Summer time and the living is easy, apples ripening and the grapes hanging low.

This seems to have been one of the best summers in a long time. No local forest fires of any major concern. And very little smoke to make breathing difficult.

Our family enjoyed an August long weekend family reunion of about 70 people. They enjoyed wineries , the Okanagan rail trail, and Oyama beaches, not to mention great local fruit and food.

Hopefully, you found some time to enjoy a good book or a nice snooze in your favourite shady spot. We do live in a delightful spot.

As the long weekend has come and gone and public school kids are back in the classroom, there is still a need to be well aware of issues around us.

It is hard to imagine where the current NDP government is headed with teacher negotiations. After many years in opposition advocating for teachers, there is now a feeling amongst teachers of being deserted.

Like the BC Liberals, the government plays news release games with average class size, which they know is totally meaningless. Most class sizes are still around 30, with challenged students also demanding support. Time to get a mediator, get going, get a contract done, after a wasted summer.

Meanwhile, local government and school trustees have children’s health and safety issues to deal with as recovery houses and pot shops are allowed well within drug-free school zones. Trustees and councillors must get much more involved in decision making.

Kelowna city councillor Ryan Donn bravely hosted an open meeting at Rutland Lions Park, around recovery housing. While he and residents spoke, drug users openly and blatantly, used the park for their spot.

People ran through the park screaming about cart thefts. Very sad.

(See Rutland’s Facebook sites to read of the many concerns.)

And, will the Americans ever sort out their tortured soul of gun violence? It is doubtful that their stalled political system can produce much of anything. As they head to full election mode, there will be piles of rhetoric, but that does not stop daily violence. Perhaps it is time for a Hong Kong-style protest?

In Canada, we had a good chance to ensure complete registration of guns. Instead, the Conservatives rode to power. They called complete gun registration “the billion dollar boondoggle” and scrapped most of it.

But, at least we feel a little safer than the Americans.

It takes more than political will to fuel change as the Hong Kong protestors have shown. Look for major protests around gun violence as the American election moves along. This should be the No. 1 election issue, if the National Rifle Association does not push it aside.

And, the Amazon is burning while their president says it is just the usual land clearing. Wow! Then he even refuses the aid from other countries as interference in Brazil’s politics.

Look buddy, we are all on the same Spaceship Earth and it is long past time to work together.

Locally, there are major concerns for the forest industry. For decades, companies have been told they are cutting too much, too fast, and their technology is reducing employment. Still, it continues.

This fall and winter, thousand of brush piles will be burned across the province. Are we any less guilty than the Brazilian president? There are alternatives.

It will take real leadership to get us out of rapidly proceeding climate change.

That leadership must come from the grassroots of ordinary people also. So, attend the federal election meetings and be challenged to organize or get involved in public protests. The Hong Kong protestors do know what they want.

Besides, Summer does not officially end until Sept. 22 and around here, it often rolls on until October.

Lots of time for some good thinking and action.

Reg Volk is a Rutland resident who writes on politics and local issues. This column appears monthly in The Daily Courier.