Thursday, January 30, 2014

Time for forgiveness

Although now that I have that title and a blank scene staring back at me, I find myself examining the word 'forgiveness'. It looks as though the word was made 'for giveness' -- for the purpose of giving.

And if I haven't lost you with that convoluted piece of an idea, it seems that we are in a time when forgiveness is in the air.

Maybe it's because we're shedding one skin as we depart the Year of the Snake and moving into the Year of the Horse (tomorrow). Maybe it's because enough of us are starting to wake up to the fact that all we've got is each other, so we better find some ways of forgiving each other and moving along in more positive directions.

Last Saturday was the dedication of Joy Kogawa House, an important Vancouver heritage site, as a place of reconciliation.

Speakers at the ceremony represented a diversity of perspectives, ranging from victims of sexual abuse and torture to those who contributed to the victimizing. Powerful is certainly one word to describe the event.

In the midst of it all stood the bravely quiet Joy Kogawa, drawing names from a box, calling people forward to bear witness to what they or members of their family had experienced -- or done.

And now this week, Pete Seeger, a man who never wavered in speaking out and singing about the principles he held fast to, has died. I love the words written on his banjo: "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

Even the roots of the tree that grows in front of the Kogawa House
seem to be reaching out, as if extending a
hand in conciliatory friendship.

Or perhaps in surrounding hate and forcing it to surrender.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This is what compliance looks like

Well, it's been a long road, but our house has finally joined all the others in our neighbourhood, and now bears a 'smart' meter instead of an analogue one. If you look closely at the photo, you might see that its sign-in logo reads 'i-Tron'. It's not an i-Phone or i-Pad, but looks to be my very own virtual world of a video game (whichever film version you prefer, 1982 or 2010).

The saga has gone on since 2011 and has involved meetings, letters, online groups and altogether too much time, especially in light of this, the end result.

To give him credit, the installer was to date the most mannerly person I have dealt with over the course of
this story. And when I asked him whether he had any sort of job security, his answer was the unsurprising 'no'. That he didn't anticipate he'd be employed much longer, as they are now installing meters at many of the homes where we were holding out for sanity. Thus, his position (just as the jobs of all those meter readers) will disappear as being 'redundant'.

He also didn't seem to mind when I said I needed to go inside to close down the computer. He agreed that such action would be a good idea. The way they were slapping these up on their first time 'round, I doubt whether I would have been afforded that sort of luxury.

Even though I explained that my partner is an artist who'd hoped we'd be able to keep the old meter, for use in a project, he said he wasn't allowed to leave it behind. Hmm. Somehow I thought we'd have paid for it by now. Where will it end up? The landfill??

Anyway, we went as far as we could with challenging this bullheaded corporately dictated change, and finally gave up when their bullying went over the top and seemed to turn into out-and-out blackmail.

All we can say from here on in is the usual, I guess: Onward.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Yesterday and today have seen (heard) Neil Young talking about his current tour, Honour the Treaties.
After visiting Fort McMurray, he's speaking out about the oil sands, and how our government is letting the world down with its pro-oil actions. He claims current government actions (and inactions) are in violation of long standing treaties with Canada's First Nations.  

Rather than having so many workers reliant on the oil patch, he'd prefer to see people employed in jobs developing clean energy sources. 

And it sounds as though his grandchildren are a big part of his reasons for all that he's saying and doing.

Young was a feature interview this morning, and video will air on Wednesday night's The National

He urges people to seek out the facts for themselves. Sounds like we all have a responsibility to do exactly that.  

Monday, January 06, 2014

Sign for a new year

When I saw this sign painted on the road, I thought, Wow, there's a good idea -- for all the pedestrians who forget to look when they're crossing the street. Since they're always looking down, fiddling with their devices, they might even see the reminder to "look".

Beyond that, I think the image provides a reminder to find ways of looking at the world in fresh ways. Rather than only looking straight ahead, consider what's coming from either side. Who knows what you might find?

Part of this idea of looking at things differently requires rethinking priorities, figuring out what matters most and trying to ensure that those things are what gets the best of our attention.

I've recently been introduced to the ideas of home architect, Sarah Susanka. She's all about 'small' rather than 'big' and has a number of interesting ways to make not only our homes, but our lives, more comfortably livable. She recently presented a TED talk on ways to rethink our lives. If you can spare 13 minutes, here's a link to that talk.

Or, a shorter experience, but again an example of doing things differently, this time the annual Cooperative Poem, as published by Leaf Press.

With wishes for a happy and productive new year, one that's full of fresh ideas and better ways of doing things.