To Rossland, our Haven: I apologize for the ripple in paradise

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
October 22nd, 2014

It’s beautiful, and you know it. Rossland is a paradise for people who love the outdoors and each other.

The schools and teachers are great, and the community overflows with creative talent and innovative educational opportunities. Just check out the kids.

The public works is well stocked with tools and skilled people, with fast emergency response and organized work plans. Check out the snow removal.

Local backyard gardeners pump out crazily delicious, healthy vegetables and fruits, and there’s even the odd crazy herder like the Kerby’s, Scott’s, or that bum who squats land.

The breadth of people’s skills are mind-blowing, from legal to real estate, from medical to structural, from inventor to entrepreneur.

These are hallmarks of a town that is bursting with opportunity.

I can go on, to take just one example: The hometown trails are amazing, from the heritage of horses, to world class cross-country tracks and downhill runs, to epics for bikes..built by volunteers and donations, with love.

Check out Ryan Kuhn’s recent letter: well crafted, but moreover a good sign of how this town works. In the face of a growing conflict, Ryan opens a conversation with users and builders on appropriate trail use. That’s democracy in action.

And that’s the volunteer spirit: take the Thrift Store, or the legion of club and church fundraisers, or the Farmer’s Market, or the Fall Fair, or monumental events from Golden City Days to the Huckenberry Jam. Everyone together makes Rossland beautiful, including chastised mayors who have also done much good for this town.

We need bread on the table; we all have to earn a living. For that, we’re thankful to Trail, Castlegar, Nelson, and all the towns of our region. We are fortunate that large industries, tourism, and legacy funds like CBT bring money to our region to mutually support local businesses and community initiatives.

Better yet, more and more people are coming here with new eyes for the future, eyes that see a thriving local economy with many cottage, small, and medium businesses working together to fill the shelves and offer the services our community desires, and in ways that make us feel good about doing the right thing.

These people see even better schools, trails, and services in the future, and even more opportunities to make a satisfying living close to home with nearby resources.

People move here to find that vital edge between rural and city, the confluence of nature and society, the balance between work and play.

Like everywhere in the American West, this town is young. Just seven generations ago, Rossland was an old forest resting on the flanks of old hills, with people who lived lives that were in many ways more embedded in the landscape.

Today, a new wave of energy is building behind new dreams as people, young and old, see that it is possible to integrate our modern, high-tech lives with livelihoods that are once again embedded, rooted, in the limited reality of planet Earth and all its beings.

Rossland is full of these visionaries, in all walks of life and with all sets of skills—what an asset for a community that, for some, is on a journey to supply more and more of its own needs from local resources and local businesses.

The town’s artists are the jewel in the crown. How often they make me step back and admire the beauty of Rossland: great maples tended for a century and apples in old trees; A creek through town and a watershed thick with water and young forest. I’s a treasure of true riches, the kind that money can’t buy.

And so I reflect on Rossland to preface an apology.

To some, I mired the town’s harmony with a recent political opinion piece. I stand by the basic facts and my personal observations, but the tactics were very direct. Perhaps too direct? I intended to upset a candidate running for re-election, not your peace of mind, so if I did, I am sorry.

I am also sorry for any misinterpretation of my opinion as “news.” I believe in the split between news and comment, and (when I used to report) I worked hard to stick to the facts and straight news.

Journalists and pundits allow biases (we all have them) to find expression in “comments,” a.k.a. opinion pieces. News stories report facts that are used to build cases we make in a comment that shapes a point of view.

In advance of our elections, the goals of my comment were achieved: I wanted to remind the electorate that several key decisions with detrimental outcomes were made behind closed doors with murky procedures under Greg Granstrom’s leadership. I observed that part of the problem was his aggressive tactics in council that appeared to steer several of these sparticular outcomes.

Perhaps most of all, I hoped the opinion would spark interest in casting ballots on Nov. 15, no matter how they’re cast.

Democracy requires participation. When people participate, no matter how they participate, it makes an important difference to democracy.

One aspect of our current, admittedly imperfect system that approximates democracy, is voting now and again. It’s imperfect, but it is still meaningful, this act of a community coming together to decide who will make decisions on how to spend city money, time, and effort.

The city is in the hands of seven people, each with a vote around the council table. One of them is the mayor. Six of them are councillors. We want our representatives to hear us and respond to us. So vote!

To that end, tomorrow night at the Old Fire Hall, 7 pm: Beers and Ballots. Spend three minutes with each candidate on the ballot, speed candi-dating.

For mayor: Jill Spearn or Kathy Moore

For councillors: Aaron Cosbey, Lloyd Mclellan, John Greene, Andrew Zwicker, Marten Kruysse, Andy Morel, Tim Thatcher, Greg Granstrom.

I won’t be there, unfortunately, but I’ll back in time for Nov. 15 to vote. Why? Because Rossland is a haven of beautiful nature and wonderful people. May it thrive for seven generations to come.

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed

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