A poet and philosopher asked, “What makes one town different from another?” It is another way of asking, “Who are we – really?” When you are asked to describe Sechelt, do you talk about parks and beaches or do you talk about neighbours, friends or community spirit? Perhaps it is not the place or the people but the activities that you think identify us best; like our thriving arts community and the abundance of recreational activities. I’ve had many conversations with citizens about this over the years and we don’t seem to have a clear identity.
Some people will tell me we are a caring community. I have heard others describe us as feisty and challenging. Still others talk about our geography – the proximity of water, the mountain backdrop, our beaches. Of course, we are all of these things – 10,000 people will have 10,000 stories and experiences of living in Sechelt.
What is common in all those stories? What makes Sechelt different from Gibsons or Parksville or St. John’s, Newfoundland? You will see other cities brag about being ‘the city of the arts’ the ‘city of parks’ or ‘Canada’s warmest welcome’ but who are we?
In the past, the phrase ‘Land between two waters’ was attached to some of our signs and brochures. However, that scarcely captures who we are. It is a descriptor that speaks to geography and not really to what makes Sechelt special or unique. And, shíshálh elders have told us that phrase is not what Sechelt means.
In an effort to develop our self-identity or ‘brand’ for Sechelt, our staff are putting up graffiti walls all over town through to the end of October. Look for them in coffee shops and other public spaces. The idea is that you will write on the wall (which is actually a big sheet of paper taped to a wall) what you love about Sechelt. District staff will take all of the information and use it to develop our identity. It will be based on what YOU think and what YOU love about our community. Our shared identity will reflect our shared expression and shared articulation of what we love about
When we promote our community to tourists, new residents or prospective investors what do we want them to know? When we travel and tell strangers we live in Sechelt, what do we tell them? When we reflect on who we are and explain to family why we live here, what do we say? In only a few words, what IS Sechelt? Who are we – really? What makes one town different from another