Talking to shape our future

Shaping Our Future, where local community residents talk.

Wanaka residents enjoy a high-level of community engagement and that was in evidence at Tuesday night’s Shaping Our Future forum at the Lake Wanaka Centre.

Shaping Our Future inspires future-thinking conversations within the Queenstown Lakes District community. Their modus operandi is to let community voices discuss ideas, rather than preach one particular point of view. Conversation is organic rather than structured.

Board member AJ Mason said “Some people think it’s a think tank but the board doesn’t generate huge amounts of wisdom; we just help the community voice their opinion.”

Tuesday night’s forum was themed around climate change; how can we have an impact on climate change, and how will climate change impact upon us. “Out of that, the key driver that was identified was growth,” said Mason. “But then growth drilled down into transport, food systems, land use, participation etc. Transport is a technically very heavy but community voice was also discussed because of the importance of local residents having a weighted opinion. So discussions ranged from civil engineering to political philosophy.”

Around 65 people participated in the forum and Mason reports there was generally broad consensus on most issues, although to be fair he said, “a forum that is advertised about climate change, tends to appeal to people who are already engaged in that space.” Mason also said that he believes Wanaka is relatively cohesive on the issue of climate change because our natural environment is what binds the community together. He also said that where there were differing opinions, the very act of sitting down and talking to one another made people realise they actually agreed on a lot of points and were perhaps looking at the same issue through a different lens.

Mason would like to thank the Otago Museum who very kindly sent over a couple of their science communicator staff and their travelling exhibit "Far From Frozen" (which is a climate change exhibit with an Antarctic / Southern Oceans twist).


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