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Conversation can help shape future of Fort Macleod

angie oconnor

Fort Macleod residents are invited to join an honest conversation about their community.
Organizers of the Unstoppable Conversation expect the talk on March 27-28 will lead to positive action in Fort Macleod.
“I’m just hopeful this will lead to a collective way of thinking so as a community we can change things together,” Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services director Angie O’Connor said.
The Unstoppable Conversations sessions are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28.
The location will be determined once registration, which is open to everyone in Fort Macleod and district, is completed on Friday, March 20.
Volunteer Alberta contacted O’Connor in the fall to offer the event, which is being co-hosted by the Town of Fort Macleod.
“We at the town are all very excited that Volunteer Alberta has chosen our town as their next project,” Fort Macleod economic development manager Virgina Wishart said.
The idea is to bring people from all sectors of the community together to talk about Fort Macleod.
The facilitators provided by Volunteer Alberta will encourage people to be open and honest in their comments and to ensure everyone has the chance to express themselves.
The idea of the Unstoppable Conversations is that assumptions limit options, and gripping tightly to the past way of doing things can limit a community’s future.
“We’re hopeful there will be a lot of positive conversation,” O’Connor said. “They assure us that it is some straight conversation and reflection.”
O’Connor said Fort Macleod is a community where people come together for many projects and causes, but it is always useful to do some self-examination.
“People often say to me we are the little town who thinks big,” O’Connor said. “We’ve got the mentality in this community that we can do it. I’m wondering if these guys may even be surprised about how passionate and excited we already are.”
There has been some negativity in the community in recent months, and O’Connor said the Unstoppable Conversations could be a way to get past that and move forward.
Volunteer Alberta representatives were in Fort Macleod in January and took in the open house, which included an open forum at which many issues were raised.
“I’m hopeful these guys can get us together to think on the same pathway,” O’Connor said.
Vik Maraj and Kevin Gangel will be part of a coaching team that will assist Fort Macleod for the coming year.
“That’s the part I’m really excited about,” O’Connor said. “The hope is these guys will be coaching us along the way.”
The ideas that come out of the Unstoppable Conversations could be existing ones that just need to be supplemented, or new ones entirely.
At the end of the sessions community “champions” will be appointed to help lead Fort Macleod in its new direction.
People are asked to take part in both full days of conversation, although they are encouraged to take part even if it is only for one day.
So far about 50 people have registered.
“I think people in the community are eager to try,” O’Connor said.
Anyone interested in taking part should contact Liisa Gillingham at the Town Office at 403-553-4425 or liisa@fortmacleod.com by Friday, March 20.

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