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or understand the possibility of managing them. Transients and longterm residents collaborate then in the amplification of the bust. Also, non-transient residents can highly value income, and if they measure their quality of life in income, not in their actual experience of life in the place, this makes reinvention harder, in another collaboration of earlier and later arrivals.

3. Detached identities Aren’t we missing something here? People cannot be forced to invest in a community, and in general, one cannot force people to identify with the place in which they work at some point during their lives. If they identify more with Newfoundland, where they grew up, and with Honolulu, where they want to retire, these two communities can be more relevant for them, for their choices and investments, than the Albertan town in which they currently live. One can take a moralizing point of view here, talking about the rights and duties of the citizen in the local community. However, those duties can only be enforced up to a point, and there are many different interpretations of community and democracy, many different types of community identity. The supposed indifference of the transients also deserves qualification: not belonging to a church group or participating in city council, and dreaming of a future in Honolulu, doesn’t necessarily mean one doesn’t care about one’s community. Church and council can be closed circles, the newcomers might be interested in other things which are not valued or organized locally, and this can contribute to their dreaming of a future in other places. If we talk about “the community” dealing with boom and bust, it is therefore important not to equate the concept of community with a physical town, or with the administrative unit represented by a city council, but rather understand it as people who live together and aspire to certain things. The community can be defined here as the idealized or perceived community from the point of view of those within the group, and is not to be confused with the conventional interpretation of community, often framed from an outside perspective. One cannot assume that all citizens want to exert their citizenship here and engage here, or, directly linked to this, that every place has to be saved at all cost. Indeed, if the whole town’s existence is a history of short-term thinking, collective risk taking, speculation, and hit-and-run strategies, then the whole existence of the place is similar to the existence of a pinball machine, allowing people to take some risk and have some fun, and offering short-term rewards. If the machine disappears, so be it. It was only ever a vehicle for winning quarters. 56

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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