by Chris Perley
Let us start with a story. I once had a discussion with a roading engineer. It started badly and got progressively worse. He was explaining to me – is there an engineer equivalent to mansplaining? – that the route down the coastal Norfolk Pine avenue of Marine Parade from the Napier Port to the Awatoto Fertiliser works was the shortest distance for the heavy trucks (He spoke slowly so I was able to follow his indisputable logic).
That’s the question I was asked by one of my bosses when he learned I lived in a Housing Co-op. And to be honest that’s the response from many people. They have visions of communes like Centrepoint and Gloriavale. But I live in the Peterborough Housing Co-op governed by the Otakaro Land Trust, situated in Central Christchurch. We have no religious affiliation and no charismatic leader promising to guide us to a better place!
I recently picked up Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins’s 1977 book Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity. This was the follow up book to Lappe’s hugely popular Diet for a Small Planet. Although it was written nearly 40 years ago, the key message of the book is still relevant. The authors suggest that food provides the most useful tool to make sense of our complex world and that food is the right place to focus our attention and energy if we want change to occur. While the nature of global and local problems have shifted since that time, I believe the underlying message holds true. It is worrying that after 40 years, we are still grappling with similar problems.