Town of Bashaw – Rewriting the Future
A town of less than 1000 people in central Alberta that has been dealing with a shrinking population, the dramatic shift in their agricultural base, a shrinking economic base, significant tension between social institutions, and traditional funding sources are less and less available. The average income is 28% below the provincial average, single parent families and transiency have been on the rise for years, many organizations don’t or won’t work together on community projects.Traditional planning initiatives result in the same environmental scan and SWOT analysis over and over and implementation of outcomes rarely comes to fruition.
A diverse representation of leaders from the municipality, school administration, social services, senior service organizations, enterprise, adult learning, the farming community, and the faith community came together for two days. In that short time, leaders engaged in a new type of conversation which they described as “a revolutionary process of inquiry and self-discovery” where they discovered a pre-existing survival mindset. Once this thinking was seen for the real barrier it was, and had always been, it was “effortless to create a new thinking” about themselves and the community of Bashaw.
The leaders came to see Bashaw not as a shrinking community struggling to survive, but as the place where human potential is fulfilled. This new Noble Cause took survival completely out of the equation and allowed a new passion and commitment to see what was already available in the community and what was yet to be created. They healed relationships in multiple parts of the community that had been broken for 15-20 years; a new partnership with the school board to expand a world-class arts program at the high school; winner of the Best Small Town in Alberta the following year, including $60K raised for a local organization around a celebrity concert held in the town, all with no government money or outside resources