Sunday, 1 February 2015

It's All About Community!

“What we want, what we do and what makes us feel good are rarely the same choice.” Happy City - Charles Montgomery

Hey everyone,

As I write this I am sitting in a delightful coffee shop that is a short walk from my house and I had the pleasure of bumping into one of my highschool teachers. He even remembered my name and said that he voted for me when I ran for Red Deer city council! We ended up sitting together and enjoying a great conversation over our coffees!

Now the topic I wanted to write about today is my experience volunteering at the Red Deer Rebels hockey game and selling raffle tickets to raise funds for Volunteer Central. But the chance encounter that I had with my former teacher has me thinking about a concept of which I am most passionate about, namely, walkability and human scale urban designs.

It was so awesome to run into someone I haven't seen for years and to share a coffee with him! After all, that is what the city is for! The built environment we live in directly affects the quality of life that we are able to enjoy. My close proximity to this coffee shop statistically increases the amount of chance encounters I will have and therefore connects me to my community more!

I will still talk about my experience volunteering at the game but now upon reflection I can see how all of this ties together. It's all about community. It's all about relationships.

I'm always looking for more ways to get involved in the community and I have found that volunteering is one of the best ways to do that. Now I fully admit that I do it because it makes me feel good. There are things that I want and there are things that I do but it takes a mindful choice to line those things up with what actually makes me feel good. Choosing to volunteer is such a mindful choice and I am filled with gratitude to have the opportunity to serve Volunteer Central as a board member and as a volunteer.

The most recent thing I was involved in was selling raffle tickets to raise money for Volunteer Central. We sold tickets to win a Rebels Suite donated to us by the United Way! It was a great event and lots of fun, and I got to go to my first ever Rebels game for free. Yes, its true, I have lived in Red Deer for 20 years and that was my very first Rebels game. But I digress.

At the hockey game I ran into many respected community leaders; whom striving politicians like myself LOVE to meet. It was really tempting to single them out of the crowd and treat them with elevated reverence. But I was very much aware how important it is to treat all people equally. It is all about the person right in front of me.

While selling tickets in a crowded corridor with hundreds of people walking past it was very easy to become distracted and miss the person right in front of me. But I mindfully focused my attention, as best I could, solely on the person I was engaging with; even if it was for a mere second, because for that moment they were the most important person.

The relationships that we build with people infuse our lives with energy. Being at this coffee shop and volunteering at the hockey game both connect me to other people and it feels GREAT! My proximity to this coffee shop removes barriers that would otherwise hinder my ability to connect with the community. The relationships I am forming give my life purpose and vitality!

So with all that said I will leave you with this. If you see a need act on it immediately and try to fill that need. It will make you feel good. Just do as our previous mayor, Morris Flewwelling says; “get on your horse and just do it!”

Now, you may ask, how do you choose which need to fill? Let your heart and let your eyes tell you and remember that everything is connected to everything else. Also remember that infinite change starts with an infinitesimal step!

Keep in mind that we humans are tribal. Thank those who help you! Lastly, never underestimate the power of a handwritten note. It is great to send emails, or make phone calls but there is something about a handwritten note that shines forth gratitude! 

Be grateful, say thank you!

Thank you,


“We are pulled and pulled according to the systems in which we find ourselves and certain geometries ensure that none of us are as free as we might think.” - Happy City, Charles Montgomery

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