I asked myself: Do I see my personal, lived values by reflected in my politics?
I remember the when and where my storybook image of Community formed. You see, there was a time when moms felt free to let kids free play. Mine would let me follow the letter carrier around the block as I collected those rubber bands used to bundle deliveries. Imagine the sight of an adorable freckle-faced fiver craning around to surprise neighbors with an impish “boo”. The circuit we walked would set the stage for a variety of future interests, but more on that later.
Later, as a teen, I watched how connected to service my parents had become. Volunteering in a number of roles, serving and leading in our church and broader community, producing and hosting a Seniors television show to name one. Dad worked hard to support our large family, and it was the oil and gas energy sector that paid the bills. Between work rotations, he never stopped while mom kept order at home. Across provinces, he partnered to build a campground, where all working age siblings were expected to help. If that wasn’t enough, a photography sideline kept him busy in the off season. Feeling left out, I started working at age 13 for my friend’s family business.
Then, there was a growing homeowner trend to consider renovation improvements for energy conservation. Somehow, my parents managed to raise our family of eight in our relatively small bungalow with all kids sleeping in the basement. Years of razor-thin budgeting was now able to give mom some well-deserved upgrades. My retrospective journey set a new course to adulthood.
Heeding the call to service, I headed to the Militia, joined the medics, met some amazing people, jumped out of a few planes, and started Nursing. Fast forward, past some years of disaster response and relief work, and I found myself back at home in the same neighborhood I helped deliver mail as a preschooler. What I learned to appreciate as we walked the streets in those early days was more than a name, or a face. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was making a deeper connection; I was forming personalized conservative values: public service to community, faith and connection to a greater purpose, hard work and frugal determination to spend wisely and delay gratification to savor the fruits of labor, honor the sabbath, and work to a healthy balance of environmental stewardship.
Ironic, some may tease, for a Conservative to say: I recycled that family home of ours. I could have just bulldozed it, but with my Father - looking down on me now - I suspect, would not have approved of that. Off it went like a faded memory down the highway. In its place stands my Built Green contribution to reducing my carbon footprint and leading a thoughtful densification, an evolution of our mature neighborhood. And so, we arrive at those ‘future interests’ I mentioned.
My point in describing this childhood image is certainly to recall a blessing, but also highlight the reality of my corner in Edmonton Strathcona today. Ours is a markedly different demographic these days, with smaller families, an aging population, and limited new housing inventory options to accommodate the changes. As things changed, local parents and others rallied to try and preserve the remaining schools we had, and formed the Greater Hardisty Community Sustainability Coalition. As an RN, I became concerned for the impact of these changes on the health and wellness of my beloved community.
With several schools and businesses boarded up, and walkability in decline, an infusion of investment to redevelop the area’s core has become sorely needed. The #greaterhardisty coalition established itself as a broad-based group of civic minded volunteers interested in finding solutions to the problem. We gathered our neighbors for feedback at several engagement sessions and later identified 101 Avenue as an opportune canvass to improve the objectives the community identified. For instance, because the only meaningful densification happening was a painfully slow smattering of lot splits, a middle density, mixed use format along the Avenue made sense. We achieved recognition for our succinct and passionate appeal to council as we made the business care to develop a Main Street urban node along the avenue and achieve a degree of scale attractive to developers. The Greater Hardisty Coalition suggested COE forestall proposed resurfacing of 101 avenue in favor of a Complete Street design and build, one that would see aesthetics, walkability and trail integration improved, one that would encourage more neighbours choose Active Transport to patronize local businesses and amenities. The result of all this advocacy can be seen in the 101 Ave Corridor Study. Our ongoing collaboration with COE planning on design work continues despite these troubling times.
But for Edmonton Strathcona to achieve the vision of this development, the strong will of a few community organizers is not enough; we need advocates like Rick Peterson and his team of Federal Conservatives in our corner. A representative who understands that diversity and community should be synonymous, and that hard work, dedication and perseverance can shape a better future for families of new generations. Rick looks to the future and understands the potential of new technologies in the energy sector for both economy and the environment. He is the adroit leader we need.
To read more about potential developments in Greater Hardisty, and related community and civic issues, keep visiting this blog. To learn more about our community coalition, search: #greaterhardisty.
- Miles Berry
Miles is a passionate community advocate and a volunteer on Rick's campaign team.
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