A couple of years ago i posted this on our local facebook page. There was something happening that caused me to reflect on how one’s approach to conflict changes the longer you live in a place. As we have turned over our population by more than 50% in the past five or six years, I was trying to give folks a helpful road map. I daresay this is pretty much consistent in every small community anywhere.
For folks experiencing their first Bowen Island conflict, here’s generally what happens next.
- Years 1-3. You move to Bowen and fall in love with the place. You’ve found heaven. You can’t believe how beautiful this is, how amazing the community is, how precious it is.
- Years 3-5. Some controversy happens and you discover that there are people that think very, very differently from you. In fact, it seems like if they get their way, some core thing you love about the place will be damaged forever. You step up to defend it, on social media, in real life. You get involved, get organized and try to stop it.
- Years 5-8 You lick your wounds or revel in the victory depending on how that all went. Regardless, it redoubles your commitment to fight again another day.
- Years 8-12 ANOTHER FIGHT! Man the barricades! Take on the social media hordes! Side-eye folks at the General Store. You’re ready this time. You might even connect up with people in a meeting and form a group of concerned citizens. And when you do you see a bunch of people on YOUR side that you were fighting against last time. Your head explodes, but you dive in anyway.
- Years 12-15. Well, that went well. Or not.
- Years 15-18. ANOTHER fight? What?? Okay, this time, you sit back and watch everyone go through the first five steps. You find yourself in a small group at the pub one night with former friends and enemies, nursing a pint together and shaking your head as you tried to remember why you hated each other so much that one time.
- Years 18-20. You get quiet, you don’t get so involved anymore, or if you do it’s on a committee of some kind doing completely unappreciated work making design guidelines or running a community water system or deciding what flowers to plant in the bed by the ferry terminal.
- Year 20. You realize you are here for the long haul. You fall in love with the place. You’ve found heaven. You can’t believe how beautiful this is, how amazing the community is, how precious it is.
Enjoy the ride folks.
This just about sums up my journey here in Aireys Inlet. Like you say, I’ve made up with old enemies, sit back and watch more and have definitely fallen back in love with our little slice of heaven.
I reckon there is also a correlation between the age of your kids (Primary school years being the most active) through the 20 years.
Definitely on the kids front. Now that our kids are grown and live on the continent, we find ourselves in a much smaller circle of friends and not as publically involved as we were when we were starting and managing a Learning Centre or servinging on the Ec Dev Committee.
Thus is good & funny too, but… (always) I’ve found conflict resolution hs a lot to do w/ how we learn (or unlearn) how we dealt w anger in our natal families. My dad was in a wheelchair so we could outrun him or hide somewhere inaccessible, but we had to come out eventually and then we hd to talk & explain & apologize & make things right & get back in sync. Mom, on the other hand, was fast! On occasion, she too hd to apologize but she worked a night shift for 13 years so we gave her lots of leeway. I thank my parents that today I’m not afraid of conflict, then again, I do steer clear of angry drunks. Consider how fights start & end in kindergarten. That’s a good model too.
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