Monday, July 13, 2015

Celebrating 20 years as a local columnist

COLUMN: Much work remains in how we interact with each other

By Ken Herar
I am very happy to announce that I’m officially celebrating my 20th year as a columnist, and what a ride it’s been.
What was supposed to be a few-months gig turned out to be a 240-month dialogue on a wide range of topics. My first column ran on June 23, 1995 and Gord Kurenoff was the editor at the time.
I’ve taken this writing responsibility very seriously, and worked tirelessly with community members to bring solution to issues to better improve our diverse relationships.
Being a columnist is not as easy as people might think. You may have one person patting you on the back and at the same time, you might have a person pointing a finger in your face in disagreement.
Diversity is a very fragile concept and the moods of the community can change at any time, creating barriers.
I have taken the time to listen and have always enjoyed the feedback from readers.
When I regularly speak to people about diversity and what it means to them, the first thing I often hear is that it’s about celebrating our differences.
Yes, I believe differences are important to recognize and celebrate, but so are our similarities. Actually, we all have more similarities than differences when it comes to our families and friends.
When defining diversity and explaining what it means, it can be a little confusing for some.
Diversity is about being gentle with each other, and something simple we can all relate to. When we are gentle, we often have an open mind, creating positive relationships.  Too often, I see people being a little less patience with one another.
Much work still remains in how we interact with each other as one diverse community.
I recall when a young girl wrote in as part of her essay response a few years ago. She echoed similar concerns that our communities are very fragmented.  At the same time I cannot count how many positive actions that are being done daily to make our communities more accepting of each other and inclusive. I hear it in the stories when our Cycling4Diversity team visits schools.
It’s hard not to get emotional when writing this column, and I have so many people to thank for this opportunity and encouragement. The list is a long one and you know who you are.  Former News editor, Rick Rake once shared with me that you’re only good as your last column and he was so correct. I was at a crossroads a few months ago if I wanted to continue on this journey and after much consideration I feel I have a bit more positive steam to blow off.
Do I have any regrets or things that I would have changed? No, not that I can recall.
All I can say is I have honestly done my very best and look forward to my future work and  feel the best is still yet to come. I’m a better person because of this experience.
kenherar@gmail.com