Investing In Community Pays

May 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

Okay, so when I began co-writing this blog, my intent was to keep to topics that are not at all related to my job. I prefer to explore ideas and thoughts that are more from my creative side – that are inspirational or motivational.

However, I couldn’t help but touch on a subject that has some relevance to my position with the City of Grande Prairie after MoneySense Magazine recently released its fifth annual Best Places to Live list. On its website, this past week, the magazine focussed on the bottom 10 and referenced them as the Worst Places to Live.

I’m not going to discuss the merits of the placement of the communities or the rating criteria. I’ve lived and worked or attended post-secondary in four of the cities on the list, and visited many others.

I do find it unfortunate that a place would be dubbed a “worst place to live” by people from the outside who’ve likely never set foot there. Raw data, statistics and analysis only go so far.

It’s also disappointing when people who live in a place cited on the list, or anywhere for that matter, make negative comments about their community when they have no thought or desire to be part of the so-called solution.

I sometimes ask myself why people remain in a community if it is so bad.

I love my country and I am proud of what it has to offer. I’ve enjoyed every place I’ve lived across three provinces and don’t compare one spot with the other – some things are better in one and vice-versa.

A community is really what you make of it. The results of surveys and polls are what you make of them, too.

Certainly, they can present opportunities to spur improvement through the information they bring to light. They also provide the impetus for people to look at where they live and say, “That’s fine information, thanks. We are proud of our community.”

Let’s face it, not every city or town can be rated as Number One.

Throughout my career, I’ve adopted more of a ‘home is where you hang your hat’ philosophy. There has only been one location with immediate family present and just for a short time, at that.

My focus has always been in staying in that place on its own merits and for employment reasons, of course.

I’ve volunteered at every stop along my career path and believe that if you expect to get anything out of the community, you should do your part to invest in it.

Essentially, we have four choices: we can be satisfied with our surroundings. We can work for the betterment of the place, we can do nothing and just complain, or we can move on, hoping for something better elsewhere. Some people will always find negativity with their situation.

These published ratings do reveal some remarkable data. However, there are even uncontrollable aspects like weather factored in to the ratings. While some things like household income are tangible, how do you measure culture?

Sure, it was a feather in the cap of Grande Prairie when it was fourth in the MoneySense Best Places list in 2006.

I chosen to move here from a location I also loved – Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. When I moved here in 2007, that very favourable MoneySense rating from the previous year provided some greater insight into the community since I was last here, but was not an influence.

Does the fact that Grande Prairie is now much lower in 2010 make it a far worse place to live? No. For one thing, the number of locations being rated has grown significantly. As well, new facilities and projects have improved recreation, culture and social services offerings.

There are always possibilities for any community to better itself, for the quality of life to be enhanced. Even the top-rated cities can score higher in some categories in ensuing years.

However, I don’t know how many times I have heard people wonder what difference they can make individually.

Poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron reminds us: “Nobody can do everything but everybody can do something.”

If you could improve your community, how would you go about it?


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§ One Response to Investing In Community Pays

  • Clint Cora says:

    I often do speaking engagements for free in my community, particularly for youth. I believe that if I can try to steer them in the right paths, then the efforts will make our communities that much safer for everyone as we try to reduce youth violence and related issues.

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