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Doug Griffith is no stranger to rural community.

The Alberta native calls himself a community therapist – outlining his therapy in a book called 13 Ways to Kill a Community. His stated goal, found on his website – www.13ways.ca – is to “push communities to face their chal- lenges to find their unique path to success.” Doug’s pertinent background includes time served as an MLA in Alberta, and post second- ary studies to be a teacher.

With this background, the collaboration of the Kindersley Chamber of Commerce and the Merid- ian Futures was a no-brainer to bring Doug to the region. A local evening session on November 21 held at the Norman Ritchie Center proved to be successful and strongly engaging for those present.

This was evidenced as Doug provided entertaining, unique and humourous illustrations and principles in his talk- sprinkled with acronyms of all sorts. Those who attended came away, not only with the 13 principles, but with practical ap- plications illustrated in story. This was a reminder that a community may think they are different, but they have the same challenges as those living next door or around the globe.

Eighteen sponsors from the region bought tables and were active in recruiting people to attend the evening session. Around 130-140 people attended from the region, including Kindersley, Eatonia, Eston, Kerrobert, Rosetown, Marengo and more. One of the main thrusts was the need for collaboration. This growth technique for local communities could be seen in the wide variety of regional representation present.

Doug also committed his day to the community. He had a session at Kindersley Composite High School (250 students attending) for grades nine- twelve – including not only the Kindersley cam- pus, but other high school students from Marengo and Eatonia. His presentation centered around asking these youth what they did not want to be when they grow up. This provided ways to think of their daily choices as providing an outcome that they desired, and not what they deplored.

A small group of regional players met for supper with Doug, where he was able to display his own personality and to provide informal discussion. Revitalization of downtown businesses was just one of the topics discussed – spurred on by the relaxed atmosphere and openness for interaction.

Then off to the community session, which brought strong positive feedback. While the sessions impact was immediate – with many sensing the need to reevaluate and act on principles they knew but understood in a new light – a future impact would suggest continued meetings for awareness, learning and growing together.

Here are just a few comments that arose from the evening’s inspiration:

Denise commented that everyone was motivated right now – this is the time to act. Find your good idea and do it now! She found that every chapter sparked something in people’s thoughts.

Jennifer highlighted that, due to technology, old lines in the sand are being erased – communities must collaborate to flourish. Each community needs to focus their efforts and pinpoint their resource base towards that fulfillment.

Jeanette felt that Doug nailed it – passing on the baton from councils or committees must be in- tentional. Tourism is often stifled when we don’t value what we have – what we take for granted may be exactly what excites others.

Jeff, having read Doug’s book, was not surprised by any of the principles mentioned in the talk. He was reminded that we need to work to be the best we can in community, including the need to think local – shopping, services and people. Education is a big piece of this puzzle. Working with various generations will solidify the gains of a community over time.

Vickie loved the way Doug engaged youth. They were encouraged to explore the world and bring back to the local community something of what they have learned. She was thankful for the strong business presence. Work better together – Share in projects – Grow regional relationships. All of these will strengthen the whole region.

The consensus was that Doug Griffiths brought a lively and vibrant talk that will inspire our region to do more than just sustain, but to grow and thrive!

Feature Image: Youtube

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Ron Baker
Ron Baker is a recently retired (2005) member of the Kindersley community. His roots run deep – his grandfather homesteaded just outside Kindersley in the early 1900's. Ron was born in the old Kindersley Hospital, has made his home in various other communities over the years, but keeps coming back. Committed to the community, Ron has found his local involvement has proved to be great fodder for some hilarious tales and tragic events. His experience in administration and working with people, along with his love for a good story, ought to help to bring daily life to life! Ron blogs at ronbaker.ca, and is pleased to be a part of the writing “crew” at Kindersley Social.