And worth every penny.

Before settling down in the Hat, I shuffled across a fairly large swath of the prairies. Each time, the classic conundrum presented itself: how do I become part of the community? In a place like Swan Hills, the answer was "don't worry, your very existence is a boon to us." In Edmonton, the answer was "don't worry, just get out once in a while and appreciate what's already there." In Grande Prairie, the answer was "don't worry, your bizarre work hours will keep you from ever attending two consecutive Saturday afternoons, anyway."

Medicine Hat, though, required a different tact. It required... participation.

I sought volunteer organisations. For instance, I'm a board member for Praxis, a committee dedicated to encouraging science education in classrooms. Neat stuff, right? Bob MacDonald, science fairs, chemistry magic shows, and all that. However, the last meeting was dedicated to writing up confidentiality agreements, and finding a computer that could read our 1994 club policy documents from an AppleWorks file on 3.5" floppy. Also, there's the slight problem that I've never actually been inside any school in Medicine Hat. So, maybe this isn't the best match for me.

But then, I wandered past the Monarch. I've blogged about it before; an arthouse theatre with shoddy projectors and lousy service that honestly deserved to be shut down, as galling as it was to have only a single mall multiplex serving the entire city. That building's left a pang in my heart for two years... but now, it's getting renovated. And, what's this? They need help? I fire off an e-mail to the contact, asking what the plan is for the Monarch. She responds with a huge list of plans, projects, guidelines, and dreams, but in the middle is one crucial detail:

No talking chihuahua movies.

Really, that's all they needed to say. And so, I spent yesterday covered in dust, scraping plaster off the walls of a 100-year-old movie theatre, getting it ready for that glorious day when its doors open up once more. I don't know if I'll be taking tickets, popping popcorn, or sweeping floors that day, but I can guarantee: This is how I become part of the community.

So, yes, it's been a good weekend.

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About The Author

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.