Michaels: City of Kelowna shouldn’t pander to the weakest link

Should a city that writes "more words on the minutia of its daily activities than a teenage tweeter on Red Bull" take to cartooning

Here’s my shameful secret: I love comic books.  Love them.

Pithy one-liners, bizarre plot lines, and an exuberant use of punctuation (zoiks!!) are some of the reasons I have a soft spot for the glorious words and illustrations found on the flimsy, inky paper of comic books.

Not the high-falootin’ kind either, if you were about to give me the benefit of the doubt. Marvel is my cup of tea, although I’ve recently bought a couple Dr. Who comic books that have yet to be delved into.

Before I get too carried away, the gist of this confession is that I don’t have high brow tastes when I’m looking to be entertained.

But comics and cartoons aren’t where I go to source information that matters. For that, there are books, academic papers, newspapers, interviews with people who have read and studied more on particular subjects than I would ever have the time to do.  And last, but not least, there’s Google.

There are so many ways to glean life’s important information.

Cartoons, regardless of how beloved they are, aren’t among my top sources.

Perhaps that’s why Kelowna jumping on the trend to explain complex matters with cartoons has me feeling a little disheartened.

One wouldn’t think that an organization that pumps out more words on the minutia of its daily activities than a teenage tweeter ramped up on Red Bull would take to cartooning. You might think they value the power of the pen, or keystroke.

But, no. They’ve veered into the land of doodles, like so many others.

There’s now a little ditty about Ron and Christine Cameron on the City of Kelowna’s website.

Through the Camerons’ lens, visitors are given a little cartoon adventure in budgeting set against the soothing sounds of a ukelele. Maybe it’s a banjo. Who knows.

Christine is a shop owner (consignment, so you know she’s earthy) and Ron is a tradesperson (honest/hard-working). They have more kids than the average Okanagan family, but they keep all their balls in the air just like… you guessed it, the City of Kelowna.

Did you know why we pay taxes? We learn, through this video, that the city is just like us but their shopping “cart is filled with asphalt, road de-icer” and so on.

Did your shoulders slump a little bit reading that?

Mind did when I heard it. Although it could have been the ukelele that did me in.

It’s all a bit simplistic, which is unfortunate because the work the city does isn’t simplistic.

City staffers have their fingers in everything from the ecological to economic health of this region. It’s impressive stuff. Stuff we should know about. Stuff that deserves a proper explanation.

The question is, does anyone care?

This cartoon tells me that they don’t. It tells me that there’s a disconnect that the city is desperately and wrong-headedly trying to bridge through the dummification  of information.

They’re not alone, of course. There’s a growing body of academic evidence suggesting that the forms of communication that used to work are failing. The criticism built into the studies on the subject is that the attention span of society is slimming down and we are collectively becoming dimmer.

In an article in the Washington Post, author of the Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby,  argues our collective intelligence has been felled by the triumph of video culture over print culture.

The dumbing down pandemic is also explored in a book called the Dumbest Generation, by English professor Mark Emory. He argues that the technological advances that should have allowed a new generation to learn in leaps and bounds has actually stunted them.

Young people, he argues, have developed “a brazen disregard of books and reading.”

With the focus so heavily on building social relationships, there’s less engagement with groups outside one’s personal understanding and young people are becoming insulated in their own cocoon of bad spelling, civic illiteracy and triviality.

Both authors offer harsh judgments that my experience has taught me  may be a bit too broad sweeping. This community alone is chock o block with intelligent young people reaching outside their comfort zones and engaging the world—oftentimes with the derided social media—in an attempt to make improvements.

Whether they’re winning, remains to be seen.

What’s clear to me, however, is that pandering to those who aren’t making the effort isn’t going to help anyone.

Especially if there’s a ukelele playing while it happens.

Just Posted

Kelowna talent goes to international stage

Julia Chambers is now attending Tisch at New York University

Break and enter suspect nabbed with help from Kelowna witness

The woman recognized the suspect’s vehicle

Ignoring climate change poses potential catastrophe for B.C.

Fisheries scientist says ‘extraordinary challenges’ in water management lie ahead

Person hit by vehicle in West Kelowna

The incident occurred Thursday afternoon

Despite legislation to introduce it, Kelowna plans to keep up call to scrap speculation tax

City says it will keep working with other municipalities affected by the tax

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Watch it again: Kelowna mayoral candidates square off

Missing the LIVE Kelowna mayoral debate watch now

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

Okanagan water conference builds connections

Experts gathered to discuss water and fisherie sustainability objectives

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

Most Read