Everyone wants to go forward

Most people have heard the definition of insanity. “Insanity is doing the same old things in the same old way and expecting different results.”
The obvious side story to that definition is that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
In running an organization, a town or city, or a company there is a fine line between the steadfastness of doing things right over and over and doing things wrong over and over again.
How to tell the difference isn’t always easy but there should be few clues. If the results are the desired results, then wide spread change is questionable. However, if the results aren’t what we want, then change needs to be embraced. Change is inevitable. It’s a matter of who will control the change. For rural towns, municipalities and organizations, the change usually has been left to outside forces.
Faced with dwindling populations, rural areas have tended to let the slide go unchecked. Not needing as many farmers or perhaps not being able to support as many farmers as the decades go by, we have simply thrown up our hands and let it happen. Not having as many babies born into our midst and faced with declining birth rates we have simply let schools close, stores close, services dwindle and generally let the slide continue.
However, the slide is not inevitable if enough people put their heads together and decide there should be constructive change and growth. In spite of a “let it slide “ approach that has dominated the Neepawa area for years, enough people, some insiders and some new people, have applied enough pressure in the economy and the infrastructure to allow and encourage growth.
The key is more people. If enough people aren’t being born into an area then the area needs to look some place where there is population pressure and bring some people in. The Philippines is an obvious example. Other countries can be included in the list. Even within Canada, there’s population pressures that can be shifted from region to region
What is needed is a desire for change and a plan to manage change. Many years ago, the now highly successful City of Winkler observed that young people were leaving the community especially after graduating from high school. That wasn’t exactly rocket science. Every town in western Canada should have known that. The difference was that the Winkler town fathers decided that “if” a student wanted to stay there would be “a” job. The math is quite simple. Add up the number of retirements in a given year. Place that number against the number of grads and the difference gives you the number of new jobs you need.
Now Winkler never assumed that everybody would stay or even that everybody should stay. They simply put in place ways of creating jobs (and housing) so that a person could stay. Or that a person could come back home after a time away for education, training or employment experience. It’s a simple system. It has been adopted by Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos First Nation in B.C. Create the jobs, create the housing and some of your young people will stay or come back.The other jobs will be filled by those moving to the area from other parts of Canada or from off-shore. That is what happens when you plan for sustainable growth.
One of the things that needs to change in small towns is that the leaders of all the volunteer groups need to sit down and ask themselves where they want to go and what they really want to do. In a town, there are probably 30 organizations. All have a chairman, a vice chairman (maybe), a secretary, a treasurer, a bank account and so on. All have a yearly agenda. Few are thriving. Some are dying. They all need to take a serious look at amalgamation.
In the 1970s, Arden had a skating rink committee, a hall committee, a park committee and a curling rink committee. They all came together as the Lansdowne Recreation Commission. It’s still going today and, while there have been issues to solve over the years, the basic structure has resulted in a stronger community. There’s still a nice park, a very successful curling rink, an outdoor skating area and a successful mid-sized hall. There’s also a lot fewer meetings so people can spend time at work, with family or having fun instead of sitting in four times as many meetings. The point is that communities and organizations don’t just have to take what’s handed to them by demographic fate. They can chart their course, determine their future and make progress.
There’s a few more sayings that need to be looked at.
Management styles: “Lead follow or get of of the way” and learn which you are supposed to do in a given situation
Decision making: “If you sit in the middle of the road, you get run down by traffic going both directions.”
Achieving success: “He who hesitates is lost.”
And most important of all, may God bless us as we embrace the future.

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kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247