The Sunshine Coast has a proud heritage of community involvement, and nowhere is this more evident than Gibsons.
The tiny 4-hectare town regularly punches above its weight as it hosts a series of annual festivals, fields volunteers to sit on local government and non-profit committees with oversight of the museum and library, and reaches out to less fortunate residents through food banks and other initiatives.
Or at least, this is how it was. Recent developments indicate the tradition of volunteering for community events is on the wane. Organizers of the Sea Cavalcade are facing the mammoth task of hosting a major two-day festival at a number of different venues, with a variety of family-friendly events. Their shrinking volunteer base will be carrying an even heavier burden than usual this year, in spite of a reduction in the number of events and consolidation of venues in Gibsons Landing.
Faced with funding challenges and a reduced volunteer base, the Sea Cavalcade Committee opted to reschedule some events rather than cancel them. Understandable.
What is not understandable is the reaction of some area residents to the announced changes.
On a popular Facebook information page, residents fumed and fulminated against moving the fireworks from Saturday to Sunday evening (reducing policing costs and potentially heading off trouble from the ‘rowdy element’). Not content with this public venting, a significant number phoned volunteer Sea Cavalcade organizer Conchita Harding to pour their anger into her ears.
Excuse me? Is this how members of our community behave? Is this the standard that Charlotte Gibson set? Remember, Charlotte was the woman who turned her house into a nursing home during a smallpox epidemic (and watched as it was later burned to the ground, as part of the post-disease sterilization process). Talk about giving to your community.
In fact, talking is just about all these folks want to give to their community.
Those who vent on Facebook and in the Twitterverse, or who call up to snarl abuse to volunteers, rarely offer a positive alternative to whatever they happen to be cranking on about. So here is a challenge: this year, be the change you want to see. Be different. Volunteer.