I’ve had a few days to recover and reflect and I want to thank all the fantastic and wonderful Waiheke people who turned out in force on Saturday to witness the inauguration of our first local board. I know a lot of you were hacked off about the chairmanship but we knew early on that the result was unlikely to change. For me it wasn’t about who got to be the chair it was the process, the predetermination of the decision-making, that worried me. I’m really grateful that so many of you picked that up as the issue and tried to make the other local board members aware of your concerns by email, phone, text messages, facebook entries, blogs and petitions before the meeting happened.
I’m also damn proud of all of you who came to the meeting and got the message across to the mayor and the new local board members with humour and warmth and passion and not a lot of disorderly conduct at all. ( I particularly liked Inga’s sign that said “No Gangs on Waiheke.”) Being at the ‘vortex’ of that passion, as Alan Knight put it so well, was a remarkable experience and truly humbling.
I’ve never been particularly worried about the ‘divisiveness’ or lack of agreement in our community. I’ve always believed that conflict is ok, it can be useful – because often where there’s heat there’s light. What we as a community have got from this stoush is an awareness that we all have to keep a close eye on the decision makers in charge of our local governance (including me!) and we need to continue to let our elected representatives know what it is we want. Yep, sometimes we wont be listened to and we wont get what we want – but we will at least engage in the discussion and that’s crucial. Cos decisions without discussion is not democracy.
This new structure for local governance calls for the local board ‘to engage’ with the community…I’d suggest we’ve already started that. The coverage of this issue with the footage and photos and fabulous commentary here and on facebook and in the local papers has certainly ensured there was a good range of opinions being canvassed in the public arena and the dissent made it all quite interesting – and maybe even exciting at times.
I’m not sure it’s possible to maintain that level of excitement – but we do need to make sure our community doesn’t disengage. I agree with Alan Knight’s criticism that Faye’s speech on Saturday was dull; our local board will need to find a way to make sure the fun doesn’t get sucked out of the room as soon as local politics is mentioned.
I don’t think it’s possible to combine a Roller Derby with Local Board meetings (although it would be interesting I’m sure) but if you have any other suggestions for keeping people interested let me know!
Once again, thank you to all of you.