by Andru McCracken, Editor

The Village of Valemount has announced the results of this year’s Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives funding cycle. It’s striking to me that $200,000 wasn’t even applied for, even after every organization received what they had asked for.

We need to reconsider how we are using that funding as a community. We need a different approach. A collaborative approach.

It’s heartening to hear about the work of Valemount’s Eldercare Collaborative and the work they are doing to make life easier and better for seniors. This sectoral cooperation is absolutely inspiring. It’s not about getting more resources or more funding; it’s about using the services we have better.

Collaboration isn’t easy. Imagine a group of volunteers and professionals coming from organizations with different rules, realities and backgrounds. They have made the time to come together to work on the issues that connect them.

It becomes clear that members of the collaborative really care about elders.

This working in collaboration is so important that I think the community should earmark funding for groups that do it when it is time to disperse the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Initiatives funding.

That’s a radical view to be sure. It feels like we reward people for creating duplicate groups that operate in a separate silo.

Realistically, we live in a community where resources are scarce. I believe we have a moral obligation to use the resources we have wisely, doubly so if we actually care about the work we are doing.

If more of the projects we support as a community were a result of collaboration, I think our little villages would be really different places. Better places.

It’s a strange trick of history that the Columbia Basin Trusts Community Initiatives funding comes with a special caveat – that funding should not be used to support ongoing projects. It has to do with the strange circumstance of the organization’s genesis. No one who conceived of the Trust wanted to see the funding go to offset work that governments should be doing.

One of the side effects of this seems to be that projects rarely span multiple years. In fact, it seems like projects that span multiple years are viewed negatively.

I’m a big fan of planning. It is a way of collaborating with your future self. It’s a way of being pragmatic and present to the challenges you face now, while envisioning a future built upon today’s work.

That leftover $200,000 is a symbol of the place we need to get to. A place where our community can think collaboratively and make a plan together into the future.

Let’s earmark that half of the funding for collaborative projects, and the other half for groups that work with each other to develop plans for amazing projects that benefit the community for years to come.