Editor’s Note

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Flight of Fancy

When the Grapevine came up for sale in Summer 2017, I saw a challenge, but moreover a chance to give back to the community that I’d called home for some 15 years. A community I was enmeshed in, right down to a daughter enrolled in our local school.

In revitalizing the paper, the community responded in kind. We’d noted that Denman was experiencing some kind of love affair with itself, fuelled by weekly reminders of who we were and our common island life. Whether presented in short story, review, poem or cartoon form, it soon became clear that our lively community was the ultimate fuel for a lively paper. Doreen Hynd marvelled at the energy that emanated from our pages. It’s when she posed to me the question, “what do you see the soul of the paper as being?” I touched on some form of answer to that in Issue #1615 but I want add further context to the wisdom Doreen was sharing with me. She also spoke of the ‘heart,’ intoning, “where there’s the steadiness of soul, the heart is not rational, it can be prone to flights of fancy. But OH!… those flights of fancy!”

I’ll admit that I’ve questioned how rational it was to take on the Grapevine at various points along the way. Firstly, in our ever digitized world taking up a paper publication I worried mightn’t prove counterintuitive. Secondly, the learning curve I faced had moments of self doubt as frequent and jarring as the potholes littering Lake Road but while I worked and learned the communities of Denman and Hornby were responding to their paper proving in the moment that following one’s heart needn’t be feared for its irrationality.

Another point of near crippling doubt occurred with the arrival of Covid. I’ll ask readers to think back to how news of the pandemic and society’s reaction to it left them feeling in their own lives and hearts as some manner of relating. The shutdown impacting every business and organization was felt at the paper but, being the paper, information was never more at a premium. True to our Editorial Policy, The Islands Grapevine extended space to all of its clients free of charge in the scramble to keep locals informed amidst a Public Emergency and its fast changing tides.

I still remember the sign on the porch of the General Store: Denman 1100/Covid 0.

I still remember the bi-monthly Covid Resilience Updates we provided free of charge.

I still remember Denman Works’ shop local initiative as an antidote to lockdowns.

As a Board member and treasurer of our Economic Enhancement Society, I was all too aware of efforts to stimulate our moribund local economy.

Going beyond mere awareness, and in a fit of irrationality to make any heart skip a beat, I chose to highlight local artists with a four page, colour spread each week from my own pocket in hopes of spurring some economic impetus (Dec.10th, 2020 & Dec.17th 2020) Those of you with any inkling to confirm this can check out our online archives at: theislandsgrapevine.com. Unfortunately, our ramshackle colour printer of the day conspired against us leaving us just two artist exposés before packing it in. I suppose it’s moot because not long afterward came a sudden shift in the community’s sentiment towards its paper as the pandemic became more and more politicized. 

So ‘saving one another’s grandmas,’ soon returned to a world I’ve always been more familiar with. You know, the one where pots and pans are used exclusively for cooking. Where everybody is self absorbed living their lives thinking only for themselves and maybe their own grandmothers. Proper reality. It’s okay, I begrudge you not for not caring about mine. That’s an emotional bond for me and Oma alone to experience and cherish. Just as I’d hope no less for anyone else and their own grandmothers. What I do begrudge are those who’d cop to caring about my grandma as a means for pushing their agendas or ideologies let alone using it as justification to bully and cast judgement. Suddenly EVERYBODY cares about Oma? Really?! Go on now, do tell.

This community’s reaction to the pandemic was dutifully recorded in opinion, reaction, poem, and Letters to the Editor. Early days driven by a sense of collectivism soon flaked away like a bad paint job revealing fractures mirroring growing contention in the broader world over things like ‘facts’,’ ‘misinformation’ and ’narrative.’ What mattered in the world mattered equally on a local level so the paper’s content skewed accordingly. Along the way I’ve watched things go from Denman 1100/Covid 0 to Denman 1400 with Covid casualties totalling 13,741 and counting. Friendships, associations, and in some instances even family cast to the curb in anger, out of fear, in frustration or owing to arrogance. Every one of us has our war stories.

So along the way all sorts of perspectives have been conveyed. Do I agree with each carried in the paper? No. Some I’ve found rather odious if need be known. I’m aware I’m not alone in such appraisal of Grapevine content, only you might be surprised which submissions I’ve felt crossed lines. Yes, I printed those submissions demonstrating my stance on freedom of expression for I believe we each have the right to be wrong. And, as if to back me up on this, those ‘right,’ have at times been wrong. Which is to say nothing of those ‘wrong,’ who’ve ended up being right.

You see for me, it’s the tenor of a piece that speaks loudest. Submissions questioning impositions placed upon our liberties have typically been well articulated and even in tone where submissions I’ve fielded from islanders committed to trusting the ‘experts’ have often been astounding in their condescension, emotion, and reliance on ad hominem attack. Less concerning to my eye is who’s ‘right’ when the manners employed to convince those who  ‘don’t get it’ are so mean or dismissive in spirit. Being right or wrong is a subjective business where meanness and condescension are more plain to the eye and hint of deeper, unrelated issues. 

And the cries that I’m the one who’s being divisive for publishing a breadth of perspectives come from the nastiest of the lot. Driven by imaginings of a community chockablock with unicorns and rainbows they’ve unsheathed their knives, slashing and thrusting at a 32 year old island institution and my livelihood. One would-be pirate even, in what I can only describe as a fit of drunken zeal, pulled out his ’T.I.T.’ waving it around, proclaiming it a ‘Barnacle.’ Another, somewhat ironically, one of the two artists I featured all this time ago. I know, I know. When it comes to matters of the heart you don’t necessarily get back what you put in. That’s why following one’s heart can be seen as so irrational!

To be clear, I’m not saying that chasing rainbows and unicorns is a worthless pursuit. TIG wholeheartedly applauds all islanders who contribute to our community in their many and varied ways. Even those who do it quietly to no fanfare. It’s just that the local population boom triggered by the pandemic means there are less unicorns and rainbows to go around, not to mention more islanders who think they know this community enough to speak for it. That’s why a paper is important. It’s why freedom of expression matters. Right or wrong, not everyone has a unicorn and a rainbow.

So here we now are. Documenting the community these past years has seen the love-in tarnish somewhat. The honeymoon long over. The toilet seat never in the ‘factual’ position and the squeezed toothpaste all ‘misinformed.’ Expectation, a ‘narrative’ that’s sloughed to a less flattering reality.

And what I’m to take from all of this is, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

Just checking I get all of this straight before explaining to my 12 year old the consequence to following one’s heart.