I can hardly believe three months has passed since my first day. This week I am finished at Rocky View Weekly and heading back to school for my final year.
Working at a community paper has been invaluable to my growth as a writer. I got the chance to work with a fantastic editor and group of writers who were incredibly welcoming and helpful as I learned the ins and outs of the newsroom. There is nothing taught at school that gives you the same confidence as knowing you can write, edit and photograph for a weekly paper.
While I definitely learned a lot about the technical side of things, some of the most valuable lessons I learned were about the power of community.
About a week after I started with Rocky View Weekly, Fort McMurray was hit with devastating and destructive wildfires. It seems like a long time ago now, but I know I won’t forget watching the footage of the fire on the news, marveling at nature’s ability to render humans completely powerless. But what I also remember from that time is a series of articles I was assigned to write.
Communities, both in Airdrie and Rocky View County, wasted no time co-ordinating efforts to help displaced Fort McMurray residents. As a flood of support came in from all over the province and country, local volunteers worked tirelessly to support Fort McMurray.
I was truly humbled to speak to people who simply said, “What else would we do when our neighbours need help?” From quilts, to food, furniture and housing, the support was nonstop.
But it wasn’t just during a crisis that I witnessed the power of community. All summer I learned about people who shared their time, energy and money with their community. People who spent hours organizing fundraisers and events, who ran kilometres for a cause or even sat on a council doing everything they could to make their community a better place.
The truth is, I’ve always preferred city life and the anonymity that comes with it. But this summer I saw smaller communities in a new light.
I learned generosity goes hand in hand with having a strong community. Local businesses were humble and earnest about their charity and nonprofit commitments, quietly giving back to the communities that kept them in business.
I met a youth group in Crossfield, working to clean up their town and provide safe, fun spaces for youth in the community.
I met cowgirls, athletes, countless volunteers, executive directors, business owners, doctors, politicians, farmers and much more. But they all had one thing in common – they loved their communities, and they worked selflessly to make them the best they could.
I learned that community is vital to Alberta’s villages, towns and cities. But I also realized these small communities are part of a bigger picture, part of a country that couldn’t get by without the thousands of communities, coast to coast that operate by helping one another. There is no dollar value on that kind of support and generosity.