First Step – CommUnity Innovation Lab – Feb 3/15

The CommUnity Innovation Lab at Thompson Rivers University put on during the long process of updating the current Official Community Plan for Kamloops, BC, gathered and provided valuable information and connections. Having had past experience and interest in OCP changes, as well as my nifty new idea, I attended. After a full day exploring how to make the city more physically livable, exhibits stayed open while attendees inquired, nibbled and sipped until time for the main event, a panel assembled to talk about Integrating and Celebrating Western and First Nation’s Values and Successes.

After all the speakers we were invited to ask questions of the panel. The long silence was broken by the First Nations Elder who had given the Blessing. He quoted another Elder from a time long ago, “Those are a lot of pretty words. Now what are you going to do?”

We laughed – only partly because it was funny; sometimes you laugh when you’re uncomfortable, and everyone there was acutely aware of the need to answer the question well!

Another question was addressed to all panel members: how to be successful in speaking with First Nations people – one answer was not to suggest integration! I hear what he says and I think we need to explore a different response. Instead of them integrating Western ways, I want to learn how First Nations lived in the thousands of years before they were colonized. Other nations have been disconnected from the land for hundreds, some for thousands of years. First Nations have good ways that can work for all of us.

In the potluck of today’s thanksgiving celebration, there are things Western people and cities can bring to the table: technology, manpower, buildings and a deep urgent need to find a better way. If we don’t find a better way we will not be homeless – we will be dead. Earth cannot sustain us, status quo.

Long ago, dinner would have been served in the longhouse. First Nations’ villages were centred around the communal building where people worked together while they watched the kids. Everybody had something to do and shared their meals. In that society there was no poverty, nobody ever had to be alone and nobody was ever out of work.

A network of a new kind of longhouse, in re-purposed malls or other large buildings with indoor living walls, can actively respond to the many challenges we face. Internet can connect them virtually and mass transit, as part of the solution, with better ridership, can improve security, frequency and dependability. It could even become a tourist attraction.

I could continue describing the concept but it’s already here:

I talked with a lot of people at the CommUnity Innovation Lab and told some of my stories (my blog: I got a chance to present the idea in 3 minutes or less to the entire group and got a great spontaneous round of applause. I learned a lot and made some great connections – especially with Glenn and Shelaigh of the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC). They gave me the next step on the path, and that will be in the next post. See you soon…

If you see yourself as part of this in any way, I really want to hear from you! Bless you, and all you do.

Shannon McArthur,
Sunshine Sparkling on the Waters



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