Gap Filler was established in late 2010 as a response to the Ōtautahi Christchurch earthquakes and exists to make our communities healthier, more creative and more inclusive. The creative placemaking organisation now works around Aotearoa and beyond.

Now this social enterprise is the winner of the MAS-sponsored Social Impactor award at the Sustainable Business Awards, in recognition of their innovative Good Spot parking programme

The annual awards are run by Sustainable Business Network, as a way to highlight the sustainability improvements being made by Aotearoa businesses. MAS sponsors the Social Impactor category, which is awarded to an organisation that is consistently improving people's lives through its day-to-day business practices.

The judges of the Sustainable Business Awards were impressed by Gap Filler's Good Spot project, a community car park initiative where profits go back into funding more placemaking projects. 

In partnership with grassroots community organisation, Te Whare Roimata, the Good Spot car parks have employed parking attendants from marginalised communities. The project aims to bring together people from different walks of life, create job opportunities, and counter the dominance of offshore car park operators. 

Co-founder Coralie Winn says, "Our philosophy is about giving people a chance to experience change in their urban environments so that they might find it exciting, rather than something to fear. Social impact is about real world, meaningful experiences that then lead to behaviour change."

Good Spot formed part of the Placemaking at One Central programme, made up of six inner-city blocks full of diverse activities, social enterprise experiments and public amenities in partnership with Fletcher Living

Making communities more creative

After the Christchurch earthquakes, Gap Filler was established to fill the empty lots across the central city with interactive art, installations and performance experiences, says Coralie. 

"People have gone through this trauma and lost connection to the central city, and it was so quiet there. We started with the goal of getting everyday people participating in reshaping the city as it recovered. 

Eleven years on, Gap Filler works in Ōtautahi and around Aotearoa, feeding into masterplanning processes for cities, engaging communities alongside building developments, and activating our public realm to make it more fun, playful and inclusive. 

The organisation exists to make our communities healthier, more creative and more inclusive," says Coralie.

"These have always been the values that underpin Gap Filler, and they haven't changed in the 11 years that we've existed," says Coralie.

Coralie and the Gap Filler team have now delivered more than 180 activations and installations that bring joy and life to public spaces and worked in Invercargill, Wellington, Auckland, Tauranga and more. 

Leading the change

MAS Head of Brand and Partnership Nicola Airey says "the Sustainable Business Award nominees are always really inspiring, and there were some stellar entries this year. 

"We're glad to see Gap Filler win the Social Impactor category. Their work is all about making communities stronger, more resilient and more joyful - something that really complements MAS's mission of inspiring a healthier Aotearoa."

The Sustainable Business Awards have been running for 19 years, and are a great way for businesses to celebrate their sustainability achievements and share them with Aotearoa, says Sustainable Business Network Chief Executive, Rachel Brown.

"Kiwis want to know who is making a positive difference, so we can support these businesses over the coming years. That's where these awards come in. The winners and finalists are leading the change we all need, and are an inspiration for others to follow," says Rachel.

"The Sustainable Business Network and MAS have closely aligned purposes - a healthier planet and communities are at the heart of everything we do. Like MAS, we're a not-for-profit, so purpose is at the core of our mission."

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