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Reflecting on Summit 2019

Being in a room of people who love their community is electrifying.

From January 24- 26 Our High River hosted our 5th Annual Community Summit. The evening of the 24th was ‘Summit Lite’ including appetizers and Actionators – a little taste of Summit.  Friday was an invite out to other communities to look at Our ‘Tools of Engagement’ from last year’s Summit – we were happy to share the High River greatness with community builders from Claresholm, Cochrane and Canmore.  Saturday was the big event – an all-day opportunity for community members to gather, share idea’s and hear from local people who are getting things done.

Local was important to us this year, in previous years we have had expert guests, we’ve come to realize we have a wealth of expertise right here at home (we’ve only just touched the surface – if you have someone awesome you’d like to share with us we are always looking for Humans of High River.

So, if you didn’t make it, or if you have already forgotten January, let’s do a little recap!

Thursday night we had a fired-up group of citizens ready to make a difference in High River.  We started off with a panel discussion with local Actionators: Wade Nelson, Corene Loewen, Jenny Jones and Thom Theroux. Each of these people are wearing several hats in the community.  We talked about how we could use the Memorial Centre more, how we could encourage a thriving arts community (visual and performing), we talked about the value of belonging to service groups (Kinettes are awesome) and more. After enjoying some super tasty treats from the Whistle Stop Café we dove into the Vital Signs report (LINK). We asked the group to find one of the outcomes that they cared about and brainstorm about ways we could ‘Up the Grade’. Vital Signs looks at 8 categories:  Connection, Environment, Expression, Health & Wellbeing, Lifelong Learning, Livability, Safety & Security, Thriving Populations.  The idea’s covered from simple and easy to major large scale projects, we can’t wait to see what takes root!

Saturdays group was around the same size, about 40 individuals, which makes for a room-full here at the Culture Centre.  The agenda included a discussion of the Vital Signs report, superbly presented by Kalie Mosig (Kalie is over at FCSS – if you want to know about ANY details about the report she is a fountain of information). We heard from Janelle Kennedy, the Community Engagement Coach with the Town of High River.  Janelle gave us 5 things you need to know about making your event or project AMAZING and she made us do a little work too…We launched the High River Event and Project Planning Playbook and coloring contest.

Our Actionators Saturday were fantastic, Herb Froese entertained us with his box of props representing the number of things he does to help in the community, from Hollyhock Lane to Pie Sunday, we are so lucky to have someone who is willing to share his numerous talents with such generosity.  Amanda Pawlitzki, one of our Hockeyville organizers, gave an impassioned talk on getting involved in a way that works for you AND the value of saying ‘no’ when you can’t.

Michael Kohler showed us what the VENUE is going to look like, this exciting project will be a home for our arts community and will have not only a stage but recording facilities too and the design is gorgeous.  Alaine Kowal was our final Actionator and she talked about how sharing an idea can make it come to life, we can thank her for sharing her idea’s about the Grad March last year and for her newsletter ‘The Optimistic Citizen’.

Our keynote this year was Our own Jodi Dawson.  Jodi is a life long resident of High River with deep roots in the community, she was the first staff member for Our High River, went on to manage Economic Development over the past couple of years and has recently joined Farmer’s Business Network here in town to look after Canadian Marketing operations. Jodi opened up a lively conversation on INNOVATION. This then led us into answering the question “How can we be innovative in building neighbourhood connection in High River?”.  The group came up with ideas ranging from ‘smile and introduce yourself’ to ‘let’s build a bridge’, meaning a walking bridge from the North West into downtown (how great would that be?) and everything in between.

The larger purpose of Summit, and of Our High River itself, is to get people involved and playing a part in making this the community that they want. We know that we are better together and that as Margaret Mead put it “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

If you want to know more or get involved contact us.  Come out to the monthly Community Café – every second Wednesday of the month at the Culture Centre.

A huge thank you to all of the members of the community who came out to the Summit this year, see you in the community.