Pearl Lorentzen

In a discussion about a homeless shelter in Slave Lake, someone mentioned the old adage – ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ I’d already started this regional with the same adage.

I wonder about this adage. Why doesn’t the horse want to drink? When using the adage, people seem to blame the horse, but maybe the issue is the water.

I’m not sure how accurate this is, but I saw a meme recently saying that people should drink from the same stream as their horse brcause horses won’t drink tainted water. (Generally, people shouldn’t drink untreated water.)

Of course, the adage is really talking about people. This idea comes up time and time again. For example, whenever someone or an organization has an event or program and no one shows any interest.

This adage is anouther way of thinking strengths-based community development.

I came across this concept in the Rural Mental Health Network training. An email I received from RMH somes this up. It says, “Everyone has gifts. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone cares about something and that passion is his or her motivation to act.”

This resonated with me. I have included it in each agenda for the Slave Lake and Area Mental Health Network meetings.

It summarizes something I have believed for a long time. That everyone is interesting, you just have to find the right topic.

The goal of the mental health network is to engage as many community members as possible and help them identify ways to improve their own and other people’s mental health.

Humans are social creatures, and one of the ways I find that improves my mental health is being involved in community.

Not everyone is going to be interested in the same things.

‘You can’t put a square peg in a round hole,’ and it makes more sense to make a round hole than to blame the ‘square peg.’

Remembering that everyone has something to offer and that everyone is different is important. If a target audience is, say teenagers, it makes sense to ask them what they are interested in instead of just coming up with a program or event.

This item is reprinted with permission from the High Prairie, AB, South Peace News. For the complete article, click HERE

If you wish to comment on this story, click HERE for the Discussion Board at