About nine months ago I first started to think about this topic, since then I have had many, many discussions about it and it has become a part of my life. Let me go back, a friend, mentor challenged the idea of future leadership here in Edmonton. Was there any future leaders out there? Who were they? and What would it look like in the future? In this context these seem somewhat reasonable questions but it didn't really come out quite this way. The response was fast and pretty furious, yes there are leaders, here is a list and pay attention.
I tell you this because it got me thinking, was this really as big a conflict as it appeared? It came to me that the language being used and the definition of leader was a significant part of the conflict. You see there is an old school style of community leader, you volunteered for an organization you worked your way up and when you were established with a good sized rolodex you got asked to join the board or campaign cabinet. It was pretty straight forward and although there were no formal rules it was the way it was done. The names of Poole, Shaw, Stollery, Winspear, Westbury and Forbes were all names that were heard in those circles as well as many other community leaders and philanthropists.
None of those names were on the new list but it was equally impressive because these were people who have desire and influence to make a difference in Edmonton going forward. The thing is the path is very different now, first of course none of them have a rolodex and the influence they have is far greater than their connections to big wallets. They can and do get people out to volunteer, to support causes, to voice their approval or disapproval and all without ever sitting at the board table. You will notice that the words I used to describe this group is different, powerful and important but quite different.
So what is to become of these board tables and cabinets? Well boards are required by law so there is only two choices, we have to fill the boards and do what needs to be done perhaps in new ways, or the laws have to change to support new ways to run these community organizations and stewarts of the community. We may find new ways to raise money and support for those in need and to build our community other than board and cabinet meetings. If we are to have the quality of life we have come to appreciate here in Edmonton we must bridge this gap.
From my recent experience with both groups I am happy to report there is happy ending to the story.