Happy Thanksgiving. There are a few American "traditions" I'm not so keen on, like school shootings, excessive commercialism and upsizing fastfood.
But Thanksgiving seems like a tradition I could get down with.
Being thankful is a practice that I'm finding easier with a few bonuses in my own life – a supportive relationship, children who are thriving, meaningful work and now a collegial council.
Horizons Regional Council is a breath of fresh air and even when we disagree, it seems we now do it with good grace.
At this week's meeting, we made a decent start at discussion around our approach to climate change.
New councillor Sam Ferguson proposed an additional motion to state we are in a climate emergency – not declaring an emergency per se, but acknowledging the need to act with urgency.
One member genuinely recognised Sam's passion but preferred a change of wording, and Sam agreed to the change so we could continue to make progress collectively.
Some may say that's watering it down or risks taking a soft approach that reflects the lowest common denominator.
I don't think so. It's a reflection of the strength in listening. We have a workshop early in the new year when we'll get into the substance of our climate change strategy, which is well overdue, but we'll be coming at it together.
I'm also pleased to see Fish & Game quoted in this week's paper saying they hope to work through their concerns around the proposed One Plan changes without ending up in court.
It may sound naive but it is possible. Court is a valid place for last resorts but I believe Horizons has genuinely moved away from a defensive position and is looking for the best possible solution through this upcoming series of plan changes.
Has the current proposal got room for improvement? It must, and that's what the cross-submission process allows – ideas to be shared and responded to so we make advances.
Back to Thanksgiving, on Twitter some are recommending the family dinner table to be the place to challenge rude and prejudiced relatives – they say being quiet and polite is what got them Trump.
Former President Barack Obama had a more subtle take on it: "Before arguing with friends or family around the Thanksgiving table, take a look at the science behind arguing better."
And it'll never hurt to try this: "Listen to people, get them to think about their own experience, and highlight your common humanity."
I agree. That's why I'm concerned at continuing knee-jerk attacks from some in the farming industry around climate change as well as those calling farmers names.
There is most definitely a way forward for sustainable farming that delivers improvements to the environment, captures carbon, and protects rural communities.
We already have examples – it's about expanding what works, and yes that means change for some.
I'm realising it comes down more to "the messenger" than "the message".
We agree on the fundamentals – stop climate change, improve water quality, retain rural communities, treat people fairly, and take care of animals – but the lack of trust in the messenger is apparent.
This week I've reflected on a key factor in building that trust – what is your focus? Locals know what will work for them and have the ability to do it, although we may need a helping hand sometimes.
We want to lead and maintain our own authority – we want flaxroots solutions, not top down or one-size-fits-all. It's the scale that a nationwide or even a regional approach brings that can create disconnection.
We still need national and regional organisations and national and regional priorities but it's about making sure that solutions stack up for local places, they reflect our needs and will work here too.
So with that, I welcome the Labour Party conference to our beautiful district.
Enjoy your stay and please think about how your policies will work in Whanganui.
We have a mix of challenges and opportunities, whether it's our river Te Awa Tupua, our heritage buildings, our recycling centre, our Sarjeant art gallery, our velodrome, our violence statistics, our roading challenges, our port development, our factories closing, or our young up-and-coming leaders.
We need to know that you're thinking of us in Whanganui when you get back to Wellington.
Nicola Patrick is a councillor at Horizons Regional Council and leads a new social enterprise hub, Thrive Whanganui. A mum of two boys, she has a science degree and is a Green Party member.