As the year draws to a close, here’s a home-grown list of some of my favourite County initiatives of 2011.
Community radio. An elected board is paving the way for a community-owned, County-wide broadcast with truly local programming. Awesome.
Sounding Ground. Festival Players had an outstanding fifth season, but the most innovative and exciting part, for me, was Sounding Ground—a series of five audio plays set to a walking tour of Picton. People seldom read aloud to grownups, and it’s a rare and intimate treat to hear these stories play out on an iPod while you stroll past familiar landmarks and quiet spots that deserve a closer look.
The County Community Foundation opened its doors in 2011, providing an opportunity to give charitably to an organization that directs funds locally. Donors get a charitable tax receipt; the Foundation does the legwork; and local groups get the funds they need to do good in the community. Everybody wins.
Local 2-1-1 service was rolled out 24/7 to assist callers who need help, but don’t have a full 9-1-1 emergency. No more sirens blaring for treed cats!
The Prince Edward Hastings Land Trust selected its first purchase, protecting the 466- acre Miller property from development and preserving a bit of the south shore’s natural history for future generations—snakes and all.
The Bloomfield Centre for Creativity. The enthusiasm to turn the Baxter Building into a creative space with arts programming is utterly infectious. After the Jim Sinclair fiasco, we’d all like to see more green renovations to extend the useful life of older buildings rather than swinging the wrecking ball first and asking questions later.
Fitness classes at the Wellington Community Centre. Finally!
The County Gift Co. Founder Galen Newman takes repurposed coffee sacks and turns them into beautiful gift baskets, sewn in the County, and filled with fabulous local treats like Fifth Town cheese and Vicki’s Veggies hot sauce; Amarais artisanal soaps; and wine and chocolate pairings. The perfect gifts for practically everyone, they also promote Prince Edward County as a culinary destination. They should practically be on the EDO payroll, except, whoops.
The PEC Innovation Centre officially opened in November to support new tech ventures. It’s an incubator for cool ideas like Cibo Systems’ tabletbased restaurant software that will let customers order another round, and split the tab any way they like, with a touch-screen interface at the table. Even better, the Centre will be hiring in the New Year.
A County distillery. 66 Gilead is pouring three aromatic vodkas infused with pine, rye, and wheat (promising an aroma of freshly baked bread). Nice to have some locally made spirits to round out the wine tours.
Curry in the County. I’m still searching for local Indian or Thai takeout. Maybe it’s the up-and-coming idea for 2012.