Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch is #18 on The 2014 GOOD City Index.

Christchurch continues to feel the effects of the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the city almost four years ago. While thousands remain uncertain of the fate of their homes—roughly 13,000 houses were damaged in the quake—the construction of “the new Christchurch” progressed tremendously in 2014. Earlier this year, the government and the Christchurch City Council signed off on a housing accord to relieve soaring rents. And amid the frustration and heartbreak, the chance to start again has brought opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals. The council, trying to fill the once-empty CBD, has invited new businesses to take hold, leading to a variety of food trucks, pop-up restaurants, and street art festivals in the heart of Christchurch. The race is on to help Christchurch 2.0 reach its full potential.

Hub for progress

Since the quake, the creative, makeshift organization known as Gap Filler has been a prime example of how it’s possible to build something out of nothing. When the Pallet Pavilion was deconstructed in April after an 18-month tenure, Gap Filler announced plans for an amphitheater on the pavilion's former site. In March, the Inconvenience Store, a pop-up shop and art project that’s taken over by a new person every day of the week, also opened in the space. The shop sells goods like “Pint of Patience” and “30-Hour Day,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to the various frustrations felt by Christchurch residents involved in the rebuild.

Civic engagement

Despite controversy surrounding Christchurch City Council's financial state, new Mayor Lianne Dalziel seems determined to involve residents in the rebuild. Take one of the city's first anchor projects that began earlier this year, a replacement for the central library lost in the earthquake. For six weeks in March 2014, the public were invited to have its say in what they wanted from the new library as part of the council's "Your Library, Your Voice" campaign, promoted online and throughout other city libraries. The ideas from the campaign will be collated and analyzed by the council and the design team ahead of the construction, which is slated to begin in early 2015.

Street life

There is one constant and glorious fixture in ever-changing Christchurch: High Street’s C1 Expresso. The front counter is clad in 14,000 Lego blocks, water is poured through an original Singer sewing machine, and the cafe’s bathroom—separated from the main area by a sliding bookcase—plays its clientele audio books. In February, the launch of the cafe’s pneumatic food tube system, the first where you can get your burger and fries whizzed to your table at 140 kilometers an hour, made headlines.

Defining moment

New Zealand’s party-hard student culture is often at odds with residents. But, when heavy rain and sunken quake-affected land led to severe flooding and evacuations in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs earlier this year, the University of Canterbury Student Volunteer Army continued its trend of bucking the stereotype. Initially formed after the quake and boasting 13,000 volunteers at its peak, the army aims to help forge better relationships between students and local residents by encouraging students to take a stake in the issues of their city.


The Christchurch Central Development Unit, which was set up to plan the CBD rebuild, was given just 100 days to come up with the blueprint for reconstruction. As a result, transport was an afterthought. However, after much wrangling over budget and timeline, the government pledged 100 million New Zealand dollars in August to develop urban cycleways over a four-year period throughout the city and the rest of the country.

Green life

After a two-year battle in the Environment Court against Canterbury Cricket’s decision to develop an international venue in the 164-hectare Hagley Park, the multi-million dollar construction of what will become the Hagley Oval is now in full swing. The decision means the return of international cricket to the region after four years, as Christchurch prepares to host the opening ceremony and two other pool matches of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.


To draw in much-needed residents and a labor force, the government fast-tracked visas for foreigners who wanted to move to Christchurch to help rebuild. However, questions soon arose about the living and labor conditions of the largely Filipino workforce that has inundated the city, which some estimate to be between 2,500 and 3,000 people. In response to these concerns, New Zealand campaigners and lawmakers called for an Employment Charter to be drafted in September, intended to strengthen migrant rights. The charter was applauded by union groups, which are pressuring Christchurch’s construction companies to adopt their guidelines.

Work/life balance

This year saw the return of The Bog, a popular and lively Irish pub that was destroyed in the earthquake. This adds to an already stellar lineup of new establishments including The Harlequin Public House and the new-look Carlton Bar. Together, they signal the triumphant return the Christchurch resident’s favorite pastime: meeting for a pint.

Ashleigh Stewart is a journalist from Christchurch. She believes there is something about walking up Rapaki Track and looking out to the Canterbury Plains on one side and Lyttelton Harbour on the other that really drives home the simplicity and beauty of everyday life in the city.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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