Working with UC QuakeBox

UC QuakeBox has been deployed around Christchurch for five weeks now, spending four of those in the Re:StartĀ development along Cashel Street, before moving to Eastgate mall. We sat down with Lucy-Jane Walsh, one of the UC QuakeBox staff, to ask her about her experiences there.

Have you been enjoying working for UC QuakeBox?

Yes! It's great, I love connecting with the public. I work for UC CEISMIC too, so it's great to be able to talk to the people we are doing this all for. I love to hear their ideas.

Has there been a good response from the public?

It's been a bit mixed so far. Lots of people are really excited about what we are doing and want to contribute, but others are too busy, or a bit daunted by our little recording studio. It's a shame, because they'll often be happy to tell us their story outside the box, but when we push them to come inside, they freeze up, or tell us they are too busy.

How many stories have you managed to gather?

I hear tell that we have gathered more than a hundred stories so far, twenty of which are mine. Sadly, often people don't think their story is interesting enough, which is frustrating because so far I have not heard a boring story! We've had a lot more interest at Eastgate though, so I have hopes that I will soon be run off my feet.

Can you describe to us the recording process, what it is like for somebody who decides to tell their story?

It's really very easy. First we sit people down and get them to read through the consent form. It has been designed to give people a lot of options about how they would like their story used, whether they would like researchers or the public to view it, whether they want video, or just audio, or just a transcript. Then we get them to fill out a survey, telling us about where they were during the quakes.

After that, we take them into the recording studio and let them tell their story. They can have somebody in there with them, but we try not to prompt or contribute to their story. We're really interested in what it is that people recall, so we don't want to direct them too much.

Do many people like to have somebody in there with them?

Yes, quite a lot actually. People are going to get sick of looking at my face!

Every sound I make has to be transcribed later, so I work really hard to not say "mmm" and "ahh". It's quite hard, and I end up nodding a lot.

What kind of stories have you had so far? Do you find there is a trend in the story telling?

Not at all! Every story is very different, not just in what happened to the person, but also in how they tell it. Some people like to focus on just one earthquake, while others go through them all. Some people just like to talk about the way their lives have changed because of the earthquake, or the frustrations they are going through trying to fix their house.

Overwhelmingly, I have noticed that people are incredibly positive. They believe passionately in Christchurch and want to partake in its rebuild. It's quite heart warming.

Thank you Lucy-Jane, do you have any passing comments?

Just that everybody should come down to UC QuakeBox and tell their story. We are open from 10-3, Tuesday-Saturday, and we are currently in the car park at Eastgate Mall. I look forward to seeing you all there.