Thursday, June 18, 2009

Focus on Paihia

On Wednesday evening the Paihia community gave enthusiastic support to a suggested programme to define a common vision for the town.
I can’t think of any time over the last couple of decades when more people met in one place to share their concerns and hopes for the town. There were 120 seats available but some people stood in both the plenary and group sessions during the two hours. It was very gratifying for the half dozen enthusiasts who called the meeting and suggested the programme.
Individuals listed their own ideas about what they liked, disliked or hated about Paihia and these were stuck up for everyone to read. They’ll also be transcribed and placed on the website in the next few days. Groups of about ten or so people then listed what they felt Paihia would look or feel like if they should arrive in the town in 2029.
It was hard for the groups to separate “look” and “feel” from concrete issues like “better street lights” but gradually the concept of a vision for the Paihia of the future came through. Groups reported very briefly but their full written reports are already on the website. Their comments reflect growing awareness of the link between tourists’ and residents’ needs, and a developing understanding that “business” and “residents” are not in competition with each other but can work together for a better Paihia.
In a brief final session there was no difficulty finding volunteers to attend a meeting to establish a working group to put the programme together. Another community consultation will be held July 14th.
The first meeting of half a dozen Focus Groups will be held that night and they will plan their work for the coming weeks. Each will work at its own theme and the working group will coordinate discussions and assist with the development of the Vision. It is expected that this will be complete by the end of November.
Those of us who took the initiative in calling this group are convinced the time is right, the economic climate demands some serious thinking and the political climate is more sympathetic than at many times in the past. The growing maturity of the community is becoming evident and there’s a will to work together to produce a significant result.
Great stuff!

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