LED lights brighten the whole city tonight – Flickr photo by slworking2
Perhaps it's a combination of factors – like our relatively mild winter, or a spirit generated by the pending excitement for the 2010 Games – but I'm seeing many more Christmas lights hung on homes in my East Vancouver neighbourhood along Fraser Street than I ever have before. Most likely the increase is a result of those lovely, guilt-free LED lights, which use very little energy compared to their incandescent cousins, and are as cheap as borscht over at Crappy Tire these days.
I've driven around large parts of Vancouver recently, and in comparison to blocks to the east and west, our streets around here seem alive with coloured lights. I even succumbed to peer pressure and bought an extra couple of strings to hang up the other day.
If I were to speculate as to why our streets are more lit up these days, it might be because of a growing pride within our community. It certainly is not reflective of despair or fear of one another. Rather, it may be a sign of confidence.
That confidence is a by-product of a community brought closer by local schools, churches, Brownie meetings, bottle drives, bulletin boards, and four lovely wall murals painted with city grants (recently slashed in the 2010 budget). That confidence comes from local leadership and the enormous generosity of volunteers who put the interests of their community on par or ahead of their own.
In a recent year-end missive full of wisdom and hope for the future, my friend Bob Ransford closed with this call to arms:
"I urge all of you to find time for volunteer service."
Let me credit the countless numbers of individuals who give their time in support of making their community a better place. Whether it is as part of city advisory committee, posting signs for a candidate for public office, or baking muffins for a local fundraiser. Every effort has immense value.
Those who actively participate in the political process as volunteers – regardless of whom they support – deserve a special mention. Without their commitment we simply would have no democratic system left. Why they "get involved" is a mystery. However, that hasn't stopped Michael Davis, the president of the NPA board of directors, from providing his own reflections on the matter...
So, as I have been asked on more than one occasion, why bother?
For me it is the people. The councillors, commissioners and trustees. The candidates, volunteers and campaigners. Regardless of political stripe, they tend to be an amazing lot. Their motivation is a puzzle.
They are not there for the money; it’s not that good. There are not there for the hours; they are horrendous. They are not there for the fame and adoration; no matter what the decision, many will slag them for making the stupidest possible choice.
And yet, they continue. They seem drawn to the center, to the good fight, to have an almost overwhelming desire to help. They need more than punching a clock, shopping for more stuff, or lying on the couch watching the next greatest thing. They care about more than themselves.
I'm too weary after a whirlwind of holiday preparations to add much more other than to say thank you to all of you, our readers, who join us here. It's been an exciting 12 months for us, and an even more exciting year lay ahead. All of us – myself, Daniel, Eric, Erin and the many who have contributed to these pages – are grateful for your time and your input.
We'll keep the lights on – at CityCaucus Tower, of course – as long as you keep coming back.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We'll be back in a couple of days.