[Environment] DISASTERS: FIRE : ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE : COUNTRIES: CANADA : TOURISM AND TRAVEL : Paula Simons: Fort McMurray’s Displaced Mayor Plans Her City’s Future from Behind the Wheel

 

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DISASTERS: FIRE :

ENVIRONMENT GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE :

COUNTRIES: CANADA :

TOURISM AND TRAVEL :

Paula Simons: Fort McMurray’s Displaced Mayor Plans Her City’s Future
from Behind the Wheel

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Paula Simons: Fort McMurray’s Displaced Mayor Plans Her City’s Future
from Behind the Wheel

Published on: May 27, 2016

Last Updated: May 27, 2016 6:04 AM MDT

Edmondton Journal

http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/paula-simons-
in-the-drivers-seat-fort-mcmurrays-displaced-mayor-plans-her-citys-future

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/gpox8ag

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In the parking lot of the Crestwood Shopping Centre, Melissa Blake, the mayor of the Regional Municipal District of Wood Buffalo, is meeting with her city council. In the passengers seat beside her sits the bag of bread shes just picked up at the nearby Cobs bakery for her family.

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Without a laptop  or an office Fort McMurrays mayor-in-exile is working these days from the drivers seat of her rented Jeep Grand Cherokee. Her conference call is patched through to her car speakers via Bluetooth, leaving her hands free to keep checking her smartphone for messages and updates.

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Shes been offered office space, but shes declined.

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I just dont see the value in sitting down, she says. Id rather be out.

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In the three weeks since a wildfire forced Blake, and everyone else in Fort McMurray, from their homes, the mayor has been visiting evacuee centres to raise spirits and solve problems, using her Twitter account, @MayorMelissa, to keep people informed, and calming and leading a fractious city council, a council feeling the strains and stresses of exile themselves. Shes had to be a den mother, not just to her own two young sons, but to a whole community of displaced persons.

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Now, though, she faces another challenge: not of raising peoples spirits, but of helping to plan for their successful return home. Through it all, shes presented an indomitably upbeat presence.

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In a crisis, she says, a leader must choose between two paths  one of hope, or one of anger and despair.

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If you are a true leader, you want to lead people into a hopeful place, she says. You want to lead them into a future that is better and brighter.

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Her message to her fellow evacuees is straightforward. They can rebuild their city together. And they can give themselves a fresh new start.

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Its your home. Its just not the home you know, she says. But youre going to have to work to recreate what you hope it will be.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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