9. July 2013 13:52
Why do I believe in doing one thing every day to make Calgary a better city?
It isn't because I have had a long abiding love of the city. If you do not know the story, I was planning on staying in Calgary until 2018 and then leaving it behind for good. "Calgary had become too big, too unfriendly, it had lost touch with what it what it had been," I once thought not too long ago. I had struggled to find good work, I had felt the slow crush of debt and the difficulty of finding a decent home in a tight rental market. I have lived bunkered in my home against the horde of strangers in the neighbourhood who cared nothing beyond complaining of how horrible we all were as neighbours.
Aspects of that may still be true for many people in this city. That is a part of Calgary that may exist literally anywhere in the city, it's just a mentality and not a place.
I hope everyone who lives in that part of the city finds the place where I live now, where we like our neighbours and love our neighbourhoods. A place where even if we took a hit we have a thousand people showing up to help. Sometimes quite literally.
Over the past month many Calgarians who have discovered what it means to be Calgarian. If you were flooded, neighbours volunteered to help. If you couldn't volunteer to tear out drywall or lift heavy things or make sandwiches you found a way to donate or contribute. But the most important thing is that you contributed!
It goes back to a tweet I received long ago. "Report to yourself. Take the ownership to make change. Don't wait for permission."
That created my new address in Calgary and I know precisely what it means to get what you give.
We will get through the flood because we haven't questioned if we should participate, we just helped. We got through the immediacy of helping Calgary and then responded to the surrounding areas because it is the right thing to do.
It remains so because we've baked it in that way. You need to report to yourself. You need to take ownership of that sphere of influence around you and change it for the better. Nobody else is going to say yes or no, so just take on what you can. You can't fix everything, but you can make it better, and only you will know what "better" looks like once you are finished.
That is what builds resiliency. That is what makes us strong and keeps us moving forward. The next phase is where we develop those immediate relationships we have formed, check in on our neighbours and rebuild our city. Yes, we are up to this.
I saw it yesterday with Thomas, the Gutter Doctor who took pride in his work to fix the slapstick mess left behind by someone else. I saw it with friends who simply appeared in order to make things right and are determined to see it through. Pride in your work, giving a little extra, helping a friend: This is the better Calgary I envision.
It happens by doing one thing, each and every day, to make Calgary a better city. Take on the challenge for yourself.