Here is a letter I wrote to the local newspaper, which was published today. I think it has broader application, so I’ve posted it, with additional links and photos.
Doing the right thing
It’s easy to do things right. Today, machines and software can be designed to do things right. But in complex, human relationships, it’s better, and more difficult, to do the right thing. Even with modern technology, machines cannot be programmed, nor laws written, to ensure that we always do the right thing.
Town Council and the Tantramar Planning Commission did things right by enforcing by-laws and revoking the patio licence for the Black Duck Coffee House this week. However, they did not do the right thing.
Sarah & Al, BDCH owners: Photo by DeeSquared
The right thing would have been subtle and nuanced. It would have considered that the owners, in less than one year, have purchased their coffee cups from a local potter, bought only local produce, hired a stone mason, as well as carpenters, labourers, and baristas, all the while injecting money into the local economy. The right thing would have been to understand the influence that one small café has had in bringing together people and attracting many others from out of town. The right thing would have been to see that the Black Duck Coffee House is a signal of potential economic growth for Sackville, bringing new people and new ideas to a town in desperate need of them. The right thing would have been a human, not a mechanical response. The right thing would have involved many conversations.
I ask our public servants and those who represent us to try to do the right thing. It may be difficult, complex, multi-faceted, and even fuzzy. But doing the right thing is something only people can do.
Note: After all the positive feedback from the community [above], the coffee house will re-open on 30 September, after some renovations.