For Your Consideration

Ask not what your community can do for you

Home is what you make it.

  • Jun. 10, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Home is what you make it.

I recently saw a question on the Ask Smithers Facebook page by a couple who is looking at moving to Smithers. The questioner wanted to know what kind of community we are.

They are looking for a tight-knit community and have been discouraged by some other places where there has been conflict or no sense of community.

I started to write an answer, but soon found myself descending into the rabbit hole that is my mind. It’s a complex question deserving of a platform more suitable to a complex answer than the quagmire that is the FB comment section.

Of course, I did peruse the comment section, and, not surprisingly, the answers ran the gamut from hell on Earth to a community that can do no wrong.

Personally, I have lived in numerous communities from the smallest fly-in wilderness hamlet on the north coast of Labrador to the biggest city in the country. All have had their pluses and minuses, but I cannot think of a single one that I would not go back to if I had to.

I have always found the good in the places I’ve been even while acknowledging the bad. And there is good and bad everywhere. There is no such thing as a geographic cure.

In very general terms, it has been my experience that negative people tend to experience things negatively and positive people tend to experience things positively.

I recognize I am writing from a position of privilege. I know there are very good reasons why people would have a very negative perception of the world and of our town.

But Smithers is a very diverse community, one of the most diverse I have lived in. Even though it is small, if you can’t find “your people” here, you’re probably not looking very effectively.

Is there conflict here? Of course there is. We’re talking about human beings living together in close proximity, which is pretty much a sure-fire recipe for conflict.

On the plus side, our conflicts are relatively peaceful and ultimately I have found more common ground than division even among people with whom I hold diametrically opposed views.

Does Smithers have its problems? Sure it does, but on balance it is a great town, pretty, vibrant, thriving, full of amenities and well-intentioned, community-minded people of pretty much every imaginable description.

For me, coming here as I did two-and-a-half years ago under circumstances that were firmly lodged between a rock and a hard place, it was a soft place to land. In fact, that is the title of the most recent song I wrote.

To riff off the famous John F. Kennedy quote: Ask not what your community can do for you, ask what you can do for your community.

I do not say that flippantly. Everyone has a different capacity for what they are able to do and some have no capacity whatsoever, but if everyone who can do something, however little, is at least trying, we can leave this place better than we found it.

Home is what you make it.

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