A recent national competition for popular ‘town of the year’ nearly became Prince Albert. The criterion of votes delivered, via (rigged) text messages still failed to land us in plum position, giving all a chance to reflect on what characteristics, features and attributes may actually constitute a town worthy of such a lofty accolade.
The given setting is undeniably picturesque (from almost all angles) taking in mountains, valleys and open spaces. Diverse architecture ranges from exquisite churches, beautifully restored period houses to plucky brakdak structures, and shack bleak. The streets are all lined with trees towering over broad, shaded sidewalks with wheelchair access, benches, and fountains. Interesting shops beckon. Restaurants offer meals to suit most tastes. Other facilities are exemplary.
How would we dream a town worthy of taking first prize, ensuring everybody’s blessing: one heart one vote for the good life?
The chosen one at the helm casts his ballot. Those presiding, content with their positions of power prevail. For all deployed by the state this life is bliss. Private businesses, companies, and incomes create a life of ease. Temporary rich in gabled houses gamble graciously, coiffed bohemians lounging in quaint cottages token, writers in seclusion take note, artists on retreat make their mark, citizens residing in RDP housing have been blessed, and extended families crammed in corrugated iron boxes are content to have a sometimes blazing sometimes icy veneer hanging over their heads.
Children have an excuse to send lots of sms’s. They are loved, entertained, fed at school, at home, and nurtured by a kind participatory community in the understanding that we are all responsible for the wellbeing of our enchanting youth, knowing that our schools deliver the finest education possible because children are our future.
Dogs, our friends, wag their tails incessantly in agreement, neither hungry nor thirsty. There is always shade or a warm and cosy bed. They are kept safe within gardens free of chains or wires. Responsible owners ensure their canine companions are sterilized, regularly vaccinated and dewormed, and give them unbounded affection.
Cats purr with pride because now they can continue to do exactly as they please.
Pigs plug PA because they can ramble freely on range, with access to one another, and mud baths, fresh food and water ad lib, wandering through cool glades in family groups, rooting for tasty treasures, grunting among themselves all day long.
Sheep bleat in unison given freedom to roam, infusing their muscles with a vast array of aromatic herbs. They can rest assured that committed shepherds are keeping a watch for their safety.
Chickens cooped in previous lives pluck up courage to flap their wings, run around scratching in the earth, only coming home to roost.
The visiting goose lays her golden eggs in many a hand woven basket.
Wildlife outlaws are included for consideration without fear of annihilation, welcomed in as next of kin: Leopards leap for joy of joining the lark; baboons bark and shout, as they’re no longer left out; from the cold caracul clap claws while pressing their paws; curious Kudu prance, abandoning the merry dance, jackals joke and laugh at last, forgetting the miseries of the past. Tortoises crossing the road can relax, knowing that cars will stop in their tracks. Raptors return as we all start to learn that even the disaffected are deeply connected. For our best overall health follows this unprecedented wealth.
Our energy is harnessed from wind and sun. Mountain water is channeled to where it is most needed in gardens and fields where abundant food is grown to satisfy the needs of all human and non-human residents.
We’ve abolished conflict with each other and the natural world. Focusing on inclusivity and recognizing everyone’s needs, people share and care, actively cultivating a sense of harmony.
The town is a winner if you want it!