“Community” may be one of the most overused words in the dictionary, but it’s frequency is probably directly related to its importance.
It’s one of those concepts that is both wonderfully simple and remarkably complex; a series of overlapping circles that stretch across the street and around the world. It’s instantly recognizable by feel, but it’s also something that grows. You can be in a place for years without feeling it, then one day it’s there, indisputable, as real as the walls of your house.
The Couchiching Conservancy draws its strength from community more than any other single power source. It is the rechargeable battery that keeps us going, and nowhere is that energy source stronger than the Washago area.
That has come home to me in two ways recently.
Aiesha Aggarwal and Courtney Baker have been circulating through the region, inviting people to sign our 17% Pledge aimed at building support for a greener community (for more on the initiative, go to http://www.couchichingconserv.ca/the-17-pledge/). The two have been met with much positive feedback during their summer adventures, but by far, the most enthusiastic response they have received has come from the Washago area, where residents have shown tremendous interest in our work and our goals.
The value of leaving some of the world in its natural state seems to resonate more clearly here than anywhere else. You are our people, our community.
The second way that sense of community has come home to us this year has been through the re-development of Grant’s Woods on Division Road just outside of Orillia. When we hold our grand re-opening Sept. 8 from 3-7 p.m. at our newly refreshed facility, no fewer than seven Washago-area businesses will be recognized for their contribution.
- McKechnie Architectural Design, Scott Inc. Design and Build, Allan Drywall, Champlain Readymix, Scott Camick Electric, Orillia Precast Concrete Ltd., and Washago Timbermart all contributed to the project. So while the physical building is just outside Orillia, Washago is built into its DNA.
These businesses, along with several others in Orillia, Ramara, Severn and Oro-Medonte collectively contributed more than $70,000 in value to help us renovate our existing footprint to make way for growth. We were also able to install a solar power generating system and geothermal heating thanks to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
The result is a wonderful building that will anchor our conservation work — including the eight properties we protect in the Washago area — and serve our community for years to come.
The public is welcome to our Sept. 8 grand re-opening, and we expect it to be a celebration of what can be done when we connect communities within communities to build something good. I hope you will join us.
Mark Bisset is the Executive Director of The Couchiching Conservancy