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3 Things Wood Buffalo

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You’ve seen it around the municipality for months, purple 3s showing up in the Canada Day Parade, on the golf course, and even driving around town. For months it has had its own website with a mysterious countdown clock, and it’s very own Twitter page, 3 Things for Wood Buffalo, which stated just this: “The power to change the world resides in each and every one of us. Together, we can make our region an even more amazing place to live, 3 things at a time.”

Since July 1, most residents have been in the dark about the exact purpose or meaning of the mysterious 3s which has humourously been coined as the Kim Kardashian of Wood Buffalo, famous for nothing…until now.

People have been guessing everything from three years to the next election, to a real estate marketing campaign, to the launch of a new album, and some even guessed it right.

The secret was officially was revealed on Sept. 14 at the Community Registration Day. A video was launched at the opening reception showcasing the 3s meaning. Its purpose: the 3 is a community engagement movement with one simple message, to do just 3 things to make your community a better place.

“3 Things for Wood Buffalo is a feel-good movement that inspires residents to intentionally take positive action in our community,” said Julie Dolmont, a 3 committee member and MACOY Advisor for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. “It focuses on the wonderful things that are already happening, and motivates others to do the same. What a wonderful example that adults can set for youth, and likewise-that youth can inspire adults to make positive changes in our community.”

In addition to the 3 actions - which can include anything from donating to a local charity, to giving a thank-you wave in traffic, to hosting a fundraiser - participants are encouraged to share their actions with those around them through conversation, on the Twitter page, through photos, or even short videos.

“I think the best thing about 3 Things for Wood Buffalo is that it provides an opportunity for every person in this community to contribute in some way,” said Theresa Wells 3 committee member and author of McMurray Musings. “Those 3 things can be as simple as picking up a piece of litter or buying a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you, but these simple acts combine to make one enormous expression of how we feel about the place we call home. Kindness is contagious, and those three acts by one person have the potential to act as the catalyst for dozens more, and in effect change our community. From a simple acorn the mighty oak tree grows, and 3 things is just such an acorn, a kernel of an idea designed to inspire change.”

“When individuals behave generously, their kindness may benefit others they don’t know or even meet, yet this act will nonetheless benefit the recipients,” added Bonnah Carey, 3 committee member and Executive Director of Some Other Solutions. “For the giver, it provides a feeling of gratitude that I hope becomes contagious and the normal way for everyone to behave.”

The movement began initially when Carey recommended that the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo create a campaign to curtail negative messaging in the community regarding zero tolerance signs found in many local businesses. After initial research however the program evolved in particular due to the success of the 3 Things for Calgary movement.

“We had a plan, but it was quickly thrown out the window when we were introduced to 3 Things for Calgary which perfectly articulated everything we wanted to achieve in a really engaging way,” said Paula Ogonoski, 3 committee member and Public Affairs Advisor for the RMWB. “It was a great template to work from and we couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling in Wood Buffalo. We soon struck a community committee who have guided, and become champions of the plan. The spirit of the 3 Things movement, as cliché as this is, is for the people by the people.”

Ogonoski added the key to gaining interest in the movement was through its marketing approach. “As a committee we knew we had to generate interest in a unique way and nothing gets people talking like a secret. We decided that we wouldn’t tell anyone what the 3 was throughout the summer, we’d simply let it show up at various events and let the guesses and conversation start organically, and it worked. We had about 300 followers on the Twitter account just a month after its first appearance at the Canada Day Parade. People were joining out of curiosity, and also to see where this ‘mysterious’ 3 would show up next. We actually received messages from individuals and organizations requesting the 3 to be part their events, even for a pregnancy photo shoot for a third child. Yet still, no one knew exactly what this 3 was.”

The community committee for the movement has included representatives from Some Other Solutions, United Way, Multicultural Association, Arts Council of Wood Buffalo, Mayor’s Advisory Council on Youth, the RMWB and includes a variety of community influencers. 3 Things for Calgary representatives early on strongly recommended the ownership not belong to one organization.

“I joined this project because I am a believer in community and I can see that this movement has the potential to bring a lasting sense of community for our region,” said Cheryl Cooper, 3 committee member and coordinator of Family and Community Support Services at the RMWB. “I would like to see the concept ‘3’ ever present in the minds of our residents, even if it is a subtle hint, and I would like to hear it in general conversation. I love the secret campaign as people are curious and asking questions. I am in the realm of doing good for people in the community. You just can’t realize, and don’t know the impact that you have on people with the smallest of things. We have to work to keep the 3 alive. As I heard someone say at one of the venues ‘three, three wherever you may be.’”

For more information on the movement, or to download a do-it-yourself kit for kids, go to, or post your actions on the Twitter page @3thingsforwb, #my3wb.

Photos by Paul Jen