Remembering Sandy Griswold

Sandy Griswold died on Sunday. I didn’t know Sandy well, but he was, in large part, responsible for creating the conditions which brought us to the Island 9 years ago, and for keeping us here.

I first met Sandy back in 1994. I was working at the PEI Crafts Council on what had become an Internet project, and needed some funding to attend a Community Networking conference in California. I didn’t need much funding — just $400 if I recall correctly. Sandy was working with ACOA at the time, and when I made a request to ACOA for funding, my request ended up on his desk.

And so it came to pass that one winter day I made my way up to ACOA for a meeting with Sandy and Gerry O’Connell. The problem with my request, as it turned out, was largely that it was for too little money. ACOA was well set up to handle funding million dollar business expansions, but to fund $400 was difficult.

An additional problem, Sandy relayed, was related to the location of the conference: it would be much easier for them to fund my attendance at a conference in, say, Lower Musquodoboit Harbour than in San Jose, California.

But Sandy was wily, and figured out a way of funding my travel under the Cooperation Agreement for Rural Economic Development. I was off to California. Learned a lot. And a lot of what I learned lives on in the www.gov.pe.ca website.

It was ACOA, again under the Cooperation Agreement, that originally funded the project I was working under at the Crafts Council, and Sandy was involved in later years helping to get the mapping project on the PEI website underway. And the funding that originally brought the Internet to PEI in the first place — first through CA*Net and later PEINet — passed through Sandy too.

Outside of formal (or informal — Sandy never seemed very formal) meetings with Government, I met Sandy only one other time, and that was on Queen Street, one fine fall day. Sandy had an interest in old DeForest Radios, and we stood on the street corner for 15 minutes talking about the Internet and mailing lists, and where and how he could pursue this radio passion online.

Sandy Griswold wasn’t a public person — you never heard him on the radio or saw him on television or saw his name in print. He was a dedicated public servant, working in the background, with a sense of humour and knowledge of the Island that sometimes seems rare in such circles. At 58, he died too young. And so last week we lost two good people, Peter Gzowski and Sandy Griswold. Both will be missed.

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