2014 ~ Do Something! by Marc Laferriere (@MarcLaferriere)

Readers of The Brant Advocate may remember my 2 part story on why and how people should become more involved in their community. I really enjoyed writing those pieces, but more so I enjoyed the reaction from people. I was excited every time I got a tweet or an e-mail from someone asking more questions about joining boards and community initiatives, or even telling me that they were applying for a board after reading something that demystified the process.

The local community – especially those who are members of The Brant Advocate family –  have been finding ways to just make things happen in the last 12 months. We love highlighting the stories of these activities. The Frosty Fests and Taylor The Turtles drive us all to do better.

I’ve been really lucky to see first hand many others start new things this past year. Big and small, it all makes a difference and makes our community appreciably better. More on that in a little bit. 

I was at a training in my day job around mental health and the PhD speaker was a self described “fiery southern woman” from the United States. She shared a lot of wisdom around individual happiness that I think applies just as fittingly to any community. She talked about how we all make efforts around getting rid of the negative with varying degrees of success, but that it becomes better to light a candle than to curse the dark. Getting rid of the negative in yourself, your home or your neighbourhood involves doing more of the pleasant and positive.

It is not always easy, but as the trainer mentioned it is when we “do things that are achievable that make us feel competent, confident and in control of our lives that we see an improvement in our quality of life.” That statement is just as true for an individual as it is for a city, town or riding.

We’re all connected. The more positive things you do in the short term, and the more things that mean something to you that you do in the long term make you feel more fulfilled. They also have a ripple effect on people you may not even know. 2013 was filled with the creation of a variety of new positive enterprises in our community that I think are winning ideas. Some are grand, some are tiny – not everything needs to be some massive front page story – but they all provide an example that starting something positive is its own reward.

These are just a sliver of some of the things people in our community got off the ground in 2013, all of which can be found on Facebook if you want to learn more:

GenNext:  This Brant United Way initiative launched in the last quarter of 2013 and seeks to get people in their 20s and 30s engaged in our community through volunteering, giving and action.  At the launch event, I was so excited to hear from others how they want to sign on for the kind of “pop-up” volunteering for good causes that fit with busy schedules that this group is facilitating.

Self Help Addiction Resource Centre: SHARC is a grassroots community-based, not for profit organization co-founded by regular Advocate contributor Randy Roberts. This group seeks to provide a safe environment where people in recovery have opportunities to meet others, find resources and proudly and openly seek help.

Paris Mommas: Created by my friend Kim Newell who has joined with others to bring together Paris, On (and area) moms for play dates, field trips, advice networking and more. They currently have over 100 moms signed up getting to know one another.

Single Fathers Brantford: I know a few of the dads in this group and they are an excellent, progressive and busy group. They hold events for single fathers, they provide support for one another and share advice and experiences. They also have over 100 members and are growing.

Feral-to-Friendly Cat Rescue: A rescue dedicated to cats and kittens that also supports Trap-Neuter-Return programs. My friend Pam Newell (yup…related to Kim above) recently held a Christmas party where instead of bringing Christmas food people were encouraged to bring cat food and other supplies to help support the work Pam and her friend Celena Brooks-Ferraro do helping these cats socialize and find good homes.

The Brantford Comic Book Club: A little thing Rev. Jonathan Massimi and I started this year just to get other comic book readers to have a little something they can do to let their hair down. As a group we gather on the last Monday of every month at 9pm at Sophia’s Bakery to discuss the stories, symbolism and meaning in comic books.

Brantford Buskers Festival: A really well attended event in the heart of Eagle Place that brought people out to enjoy amazing entertainment in a great environment.  The first time an event is held is always the most difficult but Steven Boudreau and the Eagle Place Community Association outdid themselves at this inaugural event.

That’s just some of what I’ve been able to see from only one year in our community on the rise. If someone else were to write about this same topic they might have an even larger list without any crossover with this one. This makes me – and should make you – very hopeful about our shared 2014. What positive thing are you going to start this year? I can’t wait to hear about it… And neither can our readers.

But do something. It doesn’t have to be a cat rescue, a comic book club, a parent’s group, a recovery program or a volunteering group. It just has to be something positive and something you’ll enjoy. You never know what kind of good will come from it.

I’ll leave you with this inspiring little quote from a friend of the publication, Craig Cardiff’s latest musical release Love is Louder. I think it speaks right to the heart of what we can do as a community when we start new things and work together:

“This moment’s happening, we’re all in it.

And the trick is the recognition of little perfects.

All hands up, don’t sleep through it.

No one knows how much time…how much time is left.”

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