Healthy Foundations Matter: Community Well-Being

Community well-being matters. We all have our values, ethics, principles and tenets we tend to adhere to. They are guideposts on how we act, react and make decisions. They’re all foundations for who we are as an individual.

When you represent your community, healthy foundations are as essential. Healthy foundations provide us with the basis for which we create our policies and bylaws.

To have excellent policies and bylaws that reflect the needs and wants of the City of Spruce Grove, it should be clear how those elected form their decisions.

I am a fan of informed opinion. I want to know what our residents want, what they think, what their vision for the city is. I follow the facts and forms my baseline for decision-making. The decision I makes impacts an entire City, so I take my role very seriously.

But I have a lens that I choose to see our community through and it is the concept of community well-being.

Community well-being is the combination of social, economic, environmental, cultural, and political conditions identified by individuals and their communities as essential for them to flourish and fulfill their potential.” … We can explore each of these attributes for factors that contribute to community wellbeing.

(Wiseman and Brasher, 2008: 358)
Community Well-being framework
Image credit: Dialog

The running of any city is a complex one, with issues intersecting each other all the time. It is difficult to look at one issue on its own. You have to consider many factors and what effects certain decisions have. Some times all the facts are known, sometimes they’re not. But if you have a consistent lens of which to base your decision-making on, the decision is defendable and done with the right intentions.

Community well-being is the overall concept when you look at what makes a community live up to its potential. It’s the middle of the circle if you will. Dialog created this wonderful image to illustrate just that.

There are five areas of well-being that make up community well-being:

  1. Social
  2. Economic
  3. Environmental
  4. Cultural
  5. Political

My goal is to show you how I analyze ideas, policies, bylaws and other concerns that arise for council. I’ll explore each one a bit further and try to encapsulate the main points of each. It doesn’t capture everything as each area is a complex idea of itself, but hopefully enough that you appreciate my approach.

As a councillor seeking re-election, I can describe myself as a caretaker of our community. There are very few others jobs that I can think of where you have power and influence and you’ve been entrusted to make the best decisions with that power and influence by your community.

If we want a happier society, we have got to approach our own lives in a way that prioritizes the things that really matter-including happiness of those around us’.

(Wilkinson, 2011)
Erin Stevenson standing in front of Jubilee Park Spray ark

In 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to encourage member countries to consider happiness and wellbeing in their measurement of social and economic development with a view to guiding public policy. This non-binding resolution further asserted that the ‘pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal’.

As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. A sense of pride- You love this city, you feel you belong to a community, you’re happy and flourishing regardless of your social or marital or income status etc.  You feel represented. You know belong here because you matter.
  2. Feeling safe- There is low crime, you know your neighbours, you feel the city is adequately equipped for any emergency- fire, police, ambulance and enforcement, you can enjoy the outdoors and what the city has to offer without worry.
  3. Supporting local- You support local businesses, schools, and organizations to keep the community healthy and thriving. You appreciate those who take a chance and open up a business here to bring jobs and new opportunities here. You find ways to explore the different restaurants, shops and areas to experience what makes Spruce Grove truly unique.

The five other healthy foundations of community well-being are important and I hope you take a moment to read about them. Together, they will make our community healthy and happy and resilient. Community well-being is the heart of them all. Just like our city centre revitalization project, the heart of any community has to be strong and purposeful. Just like the city centre, we’re not starting new, we are building upon what was already there. We have an amazing community, and we will continue to build upon its amazingness as we prioritize well-being for each and every one of you. What well-being means to you might differ slightly from mine, and that’s okay. We’ll find a lot of crossover and intersectionality between our ideas. More ideas make better opportunities which in turn create a healthier community.