Thinking outside the Square
I live in New Brighton. Some might say it's a dying suburb while we lovingly remember its heyday. Some have even called it an embarrassment to the city. I do think, however, that you'd be hard pressed to find one resident or member of the community who wasn't extremely proud of 'their' Brighton.
I work in community development and have recently joined a group of people who's aim is to create a trust focusing on recovery and community re-development- after all- the city and council's focus appears to be on the CBD; this new trust will give our community the opportunity to "think outside the Square".
We'd already established that there was a need for a strong community hub in New Brighton prior to February's quake; this was confounded by the quake(s).
In an effort to brighten up Brighton I recently co-ordinated a week long spruce up of our business district in order to welcome all the visitors coming for Sandcastle Competition, Buskers and Kite Day. I called the event "All Things Brighton Beautiful" and we targeted graffiti, litter and weeded empty plots. The event highlighted three things~ that folk are immensely proud of their village and would volunteer whole Saturday mornings to help clean up; that doing it once won't suffice as it would quickly return (thus we need a 'maintenance team'); and that perhaps we need to create an opportunity for our youth to do better.
What do we offer our youth? For many folk on the east side of town, all roads lead to Brighton. Once here, there's little in the way of security and lots of opportunity to get up to no good.
Across the city, recovery seems to be focusing on business and housing, but I don't recall one single word for the younger members of our community. The kids on this side of town have spent the last year catching buses to parts of the city they may never have visited before, going to schools at hours they would ordinarily be at home; some kids have moved house as many as three times. Fractured? Quite possibly.
My focus for this year will be to try and raise awareness of the impact of this last year on our youth and their futures. I will also be researching and seeking funding to try and create a real centre for youth in our community: recreation, arts, culture and support.
I'd like to invite anybody who'd like to be a part of a positive future for New Brighton to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- BY BECCA MAY