Eric Bolton: The Face Behind #galtlove

Taking place in Galt right now is a resurgence, whereby a positive movement is taking over and is being felt by the people who live here, work here, and those who come to visit. Where did this feeling come from? What is it that has made the perception of Cambridge begin to shift? In part, it started with the grassroots movement “#galtlove.”

Eric Bolton, owner of EBolt Music School in downtown Galt, has created a zeitgeist, a spirit of the people, in this community. With his optimistic outlook, his love of spreading music and messages of positivity, he has humbly created the grassroots movement “#galtlove” — which I’m sure many people are not aware was single handedly created by him.

Galt Love was originally an idea put forth by Bolton in 2016 when he moved his music school to the downtown Galt core — now known as the Gaslight District. During his move Bolton went around to all the downtown business owners and got them on board with the making the first Friday of every month a “Galt Love” night. Businesses would stay open late, and perhaps do something special for that night in order to create a more engaged community. It turned into a great success, with the community and businesses participating each month. 

“Business owners were more interested in it since it wasn’t a city run event. It was more about one-on-one connection than being told what to do, and then from there, that engagement and positivity played into this incredible night,” Bolton explained.

The two-year anniversary of Galt Love took place last month, the first Friday of July, and was the largest turnout to date. Idea Exchange partnered with Galt Love to host the Old Post Office Party, which celebrated the grand opening of the historic post office as a new digital library. Around four thousand people were in attendance. People came to tour the restored building, listen to live music, eat, drink, and celebrate Galt’s heritage. 

Since Galt Love’s inception, it has begun to take on a form of its own. It’s organically changed and grown into more of a mindset.

“It’s less about the shops staying open the first Friday of the month — although businesses still do that — and has turned into a positivity movement … it’s become more of a mantra,” Bolton said. 

Even developers have caught on now. HIP Developments, who are building the Gaslight District, used the “#galtlove” hashtag in their condo advertisements. 

“[It’s] really wonderful because now all those people will be moving in with this mindset, that Galt truly is a great place,” Bolton said. 

Now that Bolton has started a new position with the Business Improvement Area (BIA) as the communications liaison, he’s working even more with business owners downtown to help facilitate events they would like to see. 

“My role in the BIA has changed a bit. I’m out in the public more trying to rally people, connecting business owners, helping them work on their events. I’m excited to try and build new things for the community, to assess what’s working and what’s not,” Bolton explained. 

The Galt Love movement has encouraged business owners to collaborate and create amazing events for the public, even outside of the BIA. The other week Proactive Training and Moksha Yoga collaborated and brought out roughly 150 people for a work out in the park. On that same energy, the BIA held the Galt Moves Summit. Galt Moves had fitness and wellness businesses come out to run workshops for the public.

“This is quite easily something we could do every month,” Bolton said.

This positive vibrancy that’s rejuvenating Galt’s downtown core still struggles against the negative perception that is both depicted by the media or socially ingrained. Bolton’s idealism is not to say that he is unaware of the issues Galt faces. 

“We need to focus on the positive. Of course there are heavy conversations that need to happen, but those conversations shouldn’t necessarily be the forefront,” Bolton said. 

“We have a small urban centre, and of course, we get a taste of the problems that come along with a city. But, when you’re walking down here, you don’t see those negative things on such a grand scale, as the media portrays.”

The “#galtlove” movement has played a large role in changing that negative focus, while pumping up and unifying the Galt community. With time will come a shift in focus, but until then, Bolton will continue to advocate for strong community connections in Galt’s downtown core.

“We have this picturesque stunning town that’s on the water: why aren’t we talking about that? Why isn’t that the focus?”