by Andru McCracken, Editor

Imagine life on planet Ylenol. The Ylenos who live there were never allowed to articulate the things they most need.

If a Yleno mentioned what they needed they would be immediately shunned or blocked.

They would train Yleno children to act as if they didn’t have needs.

They would live their whole lives desperately trying to fulfill their needs, but they would trained to never articulate them. A Yleno would rather die a slow, lonely death than speak out.

The stakes in this pretend drama would be high. A Yleno who didn’t have their needs met would feel depressed, perhaps suicidal. They would be diagnosed with all sorts of problems. They would self medicate, and generally live in misery.

When a need was accidentally fulfilled Ylenos would feel great joy but they would be shamed and humiliated if they ever mentioned what it was that they received.

It sounds like the setting of a dystopian science fiction movie, but it’s not. It’s everyday life.

Ylenol is lonely spelled backwards and it’s our reality.

I see it play out in our community day in and day out. I believe it may be more evident here in the valley because we live rich full lives that revolve around community and because we know so many people so well.

Living in a small community doesn’t change the circumstances of our strange culture however. People are not allowed and don’t allow themselves to talk about their needs.

I’m not going to get into the mechanics of it, but on some level you know it too. Other people have done great work on this, and it’s not for an editorialist to rewrite their great works in 500 words.

Let me tell you specifically how I see this playing out in community news, which, by the way is the very tip of the iceberg.

Two groups are working on affordable housing in Valemount. A project that was pitched to meet the community’s demand for housing. Despite having aligned goals, the two groups are at odds. Why? Unmet needs! Despite the important work that they share, differences in approach come to the forefront. My contention is that if we were better able to communicate our needs we could easily collaborate and find the very obvious common ground they share.

Two local groups are working to bring geothermal power in Valemount with goals and objectives that very much align with a private firm based in Calgary – Borealis GeoPower. Despite a laserlike alignment on objectives, the three groups trip over each other. Why?

Just for this week I’m dropping my war like editorial tone (seriously) and I’m actually not criticising anyone. I just want to point out that our language and culture fail us.

When trying to take our communities to the next level, we need to throw off some of the accepted ways we communicate and bring in a new way that recognizes that people have needs!

You’re thinking this is rubbish, but it’s not. I’ll leave you with a test.

When is the last time you asked someone to help fill a need in plain language where you mentioned the need, what it would mean to have help and how it would make you feel (in a non war like tone)?

Hey, don’t feel bad, you’ve been raised on planet Lonely.

For more on ‘needs’ look up Marshall Rosenberg.