On my morning walk with the dog (his second for the morning, so he was feeling a bit tired) I listened to an amazing podcast from Radio National’s 360 Documentaries, After the Quakes on Christchurch, nearly three years after the first quake, that one of our great volunteers Catherine Young put me onto. This is possibly the best documentary about recovery that I have come across. Gretchen Miller has captured the nuances and the not so subtleness of the complexity of recovery in a warm, heart rending story of the earthquake.
As I walked, I had to contain myself from punching the air, “yes, she’s nailed it” I wanted to yell at the jogger passing me. Luckily the dog was weary and wanted to rest, so I stopped at bench, and stared out at the sea and listened to the 50 minute broadcast.
From understanding the stress of recovery, the loss of home and place, the uncertainty, the second disaster called insurance, through to the positives, Gap Filler, Cancern, it is a terrific documentary. I like the way that the program has not one interview with the “official” recovery system (sorry government friends!). There is no spin, glossed over weasel worded statements. It’s a warts and all program.
Listening to this program brought into sharp relief the Guardian Firestorm multimedia piece I wrote about yesterday. This broadcast gives you the sense of how tough it is. The Guardian one didn’t give me the same feeling.
It also reminds me how important radio is as a medium. My brother Owen wrote an obituary of the Radio National broadcaster, Alan Saunders. In it he mentioned, “having the radio on means you will inevitably hear something you hadn’t meant to” This broadcast will have reached many people who perhaps would be surprised that recovery is taking so long, that people are tired and angry, and that there are some amazing things that come out of disasters too. I hope this broadens people’s minds and their expectations. Radio, in this format, also allows a decent exploration of issues that is not simplistic soundbite and slogan driven. I’m happy for my 8c a day for the national broadcaster to be used in this manner.
Radio is also an accessible format. You can listen to it in the car, on the computer, on your ipod, at night, as you are trying to sleep. Radio is also a relatively cheap, flexible, responsive and timely way of getting a range of information out to communities affected by disaster. ABC Local Radio established ABC Kinglake Ranges, a month after the February 7th Bushfires, a legacy project that become the local Kinglake Ranges Community Radio.
Anyway, I digress. Pimply faced ministerial advisers, engineers, local councillors, shock jocks, as well as budding recovery workers should all be made to listen to this broadcast before being let loose on any community. People affected by other disasters could also listen to it to find they are not going crazy. Find the 50 minutes, it’s required, compelling listening.
The great Lyttleton band, The Eastern