The Story of The Village Voice
It was 2020 and I found myself having tea with my new friend Ali in the basement at her parent's beautiful ranch at the edge of the world. Perhaps I “peered through the veil”, I noticed people were falling through the cracks during Covid with so many social services de-personalized.
The realization of what was happening hit me hard. Maybe it was my status as a brand new mother after infertility, the multiple suicides in my circle of actors, perhaps the booming opioid crisis, the lock-downs or the loss of real community interaction. Whatever the case, it was too much for me to do nothing.
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I couldn't stay still any more, the Mental Health Crisis (democide) was so evident in our community. I decided to act. I had just posted signs up around town to rally a Health Justice March to the 100 Mile Community Hall, our Town Square where the memorials live. I had already tried so many official channels finding everything was a dead end, “Closed to the Public”. I wanted to get people talking and move the energy in a new, more positive direction.
I notified the District and RCMP that I had taken Notice of many citizen’s desire to meet and discuss what was happening in the community in a town hall format, the intention was for our officials to attend, participate and listen in a town square (an outdoor setting certainly addressed the concerns around the virus at the time).
The impacts of the response to the COVID Emergency were having detrimental impacts to people especially the most vulnerable. The restrictions, the mandates and the institutionalized thinking was clearly leading to an even bigger mental health crisis. The unresolved conflict in the community was beyond anything I thought I would ever witness.
I knew that the test was here. It ended up being where the old me and all of my illusions of security and support were revealed. In that pain I was gifted a glimpse of a revelation for my grandchildren should I choose to accept it. A way of orienting our community around story-telling to process, heal & security a more harmonious platform in our collective and upon the Earth.
Concerned people must have invited everyone else to the Town Square. I simply put-up some posters around town. The RCMP weren't responsive to peace keeping & security requests, though eventually, I did receive communication from one - Sergent Brad McKinnon - who acted out of his mandate in his response to me and subsequently monitored my actions to the point of surveillance of my personal life. Brad might have acted without courtesy, but through him I met others he impacted - for the first time in our small town, when talking about restorative & transformative justice, I found myself among people I could call Allies..
My former cooperative development co-conspirator Benjamin Prunty was one of the suicides I experienced in 2020. And I have been left picking up the pieces of my life ever since. Shortly after his departure I found myself on a journey of discovery and that was how I found myself having tea with my new friend Ali.
Ali has a gift, she can listen to a vision (or call it blue sky thinking) and describe the "logos", (or meaning) of that thing to bring it into the realm of ideas. My absolute favorite thing about Ali. We talked about the emergence of a cooperative network of people who will come to re-image and re-build our institutions and ride through the big storms on the horizon.
Through life, love, loss and tests of 2021 I found myself back at Ali’s place in the summer, this time at her own house and farm called Maverick’s. We circled around an idea that had coalesced in the spring of 2021 - a community story telling mechanism. To bridge the gap left by the work of the Black Press. Ali’s mother had helped with a paper called The Village Voice in England. Back then it was a community contribution paper which collected people’ stories with limited editing for spelling and grammar. Exactly as the vision quest had indicated. People come together in the Village Voice to tell stories about their community!
What’s the story of that old barn? What families used to live in that neat house? How did that intersection get it’s name? Who founded that neighborhood?
What were the first people here doing?
What’s the story of that new family who moved here and opened a coffee shop? Why are those people really driving convoy’s of trucks through town? What’s the story of the old drive in theatre?
What really happened in the courthouse? Was there really an old garbage dump in that spot? What really happened when that guy flew off the handle? Thank-you to who purchased my Tim Hortons drive-thru.
Public apology for mistakes that hurt people.
The concept of The Village Voice is to collect and circulate community contributed stories. The model is currently a hybrid Blog / Facebook & Print Circulation.
People can submit stories, get help writing, offer help editing or request a story teller. People have power over their own stories.
It is hosted on The Real Life Network, a collective, member server network and media communications platform - it was created to network and showcase people who are meeting the needs of the local collective here in the South Cariboo.
I hope you enjoy participating in the Village Voice experience.