Sustainable Ōtautahi Christchurch (SŌC) is an incorporated membership society, formed in 2005, which carries on the vision of two previous local voluntary organisations, Sustainable Cities Trust and Christchurch-Ōtautahi Agenda 21 Forum.
Former members of both those groups are involved, along with a new generation of Christchurch people, who work towards the bold vision of Christchurch people “practising, living and demonstrating sustainability in all that they do.”
SŌC’s registered charitable aim, which recognises Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi as a foundation, is to actively contribute within Ōtautahi-Christchurch to opportunities and means for achievement of long term sustainability. In trying to make a difference, and head that direction, SŌC members seek to:
- ensure that all people have their basic needs satisfied,
- so that they can live in dignity, in healthy communities,
- while having the minimum adverse impact on natural systems,
- both now and in the future.
Our Annual General Meeting, which elects an executive committee from the membership, is held in June.
Click here for information on the SŌC Constitution.
Click here for details about how to join our email list, or Facebook page, or to become a member.
Patron – John Peet
John Peet was born in the UK and has been living in Christchurch, New Zealand for the last 50 years. John has a BSc in Chemical Technology, a PhD in Chemical Engineering and has worked in the petroleum industry. He is a Retired Senior Lecturer in Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Canterbury, where his main focus over the last two decades was sustainable development.
John is the author of Energy and the Ecological Economics of Sustainability and papers on systems, sustainability and the ethical requirements of stakeholder involvement. Since retiring from the University of Canterbury, John works closely with a number of local, national and international non-government organisations on issues of sustainable development.
Chair – Colleen Philip
After a career in education linked with decades of work in the union movement, Colleen is focused now on her primary passion: the natural world.
A recent reading of Paul Hawken’s “Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation” has reminded her of the importance of the small; plus the linkage between local, national and global. We are all in this together; and together we will find a pathway that works for people and the other species that share this wonderful planet with us.
Vice-Chairperson – David Guthrey
David has a background in farming , organics and tourism. In 1985 He helped established the national cooperative Health 2000 network. David owned and operated 5 of the 80 shops before the earthquakes.
David’s community work has been focused on alternate housing/building including almost 10 years sponsoring Wikihouse social enterprise development in Ōtautahi Christchurch. David has been a dedicated cyclist in this city for over 50 years. He especially supports the successful cycleways developments with the slower traffic speeds near schools and shops for safety as well as biking for emissions reduction.
David is a passionate advocate for collectively planning now for our continued population growth. For an expected 1 million to be living in greater Ōtautahi in 30 to 60 years we need good urban design from now to effectively half the number of cars we currently drive. We can get back to being a cycle city.
Treasurer – Dave Evans
I have been on the SŌC executive for the past 13 years, ever since I reduced my working week to 3 days and thought “now I have plenty of time for voluntary work”. At the time I had been on the Travis Wetland Trust for several years, but realised that looking after nature on a local scale was potentially futile if the sustainability of our lifestyle was not addressed. Thirteen years later that necessity is even more apparent and SŌC has done a great deal to contribute to a wider awareness of the precariousness of our civilisation.
I also contribute to climate change action groups in the city, most recently to Extinction Rebellion. If we don’t react urgently to the climate and ecological emergency we are in then the future of our own species, along with the other species we share this planet with, is in grave doubt. No matter what we do I believe we will face ongoing societal turmoil and the best way to cope with that is to build strong communities to provide mutual support. With this in mind I am also on the council of the WEA and contribute to the operation of some other educational organisations in the city. It’s organisations such as these, including SŌC, that give us the best chance of remaining intact and civilised over the next decade.
Joyce is an Earth scientist with a passion for climate change and biodiversity in Aotearoa. She works as a consultant with US-based Imaginative Futures as a podcast host with Be Giants Media and actively researches and publishes in Earth science.
She has a PhD in Earth science from the University of Southern California and a BSc in marine science, biology, and geology from the University of Miami. Her work in oceans past and present makes her particularly engaged in climate change and biodiversity crises as they relate to marine spaces.
Previously a lecturer in Art Education at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, Phil moved into the antiques trade in the early 2000s. He believes antiques represent one of the most sustainable consumer products on the planet. There is no built-in obsolescence with an object in use today created decades, even centuries ago. Phil believes in the importance of the local economy in supporting and empowering a community to live sustainably.
Prior to moving to New Zealand in 2018, Ben grew up in Chicago, USA and studied civil engineering at the University of Miami in Florida (where he met Joyce, his wonderful partner and fellow SŌC executive member). As a transportation engineer, Ben has always been fascinated by the complexities of how people get around. He is acutely aware that transport is not only a significant portion of our carbon emissions, but is also one of the key sectors that we must target for carbon reduction if we are to reach our climate goals. When he’s not working on how we do that at Christchurch City Council, you can find him kitesurfing on the Ihutai Avon Heathcote Estuary as much as possible.
Growing up in Christchurch, I always cared deeply about the environment but didn’t think I’d stick around long enough to bother doing anything about it. For me, sustainability begins with belonging: with a sense that this is our home we are here for the long haul. That’s why I’m passionate about community organising. I work at an organiser for the Living Wage Movement, and in my spare time I sit on the board of my local community centre, run a monthly family movie night, attend Canterbury Film Society , play chess at the library, write short stories, and go tramping with my fiancée Claudia.