In her May 25 letter to the editor, Jana Harmon suggests that over the past 25 to 50 years the arrival of newcomers to Nelson from other areas who are attracted to the opportunity to “raise a family in a wilderness environment that promote[s] health and well being” has depleted the very quality of life they were attracted to (“Was Nelson better before the influx?”).
I would suggest that she is overlooking just how far back people have been settled in this area, as anyone (including Harmon) who arrived here after the original inhabitants, the Sinixt Nation, were part of the “influx” and have therefore contributed to the depletion of the original way of life that was forged in this valley.
That said, as someone who is from “away” (I moved to Nelson in 1999 from Ottawa via Invermere), what drew me to Nelson and what has kept me here for all of these years is the empowering experience of collectively contributing to a common dream that we all share by arriving in this town with a desire to create a lifestyle that is drastically different from the more common mass-culture way of life that we have chosen to leave behind.
Yes, there are increasing social and economic issues, and the personal drive towards material satisfaction often takes too large a priority over contributing to the common good.
It is not just Nelson that has changed over the past 25 to 50 years, however, the world has changed. These are issues that are part of the human experience as we seek to negotiate the balance between an indulgent age of techno-industrialism and our deeper hunger for a return to the roots of what makes us a human family.
Instead of buying into Harmon’s critical longing for the way things were, I would challenge us all to embrace change and look ahead to where we are going as a community. We should seek ways to feel more collectively driven towards defining our identity with strength and resilience in times that we know are tough, and are likely to only get tougher.