Salmon Arm, a mid-sized urban centre in the Shuswap Region of British Columbia, is worth watching as it acts on its intention to build resilience through fostering generative community connections this fall.

The effort has many of the elements we believe are necessary to create a preferred future – people taking ownership of their community’s well-being; relatedness and focusing on possibility rather than blaming and complaining.

On Oct. 8, Shuswap Settlement Services will host the first of five community conversation gatherings in keeping with the guidelines set out by Peter Block, author of Community: The Structure of Belonging.

The process involves convening small group conversations within the context of a larger group. Participants hail from a cross-section of the community. They may have been previously acquainted, but are not necessarily familiar with each other.

The conversations are centred on envisioning possibilities, as individuals and as a community, rather than rehashing past failures or finding blame. Participants will meet monthly for five months.

Shuswap Settlement is also matching New Canadians with more senior members of their own ethnic community. The intent is to create a way for newcomers to learn from the experiences of those who have already found a place of belonging in the community.

Trained journalists will also be working with New Canadians to share their story on local community radio, Voice of the Shuswap. The goal is to highlight those in the community who tend to be less well known, in order to create a richer picture of the community’s strengths and story.

These initiatives, and others, follow on the heels of a symposium facilitated by business coach and facilitator Charles Holmes in March 2014. This symposium was also centred on the premise that conversation is the medium for change.

It is exciting to see Shuswap Settlement Services seeking to actualize what so many are espousing as a “good idea” – inviting citizens to reclaim ownership of their community’s well-being. President of the non-profit, Bernie Desrosiers, has been cited as a key force for change in these Salmon Arm efforts. Charles’ gifts in hosting the first symposium are also worth mentioning.

Writer: Michelle Strutzenberger

Editor’s Note: Click here to read about Axiom News’ partnership with Charles Holmes Consulting and the intent of the stories in this series.