Illustrating Margaret

cover of Dashing DogMargaret Mahy was a spell caster no doubt of it. Not just children and parents, but illustrators fell under her spell. The other night I was watching A tall long faced tale , the very creative documentary about Margaret and her work which recently screened on television. Happily we have a lot of copies of the DVD in our libraries but if you want a taster it is here on NZ On Screen. Some very famous illustrators talk about the magic of working with Margaret.

The very next day what should I see but a wonderful account from New Zealand author and  illustrator Donovan Bixley about how he worked on illustrating  Margaret’s book  Dashing Dog. Donovan has been our November Star author on our Christchurch Kids blog. The Kids blog is something anyone interested in children’s books should read. The monthly star authors are a particular treat with writers from New Zealand and overseas. Amongst Donovan’s posts from November are The Art of Hybrid Novels, Part One and The Art of Hybrid Novels, Part Two which make very interesting reading, especially if you are interested in graphic novels.

Can city planners make us happy?

Cover of Cycle spaceThere’s speculation out there that city planners can make a happy city. As a citizen of a city about to be rebuilt it would great to think so. On the other hand I was around in the 60s and 70s when similar claims led to developments that are now a byword for social failure (think high rise housing estates and Milton Keynes in Britain)

However, recent research looking at ten international cities suggests it can certainly contribute to it. According to The Sustainable Cities Collective:

A Gallup study examined a number of questions directly related to the built environment, including the convenience of public transportation, the ease of access to shops, the presence of parks and sports facilities, the ease of access to cultural and entertainment facilities, and the presence of libraries.

All were found to correlate significantly with happiness, with convenient public transportation and easy access to cultural and leisure facilities showing the strongest correlation.

Other studies have shown the need for social connectedness and suggested that long commutes and

car‑dependent neighbourhoods outside urban centres are much less trusting of other people than people who live in walkable neighbourhoods where housing is mixed with shops, services and places to work.

They have suggested this may explain the decrease in happiness in some western countries despite an increase in income.

Other exciting ideas relate to the use of green spaces. The BBC recently featured a wonderful range of suggestions as to how green spaces may contribute to our wellbeing in future – in ways you’ve never imagined.

It’s all food for thought and I find myself hungry for some more detail as to how these principles might be put into place in Christchurch.