I generally don’t write about politics anymore. Everything turns into a rant. I can’t help myself. But today, I can make an exception. Today is about our very own off-the-grid local politics. The community association is having their annual general meeting and, I have to say, I doubt that I could find a rant to express about it if my life depended on it. Our local politicians know how to do things. There is precious little to rant about.
Well, for me, anyway. Some people can rant over a bake sale and we have a few rebellious dissenters in the community who oppose what is going on now and then……..whatever it might be. But you can’t count them, the official Contrarian Party Opposed to Everything. They’d oppose a free lunch on the basis that it was a government-backed conspiracy and a rip-off (which it might be……..)!
Our community has about 250 people in it. It is defined by the islands encompassed by the Regional District’s somewhat casual reference to the outer islands. I am not sure we know exactly which islands are included because we have outer islands, ‘special islands’ and really way-out-there islands plus a few who live on the mainland. I think. Whatever.
It doesn’t really matter because never in the history of the area have all 250 people gathered in one spot. Or spoken as one. Or even spoken to one another. Not all of us – that is for sure. Plus the people are always changing. We haven’t a clue who belongs in the larger community.
General rule of thumb: if they are wearing gumboots and Thrift Store clothing, haven’t shaved in a week and can drop a few names we know into the conversation, they are in.
The actual, official Association is, of course, better defined. It even has a name and a newsletter. Those who have paid up membership are members of the Association. Except for those who can’t afford the membership (or balk at the concept of having to buy official membership in the community) in which case they are also allowed in under the hardship or official dissenter allowance.
But some people attend meetings anyway, membership or not. The reasons for that are myriad but free food is a major enticement. And no membership check is ever made. Those who ‘crash’ meetings are local, quite familiar and recognized as neighbourhood eccentrics. Some could just really use the meal.
And, basically, no one cares.
It didn’t use to be that way. In the past the Association had been, at times, a political hotbed. Arguments, divisions, factions hiving off, bad feeling……we had it all………..A lot of things said, feelings hurt, mental and spiritual scarring. It was ugly. The strong feelings over the rights of free range cattle almost started a civil war! (And there was only one cow and one horse at the centre of the controversy which was mostly resolved when the cow died. May she rest in peace)
But that era finally ran it’s course and, eventually, the current group took over and wisely confined their work to caring only for the community buildings. They are very responsible building stewards. But they resist expressing any other kind of opinion. If it isn’t work bees, operating hours or ‘get-togethers’, these guys are devoid of position and opinion. They are the embodiment of neutrality. Officially.
‘Course, they are also people. Individuals with local experience and biases, feelings and allegiances. The individual members have a history even if their role on the Association board forbids expressing it. It’s a struggle for some.
There is usually a personal mini-drama in the background on any subject but our guys are good; it rarely surfaces.
And that is the point. These folks are successful politicians. And they will likely all get voted in again. They just take care of community business and leave the rest of the initiatives, those hot potatoes that spring up now and again, to those who get involved in such things. Our guys try to remain at arms length from most things and just make sure the buildings don’t burn down.
It might be a political model long overdue.