Tomorrow, and through the weekend, about 85 Albertans, from communities throughout the province, will gather in Red Deer to discuss “rebooting” — or perhaps “upgrading” — Alberta. As one of the initiators, I have to say that the weekend will likely surprise me as much as anyone else. I know a number of the invitees: there are many others who are friends as yet unmet.
The event has generated a considerable amount of buzz in some circles. But even so, it is generally unknown. Most of the people I’ve spoken to about it have been unaware, and that hasn’t surprised me. I talk to many people who have no apparent interest in provincial politics, or parties, or the work of elected representatives, or public policy writ large. What has surprised me has been the number of such people who have broken out of the shell, expressed real interest in the gathering, declared their frustration, and said they expect more of themselves and their province. People are talking about finding ways to do better, and be more, than our recent history suggests.
I go to Red Deer determined to find a new way of making progress, and determined to find other Albertans, in and beyond my current circles, who are equally — or more — determined, energetic, imaginative, inclusive, respectful, creative, collaborative, and hopeful.
I have no interest in mere opposition and confrontation, criticism, fear, intimidation, exclusion, or victimization.
I am interested in democracy, self-government, our obligation to the 7th generation.
As I read this, it seems very insubstantial. But it isn’t. We need to write a different story for ourselves, using different words and images. We need a story about possibilities, not problems. We need a story about the far horizon, not the next step. We need to raise our standards as well as our eyes.
I expect to have my eyes opened, and raised, in Red Deer.