Over the past five years or so, I've been writing a comic strip that runs in my monthly community newsletter. This is just something I've done for fun, because I was inspired by the people, places and stories in my neighbourhood. It was a way to give back.
One thing you find out really fast by getting involved in your neighbourhood, is that there are lots of different opinions about everything. I love how, despite this, people can co-exist peacefully and respectfully, right next door to each other.
I've been proud to be part of this group of diverse and respectful people. And so I've really tried to keep my own two cents out of the Ramsay newsletter comic. Far be it from me, to foist my opinion on the neighbours, in a volunteer-run publication that is meant to keep us connected!
A couple of times, I couldn't resist raising issues that I felt were important, both to me personally, as well as to our community. Once, I wrote about how I couldn't find a house for sale that could accommodate a multigenerational living arrangement (this strip received more comments than any other I've written); and another time, I wrote about the importance of volunteering with our local School Council.
That's still what I want. But this month, I had to write about my fear of what's happening in the United States as the world watches the unprecedented period of "transition" following Donald Trump's presidential victory on November 8th , 2016.
I hope it might spark some conversations - maybe even motivate people to reach out, in their own networks, for answers to the questions they have. And if people think I'm absolutely wrong about my take on this - I hope those people will talk about it, think about it, do something about it, too! If neighbours are getting connected, my art is doing its job.
By the way, independent comics creators all over the world are using their medium to share stories about what's happening in America right now. Take a look at what Alison Bechdel is doing; Francoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman are putting together an important project too. (If you know about any other comics that are being written about this, I'd love to hear - especially if they're Canadian!)
"If you cannot be brave... be kind."
"You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind."
I have a few more thoughts about this, so look for another post very soon, with some ideas about what neighbours can do next. Until then: be kind, to yourself and to your neighbours, too.