Community power

August 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

A significant number of people began, 40 years ago, to bring the Humber River to a Canadian Heritage River status. It took 20 years for that to actually happen and late last month, they celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Humber River being granted  Canadian Heritage status. 

The problem was, in part, that such an appellation was meant for wilderness rivers not urban rivers like the Humber, which cuts through land that is well developed with farms and towns.

However, even being passed down through a generation of volunteers, their determination to bring the Humber into line with other protected waterways made it happen.

It was impressive to stand amongst them, where we had gathered at Lambton House, once the last hotel on the banks of the Humber River, and recognize the power that community can have, given the refusal to quit the effort, no matter the obstacles or the time line.

Growth and change for the better begins at the grass roots. Without regard for status, wealth or lack of it, it is still the grass roots if it is not industry or government, where the interests of the few can be the dominant force.

The grass roots is the people who understand a need, a problem or an opportunity to excel and gather together to resolve or achieve, by dint of giving time and whatever type of resources they can. Where politicians are willingly myopic and preoccupied with the next election, the people will concern themselves with real issues.

Look at how Doug Ford has been forced to back off some of his most misguided cuts by a community of parents, for example, who banded together, from across their own neighbourhoods, still with a common cause, to protect their children’s needs. His is a litany of backing off where public opinion, in numbers, which is the community of the province, has come against him.

Sometimes communities rise up to create marvels, where the people of the region discover a common goal of worth and make the moment happen. This is particularly so here in the Headwaters area, where the arts are a cornerstone of this community. 

Next week, in the Island Lake Conservation Area, this community will deliver the biggest theatre event in the history of this community and, in fact, a production that is unparalleled in the country.

Only with the stalwart support of the community, the corporations, individuals, private and public, only because here in the Headwaters, as David Nairn said, “People get it,” is the performance scheduled for the weekend of August 22 to 25 become a reality.

David Nairn, Theatre Orangeville’s Artistic Director, began 10 years ago to envision a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare that is beyond anything ever done on a Canadian stage. 

He told us clearly that the idea only came because of the sensibilities of this community. The partnership between Theatre Orangeville and Community Living Dufferin is the only one of its kind and this was part of the picture he had of an all-inclusive, huge production of Shakespeare’s well-loved play. 

So, he and his team went to the community to make this Dream happen and, as you will see, when you go to Island Lake to indulge in the joy of this performance, the community came up to the bat.

It might only ever happen once but that’s life and the art of life, that we put our best foot forward when the energy and the inspiration are huge and the collective is in place to back it.

In this moment, the talent of professionals, experience and wisdom, young people at the beginnings of their artistic lives with everywhere to go and the energy to go there; others who might not otherwise have such an chance to participate in an unforgettable experience, resumes enriched….

It has all come together, carefully, purposefully but with that edge of good fortune of the rightness of the time and place, to culminate in an experience not to be missed. 

The Island Lake Conservation Area, as some residents hereabout might not know, is an area of 332 hectares of lake, wetland, forest and meadows. 

There are groomed, accessible trails throughout the area, providing an extremely beneficial, and safe, access to a walk with nature. The land is safe haven to many flower and fauna.

On the lake, fishing in season and canoeing is allowed and encouraged. On that lake, is the beautiful canopied stage which is host to an assortment of lessons and events and where Theatre Orangeville has, for the last two years, produced its Young Company’s drama productions.

This year, a unique production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one that has never been done, with the largest, most amazing set, the fun of faeries and sprites, the folly of love and the pitfalls of trickery are brought to us only five times with a cast that includes the broadest range of thespians on a single stage and a choir to tie it all together.


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