Mayors Minute: Follow your passions to make a difference

Last week I presented at PechaKucha Penticton

Last week I presented at PechaKucha Penticton; it’s a speaker series in which you have 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide to tell your story.

The theme was tall tales. I started off by telling everyone that everything in my presentation was true as I didn’t want to set a precedent where people started to think elected officials tell tall tales! I wanted to challenge perspectives, not from a political lens, but on a personal level — I was there as Andrew Jakubeit.

I gave some examples about my 25 years of volunteering with hockey and how it afforded me opportunities to meet my hockey heroes, organize the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars classic, spend seven years in the Western Hockey League and skate in a Canucks game. Mind you, the latter two examples was as an official, good practice for getting into politics as your either resolving disputes or having someone mad at you.

I talked about our business, GrooveYard, coming full circle as it started as a record store 27 years ago and now records are back in vogue. Music plays an integral part of our daily lives, yet how often do we go out to support live performances? My first video project was the WestJet flashmob where the community braved the cold to demonstrate how much we wanted WestJet to choose Penticton. When I met the new WestJet Encore president, he commented on how it was the most creative campaign he saw amongst all other communities across Canada.

I showed my attempt to draw a picture of two people dancing, but from most people’s perspective, it looked like an outline of the female body. Only when challenged to view the drawing from a different perspective did the two dancers appear. It’s amazing how we can each see something with such different results.

I spoke about the Peach and its many monthly makeovers, including our April Fools Day prank to go from beaches and peaches to wine and dine by turning it into a grape. These humorous transformations showcase and generate community pride in this iconic Penticton landmark. Another iconic fixture was Frank the Baggage Handler — I displayed the edited version, the one with his junk in a trunk. Despite making national headlines and triggering mixed opinions, this artist continued following his passion.

Muriel Franck was a community activist, council watchdog and environmentalist. On hearing the city planned to cut down Cottonwood trees at the Leir House, she chained herself to the tree. When staff arrived they looked at her, then looked at the Pine trees on the property, and proceeded to cut those trees down instead. Today she is ironically memorialized by a bench carved out of a tree cut down by the city.

I gave three other examples of locals overcoming obstacles, working hard and achieving success. Duncan Keith, named top 100 NHL players; Steve Kozari, NHL official who worked the Stanley Cup final, but almost quit as a child because of an abusive hockey parent and Steve King who is renowned as “The voice of triathlon” and travels the world to announce.

They were all examples and stories of people demonstrating passion for something important to them. Getting involved and giving back to make a sport, community or event bigger and better. Creating a positive experience, trying new things, following their passion, and exploring new ideas. We need more community champions, people who believe what they are providing or doing is making a difference. Perhaps your New Years resolution will be to stray outside of your comfort zone to make a difference and contribute to making Penticton “a place to stay forever.”

Andrew Jakubeit is the Mayor of Penticton and provides the Western News with a column twice a month. Contact him via email Andrew.Jakubeit@penticton.ca. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJakubeit

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