Neighbourliness dying in local communities

Dear Editor

The meaning of the word "local" has undergone many changes throughout the years. To a white pioneer in a log shack around here in 1903, local meant the settlement of Battleford near Fort Battleford. Twice a year, he would make his way there for basic (very basic) supplies. It wasn't long before some men started little stores and post offices all over the land. With the coming of the railway, lumber was available and schools and churches next dotted the land that was local. Then, local also meant little villages as they sprang up along the railway track, some becoming little towns. 

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Recently I was going through old documents, letters and clippings. Yes, many clippings, for at one time we had truly local newspapers — the Lashburn Comet, long gone, and the Maidstone Mirror, not so long gone. I found I'd kept not just clippings but copies of the last two years of publication. Both these newspapers were non-partisan.

As I glanced through the papers I was struck by the, well, sparkling of them! There were so many rural reporters and so much going on.

Now, few people want to be local reporters and there is a diminished number of people to write about. To a lot of people the newspaper to which this letter is directed is the local paper, and it is what local newspapers should be, covering as many aspects of life as possible. 

We are always being reminded to buy locally. Of course we should, if we can. But it all cuts both ways. If customers are treated by clerks as though they are beneath them, or if managers don't bother getting what customers want, then who can blame customers if they go elsewhere?

When we lose local services we can often blame government and we can often blame ourselves. As Joni Mitchell sang, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

That definitely applies to community. People can now hop on a plane to Costa Rica when they don't bother about the neighbour across the field. Who needs neighbours? We live in a wider world, don't we? So, children and grandchildren, by example, are growing up with that attitude. They will go out into the wider world thinking neighbours don't matter. They will carry that wherever they go. I learned so much from neighbours when I was growing up. Now I am indeed "grown up," I find myself in an era when apparently people are born with all knowledge and all lore.

One piece of knowledge they lack is the understanding of community, that perhaps local people do have something to offer, including the person across the field or down the street. 

A person just as clever, in their own way, as someone in Costa Rica, a someone who, in their area, is a local person.

Christine Pike


© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist


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