Shovel it Forward

This video showed up on my facebook stream today, hashtagged shovelitforward.

I tend to let the videos in my stream roll without any sound for a few seconds before I decide if I want to watch it.  After the first 37 seconds of this ad, I turned up the volume and pressed restart. I instantly connected with the message in this Canadian Tire ad and then, as one inevitably does, I did a little search to see what else was out there on #shovelitforward.  I wanted to know who started the movement (it was the Greenfield Firefighters/Paramedics in Wisconsin). Canadian Tire was quick to make it a part of their latest  social media marketing campaign (“Shovelling your neighbour’s driveway is as Canadian as winter itself”).  Good on Canadian Tire for reacting so quickly – they’ve been leaving shovels with “Shovel it Forward” stickers on driveways and encouraging people to spread a little kindness through this act of community. Unsurprisingly, the movement is spreading fast. I bet that social media types will still be talking about this campaign later this year.

The story in the video resonated with me mostly because I’ve lived on a street where people had  no problem coming out to help a fellow neighbour clear their drive, particularly in the aftermath of a major snowstorm. In the winter of 2013, when the skies dumped great amounts of fresh white powder on our streets, those who had snowblowers, would trundle their blower over to a fellow neighbour’s drive to help get the job done faster. We carried our shovels over to our neighbour’s place – a woman who was new to home ownership in Canada that year – to help her out with an unfamiliar task. When our neighbour was out-of-town, we would take the time to clear his drive. Often, when we got home after a long snowy day, we would find that he had cleared ours. This was the norm the four plus years we lived on that street.

Snowblowing

Getting a little help from a neighbour.

Until I moved to Canada, I never really understood all the work that went into preparing one’s home for winter (turn off all outdoor water mains, so the water does not freeze and crack your pipes, wrap fragile plants in burlap, service your heating system, caulk window and door seals to help keep your heating bills down, etc.). I knew even less about what it was like to deal with the aftermath of a snowstorm. I never realized that it could turn into an unplanned workout, a medical emergency or even lead to death. As someone who lived in the tropics, these were things that were completely outside my frame of reference.

The first time I had to clear snow at all was in December 2007, when Toronto and much of Southern Ontario was hit by a really bad storm. At this point, all I had to do was clear fresh, fluffy snow from my car and I delighted in doing it. This could not have prepared me for the herculean task of shifting the dense wet stuff from a 30m long driveway. One was a delight, the other a hardship. Having shovelled my own drive and knowing how difficult it can get, I see how reaching out to a neighbour and sharing this hardship can make for a strong community.

If you’re new to Canada (say in the last 25 years or so, 🙂 ), what was your first snow shovelling experience like?