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1. Governance What is governance? We define governance as the making of collectively binding decisions in a community. Governance is broader than government: it includes both governmental and non-governmental actors. “Actors,” or stakeholders, can include individuals, as well as both government-based and nongovernmental organizations. The government itself will not necessarily be one distinct actor, but rather a collection of often competing actors operating very differently within a given community. Actors are not always easily recognized, and it takes time and effort, even within your own community, to discern who has influence over which decisions. In some northern communities, for instance, a mayor can have less real influence over community governance than a charismatic and deeply rooted snow plough driver. In order to better understand and manage boom and bust, it is best to think beyond government-based governance; to consider a broader scope of actors with whom to engage. Often, when people draw attention to governance they link it to a need for participatory decision-making. Direct presence of citizens, citizen groups, and other non-governmental actors in decision-making is often expected to improve the quality of governance. In this light, participation is presented as the essence of democracy, and representation the root of many problems. We would rather say that any democratic community operates through a different combination of participation and representation. In places where government is insensitive to local voices, where the balance between participation and representation has tilted very much to the latter, enhancing the involvement of citizens can indeed be a good and important thing. At the same time, it’s useful to keep in mind that participation is always there in some form, just as governance is always there. Government cannot simply work by itself, just as laws do not implement themselves. They don’t work if they are not resonant with the values and coordination tools in a community. Governance is a theatre of actors, and those actors need a script. A good governance “script” has two closely intertwined elements: content and rules of coordination (i.e., how to deal with others). Governance content is the web of narratives and stories about the identity of a place and its actors which collectively define a community’s vision of what constitutes good governance and a good community.

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Boom and Bust: a guide

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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