Creating a network of local blogs

By David Parkinson

LBM (little brown mushroom) on a frosty morning

How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
(E.M. Forster)

Amazingly, it’s coming up to one year since Tom Read and I launched this blog. My intention in getting Slow Coast going was to have a venue for some of my ramblings which didn’t easily fit into the work I have been doing to promote food security in the region, for which I have a separate blog. I spend a lot of time reading blogs and other online sources of information which are rooted in a particular place, and I wanted to see us folks on the ‘Outer Sunshine Coast’ starting to create a chorus of voices talking about the places which matter to us, the events which concern us, and what our lives are like in this time.

Blogging is such an odd medium: ranging from the extremely personal to the objective or journalistic, from the observation of small daily moments to coverage of the huge questions and challenges of our time. A blog can stretch to fit the interests of its creator and need not be all things to all readers, nor should it try. So this has been one long experiment, and so far it seems to be working well.

When I got started, I mainly wanted to be able to express myself, to talk about the things that were attracting my attention, and to do so without having to worry about anyone else’s editorial requirements or publishing schedule. The joy of this blog is that it is a free vehicle for doing all of this, without having to worry about advertisers or creating paper waste. Sometimes I’m amazed that more people aren’t blogging; but then, so many of us have had the pleasure of writing bashed out of us during our years in the school system, when writing meant “a horrible duty to be done at the last moment because someone is making us do it”.

It’s a luxury to have the time to write for any reason other than necessity and a particular luxury to be able to stretch out and write at length about the little things. And, sadly, it’s increasingly rare to find people who have had opportunities to practice writing and get beyond the challenges of spelling, grammar, and composition. Like many crafts, improvement comes only through discipline. At least, this is what I hope.

Having imposed a weekly deadline on myself, I’ve had thirty-five or so occasions to sift the week’s events to see what comes to the top, then try to write something relevant about whatever that is. Sometimes I’m very happy with the results; sometimes less so. But the regular cycle, the weekly recurrence, the tidal flow of the deadline, shapes the way I see the world to some small but meaningful extent. I often find myself viewing what goes on around me with an eye to writing it down for public disclosure. And knowing I’m planning to write about something going on makes me more attuned to certain aspects of it and focuses my attention on what is really going on. There is a good deal of truth in the remark by E.M. Forster in the epigram for this week’s post: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Nothing weaves together the threads of disconnected thought like the attempt to make sense out of it for ourselves and for others.

Of course, I cannot document much of what I experience, because a lot of it is of no general interest — or at any rate the effort required to make it relevant to anyone reading this blog is more than I could pull off in one week. We all carry around thoughts and feelings which are perhaps central to our being, whether they are fleeting or enduring facets of our personality; and yet to try to pin them down in the form of written language would be impossible, like carrying steam in a bucket. So we stay closer to the surface, talking about the things we feel are easier for us to write about and for others to understand. Each blog creates its own little world, looking at the world from a particular point of view, but if gather up enough blogs in one corner of the world you start to get a picture of what goes on. A constellation needs more than one star.

And even though this tiny pocket of the BC coastline has only twenty-odd-thousand people living in it, there is a surprising number of blogs, and more every time you turn around.

For anyone looking to get a flavour of the bloggy goings-on in the region, here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the local blogs I follow (leaving aside a couple that I contribute to or maintain):

  • Life at Periwinkle: Fran Cudworth and her husband Simon run the Periwinkle Granary and raise sheeps and rabbits for wool. Fran writes about the little and big things going on with the animals and her craft projects.
  • Meghan Hildebrand’s blog: Just about what you’d expect! Local artist Meghan Hildebrand writes occasionally about art projects and other happenings.
  • Transition Powell River: The blog of our very own Transition Town initiative, with fairly regular updates on the effort to prepare the region for peak oil and carbon reduction.
  • Pebble in the Pond: The Pebble in the Pond Environmental Society is working to reduce the amount of plastic waste being produced in the region.
  • Powell River Books Blog: Margy Lutz’s blog about Wayne Lutz’s books, life on Powell Lake, and much more.
  • Murray Dobbin’s blog: Progressive journalist Murray Dobbin now lives in Powell River, although his blog concerns mainly Canadian federal politics and stories from the global scene.
  • Thistle Garden: Margaret Thistle is a recent arrival to Powell River who has interests in gardening (including urban chickens), cooking, baking, and is now renovating the old Bakewell’s on Glacier Street and will be opening a café there soon.
  • Vanishing History: I don’t remember how I stumbled across this odd but delightful blog celebrating some of the more obscure corners of local history, particularly the remnants of old rail lines. Infrequent but fascinating.
  • Rabideye’s blog: Local troublemaker Giovanni Spezzacatena’s musings on things in general.
  • Cameron Twyford (local musician): Occasional ramblings and samples of music from this eccentric and intense musician.

These are some of the local blogs I follow closely. Taken together, they offer a kaleidoscopic picture of the many odd and curious corners of the region, as seen from various angles: literary, artistic, musical, environmental, and historical. Imagine adding your voice to this crazy chorus!! (Please do.)

If anyone reading this knows of other blogs covering the Upper Sunshine Coast, please email me or leave a comment. I wonder if there are many others I haven’t discovered yet?


6 Responses to “Creating a network of local blogs”

  1. 1 margaret December 8, 2009 at 09:15

    Great list David, there are several blogs I didn’t know about and will add to my reading list. Thanks Margaret

  2. 2 Margy December 9, 2009 at 19:25

    Thanks David for including me in your list. It’s an honour. I also appreciate you putting the list together. I know about some some of the blogs, but not all. I’ll get them bookmarked to follow. I enjoy your posts. They make me think and understand what is happening in my community. Great job! – Margy

  3. 3 David Parkinson December 9, 2009 at 20:04

    HI Margy,

    I’ve been RSS-ing your blog for I don’t know how long, so I was embarrassed to realize that it wasn’t on the blogroll here. I fixed that.

    Do you know of other local blogs not featured here?

  4. 4 Margy December 11, 2009 at 01:13

    Thanks for that as well David. I love reading Margaret’s blog. She has so many good ideas and ways to simplify. I can’t think of any others than the ones you’ve listed. I too stumbled on the history blog. It has some great information and pictures from the past. Being fairly new it is really interesting for me to learn about my new home. – Margy

  5. 5 seedywen December 12, 2009 at 09:08

    Please add: SeedSavers of Powell River to the blog-roll, David. As Seedy Saturday approaches on March 13th 2010, there will be more information about the workshops, the Seed Project and of course,seed saving.

    Planning to write short descriptions of my local seed-saving efforts from A(maranth) to Z*ucchini over the winter.

  6. 6 David Parkinson December 12, 2009 at 16:49

    Thanks, Wendy. Seed Savers is on the blogroll. Soon I’ll start cross-posting some of the seed-saving stories over here to let people know what’s been going on… and get folks fired up for Seedy Saturday 2010!

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