Every Wednesday in the summer starting in late Spring, a few of the local women run a coffee shop on the community dock for a few hours. The regularly scheduled gathering is coincided with the doctor’s visits every two weeks and the regular mail-plane delivery. It is always well attended as it is the only socializing mechanism that comes regularly and does NOT have an agenda.
We gather often enough when there’s an issue that needs addressing but, generally speaking, casual encounters are exceptions in an area of 250 square miles that hosts just under 250 people. If I am out on the water, I am unlikely to see anyone to chat with. When I am up at the main community ‘area’, if there is no mail plane or Wednesday coffee, there are no other people. We are remote, after all. So, if ya wanna see some local folks in a social-like setting, Wednesday ‘dock-day’ is the right time.
And it is a very important thing to do…..some folks are even older than me and more than just a few are single. A little socializing helps keep a lid on the tendency to ‘bush-madness’ that often afflicts the lonely, remote and isolated. And, as a rule, everyone has a touch of being ‘bushed’ by deepest, darkest February. Winter is when it sets in.
But, of course, the dock and outdoor coffee-and-a-scone scene doesn’t play out so well in winter storms, rain, and bleak afternoons. We have been stopping the Wednesday dock day usually by the end of September, give or take.
But then it dawned on us – that makes no sense….winter is when it is NEEDED.
And so, this past Wednesday was the first day of the winter coffee shop set in the warmth and embrace of the community-built ‘bunkhouse’ that is more like a real house (tho made in the ‘island style’ with cedar board-and-batten and rustic everything else).
And it poured like hell on Wednesday. It was a deluge. But there we were, Sal and our house guests and me amongst the locals having coffee. Socializing. We went for the ‘cafe opening’ but we also got our flu shots and got to introduce our city friends to the locals. It was good. It was very good.
The best part? We figured maybe 40 to 50 people showed up. Maybe more. Many came for the flu-shots but all stayed for the coffee and/or soup and cookies on sale. It was a very Norman Rockwellian scene with dogs, roaring fire, great food and everyone mingling about.
But – as it turns out – there WAS also an agenda…………………….
As you know, we have a community area, a town centre, as it were, but without a town. Or even a centre. What we have as the locus of our gatherings is the post office on the dock and, of course, the dock and floating cafe’ – in the summertime. But, that is all located down at the seafront. You have to trek a few hundred yards further up hill to get to the school (12 kids, two rooms, one teacher) and the juxtaposed gymnasium and mini-clinic (120 sft) to get to the rest of the ‘town’. Trudge another forty feet or so and you get to the ‘Bunkhouse’, the basic meeting-place for any real community business.
And….that’s it! Mostly.
But….one former resident donated five acres to the community some years back and that five acres is right next door to the bunkhouse. Then another neighbour added 20 acres more – right next door. AND the regional district just bought seven acres which we will have the most ‘planning and use’ influence on. The school playground is right across from the school and abuts those seven acres. We are, in effect, consolidating a small ‘village’ area that is contiguous from the ocean to well past the bunkhouse. And then………
….one of the locals offered up 20 more acres for a very reasonable price ($150K) and one of our committed and generous neighbours immediately offered up $50K to ‘add’ that 20 acres to the community’ – contingent, of course, on the rest of us chipping in the balance. Sal and I ponied up what we could and so did a few others and about half of the purchase price is now obtained. We are gonna expand the village lands.
Expanding from land acquisition to village developers is quite another hurdle…we’ll see how that goes.
So, now we are now begging for donations. See: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lot-302-purchase-read-island-bc utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet
If the link doesn’t work, just search Google for: Go Fund Me Lot 302 Read Island.
“Dave! Why would I send money to buy land for a remote community?”
Well, there is no GOOD reason to do that for you or anyone, really. I think we all know that. But a weak-kneed, pathetic answer is: the land we control (now over 47 acres contiguous) will be offered up as ‘village land’ in some sort of way. I envision (but do not make the decision) that we will lease camping spots or small-cabin sites on the first 7 acres of waterfront to those who may wish to be part of our community in some meaningful way even if it is just summertime use. The donation doesn’t entitle you to anything except a tax donation receipt and a kept-in-the-loop status as to how that grand vision is progressing.
“Dave! Are YOU asking for money?”
I am NOT (I hate asking for money) but the community asked us all to ‘put the word out’ for the sake of the community and my blog was specifically cited as an example of that (So, yeah. I AM asking for money). All I can say is that, “If you have any interest in this kind of OTG thing, you might want to consider it. No one is taking one red cent for anything except the purchase price. No admin. No salaries.”
End result….? Don’t know. It is NOT the end yet.