this year?



Because if we can not get the neighbourhood stuff right then how are we meant to get the city, nation and world stuff right. As it is said, charity starts at home.

Remember we are trying to preserve the social liberal democratic institutions from the sinister Far Right that feed on fear and perceptions of that fear. Strong neighbourhoods and communities feed into strong cities, regions (including rural), nations and eventually the world. These strong communities are like a strong body that is able to fight off a virus, that virus being the Far Right.


UPDATE: Urbanism in play


It becomes that simple. No really it does. Invest in protected cycle ways, transit and freight rail modes and your death tolls trend down. Invest in large wide roads (and solely those roads) and you wonder why our road toll has been trending up again.

Applying urban thinking works outside of the main centres as well. Whether a small or medium-sized town is connected up by inter city passenger rail, freight rail or some protected cycle-ways either leading into and out of the town or even through the town they will be boons to locals and visitors alike (given Kiwis love to travel around). Speaking of rail and cycle connections between and within our large and smaller centres applying urban thinking also has one other benefit as well to those same centres. EMPLOYMENT.


The Age of the City: where we plan and invest not only for our big cities but also for our provinces as well. As one should not compete against the other but rather complement each other. Just as thinking and planning has evolved on from the provincial Manukau City Centre competing against the urban City Centre to now an urban Manukau City Centre complementing the very urban City Centre (am I implying small towns in the rural Waikato could urbanise? 😉 ).


Source: 2017 Marks the Start of The Age of the City

Invest in urbanism whether it be at local, regional, national or international level and both the City and the provinces thrive in a state of cohesion and prosperity. That same cohesion that staves off the divisive Far Right. So ask yourself is connectivity and cohesion being promoted via planning or the exact opposite.


Back to how I answered that question:

How am I going to make my neighbourhood better:
I am part of the Papakura Neighbourhood Support group. This year will be a busy year for us as we sign on more streets and coordinate resources not only in crime prevention but also community building bit by bit. An engaged local community is a more proactive community for things like upgrading the Papakura Metropolitan Centre or upcoming Rates debate. A proactive community is a strong and united community that is able to look after one another and stave off social ills that can lurk.

Transform Manukau hits its next phase with the Framework Plan due to the Planning Committee in March. Already though some 2,000 homes of mixed types is in the works with more on the way.
More here: that also can apply to a Metropolitan Centre.
Manukau is the heart and soul of Southern Auckland and is framed to be the Meeting Place of the South as Transform Manukau through Panuku Development Auckland progresses. The logic being run here is that if the South’s heart is beating strongly and well there will be wider positive consequences for the people of the South as socio-economic fortunes are lifted. As those fortunes are lifted the social ills of crime, fear and even hate are kept at bay. Simply put we are a more united and cohesive community rather than fractured and divided.

I think the big one for me is the upcoming Annual Plan debate from next month. We have three Rate rise options to choose from:
2% (from the Ratepayers Onion)
2.5% (what Goff is campaigning on)
3.5% (what Clow got put in there and is consistent with the Long Term Plan)

Now each option has consequences (the 2% earned the ire of the PM) so we need to have a good sit down and work this out. For me I am inclined to go the full 3.5% to keep the investment pipeline going.

You are probably asking how Rates factors in here? At an Auckland level Rates is often a campaign plank used by people of all stripes to bring points across. For those of the harder right like those of the Ratepayers Alliance (Onion) Rates are seen as an all evil and those who propose a higher Rate rise count (usually to spur investment along) are equally as evil and must be replaced. We saw this with a very divisive campaign by certain quarters championed on by a certain Waiheke Island blogger that thankfully only two were ever elected to the Governing Body of the Council (out of 21).

However, like the harder and Far Right the two seem to be stuck in perpetual campaign mode rather than civil leadership mode as the other Councillors have engaged in. The tripe in the Herald over the weekend from one about how Tauranga is doing better than Auckland (an article came out the same day debunking that one) was one example of perpetual campaigning while the other was campaigning in another Ward that was not their own (called pissing in someone else’s patch).

This perpetual campaign was last seen during the Unitary Plan that had the haves against the have not’s effectively fracturing Auckland in a very divisive debate about the City’s future. While the Unitary Plan would pass 17-3 the perpetual debate will find something else to latch onto such as Race Relations.


The point being Auckland is only as strong as its local communities and neighbourhoods. If they fracture then the Far Right is able to seep in and promote their divisive policies we are seeing at an international level.


So: How are you going to make your neighbourhood – or your whole city (or even your nation) – better this year?


It does not need to be grand scale but every little bit helps especially if we want to leave a brighter future for our children. Not one of hate and fear.


Kids riding free on their bikes
Kids riding free on their bikes