Saturday Morning Coffee

International Affairs Specialist by day, Blogger Enthusiast by night. This is a sneak peek into my world that should be enjoyed with ample time and a good and very strong cup of java.

In the Meeting House

I was recently invited to attend a Meeting House discussion at the Public Library. I’ve never been to a Meeting House discussion so I’m not too sure what to expect (is a Meeting House in Canada the same as a Town Hall Meeting in the US?), but nonetheless, I’m curious.  The topic of the night will be the community – how it’s developing, concerns, fears, worries and in general, how we’d like to see it develop.  This is a particularly interesting topic as I”m all for positive change and seeing progress, yet the thought of going to the Meeting House has me strangely anxious. My family has lived in the areas for almost a hundred years; suffice it to say, I know it fairly well. But my anxiety makes me question, do I really? I know buildings, roads, landmarks and friends, but I feel it lacks the same sort of community, the type of place that makes you want to be home and strive toward making it better. This, perhaps may be one of the items on the agenda – how to make a town, a community and a home.

Bringing together different members of the community and the people who can implement change is a great idea and I’m very curious to know what sort of issues will surface. Will it be a safe and open space to express opinions or will biases and intimdation silence voices?

I’ve learned that the tremendous and rapid growth of the region has already caused major problems, especially regarding affordable housing and food security. Knowing this, I became a little alarmed (!) to learn that there really was no social plan in place to deal with the influx of people; no services, infrastructure or preparation to deal with the problems that could surface. What’s worse is there is no data and no research mechanism to provide evidence to support the creation of infrastructure or services. Basically, the strategy is to sit back and wait until problems arise, until they’ve gotten so bad that some money, time and effort need to be thrown at the problem. Really? Is this the way to run a healthy community? It really is maddening to see this type of logic applied to the community where you live.

The Meeting House is a start, but the main actors running it are already swamped with their own (contract) work that takes up much of their day. Let’s face it, this is a full time job of an entire department to create, establish and grow the social infrastructure that’s needed.  However, funding allocations tend to favor activities that will provide a return (ie economic development) without acknowledging the social sector until it’s too late; the down side of politics… Reactions to the Meeting House to come soon….

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