At the end of 2013 I really enjoyed reading an interview Jason Markusoff published with Naheed Nenshi. (Full disclosure, I love Jason Markusoff mostly because a) his last name starts with “Mark”, b) he covers Calgary City Hall so I read his column regularly and c) he attended the Jane’s Walk I hosted.) My favourite part of the interview was this exchange:
CH: Is there a dream job out there for you, though?
NN: I’m in it. I’m absolutely in it. You know, anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love cities. That I’m deeply rooted to this city, and the kind of work that city governments do is the most interesting work. So I cannot imagine a political job that would be better than this job. You know, people always ask, ‘Do you want to graduate to another order of government?’ Well, why would I want to take that demotion? I think that this is the stuff that really matters to people every day, and that’s what keeps me excited.
There is something special to have that passion for the role where you serve. I very much admire Mayor Nenshi for taking such pride, interest and satisfaction as Mayor of Calgary. There is little doubt that he revels in the position and works passionately, and at least once very much sleeplessly during a flood crisis, to serve Calgarians. I honestly believe he feels another order of government would be a demotion for him. His passion for Calgary is an inspiration for me.
I’ve had two other inspirational conversations this past week that keeps defining where my passions lie. One happened tonight where I met a wonderful person working on an amazing upcoming project. I can’t wait to talk about it more! I sat down to be interviewed, not entirely sure what I would be able to provide that she couldn’t get elsewhere. Instead I received a reconnection with just how special and amazing my neighbourhood is to me, and how attached I am to this place and the people here. This is why I do a Jane’s Walk, because the passion I feel for here makes me want to share just how awesome and unique it is in this corner of Calgary. Even if I offered absolutely nothing of value, I’ve reconnected to that feeling of home I get every time I ride my bike home up the hill. It recharged me and reminded me how much I love my neighbourhood and want to do my share to make it an even better place than it is right now.
The other conversation I had was from an amazing reader that got in touch with me right here from my blog. It’s no secret that I get about one third of my readership from my commentary for the CBC Eyeopener on Alberta’s Maintenance Enforcement Program. It boggles my mind that that was written four years ago, and I still see parents struggling through the system with the exact same issues I had struggled through for years even back then. I find it heartbreaking to have parents write me because they feel hopeless or feel desperate for answers.
The point of that post is not to say things are hopeless, but it is very much to say things are broken with our system and we need to take a fuller look at the way we treat parental separation and child support. Enforcing the financial aspect pummels the non-custodial parents, and custodial parents still don’t seem to have it any better collecting for their children when things are confrontational and uncooperative. Without help for non-financial aspects of the court order necessitates going to court and that costs even more money non-custodial parents generally can’t afford. Layer fines and penalties on top of that, and things become out of balance very quickly. I did what I could to help the other parent out, in the process I feel like I’ve earned another friend who will help change this quandary we’re stuck in. I really believe we can do better! Albertans, especially our children, deserve better than this!
It’s pretty clear to me that I care passionately about my local community, and I care deeply about fixing some of the more neglected aspects from the provincial level. Sure, some of what I care about isn’t headline-catching: Issues I care passionately about are Family Justice, environmental monitoring, the health of our agricultural sector, our developing local technical scene, post-secondary education, stable education funding in general, fair AISH funding tied to inflation, but also staying debt-free and diversifying Alberta’s economy. It certainly doesn’t match the sex appeal of flitting around the world on trade junkets or lobbying in Washington for a pipeline. I’m not saying they’re not important too, I am saying some of the things that really matter to Albertans are getting neglected and need better attention than what they’re getting right now.
Last night I read Greg Clark’s comments on MLA’s seeking federal nominations and I immediately caught on to Greg’s comment on focus. “MLAs have a full time job, and that’s to represent the people who elected them in the Alberta Legislature,” said Clark. “If an MLA’s attention is focused elsewhere they’re not doing their job.“
I only have so many hours in the day and there is only so many things I can focus on before I get overwhelmed and burn out. Being an MLA carries a heavy workload in the first place, and as I just said there are important issues that are not getting the attention they deserve right now. If you’re not going to put the time and effort into things that really matter for the job you’ve been elected to now, can we really expect people to do a better job focusing on the issues at hand if they’ve been elected federally? Greg isn’t saying don’t seek a federal nomination, he’s saying don’t split your focus when there are very important things that need to be dealt with now.
As for me, the past week has really made it clear what ignites the fire in my belly. My community matters and I need to keep putting focus and energy into what makes my neighbourhood wonderful. Paying attention to those things around us that aren’t working very well and work with my neighbours to generate ideas to make them run better. Be creative and innovative in order to truly bring about positive change here and throughout Alberta. I’m feeling re-energized again and that’s putting me in a great place right now. I feel like I’ve found my dream job too, and I want to make the most of being there. There is so much that needs to be done, it’s best to just start chipping away at it and keep your focus true to your goals.