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Monday, May 29, 2023

Phoenix Riting!

So, two AGMs last week, each facing issues core to community. The first, the Housing Society, is obviously a core issue; you simply don’t have a community without places for contributing members to live. In April of 2007 (I think), we had a big Housing Conference at the Hall with speakers from communities all up and down the coast. It was fascinating and heartwarming and it raised the alarm, but didn’t solve anything. Each year we bleed out irreplaceable community members who leave solely because they can’t find housing.


At the Housing Society AGM, I was inspired by the passion and vision the developers hold for the Beulah Creek project. They were clearly committed to make their project fit into the Hornby esthetic and to facilitate community, and it shows. The design is well thought out, beautiful and functional. With close to two dozen units of various sizes, this project could seriously alleviate Hornby’s housing crisis. They are nearly ready to start construction but there is a hurdle. Lumber and building material supply prices have skyrocketed in the past couple of years, and building on Hornby is much more expensive than most. The board are wondering how to manifest this lovely and visionary design with current funds.  They need to find a way to save costs or generate more funds. 


I know that several other local groups are working on projects to increase available and affordable housing on Hornby. I love that this is being taken so seriously. I take heart from the concrete steps being taken, however slowly the bureaucratic wheels grind.


The second AGM I attended was our beloved Arts Council. They are also nearly ready to start construction on our new Arts Centre. This project is controversial, as people seldom agree about what should be paid for from the public purse. There will be a referendum. Vote yes, please.


The arts are proven lifeblood for community. Arts deserve to be supported for the same reason that schools and buses are supported. Many don’t have school-age children or use buses, but no one denies them their share of the public pie. Arts are also, not ‘as important’ as schools, but important ‘as schools’. Children who grow up steeped in the arts through ongoing events and programs become much-needed creators, communicators and innovators.


The arts foster social connections. Let’s just say it; non-neurotypical folk gravitate to islands. For those who find friend-making a challenge, group gatherings such as art openings help to get to know others and feel included in community. Even better, you don’t have to be personally invited. 

The more spaces open to gather in communal conviviality, the more widely the lifeblood of connection may flow, enabling families and neighbourhoods to thrive within a context of community. Art openings are the very best form of warm social gathering. Viewing and sharing art with others is a nourishing form of intimacy. It demands nothing from participants except their presence, attention. When ideas are exchanged, they tend to be most insightful and stimulating. This, at least, has been my personal experience over time.

An Arts Centre such as is the one being birthed on Hornby is a rare blessing for community. Despite the general air of dystopian apocalypse ‘out there,’ I feel powerfully (if cautiously) optimistic for our future ‘in here.’ May balance prevail.  


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