ASK Salt Spring Retrospective on this Friday
By GAYLE BAKER
ASK SALT SPRING
Would you like to hear answers from all of of our elected officials? You will have that opportunity at an ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering this Friday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by simply emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for the link.
By joining us, you will be able to ask MP Elizabeth May, MLA Adam Olsen, CRD’s Gary Holman, and our Islands Trust trustees, Laura Patrick and Peter Grove, questions and participate in discussions of the Salt Spring issues that matter most to you.
An ASK Salt Spring Retrospective. . . As this ASK Salt Spring opportunity approaches, it makes sense to recap challenges, traditions and highlights of its first 18 months. Every Friday, Salt Springers have gathered to ask questions, listen to those of others, and participate in respectful conversations about Salt Spring concerns and hopes. While a variety of special guests are welcomed the fourth Friday of every month, elected officials join us from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every month: Adam Olsen, the first Friday; Gary Holman, the second Friday; and Laura Patrick, the third Friday.
Called by one participant “the best moving poker game in town,” ASK Salt Spring has been challenged by the pandemic, moving from its comfortable location in the Thrifty Florist Shop to idyllic summer Fridays under the apple trees in the United Church Meadow, rainy summer Fridays in the windy Portlock Picnic Pavilion, verdant luxury in the Foxglove Nursery greenhouse, and — when protocols demanded — to Zooming about together.
• That glorious Friday last summer when Elizabeth May chose ASK Salt Spring as her first outing after all of our months of isolation;
• The Friday when 49 showed up to ask the Emcon managers about our roads maintenance. While one manager told us that he had been expecting pitchforks, islanders left well-informed and much happier, armed with the number to call when problems arose: 866-353-3136.
• The large gathering welcoming mental health professionals that also unexpectedly welcomed a number of our insecurely housed residents, all learning together.
• That sunny summer Friday under the apple trees in the Meadow when Adam said, “I love it here!”
• Fifty-nine reports (asksaltspring.com) documenting the concerns of over 1,200 participants,
• And, how much folks genuinely appreciated the homemade chocolate chip cookies!
So, what has been accomplished? While some issues persist, invaluable information, rich connections and better understanding of those issues has resulted. Lauded by Adam Olsen as “a weekly town hall” that he wishes other communities would replicate, participants have gotten to know our elected officials in a way not possible for many before. One almost-90-year-old participant said that, for the first time in her life, she now routinely emails her representatives, something she had never even considered before. Another said that getting to discuss issues with a wide variety of folks from different economic circumstances has convinced her that any who seem different are not “those people” but neighbours instead.
Just simply, ASK Salt Spring offers regular opportunities to engage in respectful conversations with our elected officials. It is the chance to join your neighbours to ask questions, learn and discuss solutions to those most important issues. The perfect alternative to the more anonymous social media opportunities, while ASK Salt Spring is not the answer for everyone, everyone is welcome. See you Fridays!