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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Social Prosperity Change Lab - and What It Means to You

Sometimes you encounter phrases that are tough to really comprehend, or that seem so specific or "academic" that it's tough to see how they apply to your life. "Social prosperity" is one of those phrases. When I told someone I was attending the "Social Prosperity Change Lab", hosted by Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, they had one question : "What exactly IS social prosperity, and what does it mean to me?" And frankly, it's a damn good question. After a morning spent at the change lab I even have some answers about what it is, why it's important to me - and why it should matter to you, too.

I've run into people here who say "oh, I don't use those charity groups" and I stop them and say "ever take your kids to The Hub?". Ever taken your family to some of the free programming around the city or used the YMCA? Then you've used some of those non-profit and not-for-profit groups that exist in our community. They are deeply fundamental to our quality of life, and they are not only beneficial but, in my opinion, essential.

Social prosperity is all about improving the quality of life in our community - it's about ensuring that we don't just have the opportunity to achieve financial "prosperity" or wealth, but social wealth, too. It's about ensuring our community members feel they have strong connections, intrinsic value, and worth. It's about making our lives better every day - and that's where the Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo project comes in, because their goal is to help improve those non-profit organizations, and help them to serve our community better.

Fellow blogger Russell Thomas wrote a great summary of what SPWB does in his blog here, and I don't believe in reinventing the wheel, so I would suggest reading it for more detailed information about the nuts and bolts of the whole thing. I'm just going to tell you what we did yesterday, and why I think it's important.

Yesterday morning I found myself sitting at a table at the Sawridge with several other people. It was a diverse group, ranging in age and profession and experience, but all with one common interest - our community. We were asked to start by looking over the SPWB framework, expressing what we liked about it, and thinking about what questions it inspired. And then we were given Post-It notes and markers, and off we went, talking, writing, and thinking. At the end of each exercise we were asked to "group" our comments, and it was interesting to see how we shared many of the same questions and comments. It was also interesting because we each brought our own perspective, which added to the discussion and allowed new ideas to be explored. All the ideas were centred about how to help non-profit organizations deliver better services to the community - how to ensure they have sustainable funding, and the resources they need to provide the resources we need.

The discussion was wide-ranging and energetic, and while we didn't reach any grand conclusions the idea was to provide more ideas for SPWB - as well as inspiring us to keep thinking about those ideas, to keep looking at those goals. You see, SPWB is all about engaging local people to discover what works best in our community, to achieve the goals that we see as important. It's about making changes that will enable our local non-profit groups to thrive and grow, and serve all of us better.

And that is exactly the point of Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, people. It might have the goal to help our local non-and-not-for-profit organizations but the actual goal is to help ALL of us when we use those services. The health of those services - their well-being, and their ability to do their jobs well - benefits every resident of this community. So in the end the concept of social prosperity, and the work being done by the SPWB, has a direct impact on all of us, people.

In the final analysis that is what social prosperity is, and that is why it matters to me - and to you, too. It is about improving our quality of life in this community, and trying to do so through the heart of it - our non-profit organizations that work so very hard to meet our needs. Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo is about helping those organizations meet their needs so they can meet ours - and in the end that's a pretty simple concept, just with a pretty fancy name.

My sincere thanks to
Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo
for the invitation to attend the
Social Prosperity Change Lab -
and for allowing me to
help in the process of
 achieving social prosperity
in the RMWB :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Theresa for your enthusiastic involvement in our events this week! Together with nonprofit community organizations, the RMWB, private businesses and caring residents like you we will spark innovation and break down the silos to make Wood Buffalo an even better place to live, play & work. After all we are already a great community but we have incredible opportunity to be even better!