There are times when things come together in such a way as to make you feel downright optimistic. Shining through the miasma of doubt and cynicism and bad vibes (to coin a phrase), there comes a sense that good things are actually happening in this depressing world of ours. Looking through this week’s issue, I realised that this is one of those times. There are pages and pages of information about local businesses providing needed services in our community. So many, in fact, that we had to do a special pull-out section just for them.
What does this mean? To me, it means that we have, in North Grenville and surrounding areas, an incredible range of expertise and experience and it shows that we don’t have to go far to find the services we need. I think I always assumed that there were a few businesses, a few tradespeople and professionals we could call on at various times. But now I know better. Now I know how rich we are, not just in home improvement, but in so many other areas too.
It is not only a wonderful surprise, it’s also a great relief that so many individuals and businesses, big and small, have continued to thrive and grow in our community. Sometimes it seemed as though the multinationals and large corporations had squeezed them all out of business completely. This underlines the need and the logic of shopping locally, of supporting our neighbours and friends in their business operations. We don’t have the excuse that these services aren’t available here. Steve Jonsson, owner of Your Independent Grocer in the Kemptville Mall, has won a Gold Category Award from Foodland Ontario for the second year in a row. We have top-class, locally-owned businesses on our doorstep.
On top of the special pull-out section, we have the Shop Local Showcase coming to the Municipal Centre on Saturday. Aside from the unfortunate grammar (it should be “locally”, but I think I have to give up being pedantic about that!), this is another example of how energetic and visionary our local businesses can be. Anne Kotlarchuk, organiser and dynamo behind the showcase, is herself a prime example of the kind of entrepreneur we have in our midst. We want a sustainable North Grenville, and that means more than just ecological sustainability. It means that we need to ensure that, should we ever find it hard to drive to Ottawa, or some other location, we have the facilities here to carry us through. The local economy ultimately depends upon a healthy local business community, offering the services and choices that make it an attractive place to live.
Speaking of sustainable, we have the North Grenville Sustainability Fair & Market coming to us on Sunday. What a weekend for North Grenville! Here we have another local organisation taking a long-term and intelligent look at our society and providing ideas – and practical ones, too – as to how we as a community thrive and grow in a truly green and growing manner. Local artists, musicians, businesses and restaurants coming together to present electric vehicles, projects for kids, eye-opening insights into possibilities and potentialities: all put together by volunteers interested and committed to their community.
Volunteers! Another wonderful aspect of this week’s issue is the fact that it marks Volunteer Week in Canada. This year’s theme is: Volunteers are the roots of strong communities, and the Prime Minister, in his statement for Volunteer Week, also stresses that “volunteers are at the heart of healthy and resilient communities”. I think nowhere in this country is that more true than in North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford. We have known and celebrated for many years the incredible work done by our friends and neighbours in making our communities places worth living in. I hope this awareness will become widespread, especially among younger people and new residents in the area. We need you to carry on this great tradition, to continue providing the selfless and time-consuming efforts of those who have paid their dues over many years and are now ready to step back and let others carry on.
My goodness, even the Municipality are giving off good vibrations these days. We have had the BDO Report on the future of Kemptville College, a report that, while still a little vague and full of qualifications, gives credit to the municipal staff who have shown unusual vision and imagination in drawing up a plan for what the future of the College might be in its second century.
I am not the kind who calls everything “fantastic” and “a great success” when it isn’t. We’ve had too much boosterism like that, where we’re prepared to praise to the sky anything local, just because it is local. But, in this case, there is no need for hyperbole, no need to exaggerate the situation. We, as a community, can bask in the glow this weekend, celebrating a community that is awake, eager to take on the future, and willing to play a role in saving, not the planet in a general way, but this place we call home, these people we call friends and neighbours.
Support your neighbours. Shop locally, use local services. Keep your money in the neighbourhood. Volunteer. I’m picking up good vibrations