Agents of Change

As summer transitions into autumn and the larch fade to pale green then to gold, it’s almost impossible not to think about change. And, when you live in a community you love it is a constant lingering consideration, perhaps not in the forefront, but in the background. How is my community changing around me? Something many of us may wonder, and perhaps can’t articulate: How can we contribute to positive change and help steer the future of this community? One way of course is to get involved. In local government sure, but not everyone has the energy or time to take that on. There are innumerable ways you can contribute to your community, and I suspect many of us overlook them or don’t really appreciate the potential for positive change they make. 

The act of creating a liveable community comes in many variations, even individual pursuits can affect a broader impact on the community than ever intended. 

Take Wayne Gowanlock, City of Fernie employee, who goes about his duties with a steady and humble pride. Wayne, as many of us know, travelled to the Berlin Special Olympics, and came home with a silver medal in bocce. I cannot count the number of people I have talked to who are thrilled by this accomplishment and by how Wayne so proudly represented our little community, region, and entire country on the world stage and in doing so he changed the profile of the Special Olympics in our community and across the region. 

Or take Lee Wahl and his family who donated $30,000 to the Annex Park nature-based play space and who asked for nothing in return. They did it simply to make this community a better place to live.

The point, of course, is that everyone can contribute in countless ways to positive change in our community. Just by getting out and supporting a local event like Wapiti, the Fernie Historical Society’s Chautauqua Fall Fair, or the numerous Elk Valley Pride Festival events, you support and help perpetuate positive change. Want to contribute more fully, become a dues-paying member of one of our local non-profit societies including those mentioned or others like the Fernie & District Arts Council, the Fernie Senior’s Centre, or the Fernie Rod and Gun Club. Better yet, volunteer to support events like the Elk River Clean-up hosted by the Elk River Alliance. Or, if you do have the time and the energy, join the board of a local not for profit. Help guide and support its success. The quality-of-life multiplier is exponential in terms of the impact your involvement can have on the enjoyment and the connectivity between locals and visitors alike. 

I appreciate I’m in danger of directing people to a bunch of organizations I am partial too, that’s certainly not my intention. There are so many more. Just flip open the events calendar of this very publication to see just a smattering of events offered by local community groups, talk to your friends, read the local paper, search social media and you will find an organization aligned with your interests and passions. 

I confess, I started this column thinking about change as it affects towns like ours on the macro level—I will write that column—but as I wrote I realized how important it is to acknowledge that we are the agents of change in our community at every level and, at a very human scale, we can all contribute to a vibrant, engaging, authentic community where we can all thrive, a community that will continue to attract people with the broadest possible range of interests. 

It’s the support of that engaged authenticity that will sustain the evolution of Fernie as a great place to live long into the future. 

Photo by Vanessa Croome