Small cities face intricate challenges and Kamloops is no different. The recently released book No Straight Lines is a collaboration by several TRU faculty meant to explore community-engaged leadership in small cities and realize equality of quality of life.
No Straight Lines has been roughly 5 years in the making, with contributions from Lisa Cooke, Dawn Farough, Robin Reid, Ginny Ratsoy, Tina Block and of course the book’s editor, Terry Kading. The book itself was published by the University of Calgary Press in partnership with TRU.
While it touches on the history of many Kamloops organizations and highlights several issues in the city such as homelessness, housing and food security, No Straight Lines tends to focus on the city’s successes rather than its failures.
“You can always find problems that persist and in some cases getting worse and you can always report on that,” Kading said. “But the nice thing about taking the leadership perspective was to look at local community groups and the city of Kamloops and over the decades now of trying to fix these issues, rather than focussing on what hadn’t been achieved, but what had been achieved.”
Because of this, No Straight Lines focuses on how local governments and community leadership contribute to resolving social issues and challenges in small cities much more than they have in the past.
“With the theme that we were using, leadership, we were trying to look at quality of life issues and things like that in a small city,” Kading said. “The thing that surprised us the most is that there has been a whole bunch of community studies that have come out that have said the determining factor is leadership.”
A good example of the power of local leadership can be found in Kading’s own chapter on homelessness in Kamloops. After much research and attendings meetings of organizations like Changing the Face of Poverty, Kading realized that while many organization work behind the scenes, their collaboration and the coordination of their activities gave them a better ability to respond as a whole.
As such, Kading says, Kamloops’ strong network of support services has improved the equality of quality to life across the city, especially when compared to other similar-sized cities in the interior.
“The sense is with respect to homelessness, if you are homeless or housing insecure, there is a pretty strong network of services,” he said. “The city does pretty well when compared to a lot of other cities. You are starting to see it more with issues like food security, the city has the new sustainability plan and a food strategy. They all come together to address a variety of issues.”
Besides No Straight Lines’ main theme of leadership in using social assets and resources in small cities, the book also takes a good look quality of life provided by TRU, Kamloops’ natural beauty, high paying jobs in the education and medical sector and much more.
All in all, the book touches on Kamloops’ many success stories while still remaining humble about the everyday issues the city faces. Kading admits that while the quality of life has been marginally raised for certain groups by some organizations in the city, to dramatically change the equality of quality of life in Kamloops would take a lot more.
“If it is going to change dramatically to bring out that equality of quality of life, the funding has to be there from the federal government and the provinces,” he said. “Unfortunately it isn’t just Kamloops or B.C., but the whole country.”
If you wish to read No Straight Lines yourself, you can find a PDF version for free on the University of Calgary Press’ website, at press.ucalgary.ca/books/9781552389447.