All posts by Art Martens

Hedley’s “Foundation” Years Part II

 

Len Roberts & Art Martens at Colonial Inn
Len Roberts & Art Martens at Colonial Inn

The Hedley operation became both the wilderness and administrative centre of the One Way Adventure Foundation.  Liking its highly effective approach combining work skills development, academics and wilderness expeditions, the government contracted for day programs in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon.

Possibly it was the organization’s success that aroused the ire of a small cadre of elderly men in Hedley.  For several years they plotted against the organization, hoping in some way to discredit it. In 1986 they complained to the two major Vancouver dailies that the OWAF was a cult.  Always searching for the dramatic, one reporter managed to make the allegation a front page story, based entirely on unproven speculation.

 A government inspection team, consisting of men in dark suits, quickly descended on Hedley.  They spent a week meticulously scrutinizing financial records and interviewing youths, staff and residents.  In the end they determined there was no reason for concern and completely exonerated the Foundation. 

In the early 1990’s, a new  government switched its youth programs from a regional to a community model.  Len chose not to go in this direction and reluctantly folded the organization.
   
Now, some 20 years later, newcomers to Hedley might be inclined to ask if the Foundation made any lasting contribution to the community.  In response to this question, a  member of the Hedley Museum Society said, “if it wasn’t for the Foundation, some of our larger structures would not have survived.  They did major upgrades on several empty, neglected buildings.”  
The presence of young staff, usually carrying 2-way radios, helped seniors feel more secure. Also, at that time there was no garbage collection and one program provided this service for staff, seniors and the disabled.   Finding someone to replace a door or toilet, or fix a leaky tap was often difficult..  The OWAF developed a service to fill this need.  Using government grants, they were able to provide training and employment for 10-12 local residents.  
 
Certainly, the most important contribution lies in helping hundreds of young offenders acquire useful skills and develop a more positive self-concept. They returned to their community much more aware and confident of their potential.
 
Although the Foundation is gone, it still lives on in the memories of people who were here at that time. 
  
 

Great By Choice – The 20 Mile March

Cannington Dog Sled Races
Cannington Dog Sled Races
This is the third in a series of posts based on Great by Choice.  Although the book is aimed primarily at the business community, I consider it extraordinarily helpful for leadership in any realm.  I am finding that the 20 Mile March concept is also useful for maintaining a sense of balance in my personal life.  It is a reminder to not become either complacent or overly aggressive in pursuing life objectives.  
 
As noted in the two previous posts, the authors, Jim Collins and Morton T Hansen, compared a number of highly successful companies with less successful companies in the same industry.  Their purpose was to discover what distinguished the top performers from the others.  They refer to the successful companies as 10Xers because they out performed their industry by at least ten times.
                                                           *     *     *
The authors again help us understand the importance of their findings by comparing the strategies of two South Pole explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.  Just as he had been meticulous in planning and preparing for his expedition, Amundsen held rigorously to his strategy and schedule once he was on the trail.  He had determined beforehand that he would be wise to travel 20 miles each day, in good conditions and in adverse conditions.  Undoubtedly he and his men were tempted to hunker down in their tents on cold days when the frigid wind blew in their faces.  And almost certainly, they were equally tempted to keep going longer when the weather favoured them.  By exercising discipline, Amundsen was able to conserve the strength of his men and the dogs.
 
Scott, however, did not embrace the 20 Mile March concept.  He pushed himself and his men hard on the good days, then took days off when the weather harassed them.  By pushing too hard, he exhausted himself and his men.  Then, waiting in his tents for favourable weather, he fell behind and eventually lost the race to the South Pole.  On the return journey, he ran out of food. He and his men died of starvation only 10 miles from their next food cache.
 
Collins and Hansen point out the similarities in strategy between Amundsen and Stryker’s CEO John Brown.  When Brown assumed the helm at Stryker, now a leading medical technology company, he set a benchmark to drive consistent performance.  He engrained the 20 Mile March concept (“the walk” as he termed it) into the culture of the company.  If a division fell behind, he would insert himself into it, working almost non-stop, to “help” the division get back on track.  The authors suggest that “you get the impression you don’t want to need John Brown’s help.  He does not tolerate excuses.” 
 
In spite of pressure from Wall Street to grow the company rapidly, Stryker had a self-imposed constraint never to go too far, never to grow too fast in a single year.  John Brown understood that if you want to achieve consistent performance, you need both parts of the 20 Mile March.  A hurdle you have to jump over and a ceiling you will not rise above.
 
The company Collins and Hansen used as a comparison to Stryker, did not employ the 20 Mile March concept.  Its CEO was an aggressive risk taker and for a time it grew with amazing speed, much more rapidly than Stryker.  When adverse circumstances confronted both companies, however, Stryker continued to prosper but the comparison company, like Robert Scott did not survive.
 
Whether in business, community leadership, or in our personal lives, the 20 Mile March concept can enable us to achieve more consistent success.
 
 

Lorraine Lance: Still Passionate About Hedley Heritage Museum

Lorraine Lance
Lorraine Lance

 

Sitting at a large wooden table in the log home of Eric and Lorraine Lance, I felt I had stepped back into an earlier time and a simpler way of life. Built by Eric, the home overlooks the Similkameen River just west of Hedley and allows an extensive view of the valley. It seems an appropriate home and setting for a deeply committed woman who has devoted years and much energy to preserving the area’s history.

As a young woman, Lorraine studied broadcast communications at BCIT. “My goal was to work in news reporting,” she said. When she and Eric moved to Princeton, he worked at the mine and she was employed by the Similkameen Spotlight. She wrote a column on pioneers and recalls interviewing the Rabbitts, a well known pioneer family in the area. She also served as assistant editor for a time.

For her it was “an extraordinarily interesting era.” The mine and mill were both expanding, Princeton was booming and housing was scarce. She remembers vividly living in a 40 foot trailer.

When they acquired the three acres on which they now live, they moved into a small rustic dwelling on the property. Eric began building the log house, at times with her assistance.

Lorraine says it was Ruth Dunham, a longtime Hedley area resident, who encouraged her to get involved with the group that wanted to start a museum. Ruth told her, “everyone can make a difference in the community. It’s your choice.”

Lorraine quickly caught the early vision. When she speaks now of the group’s efforts, it is with a rare passion known only to the totally committed. She explains that the group’s purpose was to preserve the unique heritage of the Hedley area by encouraging and participating in historic building restoration and site conservation. The 1983 Constitution expressed the founders desire to also foster the development of arts and crafts in the community. Initially they named the organization The Hedley Heritage, Arts and Crafts Society. In 1998 the name was changed to The Hedley Heritage Museum Society.

“I wanted to do the museum work,” Lorraine says with just a hint of regret, “but I was always slotted into fund raising.” Although this wasn’t her wish, she believed fervently in the society’s goals and pursued government grant opportunities with a relentless tenacity. She particularly recalls a $20,000 grant, which was used to buy the museum property. Also a Cultural Initiatives grant of $25,000, devoted to constructing the building.

It is evident that Lorraine feels immense respect for the founding group. “It was Helen Moore who gave us the idea,” she says. “She had common sense for what to do. She was the only one who had lived here during the mining days. She knew the history. If anyone can be called the saint of the museum, it is Helen.”

Bernice Hodges, an early proponent, now deceased, was a potter and artist. Vince and Audrey Flynn gave many hours to tracking down photos and obtaining permission to use them. Mike Sanford, a mining engineer, served as society president a number of years. His wife Debra was treasurer during that time. “It was a real team effort,” Lorraine remembers.

Presently Lorraine is dealing with a significant health challenge that prevents her from being active in museum work. Her passion is still evident, however. “The training of volunteers is important,” she says. “They need to understand museums don’t need a lot of heat. Lighting is critical. Pictures can be damaged by light. Only duplicates of pictures should be on walls. Also, water and museums don’t go together well.”

She believes a museum is important because it helps a community retain its sense of history. “It provides us with a better understanding of our rich and vibrant past,” she says.

 

 

Outfoxed By Chickens

When we retired to Hedley B..C., population about 300, I suggested to Linda we acquire a few chickens. She disagreed, saying a few chickens really didn’t warrant the expense of building a hen house. But when we visited a friend’s chicken farm, he let us look at his birds. Red in colour with white tail feathers, they were magnificent. Linda said, “They are pretty. I can understand that you would want them.”

With Linda’s full agreement, I bought 3 chickens, plus a pail of organic feed. During the 4 hour drive to our new home, they sat patiently in a box in the trunk.

I had not anticipated Linda’s change of heart so I had no lodging for them and no fenced off area to control their roaming. Fortunately, there is a perimeter fence. The birds were ecstatic when I released them into our back yard, where they could explore at will. For them it was a bonus to tread on grass, not wire. We were delighted with our new family and immediately began affectionately referring to them as “the girls.”

Their industriousness amazed us. With the zeal of men digging for gold, they scratched furiously anywhere they pleased. A healthy kale plant was unceremoniously uprooted. Wanting to be understanding of their need to grub for insects, I didn’t protest. When I installed tomato cages over the other kale plants, the girls eagerly poked their small heads

between the wires and nibbled until only flimsy skeleton stems remained. Our small potato patch soon had the appearance of a scorched earth war zone. When Linda went to the garden to collect basil, she was dismayed to see they had already harvested the entire crop. The next day I observed them contentedly munching on radish tops. The girls, like locusts in the “dirty thirties,” were consuming our garden at a feverish pace.

They did lay their golden brown, organic eggs faithfully, always under the sheltering leaves of the same rhubarb plant. While this contributed to our sense of having achieved a back to the land lifestyle, Linda and I realized we couldn’t indefinitely tolerate their pillaging of our garden. They had become the dominant force in our back yard and I was determined to assert authority over what I considered our domain.

Entering the Hen House
Entering the Hen House

By the end of that first week I had completed a 4 by 5ft. hen house and a 4 ft high fence. I gently deposited the girls one at a time in their new, more constricting quarters. Instantly aggrieved, they began patrolling along the inside of the confining fence, much like somber faced federal prisoners probing determinedly for a weak link. Their shrill clucking suggested intense inner turmoil. We glanced out the back window uneasily all afternoon, anxious that they adjust to their limited quarters.

When we awoke early the next morning, each had already laid an egg. We were pleased at this, to be sure, but disconcerted by the fact that they had not used the laying box I had placed in their new home. Instead, each had laid a lovely brown egg under the rhubarb plant as usual. The rhubarb plant, of course, was outside their fence! The girls were in the garden, munching peacefully, apparently quite unaware they were committing a

cardinal sin. I patiently carried them one at a time back to their designated space and repaired a weakness in the fence.

The next day we awoke at 6 am, and they were again in the garden, having flown over the fence. I affixed another layer of wire to increase the height of the fence to a full 5 feet. We also clipped the right wing of each girl. I held the bird and Linda clipped with scissors. There was no evidence of pain. When I had again returned them lovingly to their compound, they retreated to the hen house. I assumed it was to sulk, but that turned out to be a naïive assumption. Apparently it was to devise a new strategy. It was becoming evident that these girls had a surgeon’s capacity to focus intently, and they were not quitters.

To my dismay, the following morning they were back in the garden. One of the girls had put her head through a hole in the mesh and patiently worked at stretching the wire until she could squeeze through. The others had followed. I repaired the opening and applied a second layer of wire mesh over the original layer.

All this was to no avail. The following morning we were up early enough to observe them squeeze through a new hole they had made in the fence and run like Olympic sprinters to the rhubarb plant. “Maybe,” Linda suggested somewhat resignedly, “they are driven by an inner compulsion to lay. And they are programmed to lay under that rhubarb plant.”

Linda and I needed to be away for three days. Since the feed and water were in the hen house, the girls required access to it. If they escaped from their quarters while we were gone, would their mentality and skills enable them to get back in?

Reluctantly Linda and I agreed the girls had outfoxed and outlasted us. I created an opening so they could enter and leave their compound as they pleased. When we return, I decided, I will put up a high fence around the garden, and if necessary, we’ll do another clipping. They are good girls so they can have the yard. We will have the garden and the eggs.

The Gift Of Mr. Loeppky

I was quite unaware of it at the time, but looking back over the years now, I realize I was fortunate as a teen to have two men to observe at close quarters. By their attitudes, their thinking, their lifestyle and values, each set an example that would play a determining role in shaping what I valued and how I would live. In many respects, they were virtual opposites. One showed me a path leading upward to constructive significance, the other showed me a path leading downward to unhappiness and futility.

The first was my father, the second was our next door neighbour, Mr. Loeppky. I loved my father and, although I certainly didn’t think in those terms at the time, I suppose I also loved Mr. Leoppky. To this day I place a high value on the time I spent with each of them.
* * * *
Mr. Loeppky lived almost next door to us. Only an empty lot separated our home from his. We referred to him as “the bachelor”. He was a bachelor not by choice but by divorce. His wife had divorced him many years before I got to know him. His fortunes had deteriorated badly since then and his home now was a two room shack, which he had constructed himself.

IMG_0280It was evident that no paintbrush had touched the exterior walls in many years. Inside it was equally rustic, with little more than a kitchen table, an old green fridge, a woodstove and an aged chest of drawers. There was no indoor washroom, but he did have cupboards and a sink with hot and cold water in the kitchen. A sheet hung in the doorway to the bedroom. His bathroom was a one-seater out house.

Mr. Loeppky’s surroundings had not always been so sparse. In his earlier, better days, he had owned and managed a successful GM dealership in a small prairie town. A skilled mechanic, he had at first done much of the service work himself, always as he volunteered to me one day, “with a flask in my back pocket.”

He was regarded as one of the elite in his community, a man people looked up to at least in part because of his business success. His home was one of the finest in the town. When I met people who had known him then, I noticed that they invariably spoke of him with a trace of awe, as someone they respected and admired.

Mr Leoppky had money , then, and he loved to party. In conversation he was engaging, and people clamoured to be around him.

Somewhere along the way a fondness for strong drink had apparently overtaken his earlier good judgment. His business acumen began to slip and his wife, possibly
aware that financial ruin might be approaching, entered into a romantic relationship with a local lawyer. Listening to him over more than half a dozen years, I concluded he had not understood the harm he was doing to his marriage and his family. He had not seen the divorce looming.

When I began visiting him as a teen, he had already lost everything, his wealth, good standing in his community, his family and also his sense of self esteem and respect. Still, even at age 65, there lingered about him more than a trace of his earlier good looks and outward refinement. But the total loss of his former life had exacted a bitter toll.

Even now I have only a vague understanding of why a 14 year old kid was drawn to visit this once proud, successful man, so completely fallen from his former high position and no longer esteemed by society. Possibly it was his doughnuts, and maybe his pies. He made them only occasionally, and I understand now that he may have continued to make them only because he knew I delighted in them. It is possible that I experienced some compassion for this lonely man whose only other visits were from a sister and brother-in-law who came now and then. He didn’t like his sister’s husband.

Sometimes when we were sitting at his kitchen table and he was talking, my lungs rebelled at the thought of taking in one more breath of the smoke from his cigarettes. I don’t think he ever consciously decided to tell me his life story. Certainly he didn’t take me back to the early years  and  lead me through a logical sequence of events to the present time. Rather, the story came out like pieces of a puzzle put in place over the years.

An episode or a bit of information might slip out when he had a bottle of gin on his table, after he had collected his pension cheque at the end of the month. While his trembling fingers rolled clumsy smokes from a fresh can of McDonald’s tobacco, his mind  slipped into the past. If he had doughnuts, he’d place the large tin can before me and say “eat.” Sometimes they were no longer fresh and his many cigarettes had tinged them with the flavor of tobacco  smoke. I ate them anyway. While he talked, I watched those faded blue eyes as they remembered scenes from a better time in his life.

In the end, his breathing became laboured and one day he said, “the doc told me I have lung cancer. Guess it won’t be long before the Grim Reaper comes to take me away.”  He continued to smoke.

Occasionally he still made a batch of doughnuts.  “I make them just for you,” he told me one day, turning away to cough into a large polka dotted handkerchief. Because he  had stopped eating the doughnuts  himself, they lasted even longer and I was increasingly aware of the taste of cigarette smoke.  I knew it was important to him, so even though they had lost their appeal, I continued to eat them. His cough had become harsh and frequent, and it troubled me.

In all the years he was our neighbor, his two daughters stopped in once for about 10 minutes on their way to an appointment. His son came for only one short visit. During his last year as he grew progressively weaker, his children never visited.

He passed away in spring and I notified his son.  My family organized a memorial service for him at the local funeral home. We had told our friends about Mr. Loeppky, and many of them came to join my parents and myself to bid him farewell. I was surprised and pleased when the son and two daughters arrived.

At the end of the memorial service, his son came to me and asked, “do you know what my father died of?”

When I could slip out I walked around to the back of the funeral home, because a deep sadness was overwhelming my emotions. My friend Henry, a local photographer was already there,shedding his own tears. I had introduced him to Mr. Loeppky in the last year of his life.

Even before Mr. Loeppky passed away, I had already begun to understand that I didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of this man I had come to care about deeply. Standing beside Henry now, I knew I must do everything possible to ensure that my life would not end in despair and futility. It was Mr. Loeppky’s gift to me.

Fanatical Discipline

Great by Choice

 #2  Fanatical Discipline

Victory awaits him who has everything in order. Luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time. This is called bad luck.” Roald Amundsen, South Pole explorer.

The authors graphically make their point by comparing the fanatical discipline demonstrated by Roald Amundsen in preparing for his South Pole expedition to the considerably less rigorous preparations of Robert Falcon Scott.

Amundsen rode his bike 2000 miles to condition his body. He lived with Eskimos (Innuit) to learn from them how to survive in extreme cold weather conditions. During this time he ate raw dolphin meat because he knew he might have to resort to an unaccustomed diet in untoward circumstances. To pull the sleighs, he decided to use dogs, knowing that if food ran short, he might have to kill some of the weaker animals to feed the strong ones.

Scott elected to use ponies and motorized sleighs. The ponies gave out under the strain of hard work and extreme cold weather. The engines cracked on his motorized sleighs. Consequently, he and his men had to pull the sleighs themselves. Scott brought only one thermometer and it broke. Amundsen brought four. The authors say “Amundsen and Scott had different behaviours, not different circumstances.”

Like Amundsen, the 10X companies chose to be risk averse. Understanding they would almost certainly encounter difficult circumstances at some point, possibly unexpectedly, they prepared with fanatical discipline for these potential “Black Swan” events. Like Amundsen who took plenty of extra food, the 10X companies built buffers that would enable them to survive, and even thrive, in the difficult times.

They understand that “it’s what you do before the storm arrives that determines how well you will do when it comes.” Collins and Morton found that 10X companies had 3-10 times the ratio of cash to reserves. They managed well in good times to do well in bad times. It is this approach that made Southwest Airlines the only airline to turn a profit in 2002.

Collins and Hanson say that leaders in the most successful companies know they face continuous uncertainty, but they reject the idea that outside forces or chaotic events will determine their results. They accept full responsibility for their own fate. They realize unanticipated adversity may strike at any moment. They exercise fanatical discipline so their company will be strong when circumstances turn against it.

Note: I recommend that you read “Great by Choice” to learn about the other 2 core practises of 10x companies: Empirical Creativity and Productive Paranoia. I will deal with the 20 Mile March concept soon. For our personal lives or in leadership roles, this is a good one.

 

The Lesson Of Leona’s Commitment

 free_18764562Several years ago my cousin Leona was told that her husband Vic showed early indications of Parkinson’s, plus another equally debilitating condition for which as yet there is no cure. Vic had worked for BC Hydro and had also built a number of homes after retirement.  They are now living in the most recent home, a well designed structure that speaks of a master builder’s wonderful attention to detail.

With her buoyant personality, sense of humor and  capacity to commit, Leona has also experienced a good deal of success.  In an earlier career as a realtor, she was easily in the top ten percent in listings and in sales.  To help their sons get started in business, she entered into a partnership with them and they opened an eye glass outlet.  Based on a bedrock of integrity and excellent service, the business did well. Before long they expanded to other centers and into the hearing aid field.

Then came the diagnosis that caused Vic to lay down his hammer and saw and hang up the ladder in his garage for the last time.  Leona’s participation in the business venture with their sons didn’t cease entirely, but she resolved to make Vic her #1 priority.                                                                                                                                

 Under her fun loving, quick to laugh exterior,  there abides a deep commitment to her husband.  He isn’t someone to be discarded when difficult circumstances arise.  She thinks of him as her life partner.  “We are going to ride this out together,” she says.                                                                                                                          

“I’m going to keep him at home as long as I can manage.  If it becomes necessary, I’ll mortgage our house to keep him here.”  Vic’s condition presents some difficult challenges and she has already hired live in help.

When we visited at their home recently, Linda and I were impressed by Leona’s total commitment to him.  “I won’t sell his pickup truck or his work trailer,” she said.  “And I won’t get rid of his tools.  That is all part of who he has always been.  I won’t take them away from him.”

Leona’s determination to maintain a comfortable, undisturbed atmosphere in the home is proving to be helpful to Vic.  When we were there, he appeared relaxed and seemed to be enjoying life.

A week before Leona’s recent birthday, he began each day by wishing her a happy birthday.  Each day she said, “no, it’s not my birthday yet.”  When her birthday did arrive, she responded to his happy birthday wish by saying, “yes Vic, today is my birthday.”  He said, “I just didn’t want to forget.”

For Linda and me there is a valuable lesson in Leona’s unswerving commitment to Vic. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building A Healthier Community

 

Building a Healthier Community was the subject of a March 4 workshop facilitated by Betty Brown of Interior Health Authority.  Second of a year long series sponsored by Angelique Wood, RDOS Area G representative, the session dealt with Five Pillars: physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco reduction, healthy built environment and priority populations.  Wood said “the purpose is to examine ways for us to live healthier, more fulfilling lives in our community.”

Brown, an experienced discussion leader with an effervescent personality, skilfully guided the group of about two dozen in an animated exchange of suggestions, ideas and questions.

It was suggested at the outset there is a need for a better understanding of the make up of the Hedley population.  Some of the people, it was observed, may come to the community because they want to be left alone.  Others may not know how to participate in community life. To engage people effectively, it would be beneficial to have a greater awareness of the demographic breakdown.

Several individuals expressed a desire for more interaction with the Upper Similkameen Indian Band.  Discussion revealed considerable consensus on this and it was suggested community leaders initiate discussions with band leaders to foster cooperation on issues of common concern and interest.

Another item that generated a good deal of discussion was the need for a community newsletter.  Interest was strong and there is certain to be further consideration of this idea.

There was also general agreement that community organizations such as Hedley Historical Museum,  Seniors Centre, the Community Club, Hedley Grace Church and  Fire Department could work together to achieve common objectives such as generating income and attracting members.

In the committee discussions, two groups argued for a paid or volunteer coordinator to assist the community to achieve important objectives.  It was agreed that community organizations would be asked to send a representative to the next meeting.  One subject to be discussed is the former ball park, now Unity Park.  Work is needed to develop it into a community park with a walking trail and green space.

A pleasant surprise for participants was the presence of Sergeant Barry Kennedy of the Princeton RCMP Detachment.  He answered a number of questions, including what the force will do when small medical grow ops become illegal at the end of this month.  He replied that direction on this will have to come from Health Canada.

Angelique Wood commented after the workshop, “it is important that we come together as a group and share our resources, ideas and brilliance to create a new future for the health of our children and planet.  Although we didn’t agree on everything today, we listened to each other and as a group, we took some substantive steps in a positive direction.”

 

 

 

Benefits Of Small Town Living

When my wife and I moved from Abbotsford to Hedley a year ago, our friends couldn’t comprehend our reasons for turning our backs on the amenities and glitter of city life.  Living in a small community with no McDonalds, Starbucks and numberless quality restaurants, plus no Canuck games, nearby movie theatres or opera, was to them like departing from the known world.  They could not fathom an existence in a community with no doctors, banks, supermarkets, malls or automobile dealerships.
 
Moving to Hedley has made us aware of another way of living.  Instead of depending only on government agencies to look after them, people help each other.  If an elderly person needs a ride to see a doctor, almost invariably, someone offers to take them.  When a cancer patient needed financial assistance to travel to a specialist in Vancouver, there was a contribution box in the Country Market.  There seems to be an understanding that to survive as individuals and as a community, we need to be willing when help is needed. 
 
We have seen that there is a core group that strives to make Hedley an interesting, vibrant community.  One example of this is the pancake breakfast hosted by the members of the Hedley Seniors Center.  On the second Sunday of each month they invite the community to a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and sausages or bacon.  At $5 a plate it’s a delicious bargain.
 
This summer the Community Club again sponsored a barbeque and street dance.  Great food and wonderful music.  The band’s rendition of Johnny B. Goode wowed the crowd.  At only $10, it was another bargain we never encountered in the city.
 
In October the Hedley Museum Society sponsored a lavish Thanksgiving dinner. They spoiled us with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, yams, pie, and more.
 
For some years the Hedley Grace Church has organized a bottle drive to send children to camp.  Throughout the year, people contribute bottles and cans, and sometimes money.  Twice a year the contributions are sorted and bagged at the fire hall.  This is done by church people, children who attend the camp, and others who consider it a good cause.
 
The Fire Department, like all the groups, is manned by hard working committed volunteers.  They practise every Tuesday evening to ensure the best possible skill and fitness level.
 
We love the abundant sunshine, enjoy the people and appreciate the clean air.  The amenities of the city we came from really cannot compare. These are just a few  benefits of small town living.

First Community Conversation A Huge Success

On February 10, Hedley’s Senior Centre was crowded with community leaders and advocates from Princeton to Penticton, Osoyoos and Kamloops.  They had come to hear Julie Fowler, executive director of the highly successful ArtsWells Festival.

It was the first in a series of “Community Conversations” organized by Angelique Wood, RDOS Director of Area G, and Kim English, a director of the Hedley Heritage Museum Association and Assistant Manager of the Grist Mill.

Purpose of the workshop, according to Wood was to “improve existing festivals and also to encourage networking among participants ”  She said “this type of meeting will enable us to form lasting bonds and grow our communities.”  English said she hoped people would hear something of value they could take back to their own community and apply there.

Fowler, who has been in Wells 10 years, told the group her passion is to support artists of all kinds. “I want to bring them together,” she said, “and I want to bring their art to the world.”

The Wells festival began small. “In the beginning we gave away a lot of tickets so people would come. And if an artist showed an interest we begged them to come. There was little money to pay them, but we did feed them.”

She advised her audience to use existing facilities and look for funding through corporate sponsorships and government grant programs, in addition to selling tickets.  “Publicity is important,” asserted Fowler.  ArtsWells has found the CBC to be helpful.

Fowler said last year the festival sold out and had about 2000 guests.  They require approximately 220 volunteers, most of whom come from outside Wells.  Many of the artists and guests stay in tents during the 4 day festival.  It is still “quite grass roots.”

Currently the Wells festival features over 100 musical performances on 12 stages.  It offers more than 20 different workshops teaching everything from Ukrainian dance to lyric writing, clowning and more.  Activities for children include a crafting station, a children’s stage and workshops geared towards children.

There are also screenings of independent films and local theatre productions.  A one minute play festival is always popular.  Added to this is a host of inter-genre literary performances and workshops, including story telling/writing, poetry and the unexpected.

Following Julie Fowler’s presentation,  Bob Nicholson of the Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Alliance participated in a panel discussion. He spoke about the Meadowlark Nature Festival which takes place in Penticton.  It features hikes, history, wild life and much more.  Each year they have an artist paint a picture, usually of a Meadow Lark, and put it on t-shirts which are sold to raise funds.  “We could use more help,” he said, “including a few additional people on our board, and we need money.”  He expressed a desire to work with other groups.  “A lot of the power is already in this room,” he suggested.  “Often we don’t know who has the experience, knowledge and skills.”

At the end of the workshop there was palpable excitement and enthusiasm as attendees exchanged ideas and contact information.  Angelique Wood described the presentations as “inspiring”.  Another Community Conversation will take place in April at a date to be announced.