Chance to think globally

LISTEN UP: Dan the Puppet Man entertains the children at Kidzone.
LISTEN UP: Dan the Puppet Man entertains the children at Kidzone.

Most of my life is guided by the heart. An emotional journey has more appeal to me than for example, accountancy, writes Tim Shadbolt this week.

That's why I find life in Invercargill so exciting. It's as though the entire Southland region has been on a wild roller-coaster ride of passion, drama, excitement and success.

In the same week, we've experienced musical theatre in the Civic, 11,000 people attending Kidzone, the hosting of a national hockey tournament, the launching of yet another film project and winning the Ranfurly Shield. Very few provincial cities in the world would experience so much success in the middle of a snowstorm.

Our challenges are equally as dramatic. Is there any other provincial city in the world where a local trust is suing its own council for $27 million?

It is because we are in the news so often that I have been invited to speak at this year's local government conference in Western Australia.

As a form of punishment for being a Kiwi, the Australians have actually given me a topic. It's called: Localism – The global way and how do other jurisdictions implement the changes that global issues demand? I got a headache just thinking about it. My first move was to consult Invercargill's brains trust, and Venture Southland and the Southern Institute of Technology were particularly helpful.

The city council doesn't spend a lot of time developing a global perspective, but when you consider the issues we are involved with, we definitely are part of the global village.

Whatever you feel about this paper's expose on Israeli spies caught up in the Christchurch earthquakes, the impact Southland made was unbelievable.

Ten years ago I doubt a story published in one of New Zealand's smallest cities would have created headlines all over the world. Our milk, meat, fish, logs and aluminium are exported all over the world. Even the research into our Auckland Island pig cells has been accepted in five countries.

Cows, coal and carbon credits are all global issues and huge philosophical debates have erupted over whether localism should prevail over globalism.

Should we become more self-sufficient or should we rely on the supermarket and the global economy? Others argue you can have the best of both worlds if you think globally and act locally.

Before next week, I'm going to have to read Localist Movements in a Global Economy by David Hess and papers on localism published by Byron Davies, chief executive of the Cardiff City Council.

It's such a complex issue that I may, for the first time in my life, flirt with the dark side of the moon and deliver a PowerPoint presentation.

As an antidote to all this cerebral activity, I spent a day being filmed for a comedy show.

It's called The Jono Project and it's on TV3 next Friday. The skit I'm involved in is a parody of Two and a Half Men.

The half man is played by a dwarf called Jimmy and I'm supposed to be Charlie Sheen, and like Seinfeld, it's all about nothing.

Sorry, I exaggerate. It's about toast and giggling young ladies.

Some of you may ask why I would waste a day on a trivial comedy show, but I look at it this way: 800 mayors and local government officials will hear my speech on globalisation, but perhaps 200,000 people from all walks of life will watch me on The Jono Project. You can't put Invercargill on the map by sitting in your office behind a large desk.

» Tim Shadbolt is the mayor of Invercargill.

The Southland Times