Get out there and show your love of local… doctor’s orders.
It’s been quite a week. On one side, our dedicated team just returned from another successful medical mission in Nicaragua. On the other? Well, Newfoundland was hit with a once in a lifetime snowstorm and St. John’s is only now, a week later, just coming out of the state of emergency while still mostly buried in snow. But, as Mark Critch so accurately pointed out on The National, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. If you did, you’d have missed the magic of this place. That essence of what makes a community a community. That brilliant Newfoundland-ness that comes out when needed most. And we didn’t disappoint.
We all watched the news and the coverage online. The relentless, hurricane-force wind lashing through Rawlin’s Cross. Massive drifts slowly consuming parked cars. Even an avalanche warning issued for the Battery…who’d ever think that would happen? But it did. The storm was as bad as predicted. The aftermath was worse.
But we got through it. And there was nothing more heart-warming than watching the stories change from how bad the storm was to how overwhelming the response became. Neighbours shoveling out neighbours. Restaurants donating food to first responders and medical staff, some of whom had worked 30 to 40-hour shifts. In the days that followed, block parties broke out and citywide calls for assistance were answered in so many ways. I beam with pride just thinking of it.
That sense of community may not be unique to our island, but it surely shines brighter here. When we started Team Broken Earth, it was the smaller medical community here that rallied to support the Haitian people. That caught light and spread across Canada. These medical missions required a significant financial commitment. And when we put out the call for help for our first Rock Op for Haiti, the community answered. Restaurants like Yellow Belly, Get Stuffed, Mallard Cottage, Raymond’s, Red Oak Catering and more all answered. So many local businesses, artists, musicians, B&Bs and more didn’t hesitate to help. We might be the ones in Haiti providing medical services but we got there thanks to the generosity of people like Jeremy Charles, Alan Doyle, Wayne Bartlett and countless more like them.
Post-storm, our city is now in recovery and will require constant attention and a deep amount of care. There will be people suffering under the weight of lost wages or being denied services because of the aftermath. Important services like The Gathering Place need us now more than ever. Businesses will suffer due to being a week out of business during one of the leanest months of the year. The hidden economics of these weather events reach right into people’s homes, change what they can afford to eat and what their children can afford to do. Those with little will have less. This will be the true weight of the snow.
So now, in the aftermath of the storm, the true work begins. I have no doubt the community is firing up as we speak. I’ve already seen so many posts and shared-memes about getting out there and supporting local. Let’s do it. Let’s all now make that extra effort to support local businesses, to eat local, drink local and buy local. Forgo Amazon and buy on Water Street. Head out for a bite at your favourite restaurant or try somewhere new like Cajones or the Salt House. Local businesses have supported us it is now time for us all to return that favor.
So, as your doctor, I advise that you have burned enough calories recently that it will be okay to take a week off your diet and go show your support. Yes, go see Todd at Mallard and take the family to brunch. Say hello to Brent and the crew and Newfoundland Chocolate and grab a box for that neighbour who spent hours helping everyone on your street. Head down to George Street to hear some live music. Try a cocktail at No. 4 Cathedral or grab a pint at the Duke. Just get out there and give back until your belly is as full as your heart. Doctor’s orders.
PS. Please make sure to reach out to the elderly or anyone that may be confined by all the snow because of health or mobility issues. There are also a lot of people in the city in need, more so now in the aftermath. Please help places like The Gathering Place or Thrive by donating any extra winter clothing, toiletries, or whatever you can do to help.