“What’s Goin’ On?” Seriously, how often do you hear that phrase in the run of a day? Although those three words, when strung together just so, seem to be inquiring as to the events of the day, the phrase is more often used unconsciously, as a rhetorical greeting. And instead of getting an update of the goings on, the one who initiates conversation with “What’s goin’ on?” can usually expect an ex-pressive, “Not much, b’ye” or “This is it” (the variation – “Yer lookin’ at it”) or just a plain and simple “Nothin’”.
Calling this publication “What’s Goin On” was sort of a response to the attitude that there was “nothin’” going on around here, when, in fact, music, theatre, and the arts in general were growing like weeds poking through the cracks of a sidewalk. That was back in 1995, seven years ago in June. A lot has changed in that time and the phrase “What’s goin’ on” has taken on a new tone in many ways (just ask anybody who’s ever worked the WGO distribution route), but it remains a greeting that doesn’t require much effort to answer. It doesn’t expect you to explain yourself and is more than willing to let you off easy in terms of disclosure. In reality, it’s a more probing question now than ever – what is going on around here, anyway? The post-industrial revolution has taken hold and the search for a new direction is underway. As an island, and a community, our best bet is still to go with our strengths – we used to have coal and fish and we could make steel cause we were willing to work in such conditions as were necessary to make ends meet. But those days are gone now and though our money trough governments still haven’t figured out that the old ways didn’t really work, they still have their sights set on million dollar projects for investment and the countable benefits of call centres and the elusive oil and gas industry. Minimum wage jobs come and go and trading on non-renewable natural resources is obviously not the path to sustainability. So what is?
It’s easy enough to complain about the state of affairs here on Cape Breton Island, but it’s got to be time to finally make an effort to start doing something about making a change. Maybe it starts with a change in attitude. Try it out. Next time someone on the street says to you, “What’s goin’ on?”, tell them. Like this weekend, for instance, you could answer, “Well, Doc Minglewood is playing at the Savoy Friday night and Saturday night there’s music all over town. There’s a play at Sydney Academy starting Wednesday night and Surface Tension is still on display at UCCB…”