On Saturday 13th February, 2016, Christchurch Youth Council ran a retreat day for our members at Halswell Quarry Park. Our team had to build up a CYC ‘camp’ for the day, including getting a marquee set up (some people were learning this for the first time!), arranging food and prepping for the activities we had planned.
Kotte, from Yoga By Kotte arrived at 10am to teach our team yoga relaxation and meditation techniques for an hour, and it was clear by the smiles on everyone’s faces that they enjoyed this part of the day immensely! A favourite memory was Kotte encouraging everyone to relax their backs by being carried around like a backpack by someone else. This part of the day encouraged team spirit, oneness and broke down any awkwardness - and also flushed out the sleep!
Next, Rochelle Faimalo from Hurunui District Council came to facilitate a session based around ‘Using your Strengths in the Christchurch Context’. For the first hour, we worked through activities which allowed us to unpack the experience of being young people in the earthquakes. It was really refreshing to see members who don’t ordinarily speak up having a say and the group processed their feelings together, which lent a real air of support to proceedings.
Rochelle moved us from this activity to an analysis of our individual strengths as found through using Strengths Finder. The group got a lot out of talking about what their strengths might mean and how they might be useful to their lives and to our work with CYC. We then looked at how different people’s strengths intertwined - some potentially productive connections we made in this part of the day and we went into this topic in a great deal of depth and continued this work through lunch, which was delicious and involved a Youth Council favourite: pizza!
Finally Rochelle moved to a physical activity where she used continuums to allow CYC to see where we fit amongst our peers on a number of topics and scenarios. This was illuminating as it allowed us to understand why our members think the way they do.
After a short break, Emma Trott, of Flamme Rouge Personal Fitness, arrived to take us to the end of our day with some running around and team games to encourage a bit of bonding and friendly competition. It was very hot by this point in the late afternoon, so some members had to tap out from the physical activity but it was good to finish on a high.
We really enjoyed the day. It was something we had all been looking forward to and by involving Strengths Finder to unlock ways to deal with the Christchurch context they all live in, we have been left with a lasting tool and set of strategies which will help us professionally and personally.
The team spirit that grew through the day meant that new members felt welcome and the longer-serving members had a chance to really play great hosts to them. Being in the quarry was a great decision (had we hosted our event one day later, we would have been very scared thanks to the aftershock!), and we were undisturbed for the whole time we were there.
We used the lack of venue costs to put more into the important thing - making change for our young people at CYC. In a strange way, talking about the earthquakes, processing how to deal with them and only focussing on strengths might well have meant that our team were in a stronger frame of mind to deal with the next day’s aftershock. It is, however, a reminder that we’re not out of the woods yet, and that grants for retreats like this are absolutely necessary to allow teams like ours to unload, process and repack their thoughts about this unique time we are living in. We are very grateful to CEAT and CYS for approving our grant.
TEDxYouth@AvonRiver was everything. Somehow CYC managed to go from taking a Passion Project with some potential to hosting the first TEDxYouth event on the South Island! We didn't get there alone, with many many people helping us along the way. This is the first time we've done anything like this. WESPEAK has been in many ways our conference-style practice ground for such a big leap as the world of TED. We certainly have never had a 6 camera outside broadcast, livestreamed over the internet...crazy!
With many rules and regulations that come with working with a major global brand, we navigated a choppy course through 2015 to make it happen in the very nick of time. This was a huge undertaking for our small organisation and every part of our 3x3m office space was utilised to hold goodie bag stuff, t-shirts, equipment, catering stuff, furniture, props and it became an exciting hub for all the young people on the team. Working in such an energising way, all together, is THE dream of an organisation like ours and really fulfils what CYC is all about.
This is young people, an employee and a hell of a lot of passion. There's not much that can't be achieved when you don't see the ceiling, you just see the stars.
We would like to thank everyone on our organising team for helping out with TEDxYouth@AvonRiver. The volunteers, the young technical crew, the MCs, speakers and performers....and the audience - you all made this awesome! To our sponsors Christchurch City Council, Wayne Francis Charitable Trust and McAra, we are forever grateful for your support - it couldn't have happened without it.
Let's do this again! We've applied for a licence renewal so we'll keep you posted!
Here are the finished TED talks in all their glory (one more to come!):
...turned out rather nicely didn't it? Thanks to Youth Councillor Charmaine, Sonia Bongain (graphic designer) and the Winter Chill Fund for supporting Charmaine's project of a F2F events kit for CYC. We'll be using it this weekend at the LYFE Festival!
At CYC, we don't claim to have all the answers, but we do have to work quite hard to make our little organisation...happen. We've learned a lot since becoming an Incorporated Society last February, so this blog post is about sharing some of those learnings.
It used to be that we'd all meet up in a room, look over some sheets of paper, and say some words and then afterwards go and do related stuff within agreed timeframes. We still do, but if we want to keep up with the way the world's turning...we're going to have to work smarter not harder.
Like most Youth Councils, CYC has a private Facebook group that we share stuff on - this is constantly bubbling throughout the day. We also email, use phone calls and all the rest of it. However, this has seen a massive rise in web traffic, data use in our phones and general stress levels rising because we just couldn't get our phones to stop flashing and beeping.
So how do you integrate technology carefully into your organisation? Well, again, we're still learning. When we started Passion Projects, we used Basecamp, and thought it was the bees knees. Until we didn't think that. And no one used it. And it fell by the wayside. Indeed, we now use our own in-house spreadsheet which is just like a mini message board version of Basecamp - thank you Google Docs.
If not Basecamp for project management, what will we use? We already use Skype meetings to get around the fact that it takes us (and we've timed it) around 3 hours to get from Aranui to Papanui on a winter's night with no buses around. But what will we use in 2016 to undertake the work we want to do, in a way that is meaningful and engaging and safe for our members?
Well, we've hit upon Slack - a chat-based messaging tool which is a bit like those old chat room forums of yesteryear with a few flashy add-ons (more than just a few). We're going to try it, and see how it goes, but we'd better follow our own advice (see below!)...
PS - Take a look at the other services we use to keep Christchurch Youth Council firing on all cylinders!
Back in December last year I saw an advert on Facebook recruiting people for the Christchurch Youth Council. I decided to pop over to their website and have a look around. It sounded like just the thing for me, not to mention I ticked the boxes. I was in the age bracket of 12-24, a social media whizz, an events planning fanatic and I loved public speaking. The prospect of reaching out to decision makers in Christchurch excited me and this seemed like I skill I would love to improve on. Growing up in the ‘Shaky City’ I think it is very important to have a say in how Christchurch is rebuilt and what all this money is being spent on. Being a part of the creation of our 'new' city is something to be proud of: knowing that I had a say and that my voice was being listened to. The Youth Council seemed like the perfect opportunity for me as I entered my third year of high school, to really make the most of my time in the city. After being given creative license when producing an application I decided I would stick with the trusty technology and I made a powerpoint - all about me and why I wanted to join CYC.
Nervous and excited, I turned up to the interview day after receiving some much needed advice via text from my friend, Kate. The text read: “Good luck, and don’t forget to mention your people skills”. After the first half of the day they began interviewing people in groups and the first thing I stuttered was about my people skills. Well I must've done something right because I got selected to join as an Executive Member to the Christchurch Youth Council.The journey began...
Reaching out to decision makers? Tick! This is James, Kaitlyn, Alice and I (far right) at the Memorandum of Understanding signing in the Christchurch City Council building back in March.
Slowly but surely I gained confidence in the Council and starting getting involved. We began planning lots of fun events including Face To Faces at Polyfest, Summerzend Festival and the Buskers Festival. Hearing the opinion of the youth in Christchurch is an eye-opening experience that extends your mind to the viewpoints of others. We found out the barriers people face in their community according to the youth and the results were: A lack of Youth friendly places and spaces, housing, public transport, bike lanes and cleaner rivers. These issues are severely important and we are working on connecting to decision makers in changing these around.
So many opportunities have arisen from being on the Christchurch Youth Council. I have gotten the chance to attend a range of interesting and fun events. These include important meetings, fun events and even starring on the Daily Fix! Having the opportunity to talk about my passion project on the online tv show, The Daily Fix was a fun and nerve racking experience. I’m sure anyone that knows me well can say that I don’t get very shy but I was shaking before we went to air. It was an awesome experience though and I am glad that I put my foot forward and did so. On Saturday the 3rd October, I am very lucky to be attending the TedXChch event which I am beyond excited about. This will be a very fulfilling experience and I believe I will get a lot from it.
To wrap up, being an executive member of the Christchurch Youth Council, has presented itself with many exciting opportunities that I would not have otherwise received. I have turned into an open-minded person and have learnt to see things from everyone's point of view. Attending educational and fun events has been a huge highlight along with working with an incredible team of passionate, motivated young people.
KEEN TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT JOINING CYC IN 2016? rECRUITMENT OPENS OCT 15TH - CLICK HERE FOR INFO!
CYC's Sofie has done some brilliant working putting all the thoughts people at our two most recent Face 2 Face events at the Lyttelton Farmer's Market and the Downtown Farmer's Market. Click on the links below to see what people are thinking currently (they're scans so you might need to print them out!):
Our Liam recently scored a full page article in CANTA magazine, some very interesting views on the 'bite the hand that feeds' theory. Click here to read the article in full!
We’ve been told so many times that Christchurch has a once-in-a-million-years opportunity to rebuild after the earthquakes. We’ve been promised a vibrant city centre; a pleasant place to live, work and play. The suburbs, too, will be thriving communities, with "quality infrastructure and services."
Yet one evening last week, with a southerly tearing across the vacant carparks, the central city was anything but a pleasant place to be. In fact, it was downright depressing, and nowhere near to what we keep on being promised.
We’re being asked to buy into an impossible dream, although arguably a very attractive one. Gerry Brownlee and the staff at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority decided that the City Council’s plan wasn’t “ambitious” enough, so they’ve taken over the responsibility. Our heroes! Oh...wait...what?
The newest “artistic impressions” of our future city show lots of healthy, Pākehā, good-looking people going about their daily business in the glorious sunshine. Everyone seems to be thirty-five or younger, on a professional salary and happy with a lot of latte sipping and milling around for no apparent reason. Poverty, illness, grey skies, they’ve all been waved away.
That might be life that the multitude of MPs, CEOs and CFOs expect us to live in, but it’s just not realistic. We’re not all young and fit and wealthy, and we certainly don’t all want to be Pākehā. The Crusaders don’t always win the rugby. The sky isn’t always blue. The sun doesn’t always shine. Christchurch is a cold place in the winter, and the majority of people have got plenty on their plates, so it’s not like they can sit around outside cafes, enjoying the ambience.
Which is probably why most people haven’t taken a good look at the plans and realised what's up. And when the CERA Draft Transition Recovery Plan was released, pretty much everyone didn't know and didn't care.
Which is a shame, because this could be a big opportunity. Soon after the earthquake, the Government rushed through a piece of legislation called the CER Act. It gave Gerry Brownlee the permission to do almost whatever he liked with this city. Amongst other things, he could tell the elected City Councillors what they could or couldn't do and could force people off their own land. He wrote the rules.
But as of next year, the law that lets Brownlee writes the rules expires. And so, the Government is currently asking us who we think should be in charge of recovery efforts from next year onwards. Don't worry, we're on to it. The Youth Council has responded -we've written a formal submission- based on the information we've gained from talking to hundreds of young people over the last year. You can read the submission on our facebook page when we've put the finishing touches on it. We've called for our elected councillors to be ultimately responsible for the rebuild, for there to be more action on housing and revitalising the Centre and East of our city, and for more community engagement. We'll keep you posted on what happens next!
From our Co-ordinator: This year it has been wonderful to watch CYC grow in confidence and skill. A year ago, this was a very different organisation and I felt that it was necessary to make sure our hardworking Youth Councillors stopped for a second to realise what they've managed to achieve. So I nominated them for two awards, and guess what: TWO FOR TWO!
Youth Week Youth Group Award: Awarded to only five groups nationally, this really is a governmental seal of approval for CYC. It also looks very nice on our filing cabinet!
VolCan Volunteer Recognition Award: Of the twenty five recipients region-wide, CYC were the youngest and its wonderful to think that they're not far off 1000 volunteer hours only 6 months into the year!
We've been assisted in our cause over the last few months by a new Youth Councillor. Sofie Hampton has joined the ranks of CYC as an Executive Committee member after Alison Faulls sadly moved on to other projects at university. But we're happy really, because LOOK how busy she's been since joining us!
You can keep up to date with what we're doing for young people in Christchurch here. Join in the conversation!
VOLUNTEER HOURS 2019 (so far): 2176.85 HOurs cyc members log their own hours, this is what we've done so far
“If you ever think you’re too small to be effective,