Opinion Letters

Letter: Let the sunshine in

Pete Bowen is shown during the Sunshine Initiative's public forum in this file photo. The group's Citizens' Forum will take place Nov. 25. (PACKET & TIMES FILES)

Pete Bowen is shown during the Sunshine Initiative's public forum in this file photo. The group's Citizens' Forum will take place Nov. 25. (PACKET & TIMES FILES)

There’s no doubt most citizens of Orillia see issues and opportunities facing our city that they wish “somebody” would do “something” about. We’re not unusual. Many ordinary people across the country and around the world are the same in this respect. Some of us never get past that stage, but others get engaged and do something.

For example, somebody recognized a lack of public seating in an area of New York City. They went out and bought a bunch of cheap plastic chairs and created an instant public sitting space. People flocked to the area and enjoyed having a place just to sit. In the Netherlands, some creative soul willing to take a risk pioneered the concept of “woonerf,” meaning “living yard,” where there is no practical distinction between a sidewalk and a street. In these zones, pedestrian life spills out into the street, and cars move very slowly. In Paris, recognizing the long-time lack of public toilets, somebody finally initiated the installation of 400 small, automated, self-cleaning, street-level washrooms. The German town of Andernach (Orillia-sized) turned vacant lots and other unused land into an urban farm, producing large quantities of food within the city walls free for the taking. Folks in Nelson, B.C., created the Nelson Community Solar Garden Project, Canada’s first community solar garden installation where they use “virtual net-metering” to showcase how people can support renewable energy projects in their community. Closer to home, in Toronto’s Dufferin Grove Park, a few local activists have created opportunities to grow, cook and serve healthy food and bring people together.

Not that Orillians don’t think and act along these lines — we do! Last year, a small group of Orillians started the Cup of Sugar campaign to help neighbours in need. But there are a hundred more issues and opportunities just waiting for someone to step forward and say, “Let’s do it!”

This is what the Orillia Sunshine Initiative’s Citizens’ Forum is all about. Citizens who want to see Orillia become an even better place to live, work and play will gather on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 25, to share their ideas and start organizing. The forum will focus on what citizens of Orillia really care about, such as making their community happier, healthier, safer, cleaner, more knowledgeable, more artistic, more connected, more caring, more equal, and more protective of our natural environment.

Little ideas, big ideas, transformative ideas — all will be welcome and all will be heard. The forum will take place at St. James’ Anglican Church, 12 to 5 p.m. Snacks will be provided at noon and throughout the afternoon. There’s no charge, but spaces are limited. Participants register at sunshineinitiative2017.eventbrite.ca.

Gordon Ball


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