Guest Blog by Brandi Gartner, Oil Sands Community Alliance, Fort McMurray
Self-reflection - In some cases, this is a simple concept and is a personal experience. I have learned that incorporating self-reflection into my own experiences, both professionally and personally, allows me to get a sense of what is happening around me. It is a safe process for me, because it allows me to be honest and genuine with myself without fear of any unforeseen external responses. It helps me to feel confident in taking the next steps that may include asking others for their feedback and, more often than not, asking for help when I realize that I am stuck spinning my tires on an issue or challenge. It is a process that I can work through personally at my own pace by exploring my own observations. As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I also realize that it is one of the most important processes allowing me to move forward and grow as an individual. Why? Self-reflection is the only way that I can “check in” to my personal goals and recognize whether I am happily on track or struggling in left field.
So, what happens if we take this process to the community level? The expansion of self-reflection into a communal process brings in a higher level of complexity. It may become less safe because it opens the process to many individuals who have varied experiences. It becomes a communal experience of courage that as it requires honest reflection on how we feel we are doing as a community. There is always the potential that it will draw attention to some areas where we may not be excelling, and that is scary concept. At the same time, it allows us to get a sense of our community strengths and gives us direction on where we can make great improvements. The process is different when we move from individual self-reflection to a community level, but I think that the benefits are just as beneficial … perhaps more because the results impact hundreds of families and organizations. If a community is strong enough to be self-reflective, it becomes more effective in identifying common goals and unifying their energy in moving towards those goals.
Our community has decided that it is strong enough to be self-reflective. We are working together to complete a Community Well-Being Survey this spring, which allows us to take a collective moment to reflect on how well we are in Wood Buffalo. The information that we gain from this process gives us the opportunity to “check in” as a larger community and recognize how we can continue to build ourselves as a resilient region. One of my most important values is being part of a strong community. By participating in the Community Well-Being Survey, my community is showing its commitment as a resilient and self-reflective region that cares about our future.
Oil Sands Community Alliance
To learn more about the survey, visit: http://socialprosperity.ca/look-wood-buffalo-community-wellbeing-survey