It’s life, Jim (Boult), but not as we know it.

by Esther Whitehead - Apr 27, 2020

The cosmos is filled with a great many wonders— bizarre life forms, chaos and calm. Sound familiar?  Esther Whitehead suggests a navigable way forward as Captain Kirk enlightens our Mayor on how to handle even the most challenging situations in her open letter.

Dear Jim Boult,

Your second term of leadership is going to be tougher than you thought. I believe that you have the capability to serve our community because you have proven your leadership skills.  Your business acumen is also both needed and respected but it requires thinking about business through a new lens now.

There are real concerns from significant and informed cohorts in our community that this paradigm shift we're living in, requires you to take a different approach and in this letter I ask you to seek counsel from Captain Jim Kirk in four key areas.

Captain James Kirk on board the starship Enterprise. Lessons for our own Jim?

As our captain at the helm, we’re entering into unknown territory, like nothing we’ve seen before. 

 ‘There’s Klingons on the starboard bow; we’re boldly going forwards ‘cause we can’t find reverse.’

We ask you as our elected captain to pledge to:

  •  Keep Learning

"You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there's no such thing as the unknown-- only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood." Captain James Kirk.

We ask you to seek knowledge and insight from thought leaders in the field of ‘new economics’.  Our economy won’t naturally fall back into equilibrium and it shouldn't be forced because that's all we know.  We ask you to stimulate the economy through non-extractive projects, we want regenerative projects that stimulate employment in our ability to be resourceful and resilient. We want diverse employment that serves us, not that serves foreign investors or visitors, with little guarantee of trickle down benefits to us, it hasn’t worked in the past, it won’t work now.

  • Have Advisors With Different Worldviews

"One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it "  Captain James Kirk.

Weak leaders surround themselves with yes people  who think the same way, which fosters a culture that stifles creativity and innovation, leaving it less able to solve problems or change course.  Now more than ever we need to change course.

Organisations which enable neurodiverse thinking, are better at developing innovation, better at solving problems, and better at avoiding groupthink. We want you to think differently about whose counsel you seek. Old ways of thinking won’t serve the 2050 vision that you have led for this district. Let this vision guide you now and seek advisors who won’t predominantly be older white business men.  We ask you to invite those with whom you may not necessarily philosophically or politically agree with to form part of your core think tanks for our recovery.

  •  Be transparent

“If I can have honesty,  it’s easier to overlook mistakes.”  Captain James Kirk.

Consistent transparency is the best way to build trust. Right now, we need to build trust and we ask you to be as transparent as possible. We know you don’t have all the answers- no one does.

We ask that QLDC lead by example, in line with several of the policies it has written for the district’s future. The establishment of a Transparency and Integrity Hub is suggested, this will better enable the community to understand how their rates, fees and charges are being spent and to benchmark Council’s performance over time.

  • New thinking. A Paradigm shift:

"There's another way to survive — mutual trust and help." Captain James Kirk.

Procurement and supply chains will change because of the impacts of COVID19.  New tenders will be secured, we ask that Supply Chain members and partners of QLDC must have common goals to our 2050 vision for a successful relationship to progress a shift from carbon dependent activities. This is in line with recent statements you and theTourism Minister have made, ‘The minister said it was a chance to make New Zealand a more sustainable place and the sector “self-sustaining in the longer term”. Mr Boult echoed the minister’s sentiments regarding a sustainable, more green offering in the future.’

Is Covid-19 just the curtain-raiser for the challenges that lie ahead with Climate Change?

So why was Kirk captain and not Spock? We celebrate his guts, his intuition, his raw luck and daring and his consistency.  And no one pays much attention to the fact that when we need a solution, Kirk asks Spock and gets the right answer. Mayor Boult we ask the same of you, find the right ‘Spock’ and communicate to our community with integrity to your own vision. No one said it would be easy. Former US President Lyndon B Johnson once said, “When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a mayor.”

What do I know?

Not a lot! I have worked in advocacy and consulted on neurodiversity in schools and workplaces for more than a decade, and I have a background in Ecology and Education. I am a local business owner and I also founded Sustainable Queenstown Charitable Trust where I focused my energy on actionable and measurable impacts such as Sustainable Queenstown’s Kiwiharvest Food Rescue, as well as enabling greater community involvement in local issues.  I was commissioned by Central Government to research and report on Transforming our Economy and have been involved in projects related to Impact Investment.  I have also worked closely with our Council to develop strategy, policy and partnerships around Waste Minimisation and Climate Action whilst lobbying for effective changes around procurement and contracts with QLDC service providers. I have a key interest in the wellbeing of our community (people and place) and take a strategic approach to support that outcome. I would certainly struggle in the role of Mayor, but I also know I would take advice from progressive system thinkers on the issues we now face. That's what I ask of Jim Boult.  Disclaimer: I am not a Trekkie, I just like the analogy and the sage words from Captain Jim Kirk

Yours truly,

Esther Whitehead



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