I lived in Calgary for ten years, between 1990 and 2000, when John and I moved to Victoria. I loved the city – people knew how to work hard AND play hard. The mountains are only an hour’s drive away, and the charms of the outdoor festivals, good restaurants, Stampede fun (I actually heard someone in the elevator of an office tower once say during Stampede: “Is that the best you can do? You’re only wearing blue jeans!”), and THE best folk music scene on the continent made it a great place to live. I was amazed, having moved from Ottawa, that everyone who you passed in the street met your eyes and said hello – this, in a city of (then) 800,000 people! It felt like a small town.
Two years before I moved there, they had hosted the Winter Olympics, and the pride of that event was still very much evident. It wasn’t a matter of “will you volunteer for something?” but: “WHAT will you volunteer for?”. I got onto the Board of Directors for the Calgary Folk Festival, as well as for the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta, and kept myself busy between tours.
Since we moved to BC, Calgary has blossomed into a city of over 1 million people.
While I was there, I met lots of people from outlying towns and cities, too, like Canmore and Cochrane and Bragg Creek. Right now, I’m feeling profoundly shocked by the images coming out of all these places, of the high water that has flooded homes and businesses. This is a century flood, thanks to a persistent storm that sat over the area dumping huge amounts of water added to the spring runoff from the mountains. People need help.
The volunteer spirit is still alive in Calgary and area, and people are rising to the occasion. When the city asked for 600 volunteers, they got 7,000!
But still, the recovery will be expensive and lengthy.
I have already made my donation to the Canadian Red Cross.
The quilters, as always, are coming through. https://www.facebook.com/groups/QuiltsforCalgary/?fref=ts
These are two groups that have just sprung up to coordinate quilt donations for Calgary. There will be others, I’m sure, as the news gets out about specific quilters who have suffered losses. People are only now getting back to their homes to see what has happened.
You can help. If you’ve ever visited the Calgary Stampede (which they are vowing to hold in a couple of weeks, despite the Stampede grounds still being under water), or landed in Calgary to start a trip into the mountains; if you’ve driven the grassy ranchlands of southern Alberta or stopped in the majesty of Canmore or Banff, please consider helping out in some way.
If you’re thinking of donating a quilt and looking for a good pattern to use, my friend Daphne Greig has offered a free pattern on her blog: http://www.daphnegreig.blogspot.ca/ . I’m planning to make quilts with my group and send them along. There’s an army of longarmers in Alberta ready to quilt these tops and distribute them to those in need.