For me,I will remember 2014 most for being the year I wished more than a few times, that I could magically go back to being one of those blissfully unknowing people who go about their lives paying no attention to anything other than just that.
There have been a number of stories this year that have touched me on certain levels and left me emotionally tanked or overjoyed. Discovering the extent of the situation on 135A street, the absolute extreme poverty of the people who call those sidewalks home – not all victims of their own bad choices or addicts – left me going back often, thinking futilely there has to be a better way. But why can’t we find it?
Meeting Erin Schulte and her group of incredible volunteers who persevered in feeding and taking care of these very same people in the face of continual opposition was an incredible experience. And while their story was the most public,because of them I discovered there are many others who have been doing the same thing for years, no fan-fare, no recognition and none asked for. They simply chose to care, and I applaud them all.
No one can overlook the fine work of David Dalley and the Friends of the Grove, who carry on like soldiers of peace and compassion, endlessly fighting what seems to be a never-ending battle in the heart of Newton. Metaphorically speaking, their efforts are representative of the battle between light and dark, good and evil – and they need as much support as they can get. Their work to transform this family oriented area will be an essential part of the bigger plan for the Newton core, if the city ever gets fully on board, because they are the heart of this community. Created in 2009 with intensive public input, it is the greatest hope of this community to see Festival Street and the rest of the Newton Town Centre plan become reality – those with vision can see an eclectic shopping,entertainment area,with a park and gatherings… the Commercial Drive for those south of the Fraser.
Some of the defining images for me this year, are those from Mt.Polley. It was the year all of us in British Columbia saw how life can be changed forever in the blink of an eye when the walls came down at Mt.Polley mine. In an instant an entire area, ecosystems and lives were irrevocably altered and why? Even now, there are still more questions than answers as to why millions of tonnes of toxic sludge came cascading down creeks and forests into two beautiful lakes that provided sustenance, recreation and an entire tourism industry for locals.
The breach was an utter failure of process and regulation.
The actions of the government following the breach, were appalling, reminiscent of scenes from the movie Erin Brockovich.
There is zero credibility and zero trust, and more than a little uneasiness when it comes to thinking about other tailings ponds- or dams for that matter-because there has even been criticism when it comes to the inspection and reporting process they instigated to ensure this wasn’t about to happen somewhere else.
This is just one example of why sometimes I wish I was one of those blissfully unaware and un-engaged people, just going about their business, not paying attention to what’s going on in the world.
It’s easier, and far less stressful, albeit not very conducive to creating change in the world. Which is part of why we continue to be where we are, instead of where many want us to be.
You can look at, research, examine and learn from history… but unless you apply what you have learned, you go nowhere.
We continue to wage wars, right or wrong. We continue to ignore our homeless.We bring food to homes of those suffering from illnesses like cancer or grieving, but ostracize and marginalize those suffering from addiction or mental illness.
It’s frustrating,often feels insurmountable and ineffective to continually see story after story written of government obfuscation and wrong-doing that for all intents and purposes, continue…aided and abetted by voter malaise and a fear of what change will bring. As is often said, many truly believe that the devil you know,is better than the devil you don’t.
As for myself, I spent much of last night going through a backlog of emails and when I went through all the FOI’s submitted, the stack of non-responsive,redacted or otherwise useless results far outweighs the FOI’s that gleaned any good info at all.
And what is worrisome is that many writers are finding it harder to even file Freedom of Information requests, or in the case of the federal government, Access to Information requests. Damned if you do, or damned if you don’t.
Where does that leave us? In a situation where governments are able to conduct their business with little examination and criticism – and that’s not good for anyone.
My wish for 2015 is very much the same as it is every year.
That the public at large become more engaged and aware of the power of their vote. That we come out of our technologically aided shells and become involved in our communities. That we realize that while there is a portion of the population that may very well be beyond saving because of their own demons, that we must continue to try to help those who are invisible to many: children in foster care, children living in poverty, our seniors, our disabled and our homeless.
They are our past, and our future. Sometimes there is only one chance to get it right. Many have learned the hard way while watching others, that it can too happen in your own backyard – and who will fight for you then? Don’t be a bystander.Be involved.
Despite the ups and downs, the sad stories that break your heart and the ones where everything right and good prevails, the journey continues to tell as many as we can – I’m very honoured that you are all a part of this small blog. As much as being unaware might be blissful to some, being engaged to make change is the only way to go.
Because in the words of author J.R.R Tolkien:
Happy New Years and may you strive not for perfection in 2015, but to simply be better, and do better, than the year before!