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Quality of life counts in the North - Bob Michels (11/01)

What do you see when you look in the mirror? If you are like me, you rarely see what is really there. I made that discovery while shaving this morning.
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What do you see when you look in the mirror? If you are like me, you rarely see what is really there. I made that discovery while shaving this morning.

That led to a critical analysis of my facial reflection and the realization that it was not an entirely pleasing sight. Where did those under-eye bags and shadows come from? For how long has my hair been so thin and, horrors, almost white?

Turning around, looking in the full glass mirror, I discovered that Adonis had fled the scene to be replaced by, to be charitable, something less than an NHL all-star.

All of this is leading up to offering congratulations to the City of Thunder Bay. Recently that city commissioned a diverse group to look at the city and its need for beautification. The group's report was received and adopted by council and a start has been made towards implementing the group's recommendations.

The study group made one particularly interesting observation that the scenery around our cities and towns is extraordinarily beautiful. The lakes, the forests and all the recreational opportunities that they offer capture one's heart and soul, often blinding us to the less than appealing nature of our inner living spaces.

Not too many years ago, the Town of Atikokan focused its attention on the river that meanders through the town. Those taking a closer look made some unsettling discoveries. Old bed springs, discarded tires, junk and garbage of all sorts had been deposited along the banks and bed of the river. The river had become the community's backyard, seldom looked at, a handy place to dump the stuff people no longer needed.

Not any more. The town cleaned up the riverbed, brushed out the riverbanks and constructed walking paths along the entire length within the town.

Ask almost anyone who made the choice to live and work in Northern Ontario and you will get the same answer. They deeply love the lakes, the forests and the freedom to roam the land, to hunt and fish and to camp out.

And, somehow, like when we look in the mirror, we have the amazing capacity to blind our senses to the manmade barrenness and blight of our inner spaces. We ignore the "cover on our book" by which we are judged by others not yet under the spell of nature's gifts.

Yet virtually every community in Northern Ontario is searching for investors and developers willing to contribute to our economic vitality and diversity.

They, too, are looking for good places to live, work and raise a family, if not for themselves, then for their employees. Too often we fail the test.

Investors, developers, professionals looking to escape the city, all judge our book by its cover and its content. Rarely do they judge it by the beauty of the library.

Quality of life does count. When we can remove the self-imposed blinders and create inner spaces and entranceways that rival the beauty of our natural surrounding environment then we will be well positioned to compete with the Golden Horseshoe.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? If you are like me, you rarely see what is really there. I made that discovery while shaving this morning.

That led to a critical analysis of my facial reflection and the realization that it was not an entirely pleasing sight. Where did those under-eye bags and shadows come from? For how long has my hair been so thin and, horrors, almost white?

Turning around, looking in the full glass mirror, I discovered that Adonis had fled the scene to be replaced by, to be charitable, something less than an NHL all star.

All of this is leading up to offering congratulations to the City of Thunder Bay. Recently that city commissioned a diverse group to look at the city and its need for beautification. The group's report was received and adopted by council and a start has been made towards implementing the group's recommendations.

The study group made one particularly interesting observation that the scenery around our cities and towns is extraordinarily beautiful. The lakes, the forests and all the recreational opportunities that they offer capture one's heart and soul, often blinding us to the less than appealing nature of our inner living spaces.

Not too many years ago, the Town of Atikokan focused its attention on the river that meanders through the town. Those taking a closer look made some unsettling discoveries. Old bed springs, discarded tires, junk and garbage of all sorts had been deposited along the banks and bed of the river. The river had become the community's backyard, seldom looked at, a handy place to dump the stuff people no longer needed.

Not any more. The town cleaned up the riverbed, brushed out the riverbanks and constructed walking paths along the entire length within the town.

Ask almost anyone who made the choice to live and work in Northern Ontario and you will get the same answer. They deeply love the lakes, the forests and the freedom to roam the land, to hunt and fish and to camp out.

And, somehow, like when we look in the mirror, we have the amazing capacity to blind our senses to the manmade barrenness and blight of our inner spaces. We ignore the "cover on our book" by which we are judged by others not yet under the spell of nature's gifts.

Yet virtually every community in Northern Ontario is searching for investors and developers willing to contribute to our economic vitality and diversity.

They, too, are looking for good places to live, work and raise a family, if not for themselves, then for their employees. Too often we fail the test.

Investors, developers, professionals looking to escape the city, all judge our book by its cover and its content. Rarely do they judge it by the beauty of the library.

Quality of life does count. When we can remove the self-imposed blinders and create inner spaces and entranceways that rival the beauty of our natural surrounding environment then we will be well positioned to compete with the Golden Horseshoe.

Bob Michels is an author and consultant living in Atikokan.




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