OPINION: Participation needed for community to succeed

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Steph Black and Michael R. Clark

Like many of you, we were saddened to hear of yet another event being cancelled in the area, this time the International Powerboat Festival.

We feel for the organizers, who put time and effort into trying to turn this event into a tradition. As individuals who have tried running events – admittedly on much smaller scales – only to have no one show up, we also understand that disappointment.

As people who live in this community we recognize that people can’t go to everything. Life gets in the way. Money is tight. Family comes first.

But buying into your community is free. All you need to do is show up sometimes. So, if it seems as though these kinds of cancellations are becoming more common, we have to ask ourselves: are we showing up?

As someone who has left and come back to the city, and as a recent newcomer, we understand the need to dig in with those close to you, to stay within your group, to surround yourself with the comfortable and the familiar.

But we feel it’s important to remember that we are also all Sarnians, Point Edwardians and Lambtonites, and that events like this are the best opportunity to meet your neighbours on common ground as friends rather than strangers.

Showing up is the easiest way to support the amazing, dedicated people who spend their free time — and usually their own money — trying to build new traditions for all of us to share. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking to see them quietly disappear, one by one.

The truth is, as we saw with both the 2016 Ribfest and the Festival of Lights, enthusiasm for these events does continue to exist in this community. When both of those events were cancelled, motivated groups of regular people took action and brought them back.

Not all such events are this lucky, and event organizers should not have to depend on that kind of eleventh-hour, Hail Mary-style salvation.

All it requires is for us to show up in the first place. To volunteer at an event we want to be successful, or make a point of attending something we think would be fun, or take a chance on something new.

If we don’t show up, then these events will continue to disappear. But if we put in the time and do our small part these events will flourish, and be more indicative of the spirit and character of this city and its people.

All you need to do is show up sometimes, Sarnia. So show up.

Steph Black and Michael R. Clark are colleagues at Lambton College and active community enthusiasts