Public meeting in a bar

In the old days, a public meeting saw upright citizens gathering in a draughty public hall.

But in Wanaka next week, the venue for a workshop on innovation will be a bar, and citizens will be invited to participate with a glass of wine in one hand.

One of the workshop instigators is newly elected Wanaka ward member of the Queenstown Lakes District Council Ella Lawton.

Ms Lawton told the Otago Daily Times yesterday she was keen to have a ''more diverse'' representation from the community at the workshop.

She believed a meeting in a bar was more likely to attract innovators who were less likely to turn up to a meeting in the Lake Wanaka Centre.

''I was looking for somewhere that was going to provide a really relaxed atmosphere that reflects that more innovative, alternative thinking.

''It's not a meeting.

''It's not somewhere where we are going to stand up and talk at people.

''It's about engaging people and having a yarn over a glass of wine.''

Asked if she thought there was room for a similar approach for district council meetings, she said she was not sure it would work for more formal matters.

''But certainly when it comes to engaging with community, I think we need to think more laterally where that happens so that people can feel at ease.''

Ms Lawton said she did much of her ''networking'' at ''local establishments'' around Wanaka.

The workshop, at the Gin and Raspberry bar on November 13, is part of the Shaping Our Future process designed to improve life in the district through ''engagement and collaboration towards a shared vision''.

The workshop is being facilitated by Otago Polytechnic centre for research expertise co-ordinator Jonathan Duncan. Ultra-fast broadband in central Wanaka is one topic.

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