Tag: Times-Colonist

Praise the Press

May 2020

Hard to believe it has been a whole year since we picked up these two mischief-makers. They have certainly brightened our lives for the past twelve months and I’m so glad we got them in 2019. In 2020 it would have been impossible to jump in the car and drive across four provinces just to collect “free” kittens.  Another change in our “normal.”

May 2019

As we head into “after lockdown,” I’m reflecting on what has encouraged me during these past weeks. The calico cats are high on the list, as is my dh, my neighbours and my church — even though services have been virtual instead of in-person.

I’m also grateful to my local newspaper. When everything else stopped, my Victoria Times-Colonist arrived at the end of the driveway six days a week. I read it over breakfast before confronting a day that was weird and uncomfortable. The T-C, as we like to call it, kept me in touch with my neighbourhood. It told me what was open and what was closed. It published the daily epidemic figures. It published letters to the editor, just like before. It carried the funnies and syndicated columns to remind us of how life used to be.

Finally, the newspaper spearheaded a “Rapid Relief Fund,” raising over a million dollars in two days for distribution to those in need in our community. Over  time they raised six million dollars for food banks, housing, kids charities, seniors needs, and anyone struggling just to get by. It was a wonderful effort, strongly supported by large and small donors throughout the area. In an age when printed newspapers are considered a relic of the past, our local paper glued us together in a way no on-line service could. When I read the paper, I was reading about my neighbourhood.

I confess, I do like a newspaper. Heck, I even subscribe to the weekly from my old home town. The news there consists largely of who had the highest score at bridge or euchre and where all the church suppers are located. I just renewed for three years. This paper speaks to me of daily life in a small town. Births, deaths, marriages, anniversaries — they are all recorded and they connect us, one neighbour to another, kind of like extended family.

I may have a bias toward the printed paper. My great-grandfather was a newspaper man. I never met him but I have an old trunk that comes from him. It’s little more than a box, really and was how he ordered paper. It is big enough to contain  10 reams, or one bale of printers paper. It is a wooden box with a hinged lid, a lockable clasp, leather handles on both ends and is covered in very thin leather. It always makes me smile.

When I was a child it was used as a dress-up box, and it lived in my closet. After I left home, it became a treasure chest for my nieces.  Then they too grew up and the old chest came to live in my new home. Since I’ve no need for a dress up box, I now use it to store paper. I have a sense of rightness that the old battered box has come full circle.

Now, as we come out of lockdown and the world is opening up, I tip my hat to the local newspapers who kept folks connected with their home town, who lifted our spirits and still keep working to make sense of the world we live in.

What about you, dear reader? Do you read your hometown paper? Do you prefer your news on-line?

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Civic Privilege

I’m writing this blog while on duty for the provincial election. Our church is a polling station and a member of the congregation must be present at all times.  It’s a small duty.  I need to show people where the washrooms are and where we keep the coffee cups.  In an extreme case, I can shut off the water and electricity.  I’m playing a very small role in public life and I’m glad to do it.  High school social studies courses talk about “civic duty,” but I’m inclined to call it “civic privilege.”  I’m blessed to live in a land with a free vote, a free press and freedom of assembly, among other things.  I’m honoured to contribute to that society.

Another example of civic privilege occurred in our city this weekend with the Times-Colonist book sale.  For the past twenty years our local newspaper has organized a gigantic used book sale.  Members of the public are encouraged to clear out their unwanted books and donate them to the sale.  An army of volunteers unpacks them, sorts them, lays them out on tables and returns forgotten photos or stashes of money found between the covers.  The proceeds of the sale go to literacy programs in area schools.

It all began as a one-off idea by a concerned citizen, worried about cuts in the education budget.  The newspaper editor agreed.  Expecting only a few boxes, he offered to store them in his office until sale day.  It wasn’t long until he realized his mistake.  When the paper published a request for used books they were overwhelmed by the response.  Tens of thousands of volumes appeared on their doorstep.  That first sale raised $20,500.00.  Over it’s life-time the sale has raised $5,000,000.00 for local schools and reading programs. 

Not only do schools receive a generous cheque, the day after the sale teachers are invited to come in and scoop up the leftovers for free.  (Books sell for $1.00, $2.00 and $3.00)  After the teachers, local charity stores stock up their shelves.  This year the city police department came in and made off with a few bundles of free reading for prisoners in the cells.  What can’t be sold is sent to an international charity that donates books around the world.  My old coffee table book may end up in a mission school in Africa.

The one-off idea failed.  The book sale is now a feature of our community life.  The local curling club has become the sorting/selling hub of the enterprise.  An army of volunteers plans their vacations around the book sale.  New friendships are forged, old acquaintances renewed, and books get into the hands of readers.  It’s a win/win/win for everyone.  It couldn’t happen without good citizens, people who step up to fill a need, people who get behind a great idea, people who make a difference.

So, as I donate a little time to ensure my civic privileges, I’m proud to be part of such a caring, sharing, and responsible community.  Happy voting, everyone.

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