To the Editor:
From Area “G” Director, Angelique Wood:
This year was one of great changes worldwide, with many threats to our “status quo”. Increasingly, we watch as world politics and global economies seem to shift overnight. Our pocketbooks are stretched and we see climate change resulting in storms that wreak havoc from coast to coast. Environmental disasters seem to abound and each day many of us ask, “How are we to make a difference?”
In truth, the radical shifts we are seeing are a result of doing things for one bottom line, the economy, for a couple of generations. Money and greed have been strong motivators and the erosion of the “middle class” is real. Where once upon a time, Presidents of the U.S. and Canada supported the prosperity of the working class through manufacturing jobs at home and pay that took care of a family, now we are faced with mcjobs and industrialized farms, meat processing regulations that we are told are “safe” and a constant slashing of our healthcare, education, and even support of our community infrastructure dollars.
In an increasingly uncertain world, we need to learn that safety comes from a strong network. Nurture your friendships and cooperate with your neighbours. Being able to ask for help is difficult in our individualistic society, and taking too much of another person’s time can feel weak and make us seem vulnerable. The fact that we are social animals and really need to feel bonded a group is frustrating if we are strong-willed; it is even more annoying when other people “need” us and all they really want is our time.
I have been honoured this year to meet a number of the most giving people in the Similkameen, volunteers who are keeping our social fabric knitted together like the COPS (Citizens on Patrol) who patrol our streets and give rides to folks during the festive season. Others interested in history and culture keep our Grist Mill, Similkameen Museum, Gibson House, Hedley Museum and Snaza’ist Interpretive Center open to the public, and folks at the Similkameen Info Center make sure that our visitors know of the many things we have to offer here.
We are blessed to have individuals and groups who put together events like the Sizzle Fest and the Kars under the K, Canada Day and Apple Day at the Grist Mill, and Remembrance Day at both the Keremeos and Hedley Cenotaphs. Thank you to all the Vets, the Legion, Elks, and Senior Centers who come together time and time again to put these important events on for our community.
Many of our services are run by dedicated volunteer boards with some paid staff or yet more volunteers; thank you to our irrigation districts, improvement districts, Keremeos Recreation Commission, community services, volunteer fire departments, and all those folks who help out at the clinics, library, schools and community centers. You are in the company of those who help out through their churches, their indian bands, and their service groups. Thank you all for your contributions.
The greatest gift I have received this year is that of hope. A number of people in Olalla, working together for a common good, are fostering neighbourhood improvement through compassion and kindness, in an area without zoning, bylaws or legislation to fall back on. What is happening is people are getting to know each other, understand their commonalities and differences, and they are not just improving the way their area looks, they are making a better world by connecting to one another. I am both surprised and amazed at the strength of purpose and selfless desire to make positive change exhibited by “Friends of Olalla”. If you live in Olalla and want to be involved, the group will welcome any talent or assistance you are able to give.
This year in Hedley a number of committed residents worked really hard to create a positive alternative to illegal dumping: a stationary compost pile called a hugelbeet was developed, with hundreds of volunteer hours and numerous “work bees”. Our fire department graciously watered the mound for us, as we knew that the brush would be highly flammable, and we knew it would need a lot of moisture to break down. Sadly, on October 17 this year, an unattended campfire left smouldering in the grass not far from the hugelbeet caught the field, hillside, and Hugelbeet on fire. Thanks to our Hedley Volunteer Fire Department the blaze remained under control and the fuel load was kept burning in order to reduce the hazard of re-ignition. Many residents have indicated that they already miss having the convenience of an in-town compost, and the knowledge that their greens were going to produce something of value in our town surrounded my mine tailings which do not support much plant life.
As Christmas approaches, ask yourself if there is someone important in your life who would benefit from your time. Often a visit, a cup of coffee, or a quickly shoveled walk is all we need to give to transform another person’s day. Though December is the time we focus most on giving, consider taking this attitude into the spring, and plan who you might help out as the weather warms up.
There are lots of elderly folks in the Similkameen Valley who would love to garden but can’t get out to plant seeds anymore, and there are lots of kids who have not been taught how to grow their own food. If you have a green thumb, think about how you could share the talent you have and increase the health and vitality of someone you care about as you pass on this valuable skill.
Remember that resourcefulness comes from doing the best with what you have, and there is no merit to dreaming about a life you wish you had. Recent neuroscience is proving that a positive attitude can actually impact the biology of your brain; you can grow new brain cells and reactivate previously “dead” areas with brain exercises and a positive outlook. All this to say, if you view the glass as “half empty” you are less likely to enjoy physical health and mental well-being than if you think of it as “half full”.
If I have forgotten to mention your group or society, I apologize- there are so many of you out there doing good work it becomes difficult to keep track of it all. But please keep up the good work!
Please drive the winter roads safely and enjoy a Happy Holiday.
Director, Area G
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen