Cranberry Seniors’ Centre was transformed into a festive party venue recently for the fourth annual Chamber of Commoners Award Gala.
Local artist Vanessa Sparrow painted this year’s coveted mushroom awards, which are presented through solicitation of nominations collected by the commoners each year.
Jeannette Jones, one of the event organizers, explained the significance of mushrooms for the theme of the awards. “The mushrooms symbolize the often unseen and sometimes unacknowledged efforts of local citizens, businesses and organizations working to create an open, inclusive and environmentally-sound Powell River,” she said.
City of Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa was invited to present the award for uncommon youth, while Linda Young, first vice-president with Powell River Chamber of Commerce, presented the uncommon business award. Awards for uncommon organization, uncommon elder and uncommon commoner were presented by last year’s recipients.
“The winners were announced ‘Academy Awards’ style to ensure that the inspiring contributions of each of the nominees was acknowledged,” said Jones.
The event is also an opportunity for local community groups and businesses to meet, make connections and celebrate.
“The whole evening is incredibly inspiring,” she said, “from learning about the work of each of the nominees to meeting other attendees and groups who are taking on fascinating projects, not to mention working with such a generous group of volunteers.”
Numerous organizations set up interactive displays and local filmmaker Claudia Medina-Culos created a speaker’s corner. In addition, there was live music from local folk duo the Stinging Nettles, as well as DJ PlacebotheDragon who heated things up later in the night.
This year’s award winners were:
Uncommon Business: CMG Printing. Corey Matsumoto started his printing business on a shoestring and has built it into Powell River’s most beloved printing house that upholds the values of sustainability and community mindedness. Matsumoto also initiated Powell River Sustainability Stakeholders, an arrangement that benefits other local businesses, their customers and sustainable local initiatives.
Uncommon Group or Uncommon Organization: CJMP 90.1FM. CJMP and its band of welcoming members have helped many in the community learn new skills and find their voice. CJMP is now a hub of independent media and locally cooked ideas and it is poised to become an alternative news outlet.
Uncommon Youth: Maenyn Forsyth. Forsyth is a keen believer in social justice and equality for all. In 2012, she and a group of friends organized Powell River’s first Pride Celebration that was enthusiastically supported.
Uncommon Elder: David Moore. In addition to working on issues of social justice, Moore is also a quiet but powerful advocate of the land. Together with many other community groups, he has been deeply involved in the revision of the Powell River Regional District official community plan for Electoral Area C, as well as in efforts to protect Eagle River and Stillwater Bluffs.
Uncommon Commoner: Kevin Wilson. From his work to make Powell River a Transition Town, the literally dozens of food-related and environmental projects he has a hand in, and most recently the launch of Powell River dollars that will keep wealth circulating in the community, Powell River would not be as it is today without Wilson.