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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Collective+Collaborative = Community Convergence

The recent Convergence YMM summit got me thinking a great deal. And while the summit was focused on the non-profit sector (or as I now prefer the "social profit sector") the lessons I came away with were ones that relate to almost every aspect of life, but particularly life in this community as we find ourselves at a crossroads. This community is on the verge of a leap into the future, fuelled by industry and growth and demand. This community is going to change once again, and at this juncture we have a couple of options. We can sit back and let it happen to us, or we can take control and make it happen for us. I'm not a big fan of the first option as letting things happen to us is how we ended up with inadequate infrastructure for our current needs, and so I suggest we need to make things happen for us - and I suggest we can do so by acting in a collective and collaborative way.

Convergence is defined as the coming together from many different points, and how true that is of this place. We have people here from almost every cultural experience around our nation, and around the world. We have a widely varied range of ages, although our demographic is mostly young (and yet we have senior citizens, too, ones who have lived here for decades and should not be overlooked). We have every profession and job represented, and we have a widely varying level of education as individuals. And we have something else, too - we have this giant social experiment we find ourselves in, this "boomtown" turned hometown, and suddenly all our differences can seem quite stark - but that's where convergence comes in, because through collective work and collaborative efforts we can find convergence, too. I think one more thing can lead to convergence, though - and that is finding common ground.

I think the thing we can do that has the most value is to find what makes us the same, not what makes us different. Once we focus on our similarities the differences fall away, and what is left are our common goals and dreams. Through finding common ground we can work our way to a collective voice, and collaboration - and, eventually, convergence as a community.

Now, we won't always agree. There will always be disagreements on what the Snye should look like in the future, and where the new civic arena should be. There will likely be some arguments and perhaps even heated moments - but if we continue to look at our similarities those moments become part of the process of achieving convergence, not distracting from it. As long as we are able to keep an open mind (although not so open your brains fall out, as my father used to say) then we can find convergence and agreement because we will recognize that sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong.

We are at a crossroads here. This is a time when as a community we could come together or fall apart as we face increased pressures of growth and change. The social profit sector recognized this, which is why they held Convergence YMM, to find a way to come together to strengthen themselves and not only deal with but embrace that growth and change. And so too as a community we face these challenges and pressures, and we too can stand united or fall apart in disarray.

I have a great deal of faith in this place, and the people in it. I do not believe we will allow ourselves, or this place, to fall apart, but in the end the decision is up to each of us. I think it is not too much to ask ourselves what we as individuals are doing to contribute to the community, and to achieve convergence. Are we just taking from the community, or giving to it? Are we trying to improve it, not only for ourselves but for others? Are we willing to keep an open mind and recognize that our opinions on what it should be may be deeply held but not necessarily in the best interests of all? Are we willing to change just as we ask others to do?

For a very long time I have referred to this place as a giant social experiment, and I continue to do so. This place is unique and yet not so different, and yet it is completely different because it is, for me, home. That makes it different, and that makes it matter. That is why I do what I do every day, whether it is writing this blog or attending summits regarding the social profit sector or simply raising the Intrepid Junior Blogger to say "what can I do to make today better for someone else?". Every single one of us can make a difference, and every single one of us can contribute to creating this community. And perhaps that is the true beauty of all this, people - the destiny lies in our hands. The only question that remains is what those hands will do.

My thanks to the organizers of
Convergence YMM
for a summit that provided much food for thought.

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