600 hours and counting.

Today’s edition of The News was a delightful wealth of information. I’ve added three new events to my calendar, read about an old school-mate running in Parksville, and decided to respond to one the Letters to the Editor. Hopefully my response will be published. If not, I’ll be sure to post it here.

 

This afternoon, I drove down to Nanaimo to record a 1-minute candidate profile that Shaw will be running on their community network starting in early November. I’m amazed that I actually managed to get a clear message put together in with just 60 seconds to speak.

 

When I arrived home – what joy! My campaign signs have arrived. I suppose the first one will go up tomorrow. They look good, although the blue looks a little black, which may make them look a bit too much like Leanne’s signs. Tomorrow, I’ll have a full blog post on the signs.

 

I’m interested in connecting with more of the “under-40” candidates that are running for civic office in this election. It is difficult, I think, for younger people to get involved because we’re busy trying to finish school, build a family, or pursue a career. We are too busy to volunteer for community groups or civic forums. I suspect that we usually have lower incomes, too, which certainly makes trying to finance a campaign very tight very difficult.

 

It’s disheartening to think that so many of us may be overlooked due to our “lack of experience” or “lack of history”. History can be learned. So can procedures and specialized knowledge. Those stuck in broken systems often can’t see just how dysfunctional the system is. It takes an outsider to ask, “why do you do it this way?” and “have you ever thought of doing it this other way instead?”. The optimism and energy of young adults should be seen as assets for a community, not drawbacks. I sincerely hope my community recognizes that I have the right tools to do this job, and that after November 19th, I can call myself the youngest person to serve on the RDN Board of Directors.

Skye Donald

Skye Donald goes Door-to-Door

I have to admit that I have been reluctant to start going door-to-door with my campaign. Privacy is so highly treasured by residents in our community, including by me: just yesterday we had an unwelcome solicitor at our farm that started proselytizing to the four-year-old that answered the door! I was afraid that bothering people at home might be offensive or inconvenient. It is quite a risk to just walk up to someone’s door and introduce yourself: you never know how you will be received. But then, putting your name forward for public office is a huge risk, too. I was also concerned that door-to-door wouldn’t be the most efficient use of my time. After all, the lots in our neighbourhoods are quite spread out, so it takes longer to get from house to house. And then there are things like gates and dogs to worry about. The whole things seemed very unappealing to me.

 

I’ve reconsidered. Speaking with people one-on-one is the best way for me to introduce myself to someone. While this website is a fantastic tool that allows me to share a great deal of data about who I am, what I stand for, and how I can present myself with the written word, people still have to have a reason to come here in the first place. They have to have Internet access, and they have to be interested enough to look me up. By meeting people face-to-face, I have an opportunity to share my sincerity, frankness, and confidence. Door-to-door also provides a vehicle to engage with people that otherwise will not get involved, like folks with limited mobility, the apathetic non-voters, and busy people or newcomers that have no idea that we’re going to be having a civic election on November 19th.

 

With the weather so lovely today, I simply didn’t have any excuse NOT to go out today, so I picked a high-density area, parked the car, and headed out with my fliers. I am so thankful that the very first person that answered the door was both friend and interested. I didn’t get a lot of houses covered, and a fair number of folks weren’t at home, but the time spent was well worth it when I consider the experience gained. A few folks were interested enough for me to have an actual chat with them about the election. Several were non-voters: they had no intention of voting for anyone because “nothing ever changes”. This is such a difficult position to speak to; I know that I’m going to have to have an entire post on voter apathy soon. No one chased me away or was even rude to me. I managed to avoid getting bit by dogs, and the rain even stayed away. I’m certainly going to head out again later this week (though certainly not Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday… my super-busy days). Every time I speak with someone about the election, I gain confidence and excitement. I’m more convinced than ever that this is the right path for me, that this is a job that I will do well, and that only good can come from the work and interaction I’m engaging in right now.

 

Oh, I also learned something very valuable today: make sure I leave space on my flyers to write in a “sorry I missed you” message, or even better, have that printed on them ahead of time!

 

Skye Donald at the Corcan-Meadowood Residents Association AGM

I attended the Corcan-Meadowood Residents Association AGM this morning, and I have to say that it was fantastic. The CMRA is a well organized, hard-working group of folks that is proposing concrete solutions to their neighbourhood’s issues. If elected, I know that I will be working closely with this group to address their neighbourhood’s concerns. After meeting them today, I can earnestly say that look forward to a future collaborative effort to resolve their legitimate concerns.

 

The format of the meeting was great, too. They had a silent auction to raise funds for their group, and they had invited businesses that donated items to the auction to set up displays in the hall (including Dini Owsianski of Seren Home Care & Support Services, Organo Gold independent distributor Julie Ward, and Red Williams Well Drilling). This is such a simple way for local businesses to interact with their neighbours. I’d love to see more events like this in our community.

 

The business portion of the meeting was wrapped up very quickly, and since the delegation from the RDN was late (more about that later), the candidates for School Trustee and Electoral Area Director were given an opportunity to speak. Some of the candidates from Areas F, G, and H were present. Bill Veehof has been acclaimed the new director for Area H, and after seeing Bill take questions today, I can say that Bowser & Deep Bay are fortunate to have such a well-spoken, genuine individual step forward to serve them. I also met Lance Pope, candidate for Area G (French Creek, Dashwood, Englishman River), and I am really happy to see another “under-40” running for the RDN. I also met our MLA, Scott Fraser, and I have to say that I was impressed with his approachableness. It is great that he was able to make it to the meeting and speak briefly on the highway interchange project. I’m really thankful for the feedback and advice he was able to give me, too.

 

One of the most telling portions of the morning was the “presentation” from the RDN Parks department. Representatives invited to speak on the Meadowood Community Park (or lack thereof) arrived late, were unable to answer specific, concrete questions, and then ran away as soon as they were finished so that no one could ask them additional questions after the formal part of the meeting. I am sympathetic to the fact that the new manager of that department (who spoke for a few minutes but didn’t actually have any sort of presentation) hasn’t been at the job for very long (he’s covering for maternity leave, apparently), but he should have come better prepared to deal with the community’s valid frustrations over the lack of development on their local park.

 

As for the Area F candidates, it was great to have an opportunity to meet the Mr. Fell and Ms. Salter (I had already met Mr. de Candole at the Errington Coffee House a few weeks ago). Meeting the competition and seeing them in action was beneficial, but for me, there weren’t any surprises. What may have been a surprise to others, though, is how clear and confident I am at public speaking. While I have a great deal of experience performing, I haven’t done a great deal of public speaking, but (and not that I want to toot my own horn too much), you’d never know it. I may be young, but I’m certainly not immature. I do have some specific areas that I can improve upon, but I’m happy with how I was able to present myself, which gives me a nice little confidence bump for my next “speech” – the television spot that I’ll be recording with Shaw on Tuesday.

Skye Donald on Self-Governence for Area F?

Today, while I was out and about campaigning, I ran into a neighbour at the post office that recognised me the newspaper. He asked me how I felt about the idea of forming a municipality. The idea isn’t a new one, certainly. In the mid-1990’s a study into local governance was started, and last year, during the building permit by-law push, the idea was floated again. Interestingly, I did come across one of the other candidate’s opinion on the matter.

 

When I look at the core community values for our region, I wonder if incorporating into a municipality would really help us maintain a “low level of regulation”. Certainly, we wouldn’t have regulations imposed on us by outside forces, but I have to admit that I have a healthy scepticism as to whether or not adding yet another layer of government would really be of beneficial. How much would it cost? How much could we save? Would our specific communities (Errington, Coombs, Hilliers, Whiskey Creek and Meadowood) lose their individual characters? Could we ever agree on a name 😉 ? I don’t think that incorporation is an obvious answer to all of our problems, but I am certainly not opposed to exploring the issue. If there was sufficient public support, then I would be willing to propose that we conduct a new local governance issues study for Area F.

 

In other news, I visited six local businesses for the first time today, and it was great. I may be nervous about pestering people with a campaign message (more about that another day), but I really do love going out and just chatting with folks. I visited three artsy shops in Whiskey Creek (Braemar Pottery, Amy Newsom Design and t-shirs that talk). The amount of artistic talent we have in this community is amazing. It is really too bad that Braemar will be relocating to Port Alberni, but I wish Kevin Wright all the best in his run for city counsellor in Port Alberni. My stop at the Errington Eatery was especially great; I can’t believe I’ve never stopped in before, as we’re practically neighbours. Fantastically friendly staff.

An All-Round Good Day

Today has been just such a great day. I’m filled with excitement and an overall sense of wellbeing as a result of the people I’ve interacted with today. My day started out with a telephone conversation with Reg Nosworthy. Reg is the Area ‘F’ appointee to the District 69 Recreation Commission and the chair of the Electoral Area ‘F’ Parks & Open Space Advisory Committee (POSAC). Reg graciously offered me his insights on a variety of issues facing Area F, especially on parks and recreation. I continue to be both baffled by and horrified at the lack of leadership we have received from our elected official over the past several years. It is clear that the communities of Coombs, Errington, Hilliers, Whiskey Creek and Corcan-Meadowood need and deserve a strong, committed advocate.

 

After my chat with Reg, I headed out to the Bradley Centre in Coombs to spin with the Thursday Spinners. I don’t often get to join them these days, due to my work schedule, so today was a treat. Though there weren’t many of us there, I had some great conversations, and I managed to get a great deal of spinning done, too! I was able to share with the group news of the just-announced All-Candidates Meeting for Area F that will take place on Monday, November 14th. During “Show and Tell”, we were also advised that one of my neighbours has just purchased Hummingbird Fibre Arts, a Nanaimo-based retailer of spinning & fibre-related supplies. I’m excited to know that the next time I need some dyes, they’ll be just on the other side of our fence.

 

From the Bradley Centre, I headed off to St. Stephen’s United in Qualicum Beach for their Community Meals lunch. I went not only for the very tasty potato-leek soup, but also to share in fellowship with the other guests. People don’t just come for the free lunch: they also come for the company, and today I was graced with a perfect example of that. After I finished my meal, I ran into someone that I know from the Errington Farmer’s Market, and she told me that her mother had just passed away earlier this week. She came to the Community Meals today because it was always a place full of “good energy”: just being there lifts one’s spirit. I stayed to chat with her and her daughter, and I feel very blessed for it. It frustrates me that we don’t have any kind of public transportation available for folks to get from our area into Qualicum or Parksville to take advantage of services like this.

 

While making a quick stop at the Bradley Centre on the way home (just to see who was still spinning), I serendipitously ran into Marylin Sims, the Arrowsmith Community Coordinator, who just happens to be on my list of “people I must speak with”. It was great to put a face to a name, and now I can check out the Arrowsmith Community Calendar.

 

With the Corcan-Meadowood Residents Association Annual General Meeting taking place on Saturday and my campaign print material not likely to arrive until next week, I headed home to make up a small hand-out for folks. I had them printed at Parkswest, and they have turned out to be quite attractive. I just might have to go back and get some more!

 

I’m looking out my window now, overtop of my computer monitor, and I’m struck with joy and gratitude. I can see my alpaca herd slowly making their way up the breezeway to their water buckets. Some apples left on a tree in the garden give a splash of red to the scene of evergreen trees, golden grasses and turning leaves. All of this is presented before a backdrop of blue with wispy white clouds. I am so thankful to live on a farm in a place as beautiful as Errington.

Lack of Voting Places is a Cause for Concern for Skye Donald

Would you drive 50 minutes, one way, to vote in a local government election? With a turn out of just 18.8% for the 2008 election, could the RDN do a better job of encouraging rural voters to get out and vote by offering more than one polling station in Area F? These are just a few of the questions I found myself asking when I discovered that the only voting place slated for use in the 2011 Local Government Elections for Area F is The Bradley Center in Coombs. While this facility is a fairly central location for residents of Errington, Coombs and Hilliers, the voting place is more than 30 km away from the homes (by road) from some residents in the Corcan-Meadowood community in Qualicum, which just happens to be part of Area F. When asked why there was only one voting place for Area F, RDN staff indicated that additional polling stations were very expensive, and that several years ago, a previous incumbent not seeking re-election thought that the one polling station was sufficient for the area. Obviously the voter turn-out in 2008 demonstrates otherwise. Casting a ballot is the most essential and direct way for individuals to participate in our democracy, but even those of us who consider voting to be a duty of citizenship may find ourselves hard pressed to find an extra 2 hours on election day.

 

I encourage residents of the Corcan-Meadowood area to take the time to make sure that their voice is heard, too. If a 40-50 minute drive on Election Day is too much, then try for the advance poll on November 9th at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, Oceanside Place or RDN Offices in Nanaimo. On November 16th, you can also vote at Oceanside Place or the RDN office in Nanaimo.

My first post!

Hello! Welcome to my campaign website! With my nomination forms duely filed with the RDN on Friday, October 14th, I am officially “in the running” for the position of Regional District Director with the RDN for Electoral Area F – Coombs, Errington and Hilliers (along with Whiskey Creek and Corcan-Meadowood).

 

I invite you to follow along with me here at www.area-f.ca to watch my campaign unfold. I am so excited about all of the opportunities ahead. I’m confident that once you get to know me, you will see that my character and skills make me a winning candidate.