by Tracy Stimpson

I work in the Quality Department of my company.  We have a set methodology for solving problems with any manufacturing processes.  Because I am a geek with no life, I wondered if I could use some of these tools to figure out what makes Mississippi Mills great.

I settled on Brainstorming and an Ishikawa (fishbone) Diagram.  Brainstorming is a method of gathering a list of ideas.  The fishbone diagram is a visualization tool that allows you to group the brainstorming ideas in order to find the major group cause.

The first task was the brainstorm.  I used the Facebook members of “Friends of Mississippi Mills” to help me with that.  I posted the following question online: “What the heck makes Mississippi Mills such a great town”.  The response was fantastic and I received many detailed responses.  People seemed excited to post what they thought was great about our lovely town.

The next step was a little more complicated.  For production, a fishbone diagram contains 5 categories (Method, Manpower, Materials, Machines and the Environment).  Cool, but these categories don’t suit the purpose I wanted to use it for.  After looking at all the great responses I received from Facebook, I came up with the following 5 categories:  Business, Culture, Places, Community Support and People.  So, what you do is draw a fish with 5 spines and label each one with the categories.  You then place each brainstorm idea onto a spine.  An idea may apply to more than one category but the rule is you can only place each idea on no more than 2 spines.  Here is the summary of each spine:

Business = Many people noted how they love doing business in Mississippi Mills.  From the quaint shops to businesses that have been around forever.  Stories were shared about the above and beyond service received from Coady’s Car Care, Clayton General Store and many stores on Mill Street.  The “at home” atmosphere of the Almonte Fitness Centre was noted as well as the success of Sports System Canada.

Culture = There are so many talented people in our community and their abilities are showcased well.  People love all the concerts that happen in Mississippi Mills.  Folkus was mentioned along with the 5 Wednesday’s at Augusta Park in July.  J.B. Arts helps us with our creative abilities and the Millstone provides an invaluable service to all citizens with their cultural articles.

Places = The beauty of our town is what initially attracts people here.  People responding to the question noted the beauty of our heritage buildings.  The outdoor spaces including the Riverwalk, Gemmil and Augusta Street parks were noted as reasons why Mississippi Mills is so great.  The library was noted for all the services it provides at little or no charge.

Community Support = How lucky are we in this town with the amazing community support we have going on.  Stop telling your Ottawa friends how good the service is at the Almonte Hospital, want them to start coming here?  How about the new Youth Centre and how they are working with other groups in the community, how great is that!  Grown students have commented on the positive influence their teachers in Mississippi Mills had on them.  The Hub hospice provides much needed piece and dignity to those that require it.  And, a little thing called Mills Community Support.  I personally know many, many people that have been helped, hell saved by Mills Community Support.  What a great organization, I am so honoured they support our community.

Well, the fishbone diagram shows you where to focus your effort by looking at the spine on the diagram that contains the most entries.  Remember above where I said you could put each entry onto 2 spines.  As such, take everything you have read above that is great about our town and throw it into the PEOPLE category.  Everything listed above could not be accomplished without the great people of Mississippi Mills!

Coady’s would just be a shop if it wasn’t for the extra effort from the people that work there.  Shelly & Chris are what make Clayton General Store Great.  People wouldn’t feel at home if it were not for the people at the Almonte Fitness Centre.  Augusta Street Park would be a broken bottled filled park that no one used if it weren’t for the dedicated group of volunteers that have made it into the envy of many communities.  So much is going at that park now that brings neighbours together.  The small shops are only successful due to the friendly people that work them.  The heritage buildings only look as good as they do because of volunteers.  The clock in the old Post Office doesn’t run by itself, it takes people that care.

Community Support is all people driven.  From the great doctors and nurses in town to the dedicated staff at the Youth Centre.  Without people there would be no support.  There was one word that kept coming up when people were answering the question “What the heck makes Mississippi Mills so great”.  That word was volunteer.  We have fantastic volunteers in Mississippi Mills that do so very, very much for this town.  I can’t even write the names of everyone that was mentioned during the survey, just way too many.  This article is a summary of all the great things that occur in Mississippi Mills, I know I have missed so many people, activities and places that people love about this town of ours.

So there you have it, simple, scientific proof that People are what make Mississippi Mills great.  To everyone in Mississippi Mills that contributes something that makes life in our town better, thank you.  You are all great.