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General News · 14th October 2020
Noba Anderson
Prelude:
First, I strongly encourage you to participate in tomorrow’s (October 15) Regional District public hearing for the Rainbow Ridge community housing project at 2 pm. Please join if you can on line at https://srd.ca/meetnow Via telephone: 1-844-636-6317 (toll free) Conference ID: 520 470 or in person at Manson's Hall (maximum capacity 22 people). As you will read below, the immensely growing housing pressures are being felt by so many here, and this proposed housing project is a long-worked for effort.

Second, the Strathcona Regional District and I will be going to court, hopefully next month. I can say little more at this time other than what I shared in my affidavit a few months ago. See https://www.cortesisland.com/tideline/show13008a5s/Taking_the_Regional_District_to_Court and https://cortescurrents.ca/regional-director-noba-anderson-is-suing-the-srd/

And so...
There is no way around the reality that these are indeed transformative times. To be so distanced from each other, surrounded by smoke, to know in our bones that climate change is knocking on the doors of our lives...to witness the unrest... And so those of us with the luxury to do so, grow gardens, and put food away for winter.

On a very personal note, I am climbing out of the grief into which I fell after the mid-summer passing of my father. This grief opened in me the door to the grief of the world, the grief of Mother Earth, the grief of humanity in these times of chaos and uncertainty, the grief of things very personal not being the way the small ‘I’ wishes they were.

Many of us are experiencing parallel inner journeys, struggling to know where to best put our energies and finding many things harder than usual. Those who look to the stars say that this is indeed an almost unparalleled intense and difficult time. However, it is indeed more important than ever that we continue to pull together, to put our collective energy where it will serve the highest. As a community leader, I am deeply reflecting on how to direct my energies in service of this place, and our collective wellbeing, in these unprecedented times.

So I called together some of my dearest advisors, some of our island’s biggest picture thinkers, who hold all of you and this place we share in their hearts. I asked them three questions. Here is what I heard.

1. How are you - really? (Knowing that if we can share honestly, we will have some sense of the collective.)
What I heard is that there is still a foundational gratitude for the life we have chosen here, a simpler and quieter one, one more connected to the growing of food, to the earth, to spirit and to each other. However, on top of that gratitude, which at other times is less fettered, is now a pervasive sense of disquiet. The inability to connect in person is wearing. There is a re-evaluation of personal priorities and turning more inward to spiritual pursuits. Many are feeling grief and exhaustion, especially given there is no clear ‘end’ in sight. Not knowing what to expect, experiencing the day-to-day as chaotic, some are able to do only what is in front of them and struggle to hold the big community picture. Some spoke of waking mid-sentence, as if from a 6 month time-out-of-time disorientation, and trying to pick up where they left off in March.

2. What are you noticing? What do we need to pay attention to that is relevant to our island home?
Housing was the most predominant answer. There is more housing pressure and demand that ever before. Here is what you are noticing.
- More people are coming here and wanting to come; largely resourced urban folk.
- School-aged or recently graduated youth are home, by choice and by circumstance, and in many cases looking to stay, but no longer in their parent’s houses.
- An increase in work and schooling mobility is exacerbating the situation.
- Some seasonal home owners who would rent out their homes in the winter are now here, no longer wanting to be in the city.
- Other seasonal home owners who would rent out their homes are holding onto them as a future escape.
- There are almost no properties listed for sale. Those that are selling are largely by private sale and some places are being bought sight unseen, some for a very pretty penny.
- More people are showing up in our harbours preparing to live on their boats for the winter.
- Demand is very high to live in any accommodation including RVs and fifth-wheels. Some are willing to pay summer rates all winter.
- Home owners are more reluctant to rent out their homes given increased tenant rights.

An artificial local economic abundance was also acutely noticed by many. It is noted that we have experienced a short-term economic boom, and that the island’s financial situation is better now than expected. This boom has largely been due to government cash supports as well as a re-direction of spending within the region as people are neither traveling nor spending in the ways they usually do. Some people have not needed to work because of CERB benefits and others are choosing on-line subsidized schooling options given the lack of employment in their chosen fields. The economy is in a very strange state and people are wondering when this phase will end, and how. There is also concern that we have even further delayed the inevitable economic down-turn and that recent government borrowing will need to be paid off at the expense of the earth. On the upside, local sales have been better than ever, including of locally grown produce.

People’s mental wellbeing is of concern as we notice a rise in alcohol sales and an increase in both property theft and domestic violence. And as we now move towards winter with fewer good outdoor gathering options, we need to make all the more effort to stay well.

Valuing our youth is also on people’s hearts. There is concern that we are vilifying our youth for being with each other, youth who developmentally need more social connection and are not the generation that created this mess. A call emerged to be kinder to our young people and to put them at the centre of our community decision-making. Some who have returned home are up for being involved in a new way.

People are turning to spirit, to personal development and to nature in these intense times where sense-making is strained. What in this moment in history would not be a waste of our time? The need for inner contemplation and the value of creating refuge are rising in people’s awareness.

The broken governance structures at all levels of electoral politics (US Federal to our own Regional District) is of great concern. This unease is leading to a renewed call for a local island alternative and/or complementary structure.

3. With insight into how we are doing and what we are noticing, how can we support community wellbeing this coming winter season?

Three primary themes emerged – indeed the last two noted above (gathering with deep intention and, the creation of a local Resident’s Association) as well as the acute need for covered, open-air gathering spaces. There are a number of locations where these could be built, either quick and temporary or otherwise, on community owned land or even in centrally located places on private land. These spaces, with some kind of wood stove or heat lamps, could be offered for people to gather informally and formally. I encourage all land-owning groups and local business to consider how to erect such spaces, spaces that would indeed support both of the next suggestions.

The notion of a local Residents’ Association again rose to the forefront as a needed umbrella under which every resident can have an effective voice on local issues. The notion here is that this Association would then advocate for local issues at every level of government and outside agency as well as help mobilize local efforts where needed. I expect that you will be seeing more on this from some of your neighbours over the weeks and months to come.

The third suggested action in support of community wellbeing is the creation of spaces to gather, mostly through small in-person groups, where what is closest to our hearts can be shared. It was strongly suggested that we hibernate this winter from the structures though which we are accustomed to working and instead make spaces through which to share spirit and soul. How can we come together with intention and care for each other? How can we gather with good effort to discuss what is most important in these times? I invite you to both create and join such offerings this winter season.

I truly wish you all the love and gratitude and grace that you can find and share with each other in these extraordinary times of planetary transformation.

All my love, Noba Anderson
Regional Director
directorcortesisland.com, 250-935-0320