Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Middle Ground

Since this blog is quite new I've sent a link of it to a few people - family, friends, aquaintances - to seek their opinion. I received some feedback recently from someone who has read other things I've written, things not about my home city, and who commented that they sense that I don't like Fort McMurray very much. I was a bit surprised by this reaction, and wondered if others who read this blog came away with the same sense. It bothered me, you see, because that's quite honestly not how I feel about this city.

It seems that residents of this city often fall on one of either end of a pendulum swing when it comes to their feelings on Fort McMurray. One far end of the pendulum holds those people who hate it here. They refer to the city as a "shithole'. They talk about all the problems - the drugs, the dirt, the cost of living, the traffic - and when confronted with something positive quickly deflect it with a comment such as "lipstick on a pig". The other end of the pendulum is those who profess great love for it here. They adamantly insist there are no unique problems, that every city has issues, and that this city is no different from anywhere else. They have their rose-coloured glasses firmly in place and I suspect would never admit to witnessing drug sales, homelessness, or being stuck in traffic for two hours.

To me either end of the pendulum does great injustice to this city of ours. The first group overlooks or refuses to acknowledge wonderful community events like Interplay (our version of the Fringe Festival) or our recent Winter Carnival. The second group's refusal to admit the problems means finding a solution to the issues just slips farther away (just as in addiction the first step is always admitting we have a problem). I suppose I want to be a person who seeks the middle ground. I want to be someone who celebrates and trumpets our successes as a community, and who tries to find solutions for our problems (or at least recognizes they exist and the need for solutions). I don't want to be the negative end of the pendulum because frankly life is too short (and for those who feel it is a shithole I suggest leaving - not because they are not welcome but because life is too short to live somewhere you hate). I don't want to be the Pollyanna positive end either, because ignorance is not bliss. It's just ignorance.

There is so much potential in this city. There is great potential for those who come here seeking a new start or beginning a career. There is potential for those who wish to start a family. There is also peril, of course, and potential to make unwise decisions. That is what this city is, though - potential. And just as the city has potential, so does each person who lives here. We have the potential to see it as perfect with no need for improvement, or to deride it as horrible (and do nothing to improve it). My advice? Let's aim for the middle ground and work on the issues while we also celebrate the successes. Let's see what we can become together.

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