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May 08, 2011

What's Your Definition of Poverty?

 Living on Salt Spring Island has given me some minor insight into how it might feel to live in a developing country, always being judged or being felt sorry for by citizens of financially wealthier countries.

We feel sorry for them, peering in as outsiders and yet, perhaps, their lives are rich with family connections we've long ago lost and gratitude in simplicity that so many can’t find.

I'm not saying that being financially poor is all that desirable, but we so often forget how many other forms of poverty exist when our metering stick is only related to bank accounts.

I've been thinking about living here lately and not having much money and how that leads, by sheer necessity, to living a more environmentally-conscious existence.

You can't afford to buy new clothes so you shop at thrift stores and in that way you're recycling perfectly good items/clothing anyway. Your wardrobe can be small here so you need fewer items. Thrift stores have cool stuff.

Aware of how much gas is costing, I try to limit my visits to town re-arranging my visits to coincide with other activities or ensuring I do everything I need to do at once, as much as possible 

The market on Saturday's provides immense opportunities for socializing with other islanders and with visitors.

Creative pursuits require a turning inward and my mind is alive with the content and possibilities.

It's so easy to get to where I need to go not having to worry about traffic, parking, getting on the freeway to get downtown and therefore, I partake in as many, if not more, activities.

It’s true, I won’t be jetting off to Hawaii or Mexico or Tahita (because I can’t afford a plane ticket) but I won’t be contributing to global warming in that way either.

I can go to the library for books and videos or when I drop off my recycling, I can pop into the little hut where everyone drops off books and magazines and get some for free.

This week I spent a lot of time writing queries, completing two articles for a magazine and because I get up so early, usually around 6:30 am, and I’m almost always at my computer by 7:00 am, by 2:00 pm, I’ve put in a 7 hour day. If there’s work that needs to be done, I can usually focus on it.

In the afternoon on two of those days, I went for a walk and spotted four eagles on the beach at low tide and watched them in awe for quite a while. I lucked out and managed to get a decent shot of the one above as it flew off the tree right above me. While there, I had an enlightening conversation with a man I’d never met, also an islander, named John. We talked about the election and what’s been going on in the U.S. and there was no ranting to be heard.  On a second afternoon, I went to a favourite barn and ran into a friend, also taking photographs and managed to get into the zone, that place where you’re not longer getting in your own way and immersed in the moment. 

I was invited to dinner by two different friends. I took in a jazz concert at ArtSpring, sold some photographs at the Saturday Market and now will get to hear Alexandra Morton speak about salmon in a talk she's giving tonight at Fulford Hall.

If I had a garden, I’m not sure where that would fit into my dailiness.  If I really want a garden, it’s possible to have one. Other islanders offer their land in an exchange for some labour.

It’s true, my financial resources are extremely limited, and yet, I am busy and engaged and like most people on the island that I know, can barely keep up with everything they are working on.
Is that poverty? I don’t think so.

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