It’s just around the corner…

No, not Christmas – AFFIRM.

A what? AFFIRM!

What the flimflam you ask…

AFFIRM is a family festival ACTIS (Aranui Community Trust Incorporated Society) delivers to provide health choices, education, training opportunities and careers information in a fun-filled family day with laughter, entertainment and activities for Aranui and the surrounding communities of Christchurch to get together and enjoy.

2017 is its 16th year.

Do you care? It would be cool if you did. I do, mainly because I’ve been volunteering on the committee for this event since I was 19, but now, because of my chosen career path, I have another avenue for which to encourage community to get involved with the library and vice versa.

Christchurch City Libraries first had a presence at AFFIRM in 2009 and then the following year with the Mobile Library in attendance and a whole tent dedicated to the promotion of libraries in general but highlighting the upcoming build of Aranui Library.

Library tent
Library tent at AFFIRM, 4 December 2010. Flickr File Reference: CCL-2010-Affirm10-DSC03470.

From then, Aranui Library has tried to maintain that presence through special activities on the day of (run at the library), over the mic announcements, free book giveaways, a Storytime session and this year, a colouring competition.

If you didn’t know, now you know. Spread the word, get involved.

16AFFIRM
Wainoni Park, Hampshire St.
9.30am – 4pm, Saturday 2 December 2017

Find out more

Ebony, 
Library Assistant, Aranui Library

Neighbourhood Week 2017/18

Neighbourhood week is here! 27th October to 31st March 2018. Yes, you read that correctly. This year neighbourhood week is extended for the entire summer.

Do you know who your neighbours are? I don’t know mine as well as I should like. Neighbourly relations are important yet I have, for the most part, lived according to the wise words of Robert Frost:

“Good fences make good neighbours.”

I often come home to find my cat peering out from the neighbour’s bedroom window. If he’s living the double life over there, perhaps it’s time I followed suit and got to know them better. The only thing we may share in common is a boundary fence, but chances are they will be lovely, decent and hardworking people.

Thankfully, there are plans and resources to help us all get into the neighbourly spirit this summer. As part of the ongoing effort to help people connect in with their neighbours and strengthen community foundations, a small fund has been allotted by the Christchurch City Council Community Boards to help out with the planning and running of local events. Through this, you can register a neighbourhood event of your own and receive a small grant to go towards a fun event for you local neighbours and community this summer. Look now, an excellent excuse to throw a party! How could you refuse?

You can also check out our website and events calendar – Christchurch City Libraries events are always a great way to meet new people, socialise with your locals and build connections. Things to look out for include:

What exciting events have you got planned for Neighbourhood Week?

Five years of filling gaps

Gap Filler is an organisation that seems to embody the potential inherent in a city rebuilding itself – innovative, creative and brave. Out of rubble-strewn vacant land they have created a series of bustling hubs of activity. A fridge that you can borrow books from, a set of bleachers on wheels, a bike-powered cinema, a public dance venue – these are just a selection of the “temporary” projects that have brought life to Christchurch’s inner city.  And they’ve been doing it for 5 years now.

That’s right, Gap Filler recently celebrated its fifth birthday. What started out as a relatively small scale project as a result of the demolitions following the 4 September 2010 quake became something much more in the course of things.

Gap Filler #1
Gap Filler crowd (Mo-mo) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

I was there on the first night of the first ever Gap Filler project on 25 November 2010. My friends and I sat around on a hodge podge range of chairs, stools and cushions on the site of what had been an auto-electricians, and a mexican restaurant. We listened to music and watched 1928 film A Daughter of Christchurch projected onto a neighbouring wall. It was jolly and novel and sort of uplifting and I’ve been a fan of Gap Filler ever since.

So I asked Co-founder and Chair of the Gap Filler Trust, Dr Ryan Reynolds, about the organisation and what it’s achieved since that first gap, what seems like a lifetime ago.

When you first started Gap Filler did you envisage it going for this long?

No way! We started up after the September quake, and from memory we were maybe thinking ahead to 5-6 projects total each of which might occupy a vacant site for a few weeks. And we were definitely thinking of one at a time. After the February quake that all changed because the need and interest were both much greater. Now we’ve done around 70 projects, and often have 8-10 going simultaneously – some of which have been going for four years (like the Think Differently Book Exchange, aka The Book Fridge!).

One of the great things about Gap Filler is the variety in the projects it undertakes – book fridges, mini-golf, bike-powered cinema etc – where do you get your ideas from? Is there anything you wouldn’t attempt?

Ryan Reynolds
Gap Filler Co-founder, Dr Ryan Reynolds

Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. We generate a lot from within the team, but many are suggested by others (like Sarah Gallagher and the book exchange) or we take inspiration from things we see in our real and virtual travels.

I think the strength is that we operate as a collective, so there’s no individual ownership of ideas. That means – wherever the idea comes from – we work together with our whole team and with artists and communities of interest to make every idea a collective idea that’s as strong and purposeful as it can be.

As the city changes and evolves, how has Gap Filler changed with it?

We see ourselves as a catalyst organisation, so we try very hard not to repeat ourselves or to duplicate what other people are doing in the city. For instance, we facilitated quite a few big street art and mural projects in the early days, but as lots of other organisations started doing street art, that’s not something we do any more. And we try to tap into citywide possibilities.

So for instance CCC has started sniffing around the possibility of adopting a local community currency (which we think would be great) so we’ve started doing some projects this year with an aim to explore and promote alternative economies. If we can get more people interested, it might help CCC get their much bigger project off the ground.

What one thing that Gap Filler has achieved are you most proud of?

Whenever I hear someone say that Gap Filler helped them feel like new things are possible here, I feel good.

More information

 

Blue September and the Unsexy Cancer

Now, you could argue no cancer is sexy, but some get a lot more publicity, funding and sympathy than others.

My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer early last year at the tender age of 49, six weeks before we got married. His dad was also was diagnosed with the same cancer but at a much older age.

September is marked as Blue September, a month for raising awareness for a cancer that kills as many men as breast cancer kills women each year, and that is also chronically un-diagnosed, and unrepresented in research and funding.

Every year over 500 men die in New Zealand of prostate cancer.  That is more than 500 fathers, sons, brothers, grandfathers – gone!

Men are often unaware just how dangerous the disease is, they often avoid seeing their doctor about it, they simply don’t do anything about it. The most important thing to know is that prostate cancer can be prevented if detected early enough.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation encourages people to paint their faces blue during September, donate money to the Prostate Cancer Foundation  or just spread the word.

My husband did go and see his doctor, did have the rectal exam men are so afraid of and a few uncomfortable ones besides… and after treatment, he is recovered and doing exceptionally well, with very few lingering side effects. So because he made the decision to ‘suck it up’ and see his doctor he is still with me and his children and friends and will be for many years to come.

We found a lot of helpful reading in the Christchurch City Library collection about the prostate and prostate cancer, and although it is frustrating when a specialist won’t just tell you which treatment to do, it really is important to do the research yourself, and the right treatment for you will emerge.

So if you know a man over 40, encourage, nay nag them to go for a check up, if you are a man over 40, go and have one yourself. You WILL survive the exam with your manhood and dignity intact and you just may save your own life, if not for yourself, but for the people who love you.