When I was 12 years old and living in Victoria, I was forced by my schoolteacher to write 250 words, or so, about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wrote that I wanted to be a newspaper reporter in Ucluelet. My mother reminds me of this constantly. Moms remember everything. Mother’s Day is May 8; she’ll remember if you forget.
I can’t speak to my entire catalogue of motivations for writing that at 12, but I know the gist of what I was thinking. I didn’t write it because I wanted to be a reporter and felt the West Coast would be the best place to be one; though I’ve since learned it absolutely is. I wrote it because I wanted so wholeheartedly to live here and I felt reporting would be a good job for me because it wouldn’t require much math. I didn’t yet know budgets, tax rates and grants are things people like to read about.
I wanted to live here because I understood that the people here are amazing. It’s not that the people of Victoria aren’t, one could argue they are, but there is a vibe on this Coast that is entirely specific to here. It’s such an obvious vibe that 12 year old me picked up on it. Our tourists do too, and that’s why so many of them eventually become locals.
The West Coast is powered by a community spirit that doesn’t exist in other places. Living here means caring. Caring about this place and those who live here.
It’s why Liisa Nielsen volunteered to kill as much scotch broom as she could on Saturday and it’s why over 20 people showed up to help her despite the sun being nowhere in sight.
It’s why about 50 locals volunteered to clear garbage from Tofino’s MUP last Thursday.
It’s why Shelter Restaurant was packed on Friday with locals who filled the Tofino Hospital Foundation’s lifesaving coffers with over $50,000 in one night.
It’s why we enjoy festivals and events that would be unheard of in many larger communities. None of those events exist without volunteers to churn the wheels and none are as fun without the caring flavour we all spice them with.
We’re not just living in paradise; we’re taking care of it and making it better.
The Internet is coming and we should all be very excited about the information, games, movies and communication capabilities our new fibre optic line is about to stream into our homes.
It was a much-needed upgrade that will help our communities catch up with the times and help our businesses boom. I just hope this high speed doesn’t slow us down.
Our Internet has historically been too slow to effectively game online, or allow ourselves to grow numb while we Netflix and chill. The frustrating nature of our oft-seen buffer-bar helps motivate us to beach and chill, skateboard and chill, surf and chill, kill scotch broom and chill and pick up garbage and chill. I like that. I like that we’re active and I like that our flow is fostering active generations behind us.
I like that we have surf camps, the Tofino Nature Kids, the Raincoast Education Society, a local Surfrider chapter and countless other societies and organizations who want nothing more than to infuse local kids and adults with an understanding that the world is awesome and beautiful.
Learning to love this place is the most important education our locals can receive. We don’t need to Google our Coast to see the unparalleled beauty of our surroundings and we can’t help our neighbours or improve our paradise if we’re locked indoors streaming old episodes of Fringe.
Our kids were gaming enough when the Internet was slow, those games are about to become a whole lot easier for them to enjoy. I don’t want to see us ride this new speedy Internet into a sunset of indoor kids and neglected volunteer opportunities.
The Internet is an amazing source of knowledge and an awesome communication tool, but it’s also a terrifying place full of dark corners. How fast do we need to be able to fall through the rabbit holes it provides?
The White Hatter Darren Laur came to our schools to warn us about the troubles our kids can find online. I’d rather worry about my kids scraping their knees in the forest, bailing hard on their skateboards or wiping out in the surf.
The Internet is coming and we should all be excited but we should also make sure we don’t let this exciting new speed slow us down by keeping us contained in our homes.