Opinion

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- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Publisher and Editor, OwenSoundHub.org

Thank you to all those who donated to the Owen Sound Hospital Foundation's Critical Response Fund: COVID-19 over the weekend. Reportedly over $8000 was raised in the Beards for Bucks event at the Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts.

I too was surprised that a stylist did the shave-off, as I knew that Phase Two restrictions clearly state "No services that tend to the face are permitted at this time, including facial shaving or beard trimming."  Apparently some of the participants – all local politicians - had expected to do their own shaving, given the current situation.

But knowing there were safety protocols in place, I didn't understand the full implications of what I read on the Sun Times Facebook page until I received a Letter to the Editor from a local business owner. After months of losing 80% of her income while playing by the closure rules of the pandemic, she was clearly angry that her own representatives were receiving a service forbidden to everyone else in the province.

We published her letter, and that of another local business owner, and wrote to those involved to offer to publish any response. The first came ten minutes later; the next after CTV had interviewed the local salon owner. And the most recent statement was from the mayor at 10:57 last night. We published them all.

The rest of my day was spent on my least favourite activity as an editor – babysitting the comment section of our social media.

If the Owen Sound Hub Facebook page, or the Hubbub group, has any purpose at all, it is to direct people to full articles and letters on owensoundhub.org.  (If it were our choice, people would go there directly and not wait for Mr. Zuckerburg and company to tell them what might interest them.)

I expect my elected officials, and the senior staff in municipal offices, to keep informed and current on the activities and thoughts of their constituents. I expect them to use a broad range of sources, so that they understand the concerns of small business, the local college and school boards, minor sports, seniors and families, and now, more than ever, public health.

I do not expect them to get this information from the OwenSoundHub.org, or any other particular medium. I do not expect them to get their direction or advice from any social media and I specifically do not expect them to engage in rebuttals or discussions on social media.

If the Owen Sound Hub serves any purpose in this community, we hope it is to encourage citizens to become engaged in their community. To join groups, make art, speak to their neighbours, plant a garden, support local business, volunteer for charities, read or watch something new.

And yes, we hope the Hub encourages you to learn about issues, and when appropriate, to bring them to the attention of your local, provincial and federal representatives so collectively we can build our community and address our mutual concerns. Write letters or call them, answer surveys, attend meetings, watch council, join a board, ask questions, do the research. By all means, write a letter to the editor to motivate your neighbours.

Having spent most of twelve hours of a damp Sunday moderating the comments on our social media, I feel there is more important work for both of us to be doing.

Let's get at it.


 

 

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