All live in Christchurch, so have lived through nearly 11,000 earthquakes and seen what that means.
So houses are damaged, often cold, and some still don't know what zone they are in,even now. Many people's businesses are broken or gone. Or they are crammed into offices putting up with very little space. Heavy machines are everywhere. Roads bounce, and repairs mean long waits on roads. There's limited entertainment options for young people.The process of demolition in the Central City is slow. Many feel overwhelmed by what's happening and continuing to happen.People are jumpy and health indicators will show the effects of stress .
And so... enter the Ministry of Awesome, (MOA for short). With their website (still in beta) announced on the front page of the Press last week, and with some initial funding from the nice people at Canterbury Community Trust, they appear ready to make some noise. We had a chat to some of the initial team to find out more.
Kaila Colbin, the TEDX person here in Christchurch who hails from the US originally and whose work rate leaves most people far behind; Sam Johnson , known everywhere in his role at the Student Volunteer Army and Young New Zealander of the year: Sacha McMeeking , a politically-savvy lawyer with a background at Ngai Tahu but now branching into all sorts of fascinating things and Vicki Buck, a former Mayor of Christchurch picked by the Guardian as one of 50 people to save the world and whose recent background is in renewables, climate change and education.
What do they have in common? They are optimists, totally aware of how to get things done and not willing to accept that things can't be done. And all very positive about the outlook for Christchurch and Christchurch people.
So Why the Ministry of Awesome …?
"Ministry of Awesome was created because we saw a lot of creativity that wasn't finding an outlet. We wanted to create a platform that would make it easier for people to turn their own awesome ideas into reality. If you think of Gap Filler or Flatman as an "app," MoA is the Facebook that can make 1,000 apps grow.
Ministry of Awesome is also a connector organisation. We believe that there's no limit to the amount of awesome we can have, and we're happy to work with anyone who is striving for an awesome Christchurch! This includes citizens, companies, NGOs, and government.
Just since we launched the site last Thursday, we've had more than 40 ideas submitted -- people are eager to see awesome things happen! Ministry of Awesome is a vehicle so that all that creative energy has somewhere to go, letting us co-create the awesome Christchurch we all want.
Sam: "We live in a society that represses creativity, crazy ideas, and big dreams instead of embracing them. MOA seeks that creativity and helps people realise that the only thing stopping you changing the world is your own preconceptions about what cannot be done."
What difference will it make ?
Kaila: "Ministry of Awesome is looking to have a profound impact on Christchurch. It starts with simple delight and pride in our city. Already, we're seeing tweets like, "Does your city have a Ministry of Awesome!? Ours does :) Awesome."
But the impact goes deeper than that. A similar organisation in San Francisco, the Neighborhood Empowerment Network, has demonstrated that this kind of encouragement of and support for grass-roots social innovation has profound effects. If you have the ability to take your awesome idea and turn it into reality, you become more invested in your community. Large groups of people who are supported to be creative are shown to be more resilient and better able to come together to tackle complex problems. Awesome is about simple delight as well as profound meaning.
Sam: "MOA will create corners of Christchurch that stick in peoples minds. Corners that they they share with their friends and corners that become the symbols of our city! MOA shows the world what we can do together. Think of a freshly painted house, a box of crayons and a 2 year old... even the smallest person can make a major impact on the world. Christchurch is being freshly painted, MOA is a box of crayons... and we're looking for 2 year olds!
Vicki:(she wasn't allowed to say much because she is associated with this website !) " People have gone through a heap of things and the very cool thing is that they are still smiling and there are so many amazingly good things that people want to do and make happen.
Sometimes people feel like they need permission to make these happen. They don't ...but if they feel that way we will give them permission...and as much help as possible to make it real.
I think what we have learned as a community is that we have enormous power to make things happen and we hope to never forget that lesson "
"Christchurch has witnessed the awesome power of nature. We think nourishing and inspiring the creative potential of the people of Christchurch will unlock the power of awesome to heal and transform our city. The Ministry of Awesome will water the seeds of awesome and help people find the green for go button, but ultimately, awesome ideas, passion and verve are found in everyday people, everywhere"
We want also to be a hub for relationships between the business community and people with awesome ideas. If the business community want to connect with us to make that happen feel free..
"Collaboration is the springboard for the power of awesome. Business, community, mavericks and government all have part of the answer, together we can be remarkable. The Ministry of Awesome is excited to connect with all sectors"
The website itself is a great example of such collaboration.
Four passionate Christchurch people were looking to do something amazing about the Avon River, and got talking in the cafe with one of the Awesomists and decided to combine forces.
Julian Cone, experienced website developer and long-time collaborator with Grant Ryan, successful serial entrepreneur, and inventor of the YikeBike drew on their recent experience with the Elevated Garden city concept, and their less well known environmental engineering and geography backgrounds to pull together the technical team to build the website.
The website, www.MinistryofAwesome.com, has had a great response already, especially since the news got out of it's launch last Friday.
Tech lead, Julian Cone said,
"While we are pretty happy with Version 1.0 of the MOA website, like our beloved Christchurch city, it is very much a work in progress - (hence the ubiquitous BETA tag!). We will be constantly improving the site and would appreciate all your feedback on everything about the site."