Page 49

identities compete, forms of expertise compete, and versions of the past, present, and future compete. The frictions that accompany this diversity are not a problem, but rather are integral to genuine governance and community. Apparent absence of frictions is likely absence of transparency, and without transparency, corruption and factionalism will abound. Conflict might be difficult by itself, adding stress to the practice of governance, and it will likely be especially daunting for actors trying to take a new path as a community or come up with an entirely new vision for the future. Many authors will emphasize the need for unity and consensus under those circumstance. We agree that consensus is something for which to strive; however, imposing an early and likely artificial consensus to avoid conflict can be much more damaging in the long run than the conflict itself. Avoiding conflict means ignoring the diversity of views and interests in the community, and jumping too fast into apparent consensus can result in parts of the community not identifying with the plan or vision and hampering its implementation. Conflict can be praised for more substantial reasons: it can be productive. By harnessing a diversity of opinions, conflict can help adapt a governance to better respond to changing circumstances. In a narrower sense, differences of opinion can produce new things, new ideas, identities, new communities. Conflict, tension, and disagreement often provoke more participation and engagement, lead to reflection on identity and belonging, and provoke communities to rewrite old stories to craft a new sense of identity. New opportunities and solutions can come up as arguments in conflict, as well as through the process of conflict resolution. Conflict can speed up decision-making and can enable visioning and strategizing that was previously deemed impossible: a hard won moment of cohesion after a long struggle, a flash of shared insight after forced collaboration, a sense of urgency generating a stronger than ever power of collaborative coordination. One can say, therefore, that conflict can hamper governance, can make it very hard to move forward, but allowing it to play out can also suddenly lead to new inventions and to speedy deliberation. • In Fort McMurray, Alberta, the city tried to convince higher level governments to pay more attention to and invest more in stabilizing the community and rendering it a northern hub and a place to raise a family, a place which could develop long-term perspectives. The oil companies and provincial and federal governments lacked interest, instead subtly favouring a camp idea for Fort McMurray, building on the environment and structure of the oilfield work camps. Long-term environmental

Part I: Basic notions for community analysis

37

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...

Advertisement