Gary Garrison: Beyond Words
Gary Garrison moved to McCauley in 2003. “I moved here because I wanted to be able to live without a car in a place close to downtown where there was a sense of community in the neighbourhood, where people cared about each other. I got that in spades when I moved into a place in the Inn Roads Housing Coop, across from McCauley School.”
As for why he likes living in the neighbourhood, Gary lists “the friendliness and hospitality of McCauley and the diversity of people from all over the world, the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic rainbow of people, including homeowners, renters, and people in need all coming together.”
Gary started volunteering with the paper first as a contributor. “I wanted to contribute to the community, and I decided the best place to start would be to share my writing skills and my interest in social justice. My first pieces were about vandalism, break-ins, household security, and community policing. Working on that helped me appreciate how individuals working together create a safer, healthier, neighbourhood. I saw dedicated people doing the work of building community,” he says.
More recently, Gary joined the paper’s board. “The BMC News is not just a newsletter but some of the glue that holds this community together and makes it stronger. When I interview someone for an article, I represent the community and my writing has the ability to establish and strengthen connections within the community. When I meet someone on the street or in the grocery lineup at the Italian Centre or Lucky 97 and they comment on something I’ve written in the paper, I know there are dozens more people who were also affected by my work and the work of other contributors. I can see that our community is healthy and alive, and I’m glad to be part of that, through the paper.”
A multi-talented individual, Gary is an accomplished poet. He volunteers for the Artist on the Wards program at the University of Alberta hospital, where he offers to write poetry for patients and visitors. He is also an avid cyclist, gardener, and musician. “I love playing music on my flute, harmonica, and guitar, and I enjoy singing and playing music with other people. I’m co-grandparenting two young children, and I enjoy playing with them, teaching them new things and learning from them how to see the world every day as a place of beauty and wonder.”
Last year, Gary co-authored McCauley Then and Now, a book about the history of McCauley. “I’d just like to say that working on the McCauley historical project last year helped me appreciate that we who live in McCauley today benefit from the richness of our history every time we walk down the street, every time we reflect on who walked this land before us, and yet the kind of community we want to have today and for the future is up to us. Only we can keep our community alive, help it grow, and make it stronger and richer.”