23.11.2015 : Emily Kelly

What are you doing here?

Central Christchurch has become one of New Zealand’s largest central city but with little hype in the city, how do we motivate our young people to remain inspired?

As members of the stereotypical aspiring 'Generation Y', a number of us got together to get young professionals inspired in our central city and see the opportunities present in one of New Zealand's largest rebuild projects. Following the Canterbury earthquake in 2011, there was a  desire to keep the young people in Christchurch motivated to keep going as the city goes through change and development.

So how do you motivate young people to keep going in this transitional city? A few of us got together to try to address this.

What we did

We set up WAYD which simply stands for 'What Are you Doing Here?'. Our mission is to engage young people, get them talking and stepping out of their knowledge box. We found there were many endeavours from the various institutes to engage members in events post 2011 earthquake with little success.

We were confronted with endless excuses like:

  • too long
  • too far away
  • too many events
  • always the same people
  • no young people

So to address these excuses we wrote a simple non engineered equation:

Short, sharp presentations + young professionals + centrally located venue + free food and drink = no excuses!

It seemed to be a success with our first WAYD event pulling over 80 attendees. In fact we recently hosted WAYD#7 and the concept is still growing and we now have five discipline institutes involved in expanding our networks even further.

How does it work?

We are a group of representatives from across the various design and build institutes (New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA), New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI), New Zealand Institute of Surveyors (NZIS) and Engenerate - IPENZ Emerging Professionals) that bring all of the young professionals together to speak about interesting and uplifting topics inspired by their disciplines and the work they are involved in here and inspirational ideas from around the world.

1)It is about real life networking...the old school kind...where you stand in front of a person and have a general chat - not the online social network that we have become too comfortable with.

2) It is about welcoming both young professionals and the more experienced in our professions to come along and see what ‘Generation Y’ are working on and what good ideas we have because often in large forums like these young people lose their tongues or don't get the opportunity to get a word in.

3) It is about short, sharp presentations full of inspirational images that assure attendees leave the event feeling more motivated and positive.

4) It is about free-flowing conversations across the disciplines to get people talking, sharing knowledge and gaining inspiration outside of their regular work so we can rebuild a better Christchurch.

So now you might ask how does WAYD answer the tricky questions posed from the beginning?

Throughout the previous seven WAYD evenings we have heard from over 50 speakers about inspiring projects and topics. Architects, Landscape Architects, Planners, Engineers and Surveyors have enlightened us with their stories and journeys of being involved in big and small projects from the Justice Precinct and City Council jobs here in Christchurch to some international precedents including the Singapore Events Centre.

We have seen young people get up and speak in front of their peers for the first time and do well and we have seen experienced members of our institutes come along, listen and learn from us. It is a great forum for everyone to get involved and walk away feeling inspired.

So why do I do it?

I am making the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on projects that will transform a currently oversized central city car park into a vibrant city with interconnected buildings, spaces and people.

So you might ask… Where can I go to meet like-minded people and share my ideas in Christchurch?

Our next WAYD#8 event will be in February 2016 so come along to gain knowledge, be inspired and meet other people in your area of interest.

However we shouldn't wait for events like these to listen to our young people - my challenge to you all is to listen to some of the inspiring young members of your company and let them share their ideas because they just might have an innovative idea that is brilliant that is just waiting to be discovered by your clients.

About the Author

Emily Kelly

Team Leader/Landscape Architect

Emily is a member of the Beca Christchurch Design Practice where she recently became a registered landscape architect. Outside of work she has been motivated to get young professionals from across the design disciplines together to inspire each other through a new network group 'What Are You Doing Here' (WAYD).

Ignite Your Thinking

What Do You Think?

Genevieve Smith · 24/11/2015 9:21:45 PM
Nice work, Emily! Love getting people together to motivate and inspire each other, Christchurch will be stronger for it!

Eric Wolters · 23/11/2015 11:31:24 AM
Sounds like a fantastic initiative, Emily. Thanks for sharing.