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and ambitious visioning are bound to trigger sensitive topics, cast doubt on established narratives, and exacerbate differences in individual and community identities. When questions of a community’s future are at stake, individuals can be provoked to conflict by a small remark, a minute change in policy or routine, or an alteration in the design of a building, a street, a park, or a parking space. Taking away a parking spot can turn a socialist into a libertarian, a reference to a rancher grandfather can suddenly transform a lawyer or engineer into a rancher. Developing a new vision for the future can imply a rewriting of history, a critique of past and present. This can mean recasting old alliances and debates, reflecting on forgotten disagreements, and in other cases, introducing a new poignancy to previously accepted differences and supposedly resolved conflicts. New visions can introduce new community dynamics, as new patterns of opportunity and threat become visible and existing patterns of winners, losers, and alliances underpinning current governance become unhinged. Old disagreements can become ammunition then, or simply excuses, to navigate the new landscape of risk and opportunity. Destabilizing conflict does not need to play out, and many communities are able to reinvent themselves and make themselves more immune to cycles of boom and bust. Understanding both the productive and undermining character of conflict in governance and community visioning is undoubtedly a precondition for success. Utopian ideas of an always cohesive and peaceful community, with easy consensus and strict avoidance of conflict, can only lead to disappointment later. To come closer to utopia, a cool assessment of the current situation is imperative. Conflict assessment can be part of both self-analysis and strategy development, both of which are discussed later. Mapping out the history of factional lines, conflicting identities, tensions over resources, conflict management tools and successes, and conflicts associated with previous policies and plans can inform strategic planning and decision-making. New community strategies can then be better positioned to assess how to relate to old conflicts and how to provoke or avoid new ones. When knowingly facing old conflicts or triggering a new one to further a greater good, actors can be prepared to manage them by thinking through potential scenarios, accessing appropriate tools, and contingency planning. Crafting a community strategy requires strategy.

Part I: Basic notions for community analysis

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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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