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Monday, November 15, 2010

Many Hats in a small town

Here's a column I wrote a little while ago referring to small town politics. It's one of my favourite columns so far, so I hope you enjoy it!

Insider Reflections
With Ashley Foley
Many Hats in a Small Town
In small towns, especially La Crete and Fort Vermilion, there are a lot of organizations, businesses and leadership roles to be filled and fewer people to fill them.
The solution: each person wears a lot of hats.
Usually, I interview business owners, councillors, RCMP Officers, or Fire Fighters, and in meeting them in that persona, would create a biased judgement based on their role.
However, in attending Get to Know You Night and other events and small business interviews, I have come to realized that I had made biased assumptions on these figures based on their roles. Most of these people actually play more than one role in their community.
For example, in attending council meetings in Fort Vermilion, I had always assumed each of the business people sitting around the table were intimidating.
However, after meeting with Ray Toews in Fort Vermilion as a multi-business owner and Canadian Ranger, I was introduced to a softer, more friendly and less intimidating side of him.
It is said that judgements are made within the first ten seconds of meeting someone, and that first impressions are everything. Perhaps I was too quick to judge people based on their roles, titles and uniforms.
These people are the exact same people in flesh and blood, but show completely different personalities depending on which role they are in.
It all depends on their hat.
Perhaps that’s the special part that I get to experience that my classmates back in Toronto are missing out on, the closeness and multi-personalities that come with a small town.
Though I too grew up in a small town, much smaller than Fort Vermilion, as a child I hadn’t realized or learned to appreciate different traits in people. The teacher was a role model, the video store owner rented movies, and the person with peacock farm was the strange one nobody knew well.
On the other hand, these northern villages are unique. I don’t believe I would have ever experienced so many personalities in one individual by staying in a small town in Southern Ontario, because the nearest city or town is only minutes away.
Here, on the other hand, there is more responsibility on each individual, and less reliance on cities and government run resources for the communities to run effectively. And they do so in a uniquely wonderful away.
But it takes a lot of hats.

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