From the editor’s introduction of the 20th anniversary issue of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine, editor Vince Hempsall questions whether he’s a Kootenay local.

Whenever someone asks me, “Are you from here?” or “Are you a local?” I hesitate. Do I have to be born in the Kootenays, I wonder, or is it enough that I feel like a part of the social fabric that makes up this community? The question also reminds me of a game I played while travelling overseas 20 years ago.

It didn’t take long to realize there are four questions every fellow traveller asks: What’s your name? Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going? Most of the queries referred to location. Perhaps that’s because geography is an easy way to establish common ground, like how, for the past two decades, this magazine has been connecting people to a mountainous area of the world they love. I learned place isn’t the only thing that defines us when, as a game, I began altering my questions. “What does your name mean?” I’d ask other tourists waiting in line with me at internet cafés. I’d inquire about their favourite foods, what makes them happy, and I’d ask, “Where do you wish you were from?” I discovered fascinating details about people and connected with them on a far-deeper level than the simple “where” of their worlds.

In his editorial for the Future Issue of KMC, editor Vince Hempsall pens a letter to his son about nanobots and horseshit. Click the image above to read it.

On that trip, I met an Israeli guy in Sumatra, Indonesia. We were lying in colourful mesh hammocks outside a traditional Batak house with a roof shaped like water buffalo horns, and he was complaining about his country’s mandatory conscription into the army. “If you could choose anywhere on Earth, where do you wish you were from?” I asked him. “Does it have to be on Earth?” he replied. “Because my first thought is the stars.” Then he paused, looked up past the palm fronds into the cloudless sky overhead. “I suppose that’s redundant, though,” he said. “We’re all just star dandruff.”

Enjoy our 20th-anniversary issue, which is all about connections.

— Vince Hempsall, editor and Manitoba-born Kootenay local

(Feature photo by Paul Zitzka)