By Pat Jilesen
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Doug Griffiths turned heads at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s (OFA) recent annual general meeting with his presentation on “13 Ways to Kill Your Community.” Based on a best-selling book he co-authored, Griffiths addressed the crowd of voting delegates, agriculture industry representatives and politicians from across the province, outlining the most common mistakes most communities make that hinder their success.
A former Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Griffiths has traveled across North America to visit communities, interview residents and councilors, and consulted with many communities to inspire positive changes.
Griffith’s honest and direct presentation style hit home for many in the audience. He captured everyone’s attention with his antics and stories of community members whose actions and attitudes are restricting growth and progress in their own community…examples that many in the crowd could relate to.
Many OFA members volunteer in their communities and serve as municipal councilors, and Griffith’s 13 examples of what to do if you want to kill your community provided simple messages that, taken in reverse, actually build stronger communities. His 13 ways included actions like “don’t grow complacent” and “involve youth.” Griffith’s recommended approach to progressive community planning is to make decisions based on the community, not the people.
Griffiths delivered some hard-hitting messages that could have been difficult to hear because many could relate to his stories, but he framed his delivery in a way that energized the audience with simple take-home ideas to share with their local communities.
OFA has been advocating for continuous improvements in our rural communities, reaching out to all levels of government and outlining the necessary changes and investments needed for growth, business development and social infrastructure. The AGM presentation served as a dramatic reminder that we all have a role to play in positive community development and growth. Griffith’s presentation was further proof that we all share responsibility for the progress and prosperity of our communities and the entire province.