I’d like to claim some kind of greater powers, having written about earthquakes and careers mere weeks before, hot on the heels of a Trump win in the US, there was a major 7.6 quake, centered near Kaikoura in the South Island.  The quake has taken two lives, paralysed Kaikoura and North Canterbury and severely rattled our capital city.  However this is Aotearoa, and we sit on the southwest end of the Pacific Ring of Fire on a planet whose crust needs to move about.  It is a turbulent but fascinating place geologically and socially.  So – no I don’t have a hotline to Rūaumoko.

Then as if that wasn’t enough, it was hot on the heels of a Trump win in the US, and on Monday night, high winds and rain began to lash the capital. By Tuesday major flooding had hit many parts of the Wellington region.  Meanwhile aftershocks continue.

By Friday, the sun was out although with a freezing cold southerly running.  I could see snow on the Tararua mountains, and it’s November. We still had quite a number of students on campus, driven inside by the weather, but not able to open all of the buildings just yet.  There is a makeshift plywood wall running across the university Hub as the Library is temporarily closed. Our student welfare team have jumped at the opportunity to create a supportive space in the Hub, for any students who are feeling overwhelmed,  and are making good use of this wall. 

Coincidentally this week at Victoria is Creativity Week, with lectures and conversations about the many aspects of creativity having been planned well before the quake hit. It is a chance to stop and consider, what happens to people when the squeeze is on and there is a blank wall in front of them? Why do really good ideas emerge? How does creativity flower?

Big events such as these force us to wake up again to the fact that change can be a constant (slow shift) or radical and sudden (fast shift).  Careers expert, Jim Bright, in this fascinating talk looks at the impact of chance events on careers – highly dramatic, negative and out-of-control events can force us to embrace paradox and look at the bigger patterns. We also are forced in some cases to embrace mess and messiness (for some of us that is really not a problem).

Jim talks about working with the chaos to move forward in a life/career sense.  Here are some of his ideas on how best to make the best of Creativity Week and post-quake Wellington and grow during a time of political and social turbulence:

  • accept that continual, profound change is inevitable and work with it.  For example, making a temporary wooden wall an art space just in time for Creativity Week
  • zoom out and look at emergent patterns in their entirety. Resist the temptation to reduce things to simple patterns.  Standing back and looking at what is drawn and written on the wall, there are real insights about who we, as diverse peoples, are in the context of the Pacific with messages of hope and renewal along a call to fight for social justice and equity
  • be more creative – whatever that means for you. Don’t put people or ideas (and that includes yourself) into boxes or triangles.  The only walls that should go up are temporary ones to keep us safe. Take the opportunity write or draw on real and imagined walls.  We can learn a lesson or two from Banksy. (But don’t tag my fence).

Let’s hope that creativity can make us more courageous in all aspects of our life and work.

P.S. Thanks to Jim Bright for the catchy title.









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