Photo by John Poon/Special to the Western News

Penticton is “small town” and that’s a good thing

Hi there Penticton and area, my name is Jordyn and I’m the newest reporter on the editorial team at the Penticton Western News. I’ve been a long-time visitor, and am now a first-time resident.

I was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan, relocated to Alberta at the age of 10, and now here I am in the Okanagan. For this reason, I joke with my friends and family that I’m just gradually moving west to nicer weather and better views. Though my background may seem varied, the one identifier I stick with is that I’m “small town.”

To clarify, this is not to say that I prefer small towns, but that I am very familiar with the “small town” mentality. I know the power a small community can have, the support it can offer those within it and just how tightly its inner-circles are knit.

And while Penticton is very much a city, its beginnings are “small town,” and there are many remnants of this throughout the current community. In my one month of working in the area, I’ve already heard from various grassroots initiatives, seen the mayor and city councillors at a number of events, talked with numerous small business owners, and, not least of all, connected with concerned individuals looking to positively impact their community.

For those living in the area, this may seem commonplace for any city comparable to Penticton — but let me act as your wake up call in this matter and assure you it is not. Here are some examples for those who may disagree.

Not every community has a vibrant, multicultural community like this one, and even fewer acknowledge it as Penticton does. I’ve heard traditional Indigenous songs sung at the beginning of events, I’ve listened to speakers acknowledge original ownership of land, I’ve participated in forums in which neighbouring opinions were heard and valued. Not to mention the many band residents I’ve already spoken to about various issues and events. Believe me when I tell you there are bands out there that are not shown this kind of acknowledgement nor coverage, by cities or media.

For many cities, seeing the mayor and council at community events or grassroots initiatives happens infrequently at best. In fact, many cities and towns have trouble getting locals interested enough to participate in local government and politics. This is definitely not an issue plaguing Penticton and area — in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any event or organization in the area that has not been supported by local government officials. Again, in the span of one month, I’ve already spoken and met with local MP’s, MLAs, the city’s mayor, councillors, neighbouring cities’ mayors and councils and more.

Finally, the number of community-minded individuals I’ve encountered (which is only a small fraction of who is out there) is astounding. These people have reached out to me, or the Western News, because they are looking to make a difference and care about the city and its’ residents. These people have held school donation drives, asked for community support and help, hosted events to educate the general public, and shared their grief to warn and save others. No these type of people are not everywhere, and certainly not in this capacity.

Is this city perfect? No. Even in my short time here, I’ve learned about the ongoing housing crisis, the increase in crime and drug use, and the overall feeling that the city is in a downward spiral. As a new community member with a unique perspective, I’m hoping my thoughts and opinions may sway some of you to reconsider this notion. Support your local media, keep in touch with current events and issues, talk with community organizers, attend local events, see for yourself what Penticton is really about. For me, Penticton is “small town.”

Jordyn Thomson is a new reporter at the Penticton Western News. You can reach out to her by emailing Jordyn.Thomson@pentictonwesternnews.com to say hi, welcome her to the city or to provide her with news tip and information about upcoming community events.

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