March 2007 - I was sitting in a local café and a group of people walked in wearing ski jackets emblazoned with the Revelstoke Mountain Resort corporate logo. A woman sitting at the table next to mine went up to one of the group and said how much she loved the jacket and asked how she could get one. I had grown up in Revelstoke and returned 10 years ago so knew most people in the community. No one in this group or the woman requesting a jacket were local. Yet they seemed to take over the café with their confidence and city style.
I realized at that moment how quickly the town was changing now that this multi million dollar resort development (that had been talked about since I was a child) had finally brought the world to Revelstoke. The residents were becoming invisible as the developers came to town and began to take over.
I went straight home and made a t-shirt with "I'm a Local." in protest. I added the period as I felt it was a statement as opposed to a slogan. Every time I wore the t-shirt people wanted one. They asked if they could buy one and I said it was not for sale. They said I would make a lot of money if I sold "I'm a Local" t-shirts. I said I couldn't. Some people were upset as they felt that they weren't locals like I was. I told them it was not how long they lived here that counted it was if they participated in the community, even if they had lived here only one year. It was not about length of time it was about how they felt about the town and how they showed it.
Someone said that I should sell the t-shirts with different prices according to how long people had lived here. I realized that that is what I would do. I would not make the t-shirts - I'd make a poster selling the t-shirts with different prices for different categories of locals. So I did. I put this poster out in early September, 2007 and have put them up on city hall, in the main plaza and on bulletin boards. I've handed them out free to those who wanted one even to those who were too polite to say they didn't want one and then tossed it as soon as I walked away. People sent the poster to friends in Whistler who could relate. You could customize this poster for any community who has gone through massive development and has been left dizzy and breathless. It is satire - after all who can really define who is a local. It is a label fraught with exclusion and elitism. So this poster is taking the mickey out of the very concept I set out to defend with the t-shirt.
Last weekend (Friday September 14, 2007) the New York Times published an article on Revelstoke and what a hot property market it has become and how the townsfolk are cynical about the resort development. I disagree, I would say they are scared, worried and wonder what will happen to their community. And no, I will not even make a t-shirt even if someone with a hummer is willing to pay my asking price.