Podcast – Child poverty and the Budget 2017

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Co-host Sara Epperson of CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) joins Sally Carlton to interview Paul Dalziel, Professor of Economics, Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University, and Helen Leahy, CEO of Te Putahitanga, Whanau Ora Commissioning Agency for Te Wai Pounamu, on the Budget 2017 as viewed through the lens of child poverty.

  • Part I: Paul Dalziel
    Budget 2017 in its economic context; key elements of Budget 2017; putting Budget in layperson’s terms
  • Part II: Helen Leahy
    Budget 2017 and its implications for whānau; family vulnerability and resilience
  • Part III: Discussion
    Government-civil society partnerships and the importance of holistic approaches to family wellbeing; pros and cons of statistics-based funding models; prioritising economic growth against other types of growth

Transcript – Child poverty and Budget 2017

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Redesigning the Welfare State in New Zealand: Problems, Polices, Prospects Cover of Child poverty in New Zealand Cover of From innocents to agents Cover of The child poverty debate Cover of Twelve thousand hours Cover of Wellbeing economics Cover of The New Zealand project Cover of Children of Rogernomics Cover of Economic futures Cover of For Each and Every Child Cover of The New Zealand economy

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Haere ra, John (and Fred)

Yet another Kiwi icon passes. But his legend will live on.

John Clarke is someone many of us remember. For me it was as Fred Dagg, singing the immortal song “If it weren’t for your gumboots” played on National Radio storytime. For others it was his incredible skits on farming life and economics.

In later life in Australia, Clarke tried to shed the Fred Dagg persona. He made an indelible mark there with his scathing and incredibly intelligent political satire.

Also claimed by the Manawatu, Clarke was the voice of Wal Footrot in Murrray Ball’s Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale. I’d go as far to say John Clarke was Wal Footrot.

He died doing what he loved. And I bet his sharp wit never deserted him.

We didn’t know how lucky we were.

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What are your favourite John Clarke memories?

Podcast – COP and Climate change

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

This episode discusses issues around the UN climate change conference, the “Conference of Parties” or COP 22 which is underway in Marrakech and questions whether it’s an effective way of combatting climate change. Also discussed are –

  • scientific and political understandings of the realities of climate change
  • carbon budget
  • History of COP especially COP-3 (Kyoto), COP-15 (Copenhagen) and COP-21 (Paris)
  • The Paris Agreement – What? Why? How has it been received?; the Agreement as enabler for grassroots environmental advocacy
  • New Zealand’s climate record

The panel for this show includes host Sally Carlton, Hamish Laing, Jeff Willis and Pubudu Senanayake.

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Podcast – Resources in the city with FESTA

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

This episode discusses issues around the use of resources in the Christchurch urban environment including –

  • resourcefulness
  • reuse / recycling / upcycling
  • people power
  • architecture and people
  • using waste materials in architecture

The panel for this show includes host Sally Carlton, Jessica Halliday, Founder of FESTA, Juliet Arnott of Rekindle, and Jos de Krieger of Superuse Studios in Rotterdam.

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Podcast – Food in the city with FESTA

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

This episode discusses urban food initiatives in Christchurch and issues such as –

  • Environmental and social sustainability of urban food projects
  • What defines ‘foraging’
  • Connections between ecological and political systems and health
  • The growth in urban food practices
  • Food justice
  • Urban food activities during FESTA

The panel for this show includes host Sally Carlton, Peter Langlands from Wild Capture – wild foods and foraging – NZ, Bailey Peryman from Cultivate Christchurch, and Chloe Waretini from Ōtākaro Orchard and Food Resilience Network discussing urban food activities and the overarching concept of food justice.

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Cities of tomorrow: A better life? – WORD Christchurch

When it comes to city-building and urban planning people in Christchurch have more to say about this than they ever have. We’re at a crucial point in our recovery where most of the old that will go has and we’re getting a clearer and clearer idea of what the new will actually be like. It’s an in-between place, a liminal place, and not necessarily a comfortable place.

So picking the brains of experts in the field of governance, sustainability and city planning seems like a good idea. Sure, we might all have opinions about how to make a city that offers a better life for its inhabitants but they’re not necessarily well informed ones. What do the experts think?

On the panel for this session were French experts Marie-Anne Gobert of Lyon, Cécile Maisonneuve of Paris, Mark Todd of Auckland property development company (and literary prize sponsors) Ockham, and former Christchurch resident (who now lives in Sydney) Barnaby Bennett.

Anne-Marie Gobert, Barnaby Bennett, Kim Hill, Cecile Maisonneuve and Mark Todd
Anne-Marie Gobert, Barnaby Bennett, Kim Hill, Cecile Maisonneuve and Mark Todd, Flickr File Reference: 2016-08-27-IMG_2499

Radio New Zealand presenter Kim Hill had what turned out to be a reasonably challenging job, in keeping the discussion moving along, correctly interpreting the French accents, and managing the audience input – tasks she undertook with her characteristic gentle belligerence.

Speaking of the audience, this was bar far the most vocal crowd I’ve been part of in the festival so far. Christchurch people are, generally speaking, fairly undemonstrative in these kinds of events but this topic generated much spontaneous clapping (mainly when Central Government was pinned as having failed in some respect) and vocal affirmations of the “hear, hear” variety.

I guess when an author is discussing their work we’re happy to sit and listen, but we are all, to some extent or other, experts in our own city and people attending this session obviously have a reasonable level of engagement with the subject matter.

The main points that stuck out for me were –

  • Local authorities need to be willing to take risks and to experiment, to try small-scale pilots of things to learn if they work and then be scaled up if successful. Failure, particuarly when small, fast and comparatively inexpensive aren’t cause for shame or embarrassment, they’re a crucial way to learn what works and what doesn’t.
  • Good public transportation is vital.
  • Engagement with communities needs to be iterative.
  • Stratification of the rich and poor is really bad for cities and the people who live in them
  • Public-private partnerships can work if the terms are clearly defined

The question and answer session at the end was unfortunately rather overshadowed by a gentleman (I use the term loosely) from Southland who ranted on and on and even with prodding from Kim Hill simply refused to get to the point, prompting her to ask –

I appreciate this dystopian polemic, sir…but is there a question?

The crowd was actively booing him and telling him to shut up at this point and by the time he insulted Barnaby Bennett’s dress sense, he’d lost pretty much everyone. It was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen at a literary festival.

More WORD Christchurch

 

Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla

CoverOut Of The Mountains focuses on how and why the future of guerrilla warfare, terrorism and insurgency will be carried out in dense urban environments, as opposed to the familiar practice of carrying out rebellions in jungle, mountainous or rural settings.

While this might all sound a bit Rambo and militaristic, David Kilcullen’s observations aren’t just borne out of his extensive knowledge and experience within conflict zones, but also his research into demography and economics which reveal global “mega-trends”.

These mega-trends are grand global changes such as rapid population growth, population density, accelerated urbanization, increasing interconnectedness, and littoralization (the tendancy for societies to cluster on coastlines). All of which exacerbate the challenges already faced by humanity …

Kilcullen argues that, despite wars BETWEEN countries declining, conflict WITHIN countries is on the increase. He says mega-trends intensify pre-existing hostilities, which involve ethno-sectarian loyalties and identities, as well as the countless and ever-fermenting ideological and religious struggles.

In addition, he argues these mega-trend environments become even more complex and volatile when you add other forces into the mix – such as climate change.

These issues are often outside of government control, especially when many countries are already unstable and corrupt, with large populations trying to scratch a living on low incomes (despite the burgeoning middle classes in emerging economies like the BRICS group).

Dr David Kilcullen, Chief Strategist, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US State Department (2005-06)
Dr David Kilcullen, Chief Strategist, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, US State Department (2005-06) Urbanization and the Future of Conflict, 26 September 2013 Flickr cht.hm/1bLm217

So, the world’s mega-city future will probably feature a series of simmering geographic quagmires which render pre-existing national security and foreign policy doctrines quite useless. Some of what governments have learned over the decades will possibly be disregarded as they have to adapt to these new trends.

Being a New Zealander I don’t usually endorse anything which comes out of Australia, except maybe Home and Away or James Boag’s beer (Definitely not Tony Abbot’s Speedo clad aquatic heroics). But Australian David Kilcullen is a mastermind on counter-insurgency and military strategy. He was senior counter-insurgency adviser to General David Petraeus in Iraq, and the NATO security force in Afghanistan. That – along with his writing style – makes this book a very engaging read which illuminates complex subjects and makes them more understandable for people like me. His forecasting of the future is convincing.

This book makes a great companion to George Friedman’s Flashpoints, which also looks at the future of conflict and resource related issues.

Ways to think about the bottom line

db-EconomistArchive-CKEY897144There are people with money, who know what to do with money and think about money. I am not one of them. My foolishness started early. “I will go to university and get a degree in history not accounting”, I said at 18. My student loan will have 9% interest from the minute I borrow, but I was not concerned as they told me that with my degree I would be making more money. Did I think to query this advice? No. At 28 I was still poor despite my education but was told what you need is a post graduate qualification to get ahead in your career. Did I think to query this advice? No. Two and a half years later I completed by distance my Masters. The investment in my education came to $55,000 according to IRD which took over 20 years to pay back and I am still no richer. So where did it all go wrong? Did I invest badly? Did I heed the wrong advice? So far yes on both counts. My own advice? Never doubt it is all about the bottom line. Being broke all the times loses its charm quickly. To learn about this bottom line we have:

colored backgroundBoth these eResources are available from home or in libraries for you to learn about money, business, finance and investment. The Financial Times (sober reporting) will tell you of events and the Economist (loud opinions) will help you interpret and learn from that event. The two archives are cross searchable via Gale NewsVault making comparisons and carrying out research easier. Delve into these two and learn from my mistakes!

Literature, culture, economics, and history anyone?

KTT Four into the eResource foldWho doesn’t like something new? These four wee beauties are online portals to authoritative information about a huge range of subjects. They were on trial and were popular enough to be made permanent residents of our collection. So from now on, you can access:

The Economist Historical Archive, 1843-2012The Economist has been highly regarded for providing independent global, economic and political analysis since its first publication in 1843. More content will continue to be added;

Listener Historical Archive, 1929-1991The Listener was a weekly magazine established by the BBC to reproduce and expand on the content of its broadcast and television talks. It is regarded as the premier cultural studies magazine of the mid-20th century;

TLS_Cover_Septembe_1074419a (194x250).jpgThe Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive, 1902-2010 – (TLS) is the world’s leading newspaper for cultural studies. It offers comprehensive coverage of the most important publications as well as reviewing theatre, cinema, music and exhibitions;

19th Century UK Periodicals – a collection of often rare online British magazines, journals and specialty newspapers that aim to provide an in-depth view of life in the Victorian age.

All of these eResources are accessible from home or in libraries and can be searched individually or as part of the wider content included in Gale NewsVault.

So if you are looking for a answer to a query or feel like reading something informative and interesting then these newbies are a great place to start.

On effective altruism – Peter Singer

Cover of The Most good you can doLast night, the WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View at the Christchurch Arts Festival featured a discussion session with hugely influential author and thinker – Peter Singer. The discussion centered around a variety of topical ethical issues, but also those traversed in his most recent book The Most Good You Can Do – How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically.

It was a stimulating and funny evening with the discussion lubricated cleverly by chair Eric Crampton (Head of Research at the New Zealand Initiative in Wellington), who also provided some interesting insights and witticisms. You can read Charlie Gates take in The Press: Top philosopher Peter Singer says take more Syrian refugees and help Lebanon.

Peter Singer is perhaps one of the most polarizing philosophers of our time. His radical views and ideas have provoked many with inflammatory pro-abortion remarks and animal rights activism. However, Professor Singer spends lots of time at Princeton University, where he works in the field of bioethics and “practical ethics”, which wrestle with the diverse ethical and moral implications of reproductive rights, animal rights, genetic engineering and other bio-medical advances. So he’s pretty brainy.

But being a utilitarian philosopher, he is generally guided by the classic utilitarian notion that “the morally right action is the action that produces the most good”. He acknowledges a perplexing problem –  how do us lowly citizens decide what produces the most good, in a world wracked with seemingly insurmountable problems?

That’s where Effective Altruism comes in. A movement Peter Singer promotes. Effective Altruism is an international social movement concerned with charitable works, and seeks to fuse “global empathy” with “critical thinking” so as to enable us citizens of the Earth to ascertain the most “effective ways to improve the world”, and therefore, enhance the way we give.

Mr Singer discussed the dilemmas we face as charitable givers, and how we are often emotionally compelled to favour certain charitable efforts over others (emotive advertising campaigns etc). This is despite the fact that some charities are arguably more deserving, or more productive than others. The questions of “how to give and who to give to” often stifles people who are prepared to help financially, for example, should we give to programmes abroad, or, does “charity start at home”? Is it better to directly help feed starving children in developing countries, or, do we give to biotech’ programmes which conduct research into crop enhancement, which could potentially feed and save millions?

Peter Singer - crowd

Peter Singer’s audience. Flickr 2015-09-07-IMG_9202

The discussion at the festival had a distinctly globalized feel, as most subjects traversed were generally pegged to a broader global context. This is reflected in his book, which tries to determine the areas of greatest need and deprivation in the world. Therefore, when we consider the world and all its problems in its entirety, it seems that as global citizens the greatest good we could do is probably in Africa and developing countries where things are the most dire. These notions of global giving are quite challenging in light of various domestic issues.

Interestingly, Singer concedes that the works of charitable organizations are tricky to measure because the services they provide might be preventative, therefore, it’s hard to prove a service prevented (or failed to prevent) something which “otherwise WOULD have happened”. It was also pointed out that determining the success (the greatest good) that non-governmental organisations achieve is almost impossible in certain environments where one would have to randomly visit, for example, 200 villages scattered across a region of continental Africa so as to gauge how well an NGO is doing on average. There are many cultural and political variables which determine outcome.

Ultimately, the guidance of Peter Singer, and the Effective Altruism movement is pretty awesome, as it’s easy to get emotionally coerced into supporting any old venture in our ever changing, needy world.
Peter Singer signs books
Peter Singer signs books, Flickr 2015-09-07-IMG_9208

Utilitarian links

Julia Markovits (Cornell University) gives an introduction to the moral theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the view that the right moral action is the one that maximizes happiness for all.

The History of Utilitarianism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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