Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Speaking for the city

My last letter to the Capital Times seems to have got under the skin of Waterfront Watch, as both Jack Ruben and Pauline Swann have written back with a mixture of bluster and smugness. I'm annoyed with myself for trimming a quote from Ruben's previous letter in order to fit into 200 words, as it's allowed him to accuse me of misquoting him and then dismiss the rest of my letter as "irrelevant".

My reference to Karori and Wadestown seems to have riled both of them, but it wasn't an arbitrary ad hominem attack. It seems relevant to me that none of the self-styled "defenders" of the waterfront live within walking distance of it, and that the qualities of the (mostly affluent) suburbs where they choose to live (quiet, with open space and low-rise buildngs) are not conducive to a dense and lively inner city. But Swann actually seems to think that inner city people should thank the suburban letter writers for deciding what we should want!
I trust Tom Beard and friends take the opportunity to use their "urban energy" to visit Otari/Wilton Bush or Karori Sanctuary as a break from their caffeine fixes and he may not be so critical of those of us who live in Wadestown or Karori who want to provide a recreation opportunity for the inner city dwellers.
Well, I'm just off to take a break from my caffeine fixes to get a roti chenai fix instead. But before that, I've fired off a reply. It's hard to reply to two people at once in a fixed number of words, so it probably doesn't flow very well, but here it is:
How sweet of Pauline Swann to "want to provide a recreation opportunity for the inner city dwellers", but we are quite capable of speaking for ourselves. I didn't choose the city in order to sit on a lawn, any more than Swann chose Wadestown for its hot nightlife. But if you claim to enjoy the city life, why not allow some on the waterfront? There will still be plenty of "peace and quiet", but by improving on the current tiny handful of bars and restaurants, we'll finally have a waterfront that doesn’t die after dark.

Apologies to Cr Ruben for attempting brevity: he wants not just benches, but benches with some railings and sculptures. Big difference. It doesn't negate my arguments about shelter and activity: they are relevant, so address them.

An artists' market? Great! How about under the Queens Wharf sails where there's shelter and complementary activities? Sculptures? Fantastic! But why not throughout the city rather than stuck on a desolate wharf?

It's a bit rich to read a Waterfront Watcher accuse others of "bleating from the sidelines". Run for council? No thanks: I'd rather retain my sanity and remain an independent voice for an urban waterfront.
There are another couple of letters in the DomPost this morning, and I'll get around to replying to those too. If you agree with my stance, please write in as well: editorial@captimes.co.nz and letters@dompost.co.nz. People only tend to write in when they're objecting to something, but surely it's not just meddling fools like me who bother to speak up in support? At the very least, add a comment to this post and let me know how you feel.


At 6:40 pm, October 28, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom you are so right. Do keep up the good work! Unfortunately it is so hard to motivate the silent majority to make their views known, and it is so easy for the vociferous grand-standers to be published! Trouble is, most people have a real job! Personally I think we are grossly over-consulted and sick to death of the cfoonstant calls for submissions on every topic under the sun.


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