Matthew Kemshaw

Dear friends of Springridge,

I am writing today in lieu of attending the meeting this evening. Sadly, I have to travel to Vancouver this afternoon for a meeting early tomorrow.

I am a long time steward and friend of the commons who has dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to the site over the past 8 years. I am passionately interested in maintaining the character of the commons as a barrier free, inclusive gathering space for people, plants, animals and others. Over hundreds of hours of working there, I have grown to love the site as a place where homeless and housed, mother and grandfather, student and snake can all meet together on common ground.

The commons needs to be a friendly, welcoming space for everyone and I understand that in recent months this has not always been so. I also feel the site should be maintained in a way that honors all of the energy and enthusiasm it has received from people like me, who don’t always live next door, and who aren’t always participating in the day-to-day. We need to understand that the commons is a gift to both the local neighborhood and the larger regional movement towards alternative design practices. It’s character as an urban permaculture food forest is deeply important to many people around the world. This is not an exaggeration!

I have too often seen such radical departures from conventional design destroyed because they highlight deeply rooted problems and thereby provoke existing societal conflicts. We have to find a way to work together to creatively solve these problems, without just pushing them away, or making it impossible for them to manifest in front of our eyes. This is hard work! Making the commons uninhabitable for folks who are marginally housed or addicted does not help these important members of our community. The commons is one of the only places in all of Victoria where some people feel safe; this is a deeply healing truth that we destroy at our peril.

It seems that momentum and community enthusiasm has once again wained at the commons, and an infusion of new energy is urgently needed. I would like to suggest that LifeCycles is situated in a strong position to cultivate community at the site. However it breaks down, we need to work together to utilize the space as a common ground to explore alternatives. The fact that problems arise at the commons is a significant opportunity – the way we respond will make a great impact on the character of our community. Were LifeCycles to take on the lease of the land, we would be in a position to further cultivate this wonderfully diverse, vibrant space and continue to explore alternative ways of living together in a truly healthy community, while re-establishing the biological diversity so integral to the site’s feeling, or spirit.

Personally, I will always be rooted in the vision of the commons we have created together over the past 15 years. What it was and hopefully will continue to become has been a driving force in my life and will always guide my work and action in this world. There are others like me who have been passionately moved as a result of contact with this place. Please, let’s all work together to ensure that more people can benefit so profoundly.


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