My (now) occasional columns are originally published on the Armchair Mayor News, this one included.

I saw the tiniest hummingbird the other day, while on the morning hike. No bigger than a (small) dandelion flower, it was hovering around a Saskatoon bush. I got home and promptly put up the red hummingbird feeder in the backyard.

Every tiny visitor, and all critters visiting our yard or otherwise, add a sliver of goodness and motivation to keep this spectacular world of ours alive and well. A quote I often refer to is, and I am paraphrasing here, ‘we cannot protect what we do not love.’ Makes sense, no?

I had a friend visiting from Vancouver two week ago. She loves it here – the open vistas, the pockets of wilderness in the middle of the city – our big, beautiful parks, and the friendliness she got to experience as we made our way to the hiking grounds in early morning.

We all know that times are rife with bad, worse, and downright awful news these days. The war in Ukraine is still raging, there’s hunger and devastation in too many parts of the world, climate change news and anxiety abounding. It’s grim and too often, it’s discouraging.

But my friend treated me to this beautiful story, its echo still present today, 50 years after it happened. You may have heard of it or maybe not. Her mom was part of a courageous group of mostly single moms (the press dubbed them the Militant Mothers and it stuck), who fought hard to have an overpass built so their kids would not have to jump over trains or crawl under them on their way to school.

We fight to protect what we love, right?

I believe love is a powerful catalyst to changing the world, and this may sound like a cheesy tagline, until you pull away the covers to see and hear the stories.

Our own little corner of the universe fosters some of its own, and I wrote about many before. That there’s always more helps me hold on tighter to that balloon called hope, which often seems tethered by a flimsy thread and about to break. These stories weaved together, become the strong rope that anchors the balloon. When held like that, hope doesn’t get lost in spaces unknown.

A couple of weeks ago we had the Rotary Spring Food Drive here in Kamloops and bulging bags beamed plentiful and yellow all over town. It was a good one for the Food Bank, bringing in about 52,000 pounds of non-perishable food.

This is much needed food and supplies by many in the community and beyond, as the Kamloops Food Bank provides directly for clients, but also to about 45 agencies in the city, and it also reaches way past the city limits. The other day, there was the big celebration of the opening of the regional distribution hub and the impact of our local food bank was beautifully explained to guests.

There is non-perishable food and life necessities, and then there is also lots of perishable foods that roll in daily and are being sorted by staff and many (many) volunteers before they reach their intended destination.

Aside from it being (obviously) brilliantly managed and run by staff and volunteers, this whole operation draws its powers and reasons to serve from love and compassion. That’s what makes it remarkable. It’s not just about filling the need, which is tremendous and growing due to the turmoil of our present-day life.

It’s about doing it with love and compassion, and with taking great care of keeping people’s dignity intact.

The stories that people carry with them are often heart wrenching and while it’s best to never judge until you walk a mile in their shoes, being human means that many of us do it anyway.

However, here’s the other side of it. We become better as individuals and stronger as communities when we take guidance from places and people that remind us, through their generosity of their actions, that love and compassion trump judgment, and as they do so, good things happen.

These are the stories I came upon as of late and they’ll become more threads that I weave together to hold onto that hope balloon.

Love does change the world, and it’s not only about the changes we see. It’s mostly about the impact the change we bring about has on someone’s world when they most need it.

It applies to everything life, I believe.