Creating a Life Together---Under extraordinary circumstance

by: Sara on 09/29/2016

Today's blog post was suppose to be from Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillage and Intentional Communities  author Diana Leafe Christian, but a funny thing happened. Well not funny haha. The power to Gabriola Island was knocked out when a barge carrying a crane, took down the phone and power lines that run across Dodds Narrows, and I cannot access the server where the blog resides.

power-out-on-mudge-gabriola-islands

Picture by Derek Kilbourn of The Gabriola Sounder

You see New Society Publishers is located on the beautiful Gabriola Island, which is the most northerly of the Southern Gulf Islands and lies in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.It has a population of around 5000 and is  is one of the most accessible of the Gulf Islands, only a 20 minute ferry right from the town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

This is where I come into the story. I now live in Nanaimo, so I have power. But as our server is on Gabriola, I can`t access today`s blog post. So I thought I`d write about Creating a Life Together from the point of view of an island without power.  FYI - our editor is without power, so please ignore my mistakes as she won`t have a chance to proof this before I post it!

So you may wonder, what do I know of life without power when I am all toasty and warm with a hot cup of coffee, food in my belly

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Picture Courtesy of Gabriola resident Heather Nicholas

and typing away on my computer? Well, I lived on Gabriola for many years, and this is not the first time the power has gone out believe me.(Three days in a snowstorm...so much fun!) I am sure many of you have your own power outage stories.

I think we can all agree that having a power outage for a couple of hours on a stormy night can be fun, even romantic in the right circumstances. But when it lingers, it becomes more challenging.

First, as Garbiolans rely on water from wells and cisterns, this means that when the power is out, so is the water, as pumps rely on electricity. So the lack of running water and washroom facilities adds to the well, frankly... smell and stress of the situation.

In this instance, all cell and landline phone services were disabled as well, so emergency calls could not be made for the first 24 hours of the power disruption.

And obviously many businesses are unable to open, although some, who have been through an outage or two, are equipped with generators to run basic services, allowing for hot food to be served and ice and water to be sold and intermittently gas to be pumped ...cash sales only. But for companies like New Society who are computer reliant, our doors stay closed.

So I wanted this post to be about creating a life together, not just about the trials and tribulations of a power outage. Here comes the good stuff. With adversity comes community.

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Ice being sold at Silva Bay Resort on Gabriola

My brother has a generator, so my parents have moved the food from their freezer to his. Without phone services, neighbors check in on one another, ensuring the elderly are staying warm and have food to eat or that medical needs are met. Without television and the internet for distractions, conversations around a hot wood stove take place and, very often a meal is cooked on the same stove. People gather in the village to meet, to get supplies, but also to catch up, trade information, share stories and lend a helping hand. 

On the west coast we have been raised with emergency preparedness in mind. Ever since I can remember we have been waiting for the big earthquake, and have been taught the importance of having supplies like food and water on hand in case of emergency. We have not had to use them for such a situation yet, but I can guarantee these supplies will need replenishing after this event and that many who were not prepared, will get prepared. This will be a learning experience for many new residents who may have arrived form the city, and have not had to deal with living without power, and certainly not without running water and bathroom facilities.

It is an incident they won`t soon forget. It will bring new meaning to living simply. But I can guarantee if you did not know your neighbor before this, you will now. And I guarantee that however inconvenienced people are feeling, the lesson in community will never be lost and we will hear for years to come "Where were you during the power outage of 2016!"

To all my friend`s and family on Gabriola...I hope you are all warm and well and enjoying one another`s company! And to all the hydro crews and emergency responder's. Thank you.

All New Society books are 35% of until September 30th. We have many books about living simply and creating community. Just enter the coupon code FALL16 at check out and hit redeem.

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