Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 4, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Dr. P. Sainath – Fall Convocation 2017

 

Small is beautiful.

Four seemingly unrelated events have got me thinking… which is always a dangerous proposition. Last week (like most weeks in Antigonish), there was a dizzying array of events open to the public and most of them free.

On Tuesday evening, Jamie McDonald, aka “ Adventureman” held a small but very attentive crowd rapt at the People’s Place Library. Sadly, this is not our own Jamie MacDonald who plies his financial planning business on Main Street although Jamie has done some incredible work with the Main Street Fair during Highland Games.

The “other” Jamie is from England. Among other things, he has run across Canada and cycled from Thailand to England dodging bombs in Afghanistan. As a young boy, he was unable to walk as a result of rare medical condition. He was in town on a book tour (he had stayed in Antigonish a few years ago during his run). Lots of people have done similar runs for charity. What struck me were his comments about the kindness of strangers, especially in rural Canada. He was so well fed by Newfoundlanders that he managed to gain weight after running the equivalent of 20 marathons while traversing the province!

I trekked back to the library on Wednesday evening to witness the launch of The People’s Archive of Rural Nova Scotia. (www.parns.ca ) In many places around the globe, rural communities are dying. PARNS had been launched in Antigonish as a repository of stories, photos, audio tapes and videos of ordinary people. It’s sort of like Week45 on steroids! The concept was pioneered in India by Palagummi Sainath ( pictured above ), guest speaker at the event and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate at the Fall Convocation at St.F.X.We are bombarded every waking second of our lives with news and information, much of it soul destroying and destructive to the psyche. Wouldn’t you rather hear stories, or better still, tell stories about extraordinarily ordinary people in our own backyard? Check out the site.

On Thursday evening, I attended a meeting of the United Nations, otherwise known as the Coady Farewell. I was part of the “ Coady Neighbour” program and went to bid farewell to my new friend, Father Joseph, from Kerala, India. It was a colorful and moving ceremony. It was really interesting to hear the comments of Otgonchimeg Altangerel from Mongolia who gave her impressions of Antigonish since arriving here four and a half months ago.

In no particular order, here are some of the things that stood out for her: The Op Shop (!); The ESL Friendship Café; The Farmer’s Market; Cultural Connections (Potluck); The Antigonish Art Fair; AHA! (Arts Health Antigonish). She also remarked that Antigonish embraces those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

“Coady Rising.”

I think that this would make a good title for a book. The Coady institute has been in our midst for almost 60 years (1959). While the Coady influence is probably better appreciated in many countries around the world than it is in Antigonish, it seems to me that in the past 5 years or so, something quite remarkable has been happening in Antigonish. We seem to be morphing into a real multi-cultural community and I attribute most of this to the influence of the Coady which is becoming hard wired into our community’s psyche. More and more events have an international flavour. It could be argued that the Coady influence is helping us become more tolerant, not only to strangers from far flung corners of the world, but also our First Nations people who are right in our back yards.

On Friday night, I drove out to the Heatherton Community Center as one of the performers at a fundraiser for the group home located in Heatherton. I arrived half an hour before the start time to “get my game face on.”! Not really. All I was doing was reading one of my Christmas stories. I was shocked to see the parking lot three quarters full. By show time, there wasn’t an empty seat to be had in the converted gymnasium.

I am not a curmudgeon (?) but I am rarely infused with the “Christmas Spirit.” I won’t go into my commercialism rant. But it was hard not to feel joy watching residents of the group home perform their own Christmas magic. There was lots of great music and tea and cookies at the intermission. Hats off to Brenda Berkvens and her team for reminding us about the important things in life.

So, what is the common thread in these four disparate events? The importance of community, especially small, rural communities. We mustn’t let them die. They are the real deal.

#Rural Communities Matter.

Have a great week.

Reminder. Christmas book sale. Three books $25.00 + shipping. Regular $55. value. Message me or send me an e-mail at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com

 

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