Who are "They", Anyways?

I often receive feedback from people suggesting – some much more strongly than others – that "they" should do something about this or that. My first question back to them is: who are these "they" people that should be doing something. Usually, I get a very quizzical look because the answer should be obvious to me even though it isn't to them. Maybe the lack of response is because such people include me in their ubiquitous "they". I think other times these folks figure "they" are politicians, bureaucrats, private investors, etc or, in most cases, all of them. I argue, however, that true progress starts not with "they" but with us – you and me.
There is no better time than the present to start making a difference in your own community. There is no better time than the present to make personal accountability a priority in your life. Let's not call this a "New Year's resolution" but rather a goal that you will develop actions towards achieving.2008 saw a number of issues and events that had a huge impact in our community.I was fortunate to be part of the organizing committee of the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. For a number of years we knew we had first class facilities and first class people to host such an event. Rather than being part of a crowd that said "they should try to host something big" I was part of the process. I'm proud to say that 400+ other people also stepped up in any manner of large and small ways to directly contribute to what turned out to be a hugely successful event by any measure.The community also stepped up in a huge way to welcome the world during the 2008 Tall Ships Festival. I tip my cap to everyone who rearranged personal and professional priorities to support these, and other, local community events that make the Alberni Valley the "Can-do" community it is.
Last year also had its share of controversy and contention on a number of local issues. Regardless of what side of the fence your opinion may lay I hope that you chose to become engaged in a positive, open-minded way. It is through open, rational discussion that the best of decisions can be made. You may not necessarily agree with the end decision but it is only by being positively engaged in the process that you can contribute to the decision that, ideally, considers all concerns for the total betterment of stakeholders.
So, what's in store for 2009? On top of the usual parade of popular and growing roster of community events such as Forest Fest, Folkfest, Salmon Festival, Fall Fair and myriad sports tournaments we can also look forward to the BC Junior All-Native Basketball Tournament and the first scheduled port call by a commercial passenger cruise ship from Holland America Line in May. There are plenty of opportunities with these and other events for "us" to become "they" in terms of involvement and betterment of these events on behalf of our community.
Of course, we need not a large scale event to become a positive contributing member of our community. Instead of waiting for "them" to clean up that vacant lot in your neighbourhood why don't we all do our part with some good old fashioned yard work and elbow grease? Instead of wondering how on earth your elderly neighbour manages to take their groceries from their car up 8 steps to their front door why don't you provide some assistance? Instead of waiting for "them" to provide a trickle down economic stimulus package that may (or may not) assist local businesses why don't you make a concerted effort to spend your budget at local stores, restaurants and attractions?These are the types of things that I most often hear people say "they" should do something about.However, these are the types of things that WE have the most opportunity to actually positively affect. Let's make 2009 the year that they become us.You will better your community and feel better about yourself at the same time.