by ROWENA OREJANA
CHRISTCHURCH — As whole communities disappear and new ones spring up, neighbourhoods in Christchurch are slowly losing their human connections underthe stress of day-to-day living and recovery from earthquakes.
Te Raranga, an interfaith group that came together three years ago
to respond to earthquake-related issues, launched “The Neighbourhood
Project” in the last weekend of March to awaken the neighbourly
spirit that brought Christchurch together immediately after the
2011 disaster.

The pastoral worker at St Francis of Assisi, Mairehau, Wendy
Clark, said the project seeks to restore these connections in a
small way.
Mrs Clark is the Catholic representative in the committee that
spearheaded the project.
“After the earthquakes, there was such great sharing as everybody
checked on how each other was doing. Three years down the line, people are quite tired, quite stressed and some of those neighbourhood connections have disappeared,” she said.
“We thought it was timely to get the message out again [about]
how important it is to know your neighbour.”
Parishioners of St Francis, where the project was launched, each received a slice of cake to take to their neighbours. Some actually
ate the cake instead.
Others, however, went one step further, baking a cake themselves
Piece of cake spurs civic spirit and going around their neighbourhoods to share and get to know the people in their community.
“It’s a little bit too early at this stage to sort of say what the impact has been. Certainly, it has had an impact. But how widespread that is I wouldn’t like to guess,” said Mrs Clark.
Mrs Clark said the group worked on this project for more than half
a year, conceptualising, fundraising and, finally, implementing the
project. The launch was just the start.
“We just use the churches, I guess, as a springboard. It’s one
way of getting the message across and getting them, then, to spread
the message,” she said.
They also sent 150,000 postcards to households in Christchurch,
Selwyn and Waimakariri districts. On the reverse side of the
postcards, there are spaces where people can write their neighbour’s
name and contact details.
Mrs Clark said they hope to follow up the project throughout the
year with small initiatives.
“We’re hoping that next year we get another shot at it. We hope to
become a yearly consciousness,” she said.
The group has a Facebook page and a Twitter account where people can follow the campaign.
The Neighbourhood Project was supported by many civic organisations.

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