As a regional community we've always prided ourselves on our ability to come together and support each other.
The power of that unity has been shown time and time again.
On a large scale, we've fought for better mental health care, a cancer centre, and lately a new fit-for-purpose hospital.
On an everyday level, you can see the power of our community through the casseroles that arrive at the front door following a life-shattering diagnosis and the neighbours who check-in over the fence during lockdown.
We each do our bit, donate a few dollars here and there, walk a few laps, and combined we've proven an unstoppable force.
Our commitment to each other has had very real and powerful impacts. It's made our lives and community better.
But for a while now, it feels like that sense of community, unity, has been faltering.
It's been nearly two years since we've been able to gather en masse to celebrate or commiserate. Our lives have gotten smaller, and that sense of community, of being in a place surrounded by like-minded people, has been lacking.
More and more community is found online, and well... it's not pretty.
Online the vocal minority, spouting views they'd never say to one's face, echo so loudly it's easy to forget that their numbers are few.
For businesses, this has been a very long and hard week, coming at the end of a tough 18 months. They've been on the frontline of abuse and threats of boycotts.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Staff members, many of them young, have born the brunt of comments and harassment unbefitting our community.
It seems unlikely that anyone so driven by their views they forget common decency will listen to reason or appeals for respect.
So instead, to those who may listen we say this, please be extra kind with your words and your money.
We are the majority, so let's do what our community does best, and support each other through this tough time.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.