A few weeks ago, on impulse, I signed up to volunteer for our city mayor’s re-election campaign.
I am not a political person. I swear loyalty to no particular political party. I dry-heave in my Shreddies hearing political rhetoric (and when, three or so jobs ago, I had to write some of it, I felt as though I had sold a piece of my soul). I have worked for two levels of government (federal and provincial) and I can almost certainly say never again. I always vote, though, except when I’m not allowed to.
Not long after we moved to Calgary there was a provincial election in Alberta. We weren’t eligible to vote at that point and, having just left a provincial government job in another province that exposed me to some choice bureaucracy, I was sort of glad, and chose to pay little attention.
We continued to settle in a new city and I started to hear more and more about Calgary’s mayor. Not a typical politician, Naheed Nenshi is logical and smart and frank and funny. He’s great on Twitter and he responds to completely ridiculous questions with completely awesome answers. And he did a great job during the floods.
Even so, my choice to get involved in his re-election campaign was not especially well thought out. Tonight, as I rushed around trying to finish dinner and get a baby to sleep and make myself look somewhat presentable after a very, very hot day so I could go to a volunteer orientation session, I had a moment of wondering if I was crazy. I’m going back to work in a month. Do I really need to do volunteer for a political campaign?
It turns out I do. But it’s not because he needs the help.
At the beginning of the orientation session, Mayor Nenshi talked a little bit about why he thinks this election matters. He is pretty much uncontested at this point, so why campaign at all? Why not just wait for election day and do a happy dance then? Because you should never take anything for granted, he said. Because the city matters. Because we have an opportunity to create an even better community.
I sat and listened as Nenshi talked about hard work and long history and standing up against intolerance. He talked about pride and passion and a little bit about politics, but what he had to say really wasn’t about politics at all. It was about community.
And that’s why I’m volunteering for this campaign.
Calgary has always felt like home to me, even though the time I’ve lived outside this city far exceeds the time I’ve lived in it. When people ask us if we miss Victoria, Rich wavers a little bit but I’m a solid no. I lived there for most of my life but it’s not where I’m meant to be anymore.
I volunteered because I want to be inspired. I want to be part of something. Tonight I was both.
I also volunteered because I believe it will give me the opportunity to help make this community I’ve come to love, and which I’m so grateful to be living in, even better than it is today. And I there’s really nothing at all political about it.