‘Rainy days are awe­some days’

An­napo­lis Royal woman buys 80 um­brel­las for visi­tors caught in the rain

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR

Caught in a down­pour? If you’re in An­napo­lis Royal just grab an um­brella and con­tinue your ac­tiv­ity.

Eighty of the pink and black um­brel­las ar­rived in town last week and you’ll see them in stands up and down St. Ge­orge Street, ready to be bor­rowed if it starts to rain.

“It’s an idea I’ve been sitting on for a while,” said Kim­berly Gunn who’s seen com­mu­nal um­brel­las in other places. “It’s a sim­ple, ap­proach­able, wel­com­ing way to keep peo­ple en­gaged, in­volved in a com­mu­nity. Rainy days are awe­some days.

They re­ally are the days that peo­ple like to stick around a com­mu­nity. It shouldn’t be a de­ter­rent. They’re great for shop­ping, for eat­ing. Go­ing into gal­leries, into mu­se­ums, check­ing out the at­trac­tions. And it’s the Maritimes.

It rains. So why wouldn’t we use that to our ad­van­tage? Let’s keep peo­ple here.”

May 31 Gunn unpacked the boxes to re­veal the brightly coloured um­brel­las printed with ‘Wel­come to An­napo­lis Royal’ in English, French, and Mi’ kmaq. Mayor Bill Mac­don­ald was there, along with mem­bers of Awe­some An­napo­lis, the group that helped fund the unique ven­ture.

Awe­some Ideas

Awe­some An­napo­lis hands out $1,000 once a month to fund awe­some ideas.

“Orig­i­nally, I pitched the idea of 100 um­brel­las to be on the streets of An­napo­lis Royal this sum­mer,” Gunn said. “At the last minute I found ridicu­lous black and pink ones that was in the Awe­some An­napo­lis colours and it looked like a stur­dier um­brella given our weather here, so I bought 80. They will be on the streets for hope­fully the sum­mer and avail­able in about 20 lo­ca­tions around town.”

Gunn said the idea was that Awe­some An­napo­lis would spon­sor the up-front cost of pur­chas­ing the um­brel­las. For the ad­di­tional costs of ship­ping, get­ting them printed, and some of the ex­tras that go along with it – some of the posters for the lo­ca­tions – she wanted some spon­sor­ship in­volve­ment. An­napo­lis Royal um­brel­las will be avail­able to lo­cals and visi­tors alike if they get caught in the rain. The 80 um­brel­las will be in stands up and down St. Ge­orge Street. The idea was Kim­berly Gunn’s and funded largely by the foun­da­tion Awe­some An­napo­lis. Jane Ni­chol­son and Si­mon Bon­ning­ton try one of the um­brel­las.

“I want the com­mu­nity to get in­volved, so lo­cal spon­sors,” she said. “Lo­ca­tions pitched in $30 each and that al­lowed them to spon­sor five um­brel­las each. Six bucks each.”

For that they got name recog­ni­tion on the um­brella – a lit­tle tag with their busi­ness card on it.

Cre­ative Town

“And as part of the chal­lenge too, but a fun one be­cause it’s such a cre­ative town, I en­cour­aged all the lo­ca­tions to be re­spon­si­ble for their own um­brella stand. It kept costs down but it also en­cour­aged cre­ativ­ity,” she said. “I wanted peo­ple to come up with some re­ally neat ideas. And it’s been fun al­ready. There’s been some re­ally neat ideas per­co­lat­ing.”

Gunn said it’s up to the in­di­vid­ual busi­nesses to dis­play the um­brel­las – it could be in­side their shop or on the side­walk.

1Scoop2s­coop, the town’s pop­u­lar ice cream shop, had the um­brel­las dis­played out­side in a tiny bar­rel with a sign that read ‘Lotawatta’ and a tiny fish­ing rod at­tached. The sign be­side it said ‘Rain or Shine Ice Cream is Devine.’ And of course they were serv­ing their ‘Ship­wreck Float.’

“The goal is to have them as ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble. It’s kind of a good neigh­bour pol­icy as well. If you have more than you need, check on a neigh­bour­ing lo­ca­tion to see if they could use some,” Gunn said. “They will all get mixed

up around town and that’s part of it too – a bit of a scav­enger hunt, it gives them a rea­son to check out an­other lo­ca­tions they might not have thought to see.”

Avail­able

Um­brel­las will be avail­able at lo­ca­tions up and down St. Ge­orge Street – from the train sta­tion and Art­splace, all the way down to King’s The­atre and beyond.

Gunn said if you’re caught in the rain, the rest is easy.

“If you see a stand you’re en­cour­aged to grab an um­brella, use it as long as you need to,” she said. “Just drop it off when you’re done. Drop it off at your last lo­ca­tion – if you can find one of our um­brella stands.”

May 28 was the first day the Awe­some An­napo­lis trustees saw the um­brel­las and where their money was go­ing.

“I wanted them to be the first ones to see their in­vest­ment at work,” Gunn said. “That was im­por­tant to me to have a vis­ual project where they would see it. This one hits the street. Every­one gets

to see it. Every­one is in­volved one way or the other.”

She said it will be fun for them to see over the course of the sum­mer.

“Ev­ery time they see one on the street they’ll know that’s their in­vest­ment in the com­mu­nity,” said Gunn. “That was ex­cit­ing for me.”

Huge Ex­per­i­ment

Gunn said putting 80 um­brel­las on the street on the hon­our sys­tem is a huge ex­per­i­ment.

“They might all break in the wind in the first week,” she said. “They might all end up in some­one’s car trunk.” Peo­ple might for­get to drop them off. We have no idea.”

She’s op­ti­mistic that what­ever hap­pens will be good in some way.

“If they end up out of town, well great, we’ve pro­moted An­napo­lis Royal some­where else. It’s the chance we take,” she said. “A few will break with­out a doubt. That’s part of it.

That’s part of life. But hope­fully we’ve helped some­one out along the way. It’s just meant to be a

sim­ple, good-na­tured ges­ture. And it cre­ates an im­pres­sion too. I think a lot of small com­mu­ni­ties you drive through on a rainy day you say ‘oh, it’s rain­ing, let’s not stop.’ In­stead of ‘oh, there are a lot of peo­ple on the street. That looks like a pretty inviting place to be. That just looks wild. What’s go­ing on here.’ That’s part of the idea, to stand out a lit­tle bit.”

Does the name Kim­berly Gunn sound fa­mil­iar? Be­sides be­ing a bag­piper you’ve prob­a­bly seen and heard at lo­cal events, she cre­ated the An­napo­lis Royal Cel­e­bra­tion Tar­tan that was un­veiled dur­ing Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary of Con­fer­eation. Her shop in An­napo­lis Royal is called Tar­tan Wave.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

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