Summerlanders representing a variety of demographics and positions gathered to discuss ways to improve the community during the Conversation Café last week.
The event, on Oct. 19, drew around 50 people.
“I think we had a very good cross-section,” said Barbara Thorburn, one of the organizers of the event. “To see them all sitting at the same table is really remarkable.”
The participants included developers, farmers, small business owners and workers and those in the financial sector, among others.
Thorburn said the diverse group accomplished one of the café’s goals. She said the meetings are designed to bring a diverse group together to discuss common goals and solutions all can support.
“The ideas that come out of this are so valuable,” she said. “We can learn much from it.”
Four topics were discussed at the forum. They were supporting local business, creating a broad community, bringing local initiatives and providing good leadership and governance.
She said leadership should not be restricted to the various levels of government.
“All communities need leaders,” she said. “We need people who have a vision and can speak for us and who have the best interests of the community first.”
The diversity in the community is also important, she said, but only when people come together rather than staying in fragmented sectors.
“We have to make sure all parts of our community ecosystem are working together,” she said.
The concept which garnered the most interest was supporting local initiatives, particularly a proposal to use the now abandoned packing house as a community facility.
“It’s not an initiative which has started, but there were a lot of ideas about it,” Thorburn said.
Suggestions have been made to use the large building on Jubilee Road East as a year-round farmers’ market and a centre for cultural events and meetings.
Thorburn and other organizers are now working to compile the suggestions which were made at the Conversation Café.