Sunday, March 18, 2007

Progress Report - Spring 2007

In our on-going search for ideas, enthusiasm, and both financial and moral support, the Whaletown Commons Society is hosting a public meeting at the Gorge Hall on Saturday, March 24th, at 3:00 pm.

We urge everyone who cares about the future of Whaletown and public space on Cortes Island to come and lend us your voice and support at this crucial meeting.

This past fall, the Whaletown Commons Project launched a community outreach campaign. Our goal was threefold: to increase public awareness of the proposed Whaletown Commons land and the need to secure it for the future use of Cortes Islanders; to increase the membership in the Whaletown Commons Society; and to raise funds toward the purchase of the land.

We’re pleased to announce that we were successful in all these areas.

The community awareness campaign centered around a series of thematic walks through the proposed Whaletown Commons site. The series, “Imagine the Commons,” grew from the idea that the creation of the Whaletown Commons will depend on the collective imagination of the Cortes Island community. Novelist Ruth Ozeki led a Haiku Walk in October, photographer Richard Trueman led a Photo Walk in November, and painter Dianne Bersea led an Art walk in December.

Participants have contributed their work to an on-line gallery, currently under development, and to the Whaletown Commons Project’s on-going fundraising, outreach and archiving efforts. The walks have been lots of fun and due to popular demand, they will be repeated periodically throughout the next year.

We launched a special Whaletown Commons section on the Tideline website at:
www.cortesisland.com/whaletowncommons

The website has information about our fundraising events, as well as other news and developments regarding the status of the Commons.

As a result of these outreach and awareness building efforts, our membership has increased to 220.

Our fundraising, which included raffles, personal appeals, and a weekly presence at the Friday markets, resulted in raising over $30,000 in cash, cheques and pledges. Clearly we have a long ways to go, but we are continuing in our efforts to find backers with significant financial resources as well as other sources of funding.

These numbers aptly demonstrate the strong public support for the creation of the Whaletown Commons, and we will take this mandate to our representatives at the Regional District and strongly request their active involvement in securing this land for our use.

In the past few months, the need for public land in Whaletown has become increasingly evident. With the closing of the Whaletown General Store, we are reminded again of the vulnerability of our town centre, and in particular of the post office and library, which are located on the same piece of private land. The Old Schoolhouse is another precious island asset whose present location is precarious, and other community projects and programs need secure homes. It seems more urgent now than ever to secure a publicly held piece of property to meet both present and future needs, before Whaletown becomes just a name on a map.

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