When s%^#’s broken…

I had a pretty interesting day last Friday, working a shift at the Elbow River Casino. In exchange for providing volunteers for some casino positions for two days, Enviros (my employer) stands to gain ~60,000$ from the Alberta Gaming Commission’s charity pool. There’s about an 18 month wait for charities to access a casino.

What was interesting about my experience?
A) The sheer volume of money that flowed through my hands. I was a cashier, and we started with a 500K float. Half a million bucks, in stacks of cash on the table. Crazy.
B) The 50% of people there who obviously couldn’t afford to gamble. People who looked like they might be frequently benefitting from the work of charities that were in turn, working those same casino’s to fund their efforts.

And that’s where shit is broken. When the system starts feeding on itself, when marginalized people are gambling everything on the long odds of hitting it big, we’ve got problems. The blatant and obvious disparity was almost overwhelming…I saw everything from the wealthiest oilmen in the city, to the elderly lady who looked like she was held together with a glimmer of hope and memories of past happiness.

Of course, balance returned to my life on Monday when I stepped into a course on Enterprise and Innovation being run by @theinnographer (Dr. Alex Bruton). His class of Mt. Royal University students have been tasked with finding innovative solutions to Calgary’s really big problems. He’s brought in a bunch of Calgary’s passionate citizens who are also working on some of these problems, to provide some linkages between theory and practice, and to help students “keep it real”.

So what can we do? What should be the response to an obviously broken system? Talking about it is a pretty good start, doing something about it is even better.

Check out Alex’s stuff at www.theinnographer.com.

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