Being a community is about caring

'A group of interacting people whose common beliefs and needs affect the identity of the participants.'

Jack Emberly.

Jack Emberly.

“We were born to unite with our fellow men,” wrote Cicero, “and to join in community with the human race.”

There was light turn-out for Earth Day, 2011, but it hailed.

This year, the sun brought thousands of folks out.

They came to celebrate the recycling society’s 40th birthday, stroll through the farmer’s market, listen to music, attend Paula Justus’ puppet show in the Children’s Tent. I played Bernard, a grouchy city kid who had to learn the joy of planting seeds.

Later, in my adult body, I talked to a lot of people I’d met over the years. The interaction on topics of common concern made me feel like part of a strong community. I think a lot of people sensed that Maple Ridge has grown into such a place overnight.

Community: a group of interacting people whose common beliefs and needs affect the identity of the participants.

Community hinges on  caring about something that others also value.

Anthony J. D’Angelo said: “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”

On Earth Day, we showed we care about food grown locally on protected farmland, our watersheds (ARMS and KEEPS were here), sustainable living practices that include recycling, and our creative local artists, and artisans.

On Wednesday mornings at the Ceed Centre, you find passion for these things and more.  People who drop by for coffee and discussion – anyone’s welcome – value a sustainable community that reveres all life and the environment. The Ceed Centre has become the place to interact along these lines. So many come nowadays, we may have to enlarge the building.

Enthusiastic support for common values shone again at St. Andrew’s Church, April 22nd, when Annette Lebox launched her new young adult novel, A Circle of Cranes. Lebox, a self-professed, “craniac” told me she’d planned that when she invited a wide range of local talent to showcase their own skills under the general theme of cranes, an endangered local bird renowned for grace and beauty.

The result of that invitation was a dramatic demonstration of community spirit. The Golden Ears writers asked writers for stories containing the word, crane. Music educator Rayne Beveridge conducted the Ridge Meadows orchestra in a piece titled Volo di gru (Flight of Cranes), by local teacher and composer, Rob Maddocks, and Take to the Sky, another piece Beveridge co-wrote with the Glee Club (Bergthorson Academy).

“We tried to reflect the flight of the cranes by creating melodies and lyrics that were both painful and uplifting,” said Beveridge.

The same objective was advanced by the Maple Ridge Dance Circle, which  interpreted a piece by local composer Roy Hakkinen.

Emerald Pig Theatre, dressed in period costume, read a collage of works from Chinese poets, including Confucius, and popular children’s entertainer Pam Carr (Growing Up Green) sang The Polder, a song she wrote after contemplating herons and cranes near Grant Narrows.  Carr had 200 folks singing along with her.

“Come along, come along, feel the peace in my song,” we sang. “Join the journey, come along.”

It brought back that feeling of connection and common purpose I had on Earth Day.

Lebox’s book does this, too. It’s the story of Suyin, a poor Chinese girl whose spiritual bond with a mystical  “sisterhood” of cranes helps her endure beatings by slave trader, or “snakehead,” Lao – a nasty piece of work – and subsequent humiliation in a New York clothing sweatshop. Anyone who’s faced adversity in life – all of us – will identify with the main character’s transformational journey and understand the message: we can overcome difficult times if we persevere, and have faith in ourselves. Of course, having a few powerful friends helps.

Lebox says girls in China are denied basic education. They face victimization and despair. The author spent time in China and researched New York sweatshops, learning about the lives of these children. It made her want to help (

• Cheers to the Planet, a fundraiser in support of the Ceed Centre, took place at Meadowridge School, (volunteered venue) April 22nd. Rebecca Awram organized the event supporting community education and sustainable development. It featured dozens of B.C. restaurants, wineries, and food producers, most within 50 miles of us. About 300 people attended.

“It was good to see so many people support common community goals,” said Awram.

• On the Ridunkulist:  MLA Marc Dalton wants the Liberals to be the B.C. Alliance Party.

Shakespeare’s said: “A rose by any name would smell as sweet.”

The Liberals image isn’t flowers, but skunk cabbages. Those things stink whatever you call them.

• My accountant says Hydro bills tripled when his smart meter went in. It’s a common story. He was told pay the bill and hundreds more if he wanted his meter checked. He’ll take them to court if necessary, and win. Hydro, a “captive agency” of the government, picks pockets and blocks its ears. Imposing this faulty system on the public and refusal to redress complaints is an abuse of power by the “captive agency” of a defunct government. Those who want our council to say this have a good case.


Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.

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