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Initiated and organized by GES member Deacon Shelagh Huston, ‘The Big Tent’ was a multi-faith event at Street Fair on August 18.  2013.  A set of framed posters was displayed in a market tent along with comfortable seating and free lemonade.  Each group created a poster display to introduce  themselves to the  public , and had brochures and handouts available. The Gabriola Ecumenical Society participated, along with all five of the island churches, the yoga/ vedic tradition ashram, and the Buddhist sanga.

The venue presented a strong message of peaceful collaboration among the island’s spiritual communities, which was commented on a number of times by visitors. About 80 people visited the ‘Big Tent’ during the day, and many interesting conversations ensued, linking people of different backgrounds. Several volunteers from different groups helped to host the space.  As a result of the Big Tent, the community radio group CKGI offered their help in producing some radio shows/podcasts on spirituality on Gabriola Island.

It was a wet and stormy day at the Fall Fair on Sunday.Sept 22nd when the Big tent was to be repeated.  There were more people there than  expected, given the conditions, but the Big Tent was, well, kind of a ‘washout’. It was quite difficult to get the posters hung up in the wind early in the day, and they kept flapping about into each other like unruly toddlers, not a great image of collaboration! Once the wind dropped, the torrential rains began – and it was impossible, despite the net walls of the tent, to prevent everything from getting soaked and blown around. Then, when the sun came out, the wind picked up again…and bowled the tent right over! It somersaulted twice across the grounds, was captured and put back in place…but by then the posters were largely illegible. We have some rebuilding to do before our next adventure.