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of these places is that few people still have farms or work in agriculture, and, in some cases, the economy diversified decades ago. In some of these cases, the next generation of local leaders is working hard to change the narrative, to show that the community is on a different path, and that understanding this new path is key to envisioning a prosperous future. We talked to several mayors in such a situation. They saw part of their task as including more voices in local governance, so that the new community narrative comes from multiple voices, not only those of the new politicians, and the backlash can better managed. We believe that climbing out of the pit of the concentration problem requires strong and flexible institutions for self-governance, as well as strong leadership that can facilitate, sometimes guide, and sometimes restart self-governance. Strong leadership can help devise and maintain visions, as well as to enhance reflexivity and observational capacity in governance, the foundation for future strategizing. Of course, these qualities are rarely combined in one person. It is not strange, therefore, that we often found in successful communities civic elites remaining in place for a long time, safeguarding long-term perspectives in governance. Not all voices are equal, equally interested, equally reasonable or justified, nor informed. Leadership can help a community understand itself better in context and navigate that context. • In Smithers, BC, leadership seems to provide a stable perspective, a foundation, from which “the community’s” views can be assessed and interpreted. While there is a corporate presence, which includes entities such as CN (rail) and Fraser (sawmills), corporations in Smithers have not had as great of an effect on the town’s character and progress. Social and environmental concerns occupy a relatively central place. The town, according to interviewees both within and outside of government, has embraced environmentalist concepts of “livability” based on the town’s history of environmental activity and participation. While in contemporary times this push for so-called “livability” has been enhanced and spearheaded by the public, the original catalyst was a group, a political elite from the 1970s. Their views gained general acceptance over time, having eventually been embraced and become part of the town’s identity. • Rebuilding reflexivity and observational capacity lays the foundation for content-driven strategies. Restoring a multiplicity of truly different perspectives, and building capacity to compare those perspectives, can slowly open up new avenues of thinking. The substance of the strategies for the long term can then be decided through a higher quality process.

Part IV: Boom/Bust:Moving forwards: Strategy-making

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Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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