Mennonite Heritage Village

Why We Need Mass Movements

by Gary Dyck

Last week I talked about how it is movements of people that make history and how there is a heritage movement that you support when you visit or volunteer at your local museum like the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). The article sparked some interest and a need for me to explain more, so here goes.

One of my inspirations is author and environmentalist Bill McKibben. In a 2019 interview with Maclean’s he talked about how he changed his approach to fighting climate change from winning arguments to developing a mass movement of people. For years he thought it was just providing the right information and the rest would take care of itself. “The essential process is not winning pieces of legislation; it’s changing the zeitgeist—changing what seems normal and natural and obvious to most people. When that happens, we’ll win this fight.” Later, he talks about how we are all trying to figure out life’s 1000 piece puzzle and make sense of it, but that “the decisive question is whether we’re going to imagine ourselves primarily as just a collection of individuals or as people who are in this together and who exhibit some real kind of solidarity.”

“We’re in this together” was said and written in more places this year than any previous time. Climate change, Covid-19 and race issues are pushing us to realize that we need to work together if we are going to have a good life. Work together as the communities did before us, when they really depended on neighbours to come over and help in a pinch. Work together because there isn’t a specialized service to outsource societal-ills to. Work together like pioneers whose life depend on one another – because it does.

At Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) we need a heritage movement to keep preserving and telling the collective story of the challenges we have overcome as a people, and the hard lessons learnt. A mass of people moving the same direction and doing their part to keep the story going whether that be donating, volunteering or visiting again. If you look down our village street you won’t see any double car garages hiding stucco houses, but housebarns with the house close to the street and to fellow neighbours. We need a physical museum like MHV to be reminded that we all came from a village once. We still need the village and the village needs us.

It is exciting to see how much we are still doing this summer. Every other Saturday we will be hosting pioneer demonstrations. We have three pioneer day camps for kids that are filling up and people visiting our grounds every day. Whether you are donating, volunteering or visiting we hope to see you at our heritage movement soon!