The work that has been done this summer in Garden and the outdoor rink space is extraordinary, transforming the PCA’s site into a truly beautiful space that draws in people from Parkdale and across Calgary.
When these things happen, it is easy to acknowledge the output without considering how it was accomplished. The moment of ribbon-cutting – the photo opportunity, the celebration – are great moments, but they are passing. The work behind the work – the hours of meetings, grant applications, paperwork and negotiations – are invisible to most of the people who actually get to enjoy these spaces. Accomplishing anything (considering the PCA’s small staff and reliance on volunteers) is significant, but projects of this scale take hours and – in some cases – years of commitment.
In this issue, I want to highlight three people that have made this community better, who have overcome obstacles and pushed forward through challenges. People like Bill Biccum, Audrey Smith, and Marcel Hebert – people who, in one way or another, have made this community a better place – deserve more thanks than I can offer here, so I ask you to thank them as well. Without their work, there wouldn’t really be a PCA, and that means more to me than anything.
Bill has been the Executive Director at the PCA for five years, shepherding our day-to-day operations, getting the bills paid on time, coordinating virtually every PCA initiative and taking countless calls and meetings from your truly over the last six months as I’ve taken on the role of president. Bill sees this all as his job – and he’s right, except that what he does transcends any formal description, and creates the space – both physically and culturally – that we operate in.
This summer, Bill has had a number of health problems that have kept him away from the PCA, and his absence was felt profoundly. His giving nature has kept him working hard toward key objectives for the PCA while simultaneously balancing an increased workload. Throughout all of this, he continues to say yes – to push forward through every challenge. On top of everything, a couple of months ago Bill assisted a man having a heart attack. He is a literal and figurative life-saver, and he is as essential to the PCA as that man’s heart was to him.
If Bill is the heart of the PCA, Audrey is the feet, seemingly running from one project to another, keeping ahead of the always-growing and evolving community garden. She is constantly working – investing her “volunteer” hours into something approaching a full-time job. Audrey’s constant movement keeps projects on track, keeps volunteers motivated and keeps us all inspired.
Audrey’s work – from drawings on grid paper to execution of the garden space itself – is a testament to both her individual vision and her capacity for collaboration. If you want to meet Audrey, join us at the Parkdale Garden grand opening and Medieval Fair on September 26.
Marcel is as close to a Renaissance Man as I’ve seen in Parkdale, a distinct polymath who can as easily design and build our amazing new garden shed as he can regale you with stories of Parkdale’s past. Anyone who has come within five feet of him knows that Marcel is a brilliant conversationalist and storyteller, whose quick wit and deft phrasing can hold your interest on any topic.
Marcel’s work to build the garden a new shed was done with volunteer help and many hours of running back and forth from Home Depot to Revy to Rona, finding the best price on every material. He has committed virtually every free moment of this past month to creating something that isn’t just usable – it is exceptional. There’s so much to be said about the work he’s done – but knowing Marcel you should probably hear it from him.
Thanks again to Bill, Audrey and Marcel for their hard work – this summer and always. You really do make the difference for all of us at the PCA.