Medicine Hat held its third community round table on May 17. Hatters were invited to engage in topics such as living wage, affordable housing, food security, affordable transportation and access to recreation.
I participate as a citizen of Medicine Hat, not an employee of an organization or agency mandated to address these issues. Sometimes the language of the "insiders' creates confusion before it adds to common understanding.
For example, when I first heard the term "siloing" I was perplexed. I had never heard the word used as a verb. To me a silo is a round stoage bin for cattle feed. I pulled aside one of the participants from the Hat for clarification. Operating in isolation from each other. That made sense. As I mentally pictured the area where my Dad grew up on a dairy farm I could see silos dotted across the landscape. One or two per farm. Not connected to each other. Definitely a word picture that illustrates how individualism, whether as a person or an organization, is detrimental to building community.
The phrase "turning the needle" caused concern. At the round table this month, my 14 year old daughter stayed for the discussion. I knew she had not heard this expression before. I took a sticky note and wrote, "What does turn the needle mean to you?" and handed it her. She wrote, "Lethal injection not injected?" I had heard it often enough that I think I've deciphered its meaning. I wrote back, "make change that someone can measure. (Please correct me in the comments if I don't have it correct yet.) She responded, ". . . Oh . . ." I can only imagine the shift in her mental images.
While planning the round table I suggested that I would take a marker and write every acronym used and what it means. It is hard to participate when the language excludes. Another member of the planning team quipped, "We could call you the acronym police, AP for short." Sigh.
Collaboration happens as VCC shares their work with YYZ. CCI gathers people from BC to PEI. SROI focuses discussion. Let's just make sure our language invites rather than intimidates those new to the table.