Archive for March, 2014

So you think you can spell?
March 7, 2014

This column first appeared in the March All Month edition of the Friday AM in Salmon Arm, BC

So you think you can spell? We all do. At least secretly anyway. Admit it, you see a spelling mistake like a sore thumb. Red and painful and often unnecessary.

Why is that? Because words are the most powerful tools we have in life. How we use them and what we say with them tell our story. How we parent. How we learn. How we conduct business. How we connect. How we get jobs. How we earn a living. How we say hello and goodbye. How we say please and thank you. How we define our lives.

I want to tell you about LASS, the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society. This group of dedicated volunteers and their small team of staff accomplish, literally, tomes of change. From books for babies to cyber learning for seniors, this grass roots organization is dedicated to improving literacy in the Shuswap. And literacy isn’t just about learning how to read, it’s about learning how to succeed. LASS will host its inaugural spelling bee fundraiser on May 2 at the Prestige Inn.

I want to ask you a question. Why is literacy important to the community? Because it’s a good cause? Because kids should have books to read and seniors should be able to use the internet? Yes. But that’s not nearly the whole story.

Here’s why I think literacy is important.

1) Canada is a world leader in the service sector. While we mourn the loss of manufacturing jobs offshore, the truth is the service sector is 70% of our economy and where our real future lies. Engineering, logistics, consulting, science, medicine, and even banking. Our strength is a matter of literacy.

2) Canada is a global leader in the non-profit sector, second only to the Netherlands. It’s 10% of our economy. Our strength is a matter of literacy.

3) 60% of business leaders report that low employee literacy is a productivity challenge. Our risk is a a matter of literacy.

4) The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development tells us that Canada has a productivity problem. Our risk is a matter of literacy.

It’s all about literacy. Especially in small regional economies like ours. Like it or not, your pay cheque has likely more do to with the work of your neighbours and your neighbours’ neighbours than you might like to admit. Our livings and, in turn, our livelihoods are interdependent. Truth be told, I can’t earn a living without you and you can’t earn one without me. If I struggle with literacy, I pay. So do you.

Now, I want to issue¬†a spelling challenge. Please get a pen and a cheque book and spell out “pay to the order of the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society the sum of one hundred dollars” in support of this fundraiser. It could be one of the most important investments you make in yourself, in your community and in your economy. When you do the math, it’s the words that really matter. We’re counting on, and spelling for, each other.