The Voice of the Community

The 'stay at home if possible' request after the earthquake made me appreciate having some vegetables in the garden. Even if you just have a few good old silverbeet plants somewhere they can balance out a scratched together meal - if you have the means to cook after such an event.

This reflection comes from Lee Osborn's "Gardening in Southshore" column from the October 2010 edition of The Southshore Beacon, which comprises part of the latest addition to UC CEISMIC. Back issues of The Beacon, dating to September 2010, have been added to our new Community Newsletter Collection along with a selection of post-earthquake issues of The Addington Times. Both of these publications are newsletters produced by community groups in their respective neighbourhoods.

Addington and Southshore have been severely affected by the earthquakes, and the impact of the disasters is made clear in their community newsletters. Articles offer advice on dealing with insurance companies, zoning policies and chemical toilets; reflect on the effects of increased traffic, the opening of new businesses, or the demolition of heritage buildings; and notify residents of changes to roads and other infrastructure. The impact of the earthquakes is even visible in the classifieds, which show, for example, an increase in advertisements seeking or offering short-term rental accommodation.

These kinds of community level changes have had an enormous effect on the lives of the Christchurch public. The community newsletters are important to preserve because they help ensure that these changes are not forgotten.

But perhaps the most significant aspect of the newsletters is the way they record how residents have responded on an individual level to the earthquakes. Lee's reflection about having vegetables in the garden is just one of many examples of this. The focus of the articles shows what becomes important to people in trying times. We think this aspect of the newsletters will be of great use to future researchers trying to learn about the social impact of natural disasters.

Although our Community Newsletter Collection is small at this stage, we hope it will grow with the addition of more newsletters from communities around Christchurch in the near future. In the meantime, The Southshore Beacon   and The Addington Times serve as important records of the impact the earthquakes have had on Christchurch communities.