- Gayle Baker
A Year of ASK Salt Spring in Retrospect (AGM Report)
ASK Salt Spring, Neighbours Helping Neighbours Find Answers
October 4, 2020 - October 8, 2021
ASK Salt Spring was born just over two year ago from the clear frustrations experienced by too many when seeking answers to even simple questions. Our complex governance has resulted in confusion about who does what as well as too many areas of either gaps, overlap, or duplication. ASK Salt Spring is an attempt to bridge silos by providing a consistent place Islanders can come to get the answers they need.
While the heart of ASK Salt Spring is its weekly gatherings, the email option (firstname.lastname@example.org) is also heavily-used.
Reports of weekly gatherings are posted in the Salt Spring Exchange as well as on the Community Alliance website, (accessible through asksaltspring.com) and a growing mailing list. By this consistent flow of information, even those who have not participated in the conversations have the opportunity to learn from them.
Regular special guests each week are:
- The first Friday of the month: MLA Adam Olsen
- Second: CRD’s Gary Holman
- Third: Islands Trustee Laura Patrick, and
- Fourth: Other Special Guests*
*This year these special guest shave included RCMP Sargent Clive Seabrook, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Area Manager, Jake: Roads Maintenance Manager, Andrew; our mental health professionals led by David Norget; BC Transit Managers, our Chamber’s CEO Jesse and President, Darryl; Transition Salt Spring, led by Bryan; and the list goes on. . . .
COVID continued to present gathering challenges. When the October weather kicked us out of our beloved United Church Meadow, we moved briefly to Foxglove Nursery’s amazing greenhouse.
Alas, gathering restrictions tightened in November, forcing us to Zoom about until warm weather again allowed us to gather in the Meadow.
Currently gathering by either Zoom or in the lovely Dome in front of the Rainbow Road elementary school, on November 12, we will settle into our winter location in the Library Program Room.
Continually seeking safe locations during our challenging times, ASK Salt Spring has offered 44 Friday gatherings this year, welcoming a total of 667 (duplicated) Salt Springers - with only a few holiday-related exceptions.
And, from the feedback, we also know that even more Islanders consistently read the weekly reports published on the Exchange.
So, What Happens Each Friday?:
Expected as a drop-in opportunity to get quick answers and leave, Fridays have evolved into a time for Islanders to gather, ask questions, listen to the questions of others, and participate in fascinating conversations. Surprisingly, many stay for the entire gathering - long after their question has been addressed - to listen and learn.
While it has become a running joke that most come only for the homemade chocolate cookies, respectful conversations seeking solutions have become the hallmark of each ASK Salt Spring gathering. Most prevalent topics have been concerns about roads, affordable housing, safety, health, and climate action.
Connections: One clear benefit of ASK Salt Spring is that islanders have the opportunity to meet regularly with their elected officials in a casual, conversational format. This interaction has clearly benefited our island both in giving us essential information but also getting our elected officials to listen to our concerns and advocate for those issues nearest to our hearts.
In addition to this clear benefit, a number of other strong connections have been forged with groups as diverse as Emcon, our Chamber of Commerce, Salt Spring Island Foundation, the BC Ferries Advisory Committee, Salt Spring Community Health Society, Salt Spring Health Advancement Network, Transition Salt Spring, our RCMP, BC Transit, and Emcon, our road maintenance contractor. . . to name just a few.
We have just received a Simple Generosity $500 award from Islands Savings to pay for the rental of the Library Program Room, and we are being franchised! Well, not really, but Adam has asked permission to use ASK. . . as he replicates our success in other communities throughout his riding.
So, we must be doing something right?
And, we have just begun. . . .