LANDMARK 14: Prince George City Council

Artists: Garth Frizzell, Albert Koehler, Murry Krause, Albert Koehler, Terri McConnachie, Jillian Merrick, Susan Scott, with the support of Brian Skakun, Lyn Hall, and Frank Everitt

Word: Hope

This group is made up of 5 city councillors, representing all of the elected municipal officials. The word they have been given is hope and it suits this group. They are a hopeful crew, it strikes me. They have to be hopeful, believing in the future of their community so much they are willing to run for public office to bring that hope into reality.

They listen to each other and yet there is humour: “We need to form a committee and elect a chair.”  I’m interested, however will they find a way forward with so many strong characters, so many good ideas?

“Okay, when I say the word hope, what are the first three images and ideas that pop into your mind, or one if you can only think of one. But, no more than three.  And you can write them if you can’t draw.” And, almost immediately they are at work, quieter, heads down.

Now, they are asked to share and they begin to explain, annotating their words and icons with explanations – and every one of them have done more than three. The practical, the poetical, the dreams and the pragmatic are captured in their words: “Excel, prosperity, climb, weaving, stars, progression, together”.  And then a vignette: “I see the rising sun, the dawn. And that holds so much of what hope means to me, the beginnings, the start, the sense of not finished, of much yet to be done.”

Each councillor is now working on their own sheet, graphically representing their take on the images and words and icons; they have shared building in and building from, each other’s contributions. But time is speeding by, the 40 minute warning has just hit and they are shocked at how fast time is going by but it doesn’t make them hurry. They will not be rushed. They want to get it right. A good trait I think for local government, not to be rushed into hasty decisions.

There is concern. The wealth of ideas; they are all so good. How do you choose? Because they won’t all fit in the space allowed.

I’m impressed, because all of a sudden it is falling together. Around the stylized image of a compass they are weaving in the common themes that ran through their individual words and images, the themes they found together. The wind is in the north – an arctic cold we are too familiar with but showing movement and motion and strength. In the south is the confluence of rivers, looking like the city logo and the imagery in the 25th anniversary celebration logo. In the east is the rising sun, bringing back their early poetry; that metaphor of the rising sun raising so much that represents hope. And in the west, the university, the planting of hope for northern residents and their families, that education could be affordable and accessible in their own region. Underlying all of this, the point from which the compass is launched, is the word HOPE in strong bold capital letters. 

I imagine this is what it must be like in council chambers, trying to juggle so many ideas and demands and competing interests.  Trying to find some way of meeting so many needs, with limited resources and external constraints outside their control.  Yet, the strength and wealth of intelligence and commitment they bring to the task, the capacity to find a way forward together and the beauty of their final image is clear – it can be done. Their laughter, their mutual respect, reassures me, the hopes of this city are in good hands.

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