In a year that hasn’t had much to recommend it on the world stage, the Creston Valley has continued to meander along at its own pace, largely unaffected by global events. And that, as much as anything, is what so many of us find so endearing about this wonderful place we call home.
As other people wage war against one another, Creston area residents find little ways to disagree. But for the most part we are a remarkably tolerant and astonishingly generous community. That attribute was reinforced, as it is each year, when I dropped in on the Christmas hamper packing at Creston and District Community Complex last week. With tears in his eyes, Pastor Carl Sawler spoke of the overwhelming support the Creston Valley Ministerial Association receives in its efforts to smooth out the rough edges of life for the large numbers of people it helps throughout the year.
As the world economy stumbles and bumbles along, and signs grow that citizens in dozens of countries are fed up with the growing disparity between the very wealthy and, well, everyone else, we in the Kootenays continue to find ways to just make do. In Creston we hear rumours that one or both of our sawmills might be in precarious condition, and that the brewery could be facing large cutbacks. And then we remember that we have been hearing the same thing for, well, as long as the sawmills and brewery have been major employers. We understand that some things will inevitably change, not always for the best, but that we are resilient and passionate about this beautiful little corner of the province.
As much of the rest of the world is inundated with popular culture that panders to the lowest common denominator, we in Creston find our amusement in countless smaller ways. Thanks to the tireless and selfless efforts of volunteers, we enjoy concerts and stage productions at the Snoring Sasquatch and Prince Charles Theatre, movies at the Tivoli and Creston and District Public Library, and art shows in just about any place that has walls. We thrill to an ever-increasing number of artists who find more and more ways to express themselves and share their creativity with the broader community. Thirty years ago I wrote about this sentiment and repeated it recently to friends — I never cease to be amazed at how hard so many people work to keep me entertained. And I never cease to be grateful.
As the planet’s obscenely large population continues to grow, and the production of food is left more and more to industrial, multi-national corporations, Creston residents bask in the knowledge that more and more of our food is being supplied locally, by small producers who are committed more to quality than profit. The Creston Valley Farmers’ Market has grown like Topsy, as has the number of people who visit it each week, picking up fresh food and getting a greater appreciation about where their food comes from and who produces it. As a bonus, we get to enjoy a coffee, entertainment, the works of artisans and, most importantly, the chance to socialize with friends and neighbours.
As many societies become more insular and less tolerant, we are home to an increasingly diverse population. Even when we might not agree with our neighbours’ beliefs and practices, we still remember that they are people who shop in our stores, go to our library, work and volunteer beside us, breathe the same air and drink the same water.
Like the commercial that boasts “We are Canadian”, we can make a similar statement, that “We are Crestonian” (or Crestonite, if you prefer). We have a large proportion of residents who make this their home, knowing full well that they could be more financially successful elsewhere. But elsewhere doesn’t have the climate that allows us to enjoy four moderate seasons, or the views that combine mountains, farmland, water and wetlands, or five-minute drives that take us to just about anything we need, or the luxury of stepping out of our doorways and enjoying clean air and a pace that city folks would die for.
From all of us at the Advance, each of who appreciate our good fortune to be working in a business we love, comes a wish for our readers to enjoy good health and happiness in the coming year.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.