Wow! This is my 15th blog for We Are White River – has it really been that long? As 2016 draws to a close, our town experiences the extremes of behaviour. On one hand there are those packing up and heading out for the next few weeks, or enjoying “stay-cations” as they wind up business for the year and have a couple of weeks of down time. On the other hand you have the retail and tourism industries gearing up for what is hopefully a period of “milk and honey”. Peak hour traffic wanes and it’s a pleasure getting in and out of Nelspruit at any time, while the Malls and other shopping centres become madhouses. (Tip: as a local, hit the shops early before the holidaymakers head out!) It has been an interesting and at times challenging year for many. Familiar faces have moved away to new pastures – the Cape seems to becoming a mini Lowveld! Some have sadly said a more final goodbye and passed on.
Two great initiatives, the Lowveld Book Festival and the AGFO Expo were held at Casterbridge and the Bagdad Market just goes from strength to strength. The second Night of the Lights was by all accounts a resounding success and is set to become THE annual street party!
The cemeteries are full of good ideas that never saw the light of day. We are indeed fortunate that White River is blessed with individuals passionate about uplifting and empowering the community that we live in. I would not even be writing this if Hilton Barnett didn’t pursue his idea of a community initiative. Thousands of learners across the country would not be benefitting from online educational platforms if the indomitable Mike Matthews had not followed his dream through to creating the amazing 2Enable online study program. While Louis Van Der Merwe takes an idea and just runs with it!
The monthly Bagdad Farmers Market grows and thrives thanks to the dedication and passion of Sue Butowsky and Rowena Tyson. The place to see and be seen, catch up with friends and enjoy the many delights on offer.
The always-caring Trudie Grove-Morgan keeps us informed of water issues and what’s happening in the Municipality and of course we have all our local charities who work so hard, often in very challenging circumstances, to take care of those less fortunate, in need, or who have no voice. There are many other people who try, in their own way, to make a difference. My deepest thanks to all of you.
Change never happens unless we change. It’s easy to sit back in your armchair, drink in hand, and complain. My question to you, as 2016 draws to a close, is: How would you like 2017 to be? What do you want to see happen? And are you prepared to be part of positive change. Remember the incidents of racism getting so much media attention are not the norm. There are thousands of ordinary people of all races interacting. Acts of kindness, compassion, sharing and caring where a person’s race makes no difference at all.
2016, you have given us one helluva ride. Who knows what 2017 will bring? Thank you to the We Are White River team for your dedication to your task and for all you do to foster connection and community in this town that is home to my heart. Here’s to a peaceful, safe and happy Festive season and new year to all.