My bandmates and I recently had the great privilege of playing at a benefit for a much-loved family in Keswick Ridge, New Brunswick.  Jeff and Eloise Stillwell-Kennett are hard-working parents, community members, volunteers and all-round great people. Jeff is sick and can’t work so of course, their friends and neighbours wanted to do all they could to help.

The first thing people did was start a facebook group. Word spread like crazy and a few weeks later, more than 300 people turned up for a benefit concert and supper that raised many thousands of dollars for the family. People paid $5 to get in, $2.50 for a bowl of donated chili or baked beans and $1.50 for a piece of homemade pie. People brought more than 30 lemon meringue, pecan, blueberry, butterscotch and coconut cream pies, in case you were wondering. Volunteers laid out a silent auction of donated items like woven hats, massage therapy, music lessons and even somebody’s old printer. Ladies sold raffle tickets on a mother’s day basket and dozens of local musicians (including our band, Delilah) played for free. A local CBC celebrity emceed the event with panache. 

Now Keswick Ridge is a farm community. Jeff is an organic farmer, in fact. Community events in are held in the school or a small building with buzzing flourescent lights. Most people are, well, older. Think white hair and pantsuits. Plaid work-shirts and mesh ballcaps. Not exactly the kind of folks you think of as being connected with the latest social media tools.

 Still, the whole thing was planned online. Most people in this farm community have access to high-speed internet. Many of them video taped the performances for posting to youtube. (I’ll post them here when they make it). The facebook group became the equivalent of the old-fashioned community phone tree – somebody was in trouble and everybody jumped in to help. Old-school community involvement, using new-school tools. Cool.