Last October, during a trip to Australia and New Zealand, I proposed to give the money I would have spent on carbon offsets to an Aussie or Kiwi who came up with an idea to use the modest expenditure to promote an incremental change that could make a difference. 

As it happens, a controversy in Wellington was currently in the news: a proposal to build a flyover (or freeway-style overpass) next to the city’s iconic cricket ground.  As a project of ‘national significance,’ it was being proposed by New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Flyover 1

The proposed flyover

Richard Reid (below left), an architect in Auckland, came up with an idea in response to my offer: “to use the money to pay for the printing and binding of colour drawings to illustrate an alternative design my practice has prepared for a motorway project in Wellington.”  Details here.

Well, guess what happened?

Richard Reid reports:

  • Firstly, your money, and news of the money, has been a catalyst for the breakthroughs and progress I have made.  A local digital news service – Scoop –  publicised your blog  and crucially, allowed me to build awareness and interest in my alternative proposal.
  • The timing was very important as the week beforeflyover-sunbathers a regional councillor had put forward a motion for the Greater Wellington Regional Council to review options for the flyover.
  • Background information for the motion referred to my alternative proposal for the first time publicly (see the comment by Paul Bruce at the bottom of the article).  This motion was passed, with the controversy making the main news in the Dominion Post, but with only an oblique reference to my alternative.  However, Scoop picked it up and alerted the public to the development of another alternative.  News of your support followed a week later.
  • Subsequently, the regional council has brought me down to Wellington to present to councillors the unknown alternative (confidentially at my request), and I was invited by Wellington City Council to address their councillors in the same way the day after (following on from a presentation I made to them in April).
  • This firmed up the majority of city councillors’ opposition to the flyover and led to an extraordinary meeting last week where councillors voted on their preference for an alternative and to set aside funds to explore thisRichard ReidThe day of the vote the Dominion published a story on my alternative.
  • The city councillors’ success in moving this motion has frustrated NZTA’s control of the process which they are not happy about.  The Dominion has followed this up with an Editorial (not uploaded) criticising council and my design (which they haven’t seen, and are taking NZTA’s word that it doesn’t work).  Scoop has commented on the Editorial here .  Meanwhile, the city council has approached me to discuss making my design available to them for analysis.
  • So the scene is well set for further progress in 2013.  Thank you once again for your support and interest.  I shall keep you informed of progress.