Over the first couple of months in the job and with the responsibility of helping lead Byron Shire into the next four years, I’ve focused on one main idea-changing culture. Changing the culture between councillors, changing the culture between councillors and council staff and changing the culture between Council and the rest of the community. I decided to commit myself to building bridges, moving away from competition and toward cooperation and positively advocating for innovation, action and sustainable development. I believe there is a great yearning in Byron Shire for this. So, I began, believing that I as did this, others waiting for a climate to allow for this would eagerly join in. I figured that if only a few in the Shire join in, it means I’m naive; if many in the Shire join in, we change culture. Many are joining in: councillors are investing in each other, Council staff are having faith they can take a risk without being attacked for it and the wider community are beginning to talk about actions, innovations and getting things done. Slowly the cultures of risk aversion, inaction and adversarial battling are eroding.
We needed to wage some pretty fierce battles to win the war against rampant and inappropriate development and from those wishing to exploit the quality of our community for purely commercial gains. We largely won these battles, though with some damage to community harmony. It is now time to win the peace. The stars are aligning: the GFC has made everyone aware of the need for more sustainable economic vision, everyone has come to appreciate the special quality of our Shire due to low rise buildings and high level community engagement, everyone has come to appreciate the efforts to ensure our environmental stewardship and everyone wants leadership across all sectors of our community that is inclusive, positive and energetic. As the stars are aligning, I want to seize the opportunity help change the culture help make Byron Shire the world leader in showcasing community, economic, and environmental sustainability.