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A Neglected Asset?

Posted on Monday March 12, 2018 at 11:16AM

So, this morning I was bopping around the kitchen, making french toast, enjoying the morning off with the mister,  listening to classic rock on the radio. Smoke on the Water came on the radio, and before I know it, I'm dancing for real...full of joy!! Smoke on the Water...wow...WOW, the first song I ever learned on dad's electric guitar. First song a lot of us learned on guitar I think. Dad didn't actually play, as far as I know, but the guitar was his. I have it now.

I remember sitting in Heather McAuley's bedroom in Manor, with Joretta Bye, and Shannon McAuley trying to get the harmonies down to Seven Bridges Road. There are stars in the southern sky, southward as you goOOOoooo, there is moonlight and moss in the trees, down the seven bridges roOhohoad. We worked hard at it, and we spent a lot of hours singing. Just singing. That memory is a beautiful thing. We would walk over to each other's houses and sing, or listen to records. Tiny town Saskatchewan, amazing. I loved growing up in Manor.

Dianne T came to the school as sort of an exotic Australian bird with long brown hair, and she helped us to really sing. Karen Gould, me, and I don't remember now who all was part of that crew, but she worked us through the Mama's and Papa's California Dreamin', with all the harmonies and back up. She helped us organize a protest when another teacher mocked us after a very bad, very public rehearsal of that same song.   Arm and arm we all marched down the hallway on the elementary end of Manor School, yelling "screw you". Amazing. That had to have been almost 40 years ago. I can feel my head shaking even as I type this...what radicals we thought we were. I learned it there first.

Now though, it's time to link arms and march down the hall again. This time, though, it  is in support of the little town. We need to stop arguing the cause based on what we think we deserve, we need to make our arguments based on what we provide to the entire province!! That's right, we provide! We provide the social supports for a larger percentage of our entire province's gross domestic product.  We provide food from our farms, and resources from our mines!! Cities are important too, don't get me wrong, but they are not better then us, and we are wrong to apologize for where we are!! I hear how eventually we are all going to live in the city, but boy , I hope not. I really, truly hope not. Our communities are not poor country cousins, our communities are neglected assets. Like a car whose oil never gets changed, if we don't take care to maintain it, it will eventually break down. If we let that happen, I assure you, we will miss it.

I would love to see a new funding model that allows for infrastructure money that flows to these communities based at least partially on the revenue that is generated from them, instead of per capita as it is so often done. We generate far more revenue than it would cost to support us, but the majority of it is spent elsewhere. How are we supposed to be sustainable when everything we generate goes somewhere else? Isn't there anything that can be done? I think there is.

I think we need to work to create our own economies, not to replace what is already working, but to supplement it. If our ancestors could manage to build a town out of a couple of cows, and a horse and buggy, I'm guessing we can come up with something. Saskatchewan dreaming.  Thoughts?

Author: Solomon Matthewson Consulting

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