Setting out to save VIA, one photo-op at a time
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Jul 23, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Setting out to save VIA, one photo-op at a time

St. Marys Journal Argus

Stew Slater

St. Marys Journal Argus

Carey Pope is a busy person, given her ownership of the Pass It On store on Water Street, her position as a Town of St. Marys councillor, and her well-known involvement in various initiatives to improve the community in which she lives and works.

But she does admit to sometimes taking a day off.

Not for long, though. “Now, on my days off, I’m going to be hitting all the towns that have been affected by the cuts to VIA Rail over the past few years, and that will be affected if more cuts take place,” Pope told the Journal Argus last week, as she posed for a photo in front of her own town’s VIA Rail station.

Pope has openly supported the Save VIA cause at the Town Council table in the past, and now has thrown her support behind what the St. Marys and Stratford-based organization’s leader, Chris West of St. Marys, is calling the “Action Phase” of the campaign. She has pledged to capture photos of municipal, provincial and federal politicians, as well as possibly other local celebrities, in front of their own home-town VIA stations, and begin spreading those images through social media.

“It seems to have worked with the list that Chris has put together of the MPs and MPPs who support the Save VIA cause,” Pope said of her idea of requesting the train station photos. “People wanted to have their names on that list; they wanted voters to know they support this.”

She adds, however, that “Chris has also said that ‘you don’t just get on the list because you want to be on it. You have to do something’.”

It’s similar to a campaign Pope has spearheaded in the past. In the run-up to the approval by Town Council for the St. Marys X-Park, and the accompanying community fundraising that was required if the project hoped to secure a Trillium Foundation grant, the shopkeeper snapped dozens of photos of people around town — local celebrities; regular folk — holding signs stating, simply, “I Support It.” The phrase soon became inseparable from the X-Park cause.

With the VIA station photo-op tour, Pope hopes to take advantage of what has now become a much more user-friendly version of online social media, compared to the days of the X-Park campaign. With her iPhone in hand, she’ll immediately “hashtag” the photos to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, then send them off to West so he can add them to the Save VIA website.

“Hopefully it’ll be spontaneous,” she said. “Because that’s what social media is all about.”

In the photos, it's expected the politicians and celebrities will be wearing one of the hundreds of "Save VIA" ribbons that were creatively folded and pinned during the last few weeks of school by students at Little Falls and Holy Name elementary schools in St. Marys, under the direction of local florist Julie Docker-Johnson. As part of the “Save VIA” campaign, the ribbon are also being offered for sale at Docker-Johnson's and Pope’s businesses.

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