“What if We Built Our Communities Around Places? Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.”

“What Makes a Successful Place? Great public spaces are those places where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges occur, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the ‘front porches’ of our public institutions – libraries, schools – where we interact with each other and government. When these spaces work well, they serve as the stage for our public lives…they generally share the following four qualities: they are accessible; people are engaged in activities there; the space is comfortable and has a good image; and finally, it is a sociable place: one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit.”

“The Power of 10+ shows how paying attention to the human experience when building a city’s destinations and districts can have immediate and widespread impacts. The idea behind this concept is that places thrive when users have a range of reasons (10+) to be there. These might include a place to sit, playgrounds to enjoy, art to touch, music to hear, food to eat, history to experience, and people to meet. Ideally, some of these activities will be unique to that particular place, reflecting the culture and history of the surrounding community.”

“Project for Public Spaces, the premier placemaking organization, calls this the Power of 10. They assert that every place should accommodate at least ten different kinds of activities. Not only will this make the place more inviting to a wide range of users, but it will make it more likely that the place will be used more extensively, at all times of the day and during all seasons of the year making it safer for everyone.”

“Placemaking: Building on the ‘Soul’ of a Place: Every place already has a story to tell—placemaking just brings that story forward…We start with the belief that every place already has a history and a story to tell—that places already have soul. Our role as designers is to honor that story, bring it forward and integrate it into every level of design and detail, from the shaping of space to programming, lighting, materiality, and signage. The best measure of good placemaking is after having visited a place, you find yourself compelled to tell others about it. It becomes a place you’re excited to return time and again…Incorporate environmental graphic elements. Not just for wayfinding, environmental graphics are critical to placemaking. They serve as art, backdrop, furniture, and landmark. They improve upon the functional experience of the place, such as signage showing how to move through the park, or the educational interpretive messaging woven throughout.”

Shirley Centre: Identity | Well-being | Learning
“You Are Here”: a place to be, in our communities.
Community Education & Support Services in Learning Libraries
1. ‘Suburban’ Library
2. Christchurch City Council Service Centre
3. Learning Spaces
4. Meeting Rooms
5. NZ/Genealogy Area
6. Internal Courtyard
7. Indoor/Outdoor Seating Options
8. Natives Garden (Dudley Creek)
9. Wellbeing Sensory Garden
10. Events/Market Space (Carpark)
11. Inclusive Accessible Playground
12. Basketball Court/Youth Area
13. Shirley Playcentre
14. StoryWalk
15. Dudley Creek Trail

Bumping Spaces

“Bumping Spaces are places in the community where we naturally bump into each other, they are our communal spaces, gathering places. A trusted environment where we spend time together, share space together, be in relationships together and walk beside each other…Bumping Spaces are places where we can make friends, share our thoughts and feelings together and be empowered to find the answers and solutions to solve our own problems within our communities acknowledging everyone’s gifts and that everyone is an asset within their community…At Bumping Spaces we are both the helper and the helped, we share our new skills and abilities together, our cultures, our histories looking for what’s strong, not focusing on what’s wrong through the power of peer support, celebrating difference and embracing change.”

“Community is built on relationships and people develop relationships through frequent contact with others. So, if you want to build community, you need places to bump into other people. The closer those places are to where you live, the more likely you are to bump into the same people over and over again…
If you want to develop an inclusive community, you need to have inclusive bumping spaces. While neighbors typically have all kinds of differences in terms of age, income, culture, religion, politics, interests, etc. they tend to gather with people who are like themselves. To be inclusive, a place should be accessible to those with differing abilities and incomes.
A key reason why places aren’t sufficiently inclusive is because so many are single purpose. They only attract gardeners, basketball players, seniors or whomever the space was specifically designed for…
An inclusive place will be multi-purpose.”

“…the way we plan and design our built environment needs to encourage different kinds of interaction – we need bumping spaces like benches where we might see neighbours or acquaintances – so called ‘weak ties’. Alongside this, we also need places for the creation of ‘strong ties’ where we develop and maintain real friendships, for example at community groups and activities.
A ‘less lonely’ neighbourhood needs to have the right collection of buildings and friendly shared places which are liked by residents and are, therefore, comfortable to use and will foster encounters with others’.”

“Built environment and places for widening connections: Neighbourhood research can also be used to distinguish places where residents go to encounter or interact with people from the same community, same age group or who are in other ways like themselves (sometimes described as acquiring ‘bonding social capital’).
And places where people from different groups can encounter one another (described as creating ‘bridging social capital’).
In one example, people tended to use informal infrastructure such as shops and cafes to meet people they already knew.
Formal infrastructure such as libraries, sports and exercise facilities, and community spaces were often places for encountering people from different backgrounds.
Mixed housing can also foster such ‘bridging’ as, for example, in housing association sites which include housing to meet the needs of people at different life stages.
And interventions, for example a community gardening project, can improve connections between different backgrounds and generations.
These shared places then offer the possibility of enabling a wider set of connections between local people including members of marginalised communities who may otherwise have little opportunity to meet a diverse group of people who live nearby.
On the other hand, there is also evidence that individuals may be reluctant to attend places heavily identified with a group of which they are not a part.
Whether thinking about ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ public places or shared spaces around housing, consideration needs to be given to whether they foster enough contact to address loneliness. Researchers have distinguished between places which support weak versus strong ties.
For example, there is the possibility of repeated low-key verbal or non-verbal encounters with staff or other local residents in locations such as shops and libraries and also in places we pass through on a regular basis including parks and greenspaces or walking routes around the area.”

Third Place

“In sociology, the third place refers to the social surroundings that are separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). In his book The Great Good Place (1989), Ray Oldenburg argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.”

“Unlike a home or a workplace, a third place is a place where people are not required to be anything other than who they are. There is no pressure to be efficient, serious, productive, or successful. Rather, people can engage in activities that may be “just for fun”. In his article “The Third Place Thesis,” [Ray] Oldenburg suggests that third places are essential to the mental and social health of individuals, particularly those in urban settings.”

[Ray] Oldenburg (1989) outlines some of the specific characteristics of third places:
1) They are on neutral ground. All are welcome, and no one plays “host”;
2) They are a leveler; people of different socio-economic strata attend;
3) Conversation is the main activity. Even though the setting may be a place for drinking, or exercising, or playing a game, talking is always present;
4) They are accessible; there are no physical, policy, or monetary barriers to entrance;
5) They are a home away from home. There are “regulars” who find the atmosphere comfortable enough to “root” them there;
6) The mood is playful, laughter is often heard, and wit is prized.
Oldenburg believes that these are the essential characteristics of third places because they engender the unique communication experiences and sociological benefits associated with these places.
The benefits serve not only community residents but also the community at large.
For an individual, the third place offers stress relief from the everyday demands of both home and work.
It provides the feeling of inclusiveness and belonging associated with participating in a group’s social activities, without the rigidity of policy or exclusiveness of club or organization membership.
For the greater community, the third place strengthens community ties through social interaction. It can foster commitment to local politics via informed public discourse.
It also provides a feeling of safety and security by being publicly accessible and promoting open and visible interaction (Soukup 2006).
As Oldenburg himself states, ‘Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places.'”

“Third places have a number of important community-building attributes.
Depending on their location, social classes and backgrounds can be ‘leveled-out’ in ways that are unfortunately rare these days, with people feeling they are treated as social equals. Informal conversation is the main activity and most important linking function.
One commentator refers to third places as the “living room” of society.
Many city planning efforts to reinvigorate metropolitan neighborhoods now include specific steps to create third places, especially public spaces, to try and break down social siloes.
Strengthening social networks is a crucial step to reviving neighborhoods and addressing social problems. Third places can do much to help stabilize communities and reduce social problems.”

“‘A community life can exist when one can go daily to a given location at a given time and see many of the people one knows,’ writes another American sociologist, Philip Slater, author of a book on loneliness: [The Pursuit of Loneliness]
When a city has lovely spaces for people for people to stroll in, or loiter, or meet friends – and importantly for our senior citizens, when these places are close to home – then the requirement for one’s house to be large and nice enough for entertaining is lessened. And when you have places to meet your neighbours by chance, you can get to know them without the pressure of inviting them over.
[Ray] Oldenburg describes third places as neutral ground: no one has to play host and everyone is at ease. “If there is no neutral ground in the neighbourhoods where people live, association outside the home will be impoverished. Many, perhaps most, neighbours will never meet, to say nothing of associate, for there is no place for them to do so.”
Why is all of this important? Because a third of us said we were lonely in the 2014 census, and one in five of us will seek treatment this year for depression or anxiety. And because our cities aren’t bolstering one of the most significant aspects of mental health: a sense of community.
Yet we blame this lack of community upon ourselves – we haven’t tried hard enough to build it – when the problem is in fact the lack of a venue for this to take place.”

You Are Here: A Place To Be

On a map, the ‘You Are Here’ icon is a reminder of your location.
‘You Are Here’ locators are usually to help tourists or those new to an area, find their bearings again & see which way they need to go.

Currently ‘You Are Here’, in these communities surrounding 10 Shirley Road/Shirley Community Reserve:
Shirley, Dallington, Richmond, Edgeware, St Albans & Mairehau.

“Our communities are ethnically and socially diverse.
We have areas of social deprivation, and others of relative well being.
We have increased social housing, and increased high density, infill housing. As our population grows, the demand for community facilities grows also.
Church facilities can be a barrier for some of our secular community members. School facilities are often limited in the times they are available. Private venues are too expensive.”

Whether you have just arrived in this country, recently moved into these communities, here temporarily (renting) or permanently (bought a house), while ‘you are here’ welcome to the Shirley Centre, ‘a place to be’, within our local communities.

The 10 Shirley Road site/Shirley Community Reserve is a destination greenspace, a historic landmark within our local communities, located near Hills Road, with our main bus routes traveling through this area & bus stops on either side of Shirley Road.

The original Shirley Primary School was built on this 10 Shirley Road site in 1915.
In May 1977, the building and site became surplus to the Ministry of Education requirements.
In March 1978, Shirley Community Centre opened as a ‘place for cultural, educational and recreational activities’.
The land at 10 Shirley Rd is classified as reserve, vested in the Council by the Crown to be held ‘in trust for local purpose (site for a community centre)’.

Q. What is the definition of a community centre?
A. “Community centres are public locations where members of a community tend to gather for group activities, social support, public information, and other purposes. They may sometimes be open for the whole community or for a specialized group within the greater community.”

The 10 Shirley Road site is central to our 14 local education providers, all are within 3km of the 10 Shirley Road site:

There are currently no local ‘suburban’ sized Christchurch City Libraries in the Innes Ward.

The current Shirley Library is located in the carpark of The Palms (Burwood Ward).

By relocating the current Shirley Library onto the 10 Shirley Road site, it will be easier to find, with better parking & access to public transport, a central location to connect residents from the surrounding communities, with the existing local community centres & facilities.

The Shirley Centre is ‘a’ place to be, not ‘the’ place to be, as there are a variety of different community facilities in these communities:,-43.50796,14

The difference is access to the Shirley Centre wouldn’t be restricted, based on whether you fit the criteria/demographics, for the provided activities/events.
‘You Are Here’ where you can just ‘be’, you’re not required to ‘do’ anything.

Our local communities don’t need another ‘traditional’ community centre, we need a ‘future focused’ community centre…
The Shirley Centre/Citizen Hub would be a ‘fit for purpose’ building with more floor space, flexible spaces & a bigger selection of books in the new Learning Library.

Learning Library: ‘a place to be’, inclusive, accessible, intergenerational, third place, bumping spaces, within our local communities.

Q. What is a library?
A. “1% building with books…
99% the social and cultural infrastructure of a community.”

Libraries are ‘third places (social)’ the ‘living room’ of society in our communities.
We have many in our communities who don’t have a ‘second place (work)’: stay at home parents, caregivers, retirees, unemployed, people working from home etc. Some due to their circumstances don’t feel like they have a safe and relaxing ‘first place (home)’.
This is why it is so important that our ‘third places (social)’ are welcoming and inclusive for everyone in our communities.

“Libraries are one of the few public spaces left in our society where you’re allowed to exist without the expectation of spending money.”
Amanda Killian

Mental health & wellbeing literacy/education needs to be in our local communities, in our free inclusive accessible safe civic places: our local suburban Christchurch City Libraries with our ‘information specialists’ librarians.

We teach our children from an early age, if you have a question or need help, that it’s ok to ask our librarians.

“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”
Laura Bush

Our librarians can direct us to the ‘right info at the right time’, whether it be connecting you with a book, news article, community education, support service, community facility, community group…

Outreach opportunities for local & central Government, NGOS, & support services in our local suburban library learning spaces:
‘Participate, Engage, Observe’

‘You Are Here’, this is a safe place to be, for whatever you are going through. Take what you need to find your bearings again, before you see which way you need to go.

“Everyone of us needs help at some point in our life. And, the more that we can lift up those who need it the most in our community, the more the community itself betters.”
John Rivers

“Tangata ako ana i te kāenga, te tūranga ki te marae, tau ana.
A person nurtured in the community contributes strongly to society.”

In a world that is constantly telling us to ‘do’…
the key to wellbeing is found within the actual word: wellBEing.

“I am a human BEing, not a human DOing.
Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you ‘do’ things in life.
You aren’t what you ‘do’. If you are what you ‘do’, then when you don’t…you aren’t.”
Wayne Dyer

Hence, what we really need in this world, is more of this:
Welcome, ‘You Are Here’ & you have ‘A Place To BE’, within our local communities.

CCC Draft Annual Plan 2023-2024 Presentation

On Friday, 28th April 2023, I presented my submission to the Christchurch City Council’s Draft Annual Plan 2023/24.

Five minutes for the fifth year in a row & 15 pages, advocating for the rebuild of the Shirley Community Centre & redevelopment of the Shirley Community Reserve, at 10 Shirley Road, Richmond.

Written Submission:, Page 127-143
Blog Post:

“The 10 Shirley Road site has historically been a ‘place of learning’ since 1915 when the original Shirley Primary School was built.
The foundation stone was laid on 16th June 1915.

In May 1977, the building and site became surplus to the Ministry of Education requirements.
In March 1978, Shirley Community Centre opened as a ‘place for cultural, educational and recreational activities’.
It was a Category 2 historic place (#7117) & demolished in 2012, due to earthquake damage.

To be honest, after 5 years advocating for this site, I didn’t know what more I could say in my submission this year.

It wasn’t until I started trying to condense my research into the 15 pages you have before you, that I reread the 2015 Shirley Community Facility Rebuild report., Page 17-32

Well done, if you clicked on all the links in my written submission, you deserve a gold star!

The key point I would like to highlight today is found in:
Option 4 – Do not build a Community Facility at 10 Shirley Road.

In the ‘Legal Implications’ section: The land at 10 Shirley Rd is classified as reserve, vested in the Council by the Crown to be held ‘in trust for local purpose (site for a community centre)’.

That means the land could not be used for any other purpose than a community centre unless and until the reserve classification is changed.

It also appears the land could not simply sit ‘vacant’ with the reserve status unchanged, as that would also be inconsistent with the reserve purpose.

Option 4: Does not restore the service available pre-earthquake on what was a popular, heavily used site.
Unlikely to be acceptable to the Community.

Eight years after this report was written, residents have seen no further progress to reinstate their local community facility & the land has been left vacant.

The current 2030-31 funding time frame, does not align with the purpose of the reserve status & legal implications, or the District Plan changes where housing intensification has already exceed predicted population density in the suburbs surrounding the reserve.

Our demographics have changed, our rates have increased by 59%, we have a climate change emergency, yet we can’t ‘live local & go local’, when we have no ‘suburban’ sized libraries in the Innes Ward.

For the last 5 years I have been highlighting why this site is so important to our communities wellbeing.

A draft concept plan needs to be created & costed now, before a detailed budget can be presented to Council for approval.

We have been waiting for a rebuild since 2012.
Council doesn’t have to buy the land, or have an existing building demolished.
So let’s get on with it…”

Q. “Is there access to the [Shirley Primary] school across the road for community events and also with the North [Avon] hub just down the road on North Parade, has that changed your expectations?”
Kelly Barber, Councillor for Burwood Ward

A. “What I’ve presented from the beginning, since 2018, is not just a standard traditional community centre.
It’s a Learning Library, which involves putting a community centre building, that has the resources that a library has, with learning spaces, flexible spaces, meeting rooms.
All that we don’t have in our Innes Ward, and the closest option is the Shirley Library, which isn’t fit for purpose. It isn’t big enough, it doesn’t have those facilities available, so our communities are missing out or having to travel to other libraries.”

A. 1 | Shirley Primary School
11 Shirley Road, Shirley,

The 10 Shirley Road site is central to our 14 local education providers, all are within 3km of the 10 Shirley Road site, Shirley Community Reserve.

Since the redevelopment of our local schools, after the earthquakes, our children now have access during the school day to new learning spaces, school halls, sports fields & playgrounds.

But our preschoolers, ‘home school’ children, ‘correspondence school’ children & children after school/during the school holidays, living in the communities surrounding 10 Shirley Road (Shirley, Dallington, Richmond, Edgeware, St Albans & Mairehau), don’t have access to learning spaces/books/resources, as there is no ‘suburban’ sized library in the Innes Ward & the Shirley Library has limited books/resources/seating & doesn’t have any learning spaces.

A. 2 | Avon Hub
77 North Parade, Pricing varies based on availability
Indoors: Full sized Basketball Gym with wooden floor – gym is 30m long x 21m wide.
Outdoors: 3/4 sized hockey turf which can be played as 3 futsal/korfball turf with sand based astro surface LED lights for night use.

While we have indoor & outdoor sports facilities/parks in our communities, they are aimed at ‘teams’, not ‘individuals’ & there are financial costs (hire costs, club fees, uniform etc) associated with participating in these sports, which can exclude residents on a low income.
Most sports are played after school, at night or during the weekend.
We have a lack of opportunities for those who are available during the daytime.

Our residents have plenty of opportunities to access greenspaces in their local communities:
– Sports Park, Local/Community Park, Garden & Heritage Park & Residential Red Zone:,-43.50686,15
– Sports Park:
MacFarlane Park (Shirley),
Richmond Park (Richmond),
St Albans Park (St Albans),
Westminster Park (Mairehau),
Walter Park (Mairehau),

We don’t have a lack of school facilities in our local communities.
We don’t have a lack of greenspaces in our local communities.
We don’t have a lack of community centres in our local communities.
What we do have is a lack of Christchurch City Council ‘suburban’ sized libraries in our local communities.
What we do have is a lack of places we can ‘be’ during the day in our local communities.

Christchurch City Council Draft Annual Plan 2023-2024 Presentation
Waiapapa Papanui-Innes-Central Community Board

Chairperson Emma Norrish and Deputy Chairperson Simon Britten

“Placemaking and greenspace shaping from Innes to Central
Shirley Community Reserve
Community conversations to realise the vision for the future of the reserve.”

Written Submission:, Page 43-52
Page 45: 1.9 Capital Programme
i. Project 20053 (‘Shirley Community Centre’) – noting that though this is what this line item is labelled as, it is requested that this be re-labeled as a ‘community facility’ to more broadly reflect the consultation to be undertaken with this community on what is preferred for this site).