Meet the Mayor
September 3, 2014
August 27, 2014. The International Symposium on Aging Resource Communities: Population Dynamics, Community Development and the Voluntary Sector. This was a big event for the little town of Tumbler Ridge with 17 PhDs from as far away as Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States, and from Canada: Trent University, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and our own University of Northern British Columbia.
Organized and hosted by the University of Northern British Columbia, this high-level symposium focused its considerable intellectual energy on a topic that, if it isn’t on your radar right now, if you live long enough to get old it will be very much on your radar: aging and coping with aging in rural and small-town environments where a significant element of voluntarism is essential to community health and well-being.
I brought away from the symposium two ideas: one old and the other new. The old idea is the principle of voluntarism and its importance to the health and vitality of the community no matter how old you are.
In Chetwynd we would not be the town we are without the vibrant volunteer spirit that blesses our community. I know if I start listing all the volunteer supports and organizations that keep our wheels turning I will miss many of them. So I won’t attempt a list; I will content myself with naming an organization and an activity that thrive on the spirit of voluntarism.
The Firefighters are one of the more visible volunteer organizations in Chetwynd. When we need them we need them now and they are there for us. I expect our relationship with the Firefighters will carry on for decades to come. Blessings on the Firefighters.
The other volunteers that I am thinking of just now are not organized like the Firefighters but they are essential to the development of our community image. They are the so-many volunteers that support our annual Chainsaw Carving event. The group of worldly wise and much-travelled professors stopped in Chetwynd enroute to Tumbler Ridge; the frazzled organizer earned her pay in dragging them back on the bus from the magnificent sculptures welcoming them to our home town. Without the volunteers: no carving event; nobody stopping to fill her camera with mementos of Chetwynd; Chetwynd not even a passing memory. Blessings on those who make our annual event a delightful memory for so many people passing through.
Now the new idea (new to me). It’s called Sheds for Men and it doesn’t mean a place for wives to quarantine unruly husbands. Sheds originated in Australia where 5000+ Sheds exist across the country. The idea is starting to take hold in Canada.
A Shed for Men is a place, it could be a warehouse or an unused shop or any other suitable space, where retired men gather to work on projects as diverse as refinishing an antique table or building a chronometer – something to give them a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor