Editorial: Info central
Trying to find answers in an era of online-dominant communication can be frustrating.
Website information is often unclear and no obvious routes to clarity are offered. Fewer and fewer agencies answer phone calls without the caller having to first hold the line indefinitely or leave a message and hope the call is returned. Email queries are not necessarily answered, or not in a timely fashion.
That’s why the new Ask Salt Spring initiative of the Salt Spring Community Alliance is a rather brilliant effort. With a tag line of “Neighbours Helping Neighbours Find Answers,” the service relies on volunteers as well as participation by local politicians.
Volunteers are willing to take islanders’ questions via email about any number of topics related to island life and will help find the answers, using a team of people who are experts in particular fields to provide the requested information. Alternatively, people can come to the Friday Ask Salt Spring sessions in the flower shop space of Thrifty Foods from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There’s nothing like a back-and-forth conversation to really get to the bottom of an issue.
The Ask Salt Spring initiative has its roots in discussions that occurred during and after the 2017 incorporation referendum. Islanders complained that without a central “town hall” or similar one-stop shop it was difficult to find answers to questions about government procedures and how things work here. General ignorance about those processes was evident through the referendum process, and not without reason. Not much is simple on the island.
Coincidentally, the Fulford Seniors group has organized an information blitz on the topic of health and wellness for today (Oct. 16). From noon to 4 p.m., people can learn how to access services of specific relevance to seniors. While the hope is that south-end seniors will take the opportunity to acquire some valuable information closer to home, any islander can drop in to see the displays, hear short presentations and ask questions.
Once again, with both the Fulford Seniors and Ask Salt Spring initiatives, island volunteers have stepped up to fill gaps in service and make the community a better place for all of us.