Well, not quite, but it was a very full house for a town meeting at our local high school last night. I know, you’re asking what this has to do with digital media. Well, nothing, really – but it has everything to do with Canadian content, and not just on this site, either.
Vancouver production company Force Four  is looking for a town to be the focus of a show the studio currently has in development. The premise of the show is to find a Canadian town and assist that town and its residents to overcome challenges faced by the community in regards to economy, community, crime and more. The producers will bring in a variety of high-profile experts to work with the town’s residents to help them meet specific goals – not just on a town level but also on a personal level. They will provide guidance for financial challenges, business dreams and community pride. The premise of the show is to bring a whole town together to inspire other communities, to show others what can be accomplished when a town works together.
Aldergrove has made the short list of roughly a half dozen Lower Mainland communities, and tonight’s town hall meeting built on this area’s reputation of rising to a challenge, of people coming together to build, to support and improve. Speaking from their experience with other documentaries, the producers have found that the best ideas often come from the communities themselves, and to this end has requested that residents and business people
Now I know that some of you are thinking “wait a minute, you just lambasted the Township in the local paper last week.” Yes, yes I did – but that was not my community or my town – that was a portion of the local government who have trouble thinking outside the box – and incidentally, none of those members of Council were at the meeting – or if they were, I didn’t see them, which means they didn’t stand up and take part in the conversation. To the Council members whom I know were there (and not part of the problem I have with local government), thank you for taking the time to support our town.
Force Four Productions is known for such productions as Village On A Diet, Cupcake Girls and Murder She Solved, to name but a few. The studio produces scripted, documentary, factual scripted and children’s programming. This new show will be presented to the Oprah Winfrey Network with the hopes of getting a greenlight for full production.
What did surprise me was the number of relatively new residents who came forward to share their views of our town. One 16 year resident – yes, that qualifies as “relatively new” for me, my family has lived here since 1873, homesteading a quarter section farm just west of the town proper – spoke of her first experiences after moving here with her family, and how a little rain didn’t dampen spirits during our Festival Days parade. People still lined the street to watch the procession and community groups still gave out strawberry shortcake. Another resident who moved here 6 months ago related a similar experience with the annual Christmas parade, except with the dispensing of hot chocolate.
The producers were struck by stories such as these, and how the residents of Aldergrove have pulled together to accomplish such things as the community centre, the establishment of our local museum, the volunteer spirit and the willingness to help. This town has been taking a beating economically, being strategically located between the shopping meccas of Abbotsford and Langley cities. There was a time when our downtown was buzzing with shops and services, now we have an almost completely abandoned run-down mall and many empty storefronts along the main street.
Winning this show could change all of that for Aldergrove – dreams could become reality, our youth could have a future in this town, Aldergrove could once again become the flourishing rural town it once was. It is the hope of the producers that residents will submit compelling stories in their questionnaires, and that they will be able to focus on the positive aspects of the challenges faced by both the town and its residents. As the target network for this show is, after all, Oprah’s, the producers would like to offer an inspiring program that will follow the town’s from the status of bedroom community through a positive transformation to the flourishing community I mentioned above.
Part of the process of working together is the pooling of skills and knowledge, and again I was surprised by the many skilled and knowledgeable people stepping forward to offer assistance. Once it was established what our residents need to do over the next two weeks as Force Four looks at the possible towns, it was like a massive call to action – people were signing up on the contact sheets and talking about the Facebook page for The Aldergrove Project. On March 12th, 895 people “liked” the page – tonight, it’s only 27 shy of 1000. Hopefully that number will continue to climb. Updated: as of this morning we’re now at 990 supporters on the project page.
I wasn’t going to go to the meeting – I was tired and it was a really long day due to another visitation from the Insomniac Boss – but I dragged myself out the door, using the logic that I can’t complain about the local government in the paper one week and then not show up to support a town initiative. I am very glad that I went – I ran into several old friends, and felt quite inspired. Sometimes all it takes is a few little events to add some new fuel to the fire, and while it’s up to us to keep the flames going, a little inspiration can go a long way.