The Dryden Observer

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Don’t stop talking now, Dryden

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

I think the fact that four people have stepped forward as candidates for a single vacant seat on city council is awfully impressive.

While it may be shortsighted to say that this city faces some of its most daunting challenges since incorporation, I applaud the willingness to shoulder some of that burden for the community.

It’s not going to be an easy job.

Plus, there’s always a certain amount of abuse to endure, be it deservedly, or undeservedly at the hands of the public and the press, who have lately been cringing with every keystroke.

Forget the coffee shops, those relics of yesteryear, the real discussion about this community is happening right now in online social media circles — heated, and vociferous.

One resident’s City of Dryden news related post drew upwards of 60 comments in a heated debate over where to lay the blame for the City’s troubles with the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.

In my seven years since returning to the community, I’ve come to know Dryden as a place where people are more reluctant to publicly voice their opinion on the issues of the day over fears that it will somehow affect their jobs or damage relationships.

As a result, this kind of ‘speak no evil’ ethic results in a place that doesn’t change all that much.

That’s the wrong way to be, I think. I’ll tell you why.

There are certainly more than one of you out there with whom I’ve quarreled vigorously over a great many issues. With every single one of those people, I’ve come to a far deeper understanding of my role, my weaknesses and the issue at stake. It’s important for a malignant narcissist such as myself to be questioned from time to time — as painful as such self-reflection can be. In most cases, I’ve found that a conflict, resolved through patience and understanding on both sides has resulted in a stronger relationship.

I’ve learned not to fear conflict, I fear silence — the pulling away, disengagement. It’s only when you’ve stopped talking that you’ve failed.

I think something is slowly changing out there for the better.

That may have more to do with the gravity of our troubles, or more to do with the growing comfort we feel in publishing our thoughts within an online audience that is larger than we think it is.

Discussion is wonderful. We’re allowed to disagree and argue. As long as we keep our heads and behave like adults, chances are we’ll figure something out.

Just don’t stop talking, Dryden.

Chris Marchand

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