Louise Landess | Real words for real people

My upbringing was a mix of urban and rural. I’m happy as a clam to be out in the sticks for a short while, but I’m a city girl at heart. So it was a bit of a shock when in the early ‘90s I found myself living in rural New Zealand, six hours drive away from the nearest city and without a bus stop in sight. Having spent my 20’s living and working in central London, after a couple of years looking at the beautiful view and watching the grass grow, I had a desperate longing to get back to the big smoke. I missed the delicious smell of rain on hot concrete, listening to the hum of traffic in the early morning and sitting outside a cafe watching people going about their business. I had to get back to the bright lights, big city life.

Other than that it was a city, I knew pretty much nothing about Ōtautahi Christchurch when I arrived here; that it was a city was good enough for me. I landed within the Four Aves by chance. It was the mid ‘90s and while cycle lanes had yet to come into play, the flat landscape and wide streets made it the perfect city for biking around, plus I was just a short walk-along-the-river away from the city centre. I was happy to be here. And now a few decades, four major quakes and 11-plus thousand aftershocks on, here I am still enjoying the smell of rain on tarmac, drinking coffee on the refurbed city sidewalks and watching people go about their business.

I’ve spoken to thousands of people who work in this city and it’s given me great insight into the day to day mechanics of the place. What goes on behind the scenes in large national and international corporate offices, home offices, small businesses, community based non-profit organisations, medium-sized light industrial businesses, rest homes and hospitals, government and local government departments, retail outlets, wholesale operations, creative agencies, event organisers, pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars, professional associations and industry bodies, schools, colleges, sports clubs, voluntary organisations and prisons. And there are probably a fair few more to add to that list.

There’s so much that goes on 24/7 that unless I was working on this mahi myself, would never have even entered my head. In the words of the fabulous B.B King “I’ve been around and I’ve seen some things”, particularly here in Christchurch, and every day, I find it more fascinating. So that’s why this city for starters.

There’s still a lot I’ve yet to see of course. If you know of somewhere interesting that you think is worthy of exploring, please let me know. I’m looking forward to sharing what I discover in my How This City Works odyssey.

If you’re keen to discover who’s doing what, where and why… come on, follow me. I’m always open to a little urban adventure, and I never know where I’m going to end up, so a last word of warning from me and B.B… you’d better not look down if you want to keep on flying. Put the hammer down, keep it full speed ahead – and you never know, I might just see you out and about on these city streets!