Ten Years Together
My Story - Ten Years Together
Instead of celebrating me, I’m marking this anniversary with you by inviting a selection of Calgarians to tell the stories of their last decade. They will talk about topics from mobility to belonging, from economic resiliency to the arts, from mental health to better government.
In such difficult times, it’s easy to fall into negativity and forget what a special place we have built here, the very best place in the world in which to live. I hope these stories will make you smile, or laugh, or maybe even cry, but remind you of what we have.
For each of the next ten days, we will showcase a different theme, and one of these amazing citizens will have their story highlighted in a beautiful video by the amazing Calgary artist Sam Hester.
(Exactly ten years ago as I write this, I was at the final coffee party of the 2010 campaign. I had been sitting in people’s kitchens and living rooms for the previous six months. Sometimes there were 5 people there, sometimes 30 or 40. That night, there were hundreds of people in a tiny house. Sam Hester’s house!)
There will also be some reading – a short article summarizing all of the stories for that theme. And, when we have a minute to breathe, we will post everyone’s stories as audio podcasts.
Please feel free to share this material with friends and family, using the hashtag #tenshi (I couldn’t resist that one!).
I hope you enjoy this little gift – Ten Years Together.
Ten years ago, with a lot more black hair, I stood up in a very hot and sweaty basement on Macleod Trail, and talked about the promise of this extraordinary place.
Now, ten years later, in the midst of a pandemic, a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a reckoning on questions of racism, it’s a bit odd to be celebrating a tenth anniversary. So rather than getting something made of tin or diamonds (which Google tells me are the traditional and modern gifts for a 10th anniversary), I thought I would give you a gift. A gift of stories.
Ten Years Together categories
As a public servant, I’ve been given this incredible privilege of acting and leading on behalf of all the people of Calgary.
Part of building a great city means literally building the city – creating and sustaining the kinds of facilities that make life better every day.
We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have been home to the forces of Canada’s largest export industry since the 1940s. That’s a claim we still have and will have for some time, but Calgary has also been diversifying in a number of ways to make our economy more resilient for the future.
“A city that moves”. That was a promise we started working on ten years ago. Since then, we have made the largest investments in history in roads, public transit, and active transportation, while dealing with extraordinary growth (we’ve added over 200,000 people in that decade, or about two Red Deers).
Community. I talk about it all the time. I think about it all the time. It’s the source of our power, and losing it means we love everything. Community is not something that happens to us; it’s something we each build.
Building Great Neighbourhoods
Calgary is a huge city, both in terms of geographic size, and because so much of the regional population lives within the city boundaries. That means that many people identify with their quadrant, their side of the river, or their neighbourhood. Back in 2005, as a volunteer for Imagine Calgary, I learned something very interesting. When you asked people what kind of a neighbourhood they wanted to live in, they almost all said the same thing: “I want to live in a neighbourhood where I can walk to the store. Where my kids can walk to school. Where my parents can live nearby. Where my kids can be with kids from all kinds of different families.” So, that’s what I wrote in what became Calgary’s 100-year vision.
A Story of Mental Health and Addictions
We have a mental health and addictions crisis in this city. It’s not unique to Calgary, but it is a problem that requires any and all allies to come together to solve. We know the stats; one-in-four of us are going to deal with mental illness in our own lives. That means that every family will have to deal with mental health concerns.
I’ve got nearly 15,000 colleagues at the City of Calgary. They drive buses and clean the streets. They’re the first on the scene in an emergency and on the other side of the most difficult phone call you’ll ever make. They look after our green spaces and teach our kids to swim. They take care of our waste and recycling, and give us a gift that a billion people in the world don’t have: the gift of clean water every minute of the day. And they do it for amongst the lowest taxes in the country.
We’ve been spending this tenth anniversary sharing stories about ourselves. Stories of our ten years together. And this sharing of stories is one of the things that makes us human.
“Nana korobi, ya oki.” That’s an ancient Japanese proverb, which is translated to English to roughly say, “Get knocked down seven times, get up eight.” Of course, if proverbs aren’t your thing, Thomas Wayne also put it eloquently to his young son, Bruce, after lifting him out of the well in 2005’s Batman Begins, saying: “Why do we fall, Bruce?” “To learn to pick ourselves back up.”