Where are you from?
I’m originally from Colorado. I grew up hiking and biking in the mountains and can still remember warmly the colours at their height when autumn came around each year. I moved from Colorado to study architecture in London and LA. I went on to practice architecture in Holland and Switzerland before I came to Christchurch to be part of the rebuild in 2011.
How do you spend your days?
I spend the majority of my time implementing Collett’s Corner. I also spend time across six other projects, each of which builds community in some way. One of those projects is Kohu Hemp, a company producing hempcrete building materials. They are also exploring the possibility of building small villages made with a zero carbon footprint. One tough reality of Collett’s Corner is that we’ve had to accept last century materials - I’m determined Ohu’s future projects will use regenerative materials. I'm always working on projects, sometimes I am the initiator and sometimes I'm along to support others. I'm grateful all of my work is purpose driven and anchored in building community.
What are you looking forward to the most about living at Collett’s Corner?
I’m looking forward to the simplicity, not having to take care of so much, and having everything I need so close-by. I love thinking about the market being downstairs from my bed, the coffee shop being a stone’s throw away, and the hills and sea being right there to play in.
It’s going to be so nice having buddies to live with and to explore what it means to live together in community. But really, most of all I'm looking forward to Ūkaipō, it is going to be such a special place!
What does community mean to you?
I see community as a nested system, there’s layers to it. On the surface, people know each other and there is recognition. Going a little deeper, there’s a common shared interest and further still, a shared commitment to something. Strong community comes from working on a shared goal, task or purpose. When we are part of a community we have an increased sense of belonging and I believe that increases our quality of life and personal wellbeing.
I hope that, as residents of Collett’s Corner, we can work together to reduce our carbon footprint and our collective impact on our planet - maybe that’s sharing material items and collectively buying as a sort-of food co-op.
Was there anything you had to think long and hard about before making your decision?
When I lived in Europe, small living spaces were the norm. But now, I’m used to a larger space. So it will be somewhat of an adjustment going from a 160m2 suburban home back to that European-sized apartment. I’m looking forward to getting comfortable in that space again and owning less stuff, but it will be hard to let go of some things. I just keep reminding myself how much easier that life is, and how much time is freed up when we live in smaller spaces and with less stuff.
It’s going to be hard at the beginning, having been the founder of Collett’s Corner, I will see all the things I would do differently. And it may take a bit of time for me not to be the person that everyone comes to to ask permission, but I’m confident that that transfer of responsibility will happen as I move from being the founder to simply being a resident.
Are there any changes you’ll be making to your habits to be a part of the resident community?
I’m going to be swapping my personal garden - where I love to grow veggies, fruit trees and flowers - for the community garden which I’ll be joining straight away. It’s super close by - a three-minute walk and another way to practice being part of a community. I really look forward to that.
You’ve chosen to buy two apartments? Why so?
Two reasons, we need to sell all of the apartments before the bank will give us a construction loan, and I really want to see Collett's Corner built soon. Second, I don’t know which one I want to live in, the sunny courtyard-facing one? Or the less-sunny harbour-facing one? I need to live in them before deciding which one is for me. I'll sell the other and welcome in another member(s) to our resident community after I choose which one suits me best.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
I was moved when Chelita recently told me that she’ll be placing her sacred pounamu into the foundations of the building as the ceremonial anchor. It’s so fitting given that Ūkaipō will hold the space and enliven the lower floors and that “ūkaipō” means unearthing or birthing. It feels like a profound and very generous gesture.
I look forward to 2023 when we’ll all move in. There’ll be a big party to acknowledge all the amazing people involved in making this project come to life and many blessings to offer for its future as it embarks on its true mission to build a community around wellbeing.