Speech to Auckland Council Planning Committee 5 August 2021
Kia ora koutou - Good morning everyone:
My name is Chris Dews and as you can see I’m an artist….
And I think I have the privilege of speaking to you today because my art has spoken to people about something that many of us are longing for…
...And a way for the people of Auckland to work constructively with our city’s decision makers to achieve this …
Look at the paintings….
The biggest criticism of these paintings is that they are utopian - that there are any number of reasons that they ‘can’t work’.
But what is actually possible?
I’m sure that anyone living anywhere around the world in the 1700s, if we showed them images of our lives today - the very idea of hot running water, flushing toilets, emergency hospital services, our education opportunities, not to mention mobile phones, computers and spaceships, even our political system with all of its flaws…. pictures of you guys... listening to me... would have seemed utopian.
Just imagine what kind of shift in society would have to take place for all that to happen? And yet, here we are.
And what makes the idea of such a beautiful, healthy city utopian? We have already achieved far more than we ever thought possible…is there actually any reason why we can’t lift our vision again?
Mayor Goff, Auckland Council Planning Committee - kindness is coming your way!
If you would like it to….
In the same way that within days of stopping traffic in Auckland during lockdown last year, the air was clear and birds were singing everywhere - all it takes to bring about a huge change in conditions is to stop doing the things that bring harm. And all of nature - including us as people, who are also part of nature, will begin to thrive again.
Let’s take a moment…
What makes you thrive?
Think of the last time you felt like you were thriving?
What was it about that time that made you feel like you were thriving?
What gets in the way of you thriving?
How hard would it actually be to stop the things that are causing harm and allow the things that bring health to thrive?
We never imagined that we could make the rapid change into lockdown like we did for Covid.
And yet we did it. We listened to the science, acted accordingly and we have reaped the benefits ever since.
What is science telling us now? About the health of our planet? And what we need to do to make it thrive again?
We need a more ambitious way of building cities - one that integrates nature and cares for everyone. And by everyone, I mean not only the homeless but all of you too.
In my letter to you, Phil Goff, inviting you to my exhibition, I mentioned the online platform called vTaiwan. I’m not an IT guy but there are plenty of great IT people out there. Please look into it. It's a way for people to rapidly contribute to the creation of social policy.
With the huge challenges that our city and planet is facing - we need to collaborate and work together like we never have before. And we actually do have everything that we need to face these challenges.
In the words of the French philosopher and scientist Voltaire:
“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”
We can overcome the challenges that we are facing. We can be kind to one another. We can heal our planet and do the things that we need to do at the speed at which we need to do them.
And what seems Utopian now - can become our new normal. Let’s make Auckland a healthy, thriving, caring, beautiful and inspiring city.
I’d like to thank and acknowledge the people that have listened to me, helped me organise my thoughts and provided me with amazing quotes. I would not be standing here in front of you without them.