An ‘umble observation about community spaces

To my Tofino councillors:

Gadzooks! Is freewheeling, resort-destination Tofino becoming a no-fun town? Are we encouraging our residents to cocoon at home in the evenings with insipid Bill Murray videos and jumbo bowls of salt-and-vinegar chips, instead of getting together as a community for joint pursuits?

Forsooth, flealess leaders! The oppressed need a place they can go to play together, or plan together, or just hang together. Sometimes it’s a coffee we crave, or drinks and dinner, and then there are commercial establishments aplenty we can attend (when they’re open). But sometimes we just want to be with others in a non-commercial setting, in a place that we are a part of.

Seems to this commentator that one sine qua non of a high-functioning community is a common gathering-place, one that people feel some ownership for. Various spots in town — theatre, community hall, Village Green — episodically fill that function, but those are temporary event venues, not public spaces aimed at the ongoing work of building community.

Humanity sits in an uneasy grey zone in this town. On the books it’s a business, but it’s unique in that its goal is to provide a public good, a gathering place in the heart of town — a community amenity that past councils have long expressed a need for, but have heretofore been unable to provide.

Many an eve Humanity is the only establishment in town with its lights on — especially deep into winter, when those Bill Murray movies just don’t scratch the companionship itch and a place to go is most required, and most especially for our younger demographic, who generally don’t have big, luxurious, affordable homes to cocoon in.

At its art openings and live shows, Humanity shows people they can have a good time without alcohol — a rather saulbrious lesson for our residents, especially the young ‘uns.

So cut the joint some slack, i beseech thee, particularly on the noise complaints and the fines. They’re aware of the situation, a warning will suffice. Bylaws are blunt instruments — well and good when used judiciously to control problems, not so good when used to cause problems, especially to a community-positive, budding social enterprise like Humanity.

Hope to see you thar, pardners!

~greg blanchette
Tofino

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