ANZAC Research Project to Recieve Streamlining Update

Sean Stapleton                         23/05/2018                  Measuring the ANZACs

By Sean Stapleton

 

Measuring the ANZACs, a project focused on digitising of World War I archives, has announced the wide-scale restructuring of its open transcription platform.

The site redesign aims to make it easier for the public to help with recording soldiers’ personal records.

The project was first unveiled two and a half years ago and has since become the second most popular project on the citizen science website Zooniverse, a platform for volunteers to aid in crowd-sourced scientific research.

Evan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Population Studies and Sociology at the University of Minnesota, founded the project.

He said his mission was to recover “the story of all those who served, from their lives before the war, through their wartime service, and what happened to them afterwards”.

As part of the redesign, the recording process will be streamlined by classifying the pages of files before they are available for transcription.

Transcription fields will be pre-classified as there is more known now about record formatting, leaving volunteers to transcribe only what is written in each field.

One of the largest changes will be in how new records are uploaded, as the current setup is as Roberts describes it, “is clunky at best”.

His current estimation is that the restructuring will be complete before the end of the year.

Evan Roberts presented the announcement at the Auckland War Memorial Museum to staff involved in the project and a group of Sociology Students from the University of Minnesota.

The students followed with a series of presentations on soldiers they had each focussed on through their project transcription work.

For many of the students, they found common ground with the young men they were researching. Austin Hurlock was particularly invested, and revealed to the group, “I found this story especially interesting to me in how it mirrored my experiences as an army veteran.”

Daniel Millar, a Content Technician for the Auckland Museum, assisted the visiting students in their research.

He believed the success of the project was due to “how small New Zealand was at that time [World War I] and how as a smaller country even now it makes records so much easier to trace”.

The focus has so far has been on the medical records of the ANZACs. Moving forward Evans aims for researchers to invest more time into misconduct records, a field he claims is often neglected out of fear of disrespect for the dead.

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Hayley Holt calls for drug law reforms

Sean Stapleton     06/04/2017     Cannabis Reform

By Sean Stapleton

Green party candidate Hayley Holt says she expects cannabis to be the equivalent of a glass of wine soon.

In a recent press conference Holt voiced her support for the decriminalisation of all drugs and legalisation of marijuana.

She stated that she believed the risks asscociated with the drug were much lower than alcohol and that it could be consumed responsibly.

“It’s a health issue”, Holt claimed. “Portugal decriminalised all drugs and it reduced their drug usage. It’s the way forward.”

Holt believes smoking a joint will become just the same as an evening glass of wine in 10 years.

While Holt is advocating for the decriminalisation of all illegal drugs, the Green Party is more conservative in its drug policies, focusing soley on cannabis use.

The party states in its Drug Law Reform policy that it would make provisions for doctors to be able to prescribe cannabis to patients and that they aiming to “introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use”.

While not said outright, party policy suggests they support the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

The National Party was approached for comment on the possibility of cannabis law reform but failed to respond.

Auckland voters have had a mixed response to Holt’s views on drug reform and expressed concern for the legalisation of cannabis beyond medicinal use.

Helen Bergin, 69, was critical of cannabis as a medicine and said she questioned whether smoking it would “override the health benefits of [cannabis] as a medicine”.

Bergin stated that she was “absolutely against” recreational use.

Student Neil Napila, 18, was more worried about how recreational use might impair drivers.

“It gets you high, and [they] drive sometimes. It might cause some accidents.”

Under New Zealand law it is currently illegal to drive while impaired by a controlled drug or prescription medicine.

Dumpster Dinners

Sean Stapleton       15/03/2017       Dumpster Divers

By Sean Stapleton

Two Auckland dumpster divers are on a mission to save edible food from landfills as they redistribute to the needy.

Every week, the two women who wish to remain unnamed, head out in the early hours of the morning to supermarkets across central Auckland. They unashamedly dive deep into the outdoor skips as they search for fresh and edible food.

The pair are both professional academics at Auckland University and have years of experience with dumpster diving. Although they are advocates and want to spread awareness of the activity, they fear repercussions from their jobs if they went public.

This is a new operation as they have only been diving in Auckland for a month now.

Despite this, they already face an issue of surplus in what they recover and are currently in the process of expanding their distribution network.

“We get really frustrated,” the pair said. “We know people need this food but we don’t know how to get it to them.”

In the last week, they connected with Rescare Homes Trust, a lifestyle community for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Aatir Zadi, a supervisor at the Manukau Community was thankful for their support.

“The quality of food was amazing and we would love to request some more in future.

We loved the selection of breads and veggies.”

Hygiene may seem like danger when recovering food from dumpsters, but these women have a series of systems and checks to ensure the food is edible.

Discretion is key during the recovery process, and a second check of all food is performed once they return home to their flat. Vacuum packed products are submerged in water to check for leaks in packaging, while fruit and vegetables get soaked and cleaned.

The food they retrieve is stored at their flat in two fridge and freezer unit as well as a 250-liter chest freezer. Most is cooked, canned or preserved before storage as soon as possible to prevent the food from becoming inedible.

Though these women operate in an unofficial capacity, there are official charities that work with supermarkets to save wasted food. Fair Food is one such group, which works with chain stores such as Countdown and Farro Fresh.

Countdown and Farro Fresh are however, stores that these women frequently dive at. Which suggests even with official redistribution, there is still more than necessary going to waste.

Doughnuts: Next on the Swarbrick agenda

Friday Oct 21, 2016

Ex-mayoral candidate and self made entrepreneur Chlöe Swarbrick is opening a doughnut cafe and art gallery.

Swarbrick and partner Alex Bartley Catt have been working with associate  Bryan Anderson on the renovation and development  of the space they have coined Olly. The cafe is due to open in about a month, and will be located inside suburban cinema The Crystal Palace.

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Outside Olly – Photo/Sean Stapleton

The idea for a doughnut cafe was concieved out of Swarbrick and Catt’s passion for the pastries, and disappointment in the lack of a doughnut scene in Auckland. “No one really does the sort of doughnuts that people want here,” claims Swarbrick.

Olly will have a range of doughnuts that will include both yeast and cake based recipes with a focus on the traditional circular shape. The aim is to create a brand that draws on both the American ideals and Melbourne doughnut trends.

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The Crystal Palace – Photo/Sean Stapleton

Though Swarbrick concedes that “doughnuts aren’t extremely healthy”,  they will be using high quality and natural ingredients.

The trio acquired the space following a change in management of the suburban cinema.

Swarbrick would walk past the empty store front daily and had designs on it for a while, as she has a infatuation with project spaces. Her initial plans for the space were solely for an art gallery.

Art has always been a great love of Swarbrick’s and she has been involved in a number of artistic projects over the last three years. She even founded The Goods last year, a “united front for local artists, photographers, and rag traders”.

Through that front Swarbrick set up a space similar to her current project, in St Kevin’s arcade last December. There they hosted a week long retail space with a revolving gallery.

“I love talented artists. It kind of hurts me when I see people not feeling confident in their passions”

Swarbrick aims to give artists a leg up to share their talent with a broader audience, potentially sell their works and gain more faith in their talent.

With this mentality towards the arts, the trio behind Olly have brought in artists from their networks to contribute to a mural covering the back wall of their cafe. Bryson Naik, Toni Gill and Jed Richardson are the collaborators on the art piece (pictured below).

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Back at it

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The art displayed in the gallery will be on a monthly rotation with gallery openings to accompany the arrival of the new exhibitions.

The space is intended to be a permanent fixture, so locals can expect a bright future with plenty  of fresh art in the village.

Some may be concerned by how far the space is from the centre of Mt Eden Village, however Swarbrick has no qualms. “Passerbys have been showing a lot of interest and we have a wide network,” she claims.

The sentiment is shared by nearby cafes, Oaeill Liang, a local cafe worker says “Some people think that we are very far away from the centre of the village, but a lot of people like that.” He believes that if businesses on the edge of the village work together they can increase their customer traffic.

The trio’s venture is a sign of what becomes of modern tertiary students as they enter the work force. A social media poll conducted shows that it’s a widely held view that after graduation students are likely to end up with diverse careers that stray from their qualification title.

 

Swarbrick is a prime example of this modern trend, as she graduated from Auckland University with a Law degree, and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in philosophy. Qualifications that seem odd considering her work history.

As a young woman involved in multiple projects and working a number of jobs, Chlöe Swarbrick holds a personal philosophy that fuels her drive. “Life is Suffering,” she says, a buddhist moral, and idea that she believes pushes her to make life meaningful.

–  Sean Stapleton

Persistence

It is all well and good to have a fantastic idea for a story, but when the key subject is unreachable, you will be left out in the cold. Despite emailing Chlöe through her official public email last Thursday, I heard nothing till yesterday. During that time I made efforts to establish contact through four different methods.

Using wealth of information available online about Swarbrick from various interviews and profiles surrounding her campaign for mayor of Auckland and a variety of artistic and marketing projects she has developed I can cobble together a fairly comprehensive profile of who she is. There is very little information out there however on her current doughnut project.

Thankfully Swarbrick came back to me yesterday and we arranged to meet at The Crystal Palace today for an interview. So with my background research complete I set about preparing my questions.

 

In accordance with my interview with Swarbrick this morning, I visited a few nearby cafes for their comments on their thoughts on competition opening up nearby and what business was like on the outer edge of the Mount Eden Village.

Finding the Sweet Spot

Unsurprisingly, burglary stories are a dime a dozen, especially amongst the students taking this paper. In a fast paced news cycle where articles are competing for mass appeal, it pays to stand apart from the crowd. With this in mind I hit the streets and scoured social media and local forums for a more original scoop.

As it turns out, I have found my new story in the very first place I looked when I began my hunt. At the top of my road sits the suburban cinema, The Crystal Palace. Once derelict and left empty and unused by its owners, it is now host to a number of concerts since new management took over.

Under this new management, the store space adjacent to the cinema entrance and part of the building is under development by none other than ex-mayoral-candidate Chlöe Swarbrick.

I found this after reading through a recent Reddit AMA Swarbrick took part in following the results of the Auckland City Council election.

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To confirm this information and establish initial contact, I tweeted Swarbrick, as she is known for her social media engagement. I received a reply within the day and have set about to contact her through more formal methods in the hope of securing an interview.

Bashful Birds

Last week I had come across a post on the social networking site for locals, Neighbourly, that talked of incubating eggs from fallen and abandoned nests in my local area. The woman was a local bird lady who cared for sick birds she was given and found in parks. She had acquired a professional incubating device for eggs and was notifying neighbours in our area of its availability.

Her post was met with a number of eager neighbours mentioning instances where they had needed her and that they would keep her in mind for the future.

I made contact with Maddie this week and she was initially receptive to the idea of having a story written about her and her efforts, despite being a very busy woman. However this all changed when I disclosed that I was wanting to take photographs and video to accompany the story. Maddie told me that she has a really great phobia of media/photography and respectfully declined to be a part of the story.

Unfortunately for me this development means I am shut out in the cold with two weeks to find, investigate and produce a new story.

I have my eye on a string of thefts and break ins that have occurred in the last week or so in my neighbourhood that appear connected. In light of announcements of the new hard line on burglary by police, there may be critical angle to be found.