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Prodigal sons and daughters

Gave a presentation at a conference yesterday at the UWO’s Spencer Leadership Centre (almost makes you think about buying earning an executive MBA). London’s my hometown so I drove in and out of my old west and east end neighbourhoods. Lots has changed. Some of it for the better. Some not so much. And some things haven’t changed in 30 years. Also reminds you that nothing’s permanent and everything changes (seeing strangers in the homes you grew up will do that).

Got thinking that my kids may someday make the same drive through their old neighbourhoods — their first home, first school, the library, park and cookie store. Hope the roadtrip brings back good memories.

Also got thinking about a conversation at work from the week before. Had someone drop by who talked about how we need to convince our young people to stay in our city. Really? Should we maybe ask our young people if they want to stay? And the reasons why they may want to stay or go?

I think there’s value in having folks move around. Tends to broaden their perspectives. The challenges facing one community usually aren’t all that different from those other communities. Same with solutions to those challenges.

I’ve also found the people who complain the longest and loudest about improving the image and reputation of our city are the ones who’ve never lived anywhere else (you can find the same dynamic in the workplace among little-black-raincloud employees who’ve never worked for any other employer).

So no matter how much time, effort and money we invest on trying to win over hometown teens, they may leave for reasons that have nothing to do with quality of life or opportunities wtihin our community. They may just want to leave the nest. Explore. Discover somewhere new.

And while they’re leaving, the best and brightest from from other communities will continue to put down roots in our city, bringing with them a new set of life experiences and a different world view.

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