A word from Sanchia Jacobs, Central Otago District Council chief executive

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Take chances to make connections

Remember this time last year when everyone was looking forward to 2021?

Since then, I’ve heard this year described in many ways:

Horrendous.

Like no other.

Discombobulating (one of those words that has really come into its own since the arrival of the coronavirus).

Challenging.

And it’s nearly over.

We thought 2020 was a curly one; 2021 has also been curly – on steroids.

Although we know how to do this pandemic stuff by now, the weight of it continues to bear down on us, and it has made this year no easier.

We’re really hoping for better things from 2022.

As a council, we’ve been talking about things we can do to celebrate community and promote wellbeing.

Public events like Blossom Festival and a Waitangi Day multicultural celebration like we’d planned, may not be doable in the current environment.

Last week, I was stoked to be part of the official launch of Welcoming Communities, a group for newcomers that the council is endorsing, which shows that big things can still be done on a small scale.

That’s probably the worst thing about the way life is now with so many events being cancelled or curtailed; there are fewer opportunities to come together as a community.

And even Covid-free as we’re lucky to have been for so long in the South, we are all less inclined to make the effort.

There’s one thing we do know; if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to keep our spirits up in a life somewhat disrupted with the realities of living in a global pandemic.

While we can’t do that in the way we’ve always done it, with festivals and shows etc, there are so many simple things we can do to stay connected with each other.

What it highlights to me is that we’ve got to take every opportunity to connect with people.

I don’t think you can underestimate the power of a simple “hello”.

Oh yeah, and the power of the dog, (the actual dog, not the movie) to start a conversation when out walking them, or a “kia ora” to your neighbour over the fence, or just saying “hi” to someone on the street or in the park, or on the trails. It could make their day – or yours.

We’re lucky that we have so many incidental places that are out of doors where we can safely make those connections whether they be organised or accidental.

Wherever you are this Christmas holidays I hope you’ll find joy in the simple things, and I look forward to continuing to find ways to connect with each other next year.