Yarmouth mayor Pam Mood.
BELLE HATFIELD PHOTO
By Belle Hatfield
In his book, 13 ways to Kill Your Community, author Doug Griffiths says the most effective way to kill your community is failing to take responsibility for what can be changed. Griffiths is an Alberta MLA and minister responsible for municipal affairs.
“If you can manage to do only one thing right to kill your community, not taking responsibility is the key,” he writes. He’s not talking about municipal administrators, or politicians, or the directors of the local economic development groups. He is talking about the collective attitude of each and every resident.
Griffiths will be one of a dozen speakers at the Georgetown Conference in PEI Oct. 3-5. The conference, which is a Newspapers Atlantic initiative, will focus on rural issues and opportunities in an environment free of government influence. The idea is to identify the issues holding rural communities back and to promote solutions. It will engage people who can make change happen on a local level in communities throughout Atlantic Canada.
Yarmouth’s mayor Pam Mood will be a delegate at the table in Georgetown. Her attendance has been guaranteed, not because she is the town's mayor, but in spite of it.
At Georgetown, the only politicians will be those, like Griffiths, who bring extra-political ideas to the table.
As Mood has said herself, "I may be mayor, but I am not a politician."
The town's mayor believes there is a hunger in this region for action and she isn’t waiting for a ferry deal to be announced to try and harness it.
Although an announcement is imminent about ongoing negotiations between the province of Nova Scotia and a company proposing to operate a ferry between Yarmouth and Maine, she said in a recent interview, “With or without the ferry, we need to clean up this town.”
She is convening a town hall type meeting at the Mariners Centre for Wednesday, Sept. 11 to rally Yarmouth County residents.
Billed as “All Hands on Deck” she says this is a call to action, not an opportunity to whine or complain. The question she is hoping everyone will come prepared to answer is, “what can I do to help move Yarmouth forward?”
It could be as simple as adopting the public space in front of where you live. It could be the simple act of not littering – or picking up someone else’s litter, instead of complaining about how dirty the town is. It could be convening a paint crew to spruce up a neglected building, or edging the grass growing out of cracks in the sidewalks. The mayor believes little steps can lead to big change.
Already there are people stepping forward with answers. Mood says the response from those prepared to pitch in to organize both the event and the actions that will flow from it has been overwhelming.
That support is also evident in the responses to an online survey, sponsored by the Vanguard, which began circulating on Monday, Aug. 26. So far, 47 per cent of several hundred respondents have said they want to get involved, and have provided contact information for Mayor Mood’s initiative. Click here to fill out the survey.
The mayor says the response confirms what she believes.
“People want to get involved but we’ve all been waiting for someone else to step up,” she said.
She cautions that the goal is not to create a to-do list for the town/council to do, but does want to entertain a secondary question, which is, what can the town do to support your actions?
“This is about rallying everyone together and understanding the power we have to take ownership for our future,” she said.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and people are encouraged to arrive about 15 minutes before the meeting begins.