The BC Recreation and Parks Association held its annual symposium recently and, yet again, a raft of information was shared amongst some 300 or so delegates comprised of programmers to managers to elected officials, plus everyone in between. In some cases, I believe smaller centres such as ours can benefit more as they listen to what their peers are doing in that seething mass of humanity called the Lower Mainland. In some ways, I believe we have the advantage as programmers and facility operators in the Kootenays (and many other smaller centres) since we tend to do a lot more varied duties to move our departments forward. Often, there may be only one or two in a particular department and frequently significantly fewer resources. It was pretty apparent though; no one is sitting around with their feet up on the desk, as many of the obstacles and challenges were the same whether you were in a huge municipality or not.
Somewhat related (squirrel!) was an interesting was a news story I caught out the corner of my eye during some downtime about a Just Say Hello campaign a group in the Lower Mainland was promoting. Basically it was to encourage people to take the time to say hello to a stranger to try and develop an increased awareness and friendliness in the area.
Bizarre to me, but perfectly understandable, this is one of the intangibles that comes with living in a small community; in fact, if you are walking down main street here and someone doesn’t say hello or give a nod, you begin to wonder what’s wrong. Often I find it’s something simple like your shirt is on inside out or your fly is open, but we all know if you are in a major centre and start smiling and saying hello to everyone in the mall, you get some pretty weird looks. I wish them luck in the campaign — the one challenge will be getting people to look up from their phones and take out their ear buds to actually acknowledge.
While it is a positive factor for me about small town living, I know other people occasionally might like an “I’d like to just get a jug of milk without talking to everyone” campaign. Ask yourself though — what are you going to remember at the end of the day, getting milk or perhaps sharing a conversation with friends and acquaintances?
So, as mentioned, at the conference there was a lot of information presented pertinent to the well-being of our communities, some of which hopefully you will find interesting once I gather all the thoughts together. Some key topics revolved around physical literacy in our lives, social media challenges, building diverse and resilient communities, creating remarkable experiences for our patrons and so on. We look forward to continuing improvement!
Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.