I’m The Guest Poet At The Ballroom Cafe On Sunday 17 October

I’m very pleased to announce that I will be the guest poet at the Ballroom Cafe in Newtown in October.

The details are:

Date and time: Sunday 17 October 2010, 4pm–6pm

Venue: The Ballroom Café, Newtown
(corner of Riddiford Street & Adelaide Road – see map)

Contacts: Neil Furby, ballroompoetrycafe (at) gmail.com
L. E. Scott, (04) 801-7773 (daytime)

Running Order:

About The Performers

Gracious Deviants Pete Edge and Darrel Greaney are an acoustic duo. Their sound is heavy with harmony and steeped in the traditions of the NZ singer/songwriter.

Tim Jones is a Wellington poet and author of both literary fiction and science fiction. His work has been published in NZ, USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Vietnam. He has just completed the manuscript for his third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained.

Tim says:

The Ballroom Cafe poetry readings in Newtown, Wellington on the third Sunday of each month have rapidly become a staple of the Wellington poetry scene. That has a lot to do with the excellent hospitality of the venue, and even more to do with the great job Lewis Scott and Neil Furby have done in organising the events and bringing in an excellent, multicultural mix of poets, performers and audience members.

I am really pleased to have been invited to be the guest poet at October’s session. If you’re in the neighbourhood, I hope you’ll be able to come along, listen, and take part.

Wellington Writers’ Colony Is Go: Introducing the Cuba Street Garret

Since I first blogged about Doug Wilkins’ plans to set up a Wellington Writers’ Colony, modelled on the Sanchez Grotto Annex which he set up in San Francisco, Doug has been working determinedly to get over various hurdles and set the venture up. And now he has, which is all the more creditable in the current economic climate. Here’s the press release Doug sent out to mark the occasion. If you’d like to know more, you can contact Doug by emailing dbwilkins@gmail.com or calling 021-138-5050.

Press Release for The Cuba Street Garret

Here comes The Cuba Street Garret, a combination of solitude and community for the toner-stained wretches we know as writers. We have purchased a flat on Cuba Street, and are outfitting it with offices so that writers can move in and get to work. Heat, Internet, and cleaning services will be provided, of course. This workspace will be called The Cuba Street Garret because Cuba Street is where it’s located, and ‘Garret’ since there are few writers who can even afford a garret these days, but this would perhaps make that dream possible for several of them.

Costs are, naturally, a primary concern for everyone, so the rent will be only $80 per week; it could well be less than that once the fourteen (14) offices are filled.

The Cuba Street Garret will be up and running as early as, no fooling, April 1st.

And there will be no lengthy leases. Writers will never be asked to commit to more than one month at a time. The success of The Cuba Street Garret will come from the positive atmosphere therein.

Further Information

Members of The Garret will meet for lunch once a month.

They will have an open house celebration, ‘The Welcome Interruption I,’ from 5.30 until 8.30 on Friday evening, 17th April.

Located in the Watkins Building (corner of Cuba and Vivian Streets).

The Cuba Street Garret has a progenitor of a sort back in San Francisco, The Sanchez Grotto Annex, if anyone wants to see how a writers’ workspace works. Those offices now have a waiting list, and we expect to have the same level of participation in Wellington.

Writers who wish to learn more or visit The Garret should contact Doug Wilkins: dbwilkins@gmail.com and/or 021-138-5050.

Stupid, Wasteful, and Dangerous

Last night I attended a public meeting to oppose plans by the Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington, and Transit New Zealand to “solve” central Wellington’s transport problems by building more roads and digging new road tunnels, despite the considerable body of evidence (such as this report) that shows this approach does nothing but induce more traffic onto the roads, thus causing further congestion.

I was peripherally involved in organising the meeting, and I’ll be making a submission on the issue. I went along hoping the meeting would go well, and it did: we got over 100 people, lots of whom stayed around afterwards to offer help with the campaign. But the meeting did something I didn’t expect: it made me angry.

Not angry at the presenters, but angry at Wellington’s transport planners who, year after year, decade after decade, trot out the same “solution” to the problem earlier “solutions” have helped to create. Despite the massive contribution of private car transport to greenhouse gas emissions; despite the mismatch between the world production of oil and world oil demand, which is the underlying reason behind high oil prices, and which will only get worse as oil production peaks and then declines; despite the body of research which shows that there are better ways of solving transport problems; despite all that, these planners repeat their mantra that we have to build more roads to take more cars.

There’s some extenuating circumstances. New Zealand’s bizarre transport funding rules mean that local government can get central government to pay for 100% of certain roading projects, but only 50% of non-roading projects. Wellington’s Mayor has openly said that road tunnels are essential, no matter what comes out of the public consultation process. There’s a whole heap of construction companies eager to put on the hard hats and the fluorescent jackets one more time and let the asphalt flow out and the money roll in. And, of course, by no means are all transport planners stuck in the past.

But in an era when climate change and oil depletion are both accelerating, when cities overseas are moving away from the private car, when transport alternatives are available, to keep pushing the same old failed solution is stupid. It’s wasteful – roads are massively expensive to build, more expensive than the alternative options. And it’s dangerous, because it fails to face up to the reality of our urgent energy and environmental problems, and diverts resources that should be spent on tackling those problems.

It’s stupid, wasteful, and dangerous. And it has to stop.

• Reports of the meeting by Matt Bartlett (PDF) and Eye of the Fish.
Make a submission (deadline is 22 February) and read the planning report