This one time when we built a roller rink

You might have heard already, but Stephen and I have been building a roller rink. It’s an outdoor pop-up rink in a space that was left when the Christchurch Convention Centre was demolished.

From this...
From this…
To this...
To this…

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The project has been about two years in the making. I conceived of the idea some time after the Christchurch TEDx conference, which took place in May 2011. We were still reeling from the February earthquakes, the city was closed and life was pretty bleak for most Christchurchians. This TED event was like shining a light into the darkness for me. People spoke passionately about the opportunity that the disaster represented to our city. It was hard to take in at the time, but it got an idea brewing in the back of my mind (it’s like the wild wild west back there, you wouldn’t want to go in alone).

The speaker that resonated most for me was Coralie Winn. Her idea wowed me. Here was an everyday woman who had taken an idea and run with it. I’ll let her speak for herself.

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Coralie’s development, the Pallet Pavilion, gave me the courage to come back into the centre city for a look. I was too scared to go near it before this, but my curiosity about what was developing in pockets around the place – pop-up spaces – drew me back in. So awesome. And it was the Pallet Pavilion that encouraged me to think my idea just might work.

The Pallet Pavilion
The Pallet Pavilion

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I wanted to build a small-scale, outdoor roller rink. First, there were lots of questions I needed to answer:

  • How would I fund it?
  • Who would help me?
  • Where would I build it?
  • How would I design it?
  • Where and how would I get supplies?

One by one, my questions were answered.

I was initially helped along by the amazing, fabulous, inventive people at the Ministry of Awesome, via their Awesome Evening, and Coffee and Jam. They gave me an outlet to speak about my idea so I could get feedback and encouragement. I started to think I could actually do it!

Oh the irony then, when after a pretty demoralising meeting with CCC about funding, I decided I wasn’t going to get the money and I should just give up. I spoke at a Coffee and Jam session about my lack of success, and what I might do next. And the VERY NEXT DAY I got the email from CCC that I had been successful in securing $12,000 to fund the build.

Things started (slowly) falling into place. The funding came through from the Transitional City Projects fund; I started Roller Restart with a group of friends and interested people; LiVS helped me find a site, and then a bigger, better site in a great location – a stone’s throw from the Pallet Pavilion; and I got advice from a range of people on construction (honestly, I started with Google and Youtube: “How to build a deck”), including F3 Design. Shane at Mitre 10 Mega Hornby was very helpful in getting me a great deal on materials.

The plan
The plan

Then it was just a matter of waiting for the the weather to improve enough to start building. The weather has been less than ideal. We built for a couple of weekends in the rain, and then the last two in the beating sun. Not that I’m complaining. I love being outside in the elements, no matter what they are.

And we are almost finished! I have blisters on my fingers, sore arms, sun-burned shoulders, and bruises all over my shins, but it’s been an amazing experience. Sometimes Stephen and I are there by ourselves, hammering and drilling and scratching our heads about levelling. Sometimes we have people pop in and out, doing their bit to help. It’s been hard giving up every weekend to do exhausting and sometimes frustrating work.  When I get discouraged and think it’s never going to happen, I put my head down and get on with it, because it HAS to happen. Our community roller rink is tantalisingly close.

Come visit and have a look – we are at 100 Peterborough St (between Colombo and Durham Sts).

Taking a break ... dreaming of completion
Taking a break … dreaming of completion