Building leaders today prepares us for future 

Thanks for yet another editorial on our collective need to focus on the period after 2010, asking whether we have “done enough to open the doors to a new generation of leaders willing to guide Whistler in the post-Olympic era?” (History teaches us to look ahead – July 5, 2007). This echoes many of the concerns expressed at a number of our Dialogue Cafes recently.

While we wisely establish a Legacies Fund Society to cover the costs of newly built infrastructure, we are fiscally weak when it comes to the resources required to build the social infrastructure and leadership capacity to address post-Olympic challenges.

With the guideposts of Whistler 2020 we are early adopters of the Natural Step. But we also need to ensure that we are early adapters to the changes in our often unpredictable and complex global marketplace.

And the growing diversity of our local and regional population, including new relationships with Lil’wat and Squamish Nations, challenges a homogeneous status quo.

These challenges and others can in part be met with the development of skilled and collaborative community leadership that should not be left to chance.

Leadership Sea to Sky for the past three years has attempted to focus on developing these leadership qualities and to fill this social infrastructure gap. Thankfully 48 individuals from businesses, governments and non-profit groups, from First Nations and our three local communities in the corridor, have taken the time and made the commitment to prepare for a collaborative if uncertain future.

We have focused on developing better understandings and skills of knowing self, knowing the region, engaging with others and taking action. And at our recent graduation of Cohort III, a long time senior member of Whistler remarked how confident she felt that “we will be in such good hands”.

But as we continue to expand, improve and raise funds for Leadership Sea to Sky we need feedback and input from all sides. Some see a more integrated corridor-wide, less Whistler-centric future. What implications does that have for us today? Others see a future that involves more educational connections with centres of learning for informing knowledgeable ways of thinking through trade-offs and making tough choices in collaborative ways. How can we collectively nurture these connections?

The first “Corridor Canoe” trip for community and aboriginal leaders is set for July 27/28 on Howe Sound and exploring ways of just getting to know each other better. Our Cohort’s pro bono projects on environmental education networks, smart transportation systems, gateways to Asia, facilitation and conflict resolution, labour shortage, engaging with youth, healthy seniors, building cultural alliances, friendship trails and diversifying tourism opportunities, are all foundations upon which to build. But how? Is it all the responsibility of governments?

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