Creativity is an idea associated usually with the arts. Most people picture sculpture or paintings in a gallery, singers and actors on a stage, poems and novels… and certainly Dufferin County has more than its share of people who successfully pursue these creative pursuits. One just has to visit this region during the Headwaters Arts Festival in the fall when studio tours crisscross the back roads… or come to Theatre Orangeville to celebrate Canadian-written plays… the artists who are inspired by the place they live are amazing in their abilities to bring their visions to live.
However, another kind of creativity we foster in Dufferin County expands the everyday meaning of the word. It usually begins with an open-minded look at usual practices and not stopping at “it’s what we’ve always done”.
Consider 2nd Shot – John Gibson was an avid skateboarder and saw the volume of broken skateboards ending up in landfills. Now he uses them as raw material to make earrings and bracelets, watches, wall art, even electric guitars.
Recycling is also at the core of a very large operation near Shelburne. Blue Mountain Plastics takes PET bottles out of the waste stream to supply recycled plastic to Ice River Springs, the largest private label bottled water company in Canada. Not only does this reduce waste, it greatly reduces the energy required to make the bottles. The bottle-to-bottle recycling process uses 6 times less energy than it takes to produce virgin PET.
In another example, Matthew Wood uses the wood from century home renovations and old barns to make doors and furniture with iron from a local metal company. Others have done the same elsewhere, but Mono Centre Salvage and Wood is doing here. But what’s important, however, is that local demand is so high that Matthew had to quit his full time job to keep up with it. Incidentally, John Gibson of 2nd Shot did the same.
The way the local market embraces local business is also a vital part of the success of Evan Besley, who moved away from his grandfather’s dairy farm to grow tomatoes in greenhouses… and to Am Braigh Farm, whose greenhouses on wheels extends the harvest of greens and other vegetables through most of the winter months.
Forward thinking in Dufferin also makes the delivery of community services more efficient for the different agencies, and much more user friendly. The W&M Edelbrock Centre in Orangeville brings the agencies under one roof, so they share office facilities such as meeting and boardrooms. Communication and cooperation are simple and immediate. Plus, the people who need these services often need more than one, and it’s so much easier when they are all in one place. Navigating the system becomes much easier. People feel more like they’re getting the attention and help they need, not being shuffled from one place to another.
Anyone looking to give his creativity free rein should consider Dufferin County. They will find encouragement, open mindedness, and a market ready to embrace what’s new.