Letter: Meeting Place Applauded For Taking On Building Social Capital Project

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One of the great opportunities my work provides me is the introduction to people and concepts that are powerful, intriguing and human-focused; all the things that easily capture my attention. After attending the Meeting Place Open House on October 23rd, I reflected on the informative presentation on a two year Community Development Project to support “creative resources for residents working in a seasonal economy.” 

It was January of 2009 that I took part in the same dialogue on a much more informal way so the topic was not new to me. Last week, the general discussion was somewhat limited because so many stakeholders (employees and business owners) were not present. Fortunately, the majority of our Council attended and participated in the discussions with those who spoke clearly and directly to the issues.

My husband and I were moved by some of the negative statistics that are a result of the booming tourist industry in our little village. I came home and looked at the book on my desk: Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family. Written by Bob Chapman (founder of Truly Human Leadership) and Raj Sisodia (Co-founder of Conscious Capitalism) it tells the story of the dramatic impact these principles have on not only people but entire communities. After all, what is a community or village if not the sum of the people who live and work in it. To say that the welfare of a few is insignificant is to assume a position of insensitivity to humanity. We are all connected whether we acknowledge that reality or not.

I wondered if somewhere in our expansive Municipality there were enough voices from every sector that might come together and get very curious about what’s possible. So many people on both sides of the fence are already doing as much as they can. And there is still a gap that is causing financial, physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual deficits for some.

What if the somewhat hidden challenges that some of our neighbours and community groups are facing could be discussed openly and respectfully with an Outcome Focus that didn’t ‘rescue’ anyone rather ‘empowered’ them to be resilient? What if the organizations that are currently negatively affected by these ‘problems’ – our Day Care, the Food Bank, Service Clubs, Churches, the Outreach Program, the Clinic, our School, etc. – had tools to support people struggling instead of putting out fires without any long term solutions? What if those of us (myself included) could put aside any ‘critical stories’ that we have or might make about why ‘things’ aren’t working and start seeing everyone as deserving of a good quality of life?

I don’t have the answers and boy do I wish I did. What I do know is that there are an overwhelming number of people in this community who care deeply for its inhabitants. They love the people, the place and all that it has come to mean for myself and so many of us who are not home grown locals. 

I sincerely applaud the tireless Board, Staff and Volunteers of The Meeting Place for taking on this important project in building Social Capital. They have a unique process used successfully in BPDS recently that brings all voices to the issue. And, they have a steep climb to encourage those facing the difficult realities of seasonal work to step forward, overcome their insecurities and tell their truths. At the same time, there is so much room for business owners, retirees and new folks like me who bring their wealth of knowledge to this area to contribute to the conversation and engage in community building. It has been said that a rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s see what can happen when empathy and compassion override judgement, lack of awareness and apathy. 

To join the project and be part of something extraordinary, contact The Meeting Place by phone or email.

 Daryl Wood, 

Eagle Road, Tobermory