Sunday, 29 August 2010

Eco-city is a stepping stone

My time with the council has been a major and influential milestone in my life. In fact it has felt like home. Waitakere has taught me how to be more aware of my values and my daily behaviours. It has taught me that one person can make a difference when they are supported by the many.

Prior to taking up my appointment here I’d been battling Manukau City Council for what I considered to be environmental vandalism in the name of commercial development. I won a battle but lost the war. However it identified my value set. I knew what mattered and that one person can influence outcomes. That fits with what I’ve seen at Waitakere. Caring for people and the environment, looking for ways for residents, the environment and business to co-exist happily together, colleagues supporting colleagues.

Waitakere has been so different to the toxic environments I have worked in. Staff don’t go around stabbing each other in the back all day or resenting other people’s successes. Instead they encourage celebration of those successes. There’s no tall –poppy here; colleagues and managers are delighted whenever we do something well. How refreshing.

I’ve been given a priceless gift during my time here. I’m allowed to use my imagination and passion to create new things that haven’t been done quite that way anywhere else. My ideas are valued and even budget put aside to implement them. That’s a truly liberating behaviour from the council. Be innovative, work together, be bold, speak positively and do what you say you will; these liberating behaviours are truly displayed every day by my colleagues and managers. That’s priceless and certainly makes me feel comfortable, at home.

Of course, there comes a time when the fledgling has to leave the nest. I’m leaving ‘home’ this September but I can see where my battle against one council and my development and support within another have provided stepping stones to a much bigger opportunity. I am proud, privileged and just plain delighted to be able to take my passion for the environment and sustainability along with my experience of working for our eco city to France.

I'm moving to France. I've found a country and an employer who care about sustainability and our planet. I can take our eco-city principles and let them loose where they are appreciated. That’s liberating too, a good home for me. The work involves a new website, communications, education at an intellectual level and links to international partners.

I've loved working at Waitakere City Council, even on some of the frustrating stuff; my happiest job, ever which can never be forgotten. Waitakere has given me a stepping stone to the world and the fulfillment of my dream to live and work in France for the benefit of people and the planet.


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