Dark skies

You will find some sunny moments in this issue, especially in the lighthearted accounts by three of our writers about their first attempts at trying something new.

June 18, 2009 | | Back Issues | Departments | Editor’s Desk | In Every Issue | Summer 2009

We usually take a summer-lite approach to the editorial strategy for our June issue. After all, we’ve survived the dark days, our world is lushly abloom, our rivers run full and the air is gloriously fresh. Who could be gloomy? Hmm, we can it seems – at least a little.

As we were preparing this issue, people were donning face masks by the millions as the fear of a swine-flu pandemic went, well, viral. That was when Ken Weber’s Historic Hills column, “Suffer the Little Children,” arrived on my desk.

Ken describes the horrific and sadly routine deaths of early settlers’ children to contagious disease – in the days before vaccines and antibiotics, when large families lived in small cabins, children shared beds, and the link between health and sanitation was not fully understood.

This spring, fear, if not the pandemic, spread like wildfire. Perhaps that was because it found fertile ground in our collective consciousness. It has not been so very long since death capriciously stalked our children, and that deep memory even now can make our elaborate medical defences feel all too frail.

Indeed, Jeff Rollings recounts one such failure of modern medicine in “Shadowland,” his damning review of regional mental health services. Here is an affliction that is all too real. A conservatively estimated 2,000 to 3,000 adults in our hills suffer from serious mental health issues. Yet, in Dufferin County in particular, treatment for the condition is woefully under-funded. In fact, Dufferin has the lowest per capita funding in the province for mental health services.

Although the problem was well documented in a report last year, no one is holding out hope for a quick fix. The estimated cost of bringing Dufferin’s services up to standard is $1.5 million annually – and the same economic downturn that is almost certainly contributing to the stress of many sufferers will also almost certainly delay the help they need.

And if all that weren’t enough – we’re not even going to give you a break to bask worry-free under summer skies. With her retrospective on the great tornado of 1985, Michele Green reminds us that even those blue skies can turn black and dangerous – and that they are doing just that with more frequency as the world warms up.

Okay, it’s not all bad news. You will find some sunny moments in this issue, especially in the lighthearted accounts by three of our writers about their first attempts at trying something new.

Remember to wash your hands.


About the Author More by Signe Ball

Signe Ball is publisher/editor of In The Hills.

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