Brave new plan for Christchurch billboards

04:35, Jul 21 2014
Michael Reynolds
PUBLIC-PRIVATE CONSULTATION: Michael Reynolds uses speech bubbles to encourage participation in Christchurch issues.

Interactive billboards will pop in Christchurch later this year to "gather people's hopes and dreams for the future" of the city.

The plywood and vinyl billboards - 10 to start - will be strategically placed and public will be invited to write comments on topical questions, often relating to the location.

"It's about getting citizens involved in decision-making," said Michael Reynolds, founder of A Brave New City.

The billboards would be places to share ideas and inspire people, he said.

The public consultation was not an attempt to replicate city council's Share an Idea campaign, the popular consultation effort that ran in May and June 2011. It was not a criticism of the council and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's perceived inability to consult widely, Reynolds said.

"I see it as a way of helping them . . . if they want to use us, I'm happy with that."


A Brave New City started in the autumn with postcard-sized speech bubbles that Reynolds took to markets and other public events to seek public input. He has now grown the project to billboards, which will also feature speech bubbles.

Reynolds has collected more than $1100 in pledges from the fundraising website, using the project name Public Postcard Project. His minimum target is $1200 and there are still about 10 days to run.

Reynolds was not as interested in buildings because the land was privately owned, preferring instead to talk about the spaces between them.

He was also interested in themes such as public transport, energy and food production.

"It all ties into the idea that a city should increase wellbeing."

Reynolds hated the word "rebuild", which implied the city was replacing what was there with something similar, including dysfunction.

He will gather the feedback, sift it and show it back to people, possibly at the Festival of Transitional Architecture in October. "Citizens need to take control themselves rather than wait for some government body to do stuff. Otherwise, we could be waiting for 30 years."

Open Source is a weekly series featuring innovative, interesting ideas emerging within the city and region. If you want to share an idea, email

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