Where people work, live and play

Gerry Pinel heads the Golden Ears Transition Initiative, one of 440 grassroots community building projects around the world.

Where people work, live and play

Some African tribes believe a child’s upbringing is the responsibility of the whole community.

In her book, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us (1996), Hilary Clinton called for U.S. society – her larger community – to meet all the needs of a child growing up.

In 2009, children’s entertainer, Raffi, launched the Centre for Child Honoring. It urges the redesigning of society to nurture kids and restore the ecosystem, objectives alien to big oil companies, but shared by Gerry Pinel.

He heads the Golden Ears Transition Initiative, one of 440 grassroots community building projects around the world (nine in B.C.).

Now in its third year, GETI, a transition town, has 20 local action groups – including the CEED Centre – focused on food security, environmental education, transportation, wellness, and the arts and crafts. Socially responsible efforts in these areas increasingly improve the environment for children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Enter the local chapter of the Girl Guides. They’d booked Memorial Peace Park on Saturday, Sept. 22 to celebrate a United Nations resolution declaring 2012 the Year of the Girl Child.

GETI enjoyed a successful festival last year. It planned the same location and date for the second annual GETI Fest.

Pinel saw common objectives for GETI and Girl Guides.

“One of the reasons you try to improve a community is for the children,” he says. “We immediately asked the Guides to join us, and adopted their theme for the whole festival.”

The idea behind GETI Fest, says Pinel, “is to showcase the concept of a village where people work, live and play together and sustain us – the butcher, baker, candlestick maker. It’s going back to the idea of people knowing their neighbour, of reconnecting for mutual benefit as farm land disappears, oil supplies dwindle, and the costs of transportation make goods, services, and imported foods more costly and less planet friendly.”

This year’s festival is a web of four villages. At the centre will be an eco-village. More than 30 community groups and local businesses will be represented. ARMS, KEEPS, GETI and the CEED Centre will have booths.

From here, you move freely to the farmer’s market, which has attracted huge crowds this year. This year there’s been a proliferation of dedicated folks producing and supplying us with healthy and delicious organic and natural foods. Some producers, like Farm for Life, and the Golden Ears Community Co-op, are GETI action groups.

Other groups include talented local writers, artists and artisans. Find them in the Artisan’s Village.

“These people are the creative force of a community,” says Pinel. “They are the soul and conscience of any community.”

Finally, at the Girl Guides Village you’ll find information about the local chapter and the life of girls in countries around the world.

GETI Fest is a great opportunity for the whole family to get involved in our community, and have fun. Don’t miss the People in Motion Parade at 11 a.m. and take in  the music and entertainment scheduled throughout the day, including “A Magic Gift,” a puppet play in the tent of Little Red Schoolhouse, in the Artisan Village.

Schoolhouse is a GETI Action Group I belong to. Show times are 10 a.m., 12 noon, and 2 p.m.

The play’s about a slender young frog – Priscilla – who thinks she’s gorgeous, but could be the most beautiful frog in the world if she only had long eyelashes like Mrs. Llama.

The Mirror – who she consults frequently – says Priscilla is entitled to one wish. She could be the most beautiful frog in the world, but should think carefully. Could something beyond one’s reflection be more valuable?

Along comes Barney, a warty, physically unattractive, but friendly toad with a kindly nature. Barney adores Priscilla’s voice and beauty. He says she could be “Nature’s Beauty Queen.”

But, poor Barney is lonely, sad. He thinks of himself ugly. Will Priscilla be able to see Barney’s inner beauty, and want him to be a friend?

Will Barney learn to like himself? Could friendship be her wish instead of eyelashes? You’ll have to come to find out.

I wrote the play, inspired by years of encouraging self esteem and tolerance in children, and contemplating the fate of amphibians – frogs, toads and salamanders who are disappearing from the planet because of climate changes and habitat loss. Few of them are of any economic value – a new criteria in the Fisheries Act – according to the Harper Government. Learn  how to help frogs at Amphibian Ark (www.amphibianark.org).

The talented Ms. Justus produced the play, and wrote the music for a Barney-Priscilla duet. She’ll join them on guitar. Oosha Ramsoondar (Cinema Politica) introduces us. Dr. Kroaker, a herpetologist –frog expert from Hedley – makes a surprise visit. Christian Cowley, and Janet Amsden of the Ceed Centre are Barney and Priscilla. Marci Cole created a dazzling set, and the Raging Grannies sing a song of mine called the Froggy Symphony.

For good community fun, join us in the village.


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

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