Chris Fields Shares Tips for Communities to Thrive

Submitted by:
Heather Neilsen |

Swan Valley RISE in partnership with Swan Valley Chamber of Commerce and Elbert Chartrand Friendship Centre, and also with a donation from the now inactive Swan Valley Action Committee, hosted a community presentation February 25, 2016 on 13 Ways to Kill Your Community.

Approximately 80 people attended mainly comprised of municipal councilors, members of the business community and a few people of the general community.

Chris Fields has over 20 years of experience as a brand builder and over the last five years Chris has worked with 35 communities and 12 community development organizations (representing 45 communities) in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. He travels the country speaking on topics including economic development, community leadership/visioning, branding, and destination marketing.

Chris began his presentation talking about attitude, how it’s like a light switch we can turn it on to be positive, or to negative. We have the choice. He talked about how government whether it be municipal, provincial or federal and how as a society we have become entitled. Many people don’t actually vote when there are countries where people die for the right to vote. How our expectations are for politicians when they are busy doing things we take for granted such as our ability to turn the tap on and have drinking water, flush our toilet and we don’t have to worry where it goes. We get so negative in our expectations of government yet we do nothing to work with them.

Chris presented the 13 Ways to Kill Your Community based on a book written by his business partner Doug Griffiths. It is presented in a way that if you do these 13 things you will ensure your community will die, do the opposite and you will thrive.

1. Quality of Water – Water is critical for survival. Without it everything will die. We take it for granted.
2. Don’t Attract Business – Don’t be happy for business expansion and ensure there is no competition among your existing businesses.
3. Don’t Involve Youth – Don’t foster and mentor their new and fresh ideas and growth in the community, encourage them to leave.
4. Don’t Assess Needs – Don’t assess what your community has, both strengths and weaknesses. Don’t realize what great things it has going for it to attract new people or business or create
awareness of the problems so they can be addressed.
5. Shop Elsewhere –Without local businesses peoples individual home taxes would be higher because businesses contribute a higher tax rate. Local businesses hire local people. Don’t
support them so they close and those employees leave town for employment. Local businesses sponsor things like children’s events, sports teams, community events, don’t shop there so they
have the money and products to donate.
6. Don’t Paint – Human beings are encoded to like beautiful things. Don’t clean up and paint, keep it looking uncared for and unkept.
7. Don’t Cooperate –Make sure to not cooperate, to compete, to stand in the way of anyone or anything because cooperation is essential in everything to ensure success.
8. Live in the Past – Make sure to hang on to grudges or the attitudes like we’ve always done it that way. Make sure to dwell on past mistakes or failures.
9. Ignore Your Seniors –Make sure to exclude seniors. They have time, money and experience so be sure not to cater to their needs of housing and activities so they go elsewhere.
10. Nothing New – Don’t ever look outside your community for ideas, for something new. Continue to do the same things, with the same people and getting the same results. Don’t ever try
anything new or different.
11. Ignore Immigrants and Newcomers – Make them feel excluded because their ways or ideas may be different. They don’t know the past grudges or failures and frankly don’t care so they don’t
fit the mindset of the community.
12. Take No Risks – Stick to the status quo, be afraid of change. Thinking big, sometimes out of the box and taking risks leads to success so don’t do that.
13. Don’t Take Responsibility – You and no one else you know ever take responsibility for anything that is wrong or a problem in your community. Spend time talking to others and convincing them that everything that is wrong is someone else’s fault and someone else’s responsibility, that way, you and no one you know will feel compelled to become involved to fix the problem. Blame everyone, the Mayor and Reeve and their councils, the provincial government, the federal government, the volunteers, the price of gas, etc. Whatever you do, find someone or something to blame and challenge someone else to fix it, but don’t ever take responsibility or you may just lead your community to successful initiatives.

The following morning Chris facilitated a strategic planning session with Swan Valley RISE, municipal officials, Swan Valley Chamber of Commerce Directors, Elbert Chartrand Friendship Centre representatives and Swan Valley School Division trustees. It was a productive session with valuable input from all involved.