City of Distinction

It is a strange and awkward honour to be singled out for something that is so fundamentally collaborative. When I saw the long list of women who were nominated in the Community-Building category, it seemed to represent the great engagement that is happening here in Hamilton. And it takes many.

It takes investment, commitment and even risk-taking from organizations like the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Community Foundation. It takes guidance and wisdom from people like David Derbyshire, our local leader in community development. It takes the involvement of all the people in the neighbourhood, like Julie Hooper, who is always helping everyone. The kids call her the Neighbourhood Fairy God Mother.

From my place in the cafe I can see and hear about all the effort that you and you and you are putting into our community, and so it seemed… awkward to be singled out. And yet, the more I thought about the team effort, the more I wished we did have some recognition, some symbol that said, “Look what we’ve done so far!” At the Award Gala I got a glimpse of what is going on across the city in so many neighbourhoods, in so many fields and disciplines and I realized that we really are living in an oasis of hope.

I also came to understand that the large organizations need US for leadership and guidance. It is not enough to say “fix this”, we have to be able to say, “here is the problem, here is our proposed solution, these are the people who are on board to help in this way, here is what it will cost, here is how long it will take, here is what we hope to accomplish and here is how it will sustain itself or grow or end the problem. AND, here is what we need you to do.” I don’t know why this only came to me last night. Learning things the hard way…

Thanks to Lynne Manns for nominating me and to all the people who wrote letters. I learned an awful lot from this experience. I feel as if all of us are thanking each other, congratulating each other and saying. “What’s next?”

Collaboration is the magic and together we can build the future we want.

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