"So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it."
- Indian Philosopher J. Krishsnamurti.
A funny thing happened to me on the way to writing this column...
It all started with a midnight e-mail from Kevin Damaskie. Do you know Kevin? The man orchestrating the OCP update process at muni hall this fall (I think his actual RMOW job title is Sustainability Coordinator ), the soft-spoken Damaskie is a well-recognized voice in Sea to Sky Country. Has been, in fact, since he moved here in 1992 as a keen, young Whistler Question reporter.
He's a totally solid guy. Team player. Passionate snoweater. Involved parent. Deeply, profoundly in love with Whistler. You know the type...
Anyway - something I'd written in this space the week before about my concern for the "uncivil" state of Whistler's community conversation had obviously struck a chord with him. Or maybe just a jangled note. This is how his late-night e-mail began:
"I just had a surreal day of work, life and a BIG bottle of Maudite [beer], ending at the bottom of page 35 of Pique . Now I am here."
Loved the intro. Couldn't resist the banter. I wondered idly where this was leading. Abuse? Humour? Sarcasm? Didn't matter. It was late. I was relaxed. Might as well read it through.
And I was surprised all over again. For Kevin's message was far from negative. He shared my concern, he wrote. Preliminary feedback from current OCP research further underscored just how much discord existed in the community right now. "I recommend we work together to expand and positively effect this 'civil discourse in dire straits,'" the e-mail concluded. "We cannot be afraid of fixing this perceived or real effect. We must act quick and sure, as tardiness and sloth bring creeping consequences."
So there I sat, an intriguing e-mail on my screen and not quite sure what to do next. So I gave the man a call.
Kevin had a plan of course. And he wanted me to help him with it. It was all about getting more public engagement in the OCP process, he said. Using it, in fact, to exorcise some of the bitter feelings that festered in the dark folds of the community's fabric.
"I'll be totally frank with you," he confided. "Our ultimate goal here is to make the Official Community Plan Update reflect the thoughts and dreams of as many Whistlerites as possible. We want to go beyond the usual suspects and reach out to those who've never participated in this kind of process before." And that was a good thing, right? It's what I'd been writing about for months, no? Surely I would want to get involved with such an honourable task.