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Autonomy comes thus with control and control comes with an awareness of the tools of self-definition. Power is present in the whole process of governance and is at work in many places and guises around these issues. A community can have control as in powers to bring in money, but it might not have power to make an internal coalition which can articulate a vision, or the power to implement such vision, to overcome bureaucratic resistance, legislative inertia, expert positions, or it can lack the power to see itself differently, to rethink its own assumptions. As always, power and knowledge are entwined and control over one’s future is control over knowledge. Getting a better grip on which types of knowledge play a role in local governance, and in the linkages with other players, brings us a step closer to managing the power/ knowledge knots which can be in the way of reinvention, of understanding ourselves and our possibilities differently, of seeing assets in a new light, and ways to build on them towards greater autonomy and prosperity. Knowledge, we know, comes in many forms, in expert discourses, local stories, in ideas about identity, ideologies, and the degree of autonomy a community has is defined by the mixing and mingling of these different sorts of knowledge in governance. Path and context mapping includes the analysis of that mixing and mingling. Out of it comes the set of tools to understand and reshape ourselves. Control, in other words, comes with self- reflection, the analysis of the elements and forces that made a community into something with certain powers. Control and autonomy are goals in and by themselves, but then not entirely. They are, because a high degree of control and autonomy allows for many different futures to be envisioned and implemented, but such situation is also tricky. Greater local autonomy can open the door for greater local abuse of power and corruption, of isolationism, for undermining of checks and balances locally and in the nation state. It can create blindness for public interests at larger scales and disconnects from knowledge, institutions and resources which could open alternative futures. In the western Canadian context, all those negatives existed and exist, yet the bigger issue here seems lack of autonomy, since global economic forces have been unleashed on small and young communities which lack the tools to deal with them. The federal government granted provinces the powers to define and redefine local governments at will. Often, that meant keeping them small and relatively powerless. The 1867 constitution listing as provincial powers the management of saloons, brothels, and oh yes, local governments. Western mythologies of extreme localism were tinged by ideals of rugged individualism, and de facto made the local communities weaker vis a vis the province. In this landscape of power, it is reasonable to say that managing boom and bust in local governance will require work on increasing autonomy. 218

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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