WIT Press

Evolution as a kaleidoscope: experiences of resiliency and relevancy in Lethbridge, Canada


Free (open access)


Volume 12 (2017), Issue 3



Page Range

559 - 569

Paper DOI



WIT Press




In 2014, former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson gave a lecture series entitled Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship. In her first lecture, Clarkson questions the dominant notion of evolution as an “upward staircase” producing ever-more superior versions of species and societies. She contends rather that evolution is a kaleidoscope, in which evolving subjects are constantly shifting and adapting to changing stimuli. The concept of “evolution as a kaleidoscope” can be applied to long-range community planning. This perspective suggests that community development is less about urban areas trying to be better than others and how they once were, and more about a continuous movement towards resiliency and relevancy in the face of external realities, be they economic, environmental, social or otherwise. In Lethbridge, a city in southwest Alberta, Canada, approaching a population of 100,000, the evolutionary kaleidoscope is shifting. As the City nears this meaningful moment, it offers a unique opportunity for self-reflection, revealing a City increasingly influenced by conversations about the environment, demographics and relationships with Indigenous peoples. Resiliency and relevancy are presented as tools to help bring focus to complex, changing and often daunting external realities. This article explores resiliency, relevancy and community evolution through the City of Lethbridge’s on-going long-range planning work.



Alberta, community engagement, community planning, Lethbridge, long-range planning, resiliency, relevancy, reconciliation