Sunday, January 22, 2017

Beautiful Healthy Terrace Garden Has Big Effects

Hello!

I hope this note finds you well.



My great interest is urban agriculture ... and I always follow stories on a Canadian website City Farmer.  City Farmer gathers articles from all over the world, and shows that there are many innovative, entrepreneurial, active, positive things happening world wide. Food is the way to bring people together!

I've just taken a look at the flourishing urban, vegetable garden tended by Anusuya Sharma, on her terrace in Bengaluru India.

She’s taken courses on vegetable gardening, and says that over twenty years ago she “learnt that terrace gardening could be a full-fledged way of cultivating crops for sustainable living. Since then, my passion for it only grew and I have never looked back”

She catches and uses rainwater, and recycles.  And says that “fresh chemical-free vegetables grown at home reduces my family’s carbon foot print, a core issue in global warming,”

It helps my heart to read about someone who understands her own and her home’s place in such bigger cycles.

See the article at its original source here:

Best regards to all!

Why's Woman

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Paying attention to what others say

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well, moving into this new year 2017 with good health and good things happening.

This year I will try to add more often to my ongoing books of quotations (I write them in Paramahansa Yogananda's Inner Reflections daybooks).

A friend ran across something that reflects how important what people write is to our lives: "When you read a line that is so well written, you just close the book and stare at the wall for a while."  No name was given for the original writer of this, but I understand the feeling and the action of it.  I've had these moments in books as diverse as Agatha Christie's mysteries, Margaret Atwood's trilogy that begins with Oryx and Crake, and Robert Munsch' children's books.

Like so many people, I sought out the clip of Meryl Streep's speech at the recent Golden Globe awards.  Without naming names she gave chastisement to one, and good advice to all:  "...this instinct to humiliate when it's modelled by someone in the public platform by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody's life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same.  Disrespect invites disrespect.  Violence incites violence.  When the powerful use [their position] to bully others, we all lose." 

What is the balance between being respectful of everyone and understanding political/power game playing so that one is able to maintain equality, and one's own power?  How much does one have to play the gameplayer's game to simply not lose?  Or are those even the questions?  How far can one step away from the gameplayer and interact, instead, with the pawns the gameplayer is using, and make the connection and change there?  How to watch one's back while looking forward? 

Complicated questions and complicated thoughts from them ... not sure if I'm near answers.

For a lighter heart quotation, another anonymous says "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life".  Cleaning is not a waste of time ... it does have some practical value!  However, the quotation is a nice out when the place gets out of hand!

Very kind regards to all!

Why's Woman

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking forward to 2017

Hello everyone,

It's been a very long time since I posted!  2016 was a little much!  Had to withdraw from some things.

I'll be here in 2017 tho'!

And wish everyone a far, far better New Year!

Why's Woman

Sunday, April 3, 2016

War Memorials ... What are We to Remember?


Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you all well.

This post is on a rather different topic than usual. On Apr 2, 2016, I wrote to our Mayor and Councillors.

A report to Community and Protective Services Committee on Wednesday, March 3 - LAVIII Public Art Monument - recommends funding up to $100,000 to be "drawn from the City of London Public Art Acquisition Reserve Fund" for purchase of a LAV war vehicle, to become a war memorial at Wolseley Barracks.

In my own opinion, an object phrased as having "unsurpassed lethality" and described as "formidable and dominates the battlefield" is not an art piece.  Those phrases come directly from the General Dynamics website, advertising the merits of their products.

I urge all members of City Council to vote against spending City funds to purchase a weapon to be used as a war memorial.

Ursula Franklin once wrote that "violence is resourcelessness".  She has written and spoken about "the futility of war and the connection between peace and social justice", and has been an active member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.

I'm sure she would challenge London Council to come up with a more resourceful way to remember soldiers killed in war ... and perhaps to come up with a memorial that indicates that the lives sacrificed by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were related to lives lost and livelihoods destroyed of the people in that country.

War is not a series of isolated soldiers.  Canadian lives lost in a war elsewhere do not give us permission to forget the people of that other country.

A thoughtful expression of it being wrong to spend any money on such a vehicle for a monument is in Larry Cornies article, printed in Saturday's London National Post (er Free Press)  ... but, notably, not on the website.  I urge you to read it and consider.

Another London Free Press article reported that all members of CPSC voted for this.
I hope that all Councillors next week will vote against City funds to purchase a lethal weapon for a monument, and will request that any monument meet Franklin's challenge.

One councillor wrote back to let me know he had recused his vote at Committee because he is in the Canadian Armed Forces.  I wrote him back, of course.  

My late father was in the British army for 14 years, about 1937 to 1951, serving in Egypt, Malta, and what was for his time Palestine.  My Dad almost never spoke about his time in the army, but I remember turning around one time when a war movie was on tv and he had tears in his eyes.  He said sometimes, when a news item came on, that people never thought what war did to the people living in the country where the fighting happened.  My mother's first fiance was a Canadian pilot, killed within the first year of WWII.  Dad never bothered her to get rid of his photo, which she kept in the bottom drawer of the dining room buffet; I still have that photo.

So, in my experience, remembering soldiers and people of the war zone is connected.  I hadn't even recalled these things until the recent news items ... and have seldom had a reaction to anything as viscerally as the thought of another memorial tank.  (And I hate those guns pointed out from Provost by the river forks.)


Thanks for the ear everyone,

Best regards,

Why's Woman

 
Critics of LAV memorial stir political discomfort before Tuesday decision
http://www.lfpress.com/2016/04/01/critics-of-lav-memorial-stir-political-discomfort-before-tuesday-decision

Monday, March 28, 2016

Preserve, within a wild sanctuary

Good morning!

I hope this musing finds you well.  And that you've had some time over this past Easter weekend to do something you enjoyed.

... It may be that all one needs to write is some inspiration from the voices waiting inside Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (my copy being the 1955 edition, by coincidence, the year I was born).

Hoping for some concrete ideas about the word "sanctuary" I turned to the only quotation indexed to that word:

Preserve, within a wild sanctuary, an inaccessible valley of reveries.
from a Certain Measure (1943)
by Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945)

Not even sure what it means!  Why can she not get to the reveries - the dreams?

But there's a sensibility I like.

She's instructing us to keep those (as yet?) dreams safe, inside a wild sanctuary.

Implying that our dreams are wild?  That our dreams are fresh, new, unexplored ... not everyday and overused?

Thinking this much about a single line ... it's rather like figuring out poetry, which I admit I've never like to do.  Perhaps I'm finally old enough to tackle poetry?  It's been rather fun this morning thinking on Glasgow's words.

Best regards,


Why's Woman

Monday, February 22, 2016

The world does not run just fine without you

Hello!

I hope this note finds you well.  And doing something interesting that counters the long February ... that lone February 29th  must surely equal 5 days in any other month!

Without expecting to, I've been reading about how to be an activist.  A friend recommended a book with a title as long as many a 19th century classic: Blueprint for Revolution: how to use rice pudding, Lego men, and other nonviolent techniques to galvanize communities overthrow dictators, or simply change the world.

Author Srdja Popovic touches on all those things and more as he recounts his own experiences with the Serbian revolution, and going on to train people from other countries in how to focus on goals and bring them about.  His experience is mostly with people whose countries are under the thumbs of political tyrants, and the movement is toward democracy.  The dangers of such situations are real; the consequences of mistakes can be fatal.

His focus is on "big picture" things, important things like having a clear idea of what your goal is, defining your group's "brand", figuring out the biggest audience you can get on your side because they already agree with something you agree with, using nonviolence and humour, beginning with actions that are small and achievable, following through ... and other things like making sure any action has the details planned and people assigned to carry out the details.

Reading, I knew that what he said was important, and correct ... and I also had some nagging feelings of distress. 

Where were the people?  Particularly, where were the women?  I think he cites only two examples where women are the leaders of actions. 

And although I recognize that his "how-to" book is a sort of "meta" how-to" - and forgive the term "meta"! - I would have liked him to at least mention some of the resources that give the how-to organize and carry through the individual events that lead to the big change. 

There were few references to change other than political governance.  Where were the references to environment, gender, social justice, economy, city bylaws, school board rules ... all sorts of things where the ordinary people (Hobbits, in his reference) make so many changes?

Just a note on Hobbits, characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's books.  Popovic is not the first person to refer to Hobbits when he describes how people can come from everyday lives to make change.

A Canadian woman,Bobbi Speck, became a leader in the 1969 fight against an expressway that was to be built through a neighbourhood in her home city of Toronto.  She was in the late stages of pregnancy and then a new mother when she and others went door to door, met with city council, and did all sorts of organizing work. At some later date she had a chance to note that:

" ... And life can seemingly return to normal, but the little people are forever changed.  This is the theme of The Hobbit and the trilogy by R.R. Tolkien, and this is something we know in our hearts without being told."  [Speck]

This quotation, given in Elizabeth May's (2006) book, How to Change the World in Your Spare Time, is just one place where May emphasizes the power of individual people, and that we become more powerful by doing because it helps us recognize just how much we do know.

"The first step of engagement will leave you feeling empowered.  Moreover, any notion you may have had that the world runs just fine without your help may be shattered. ... it becomes increasingly clear that those in power are not very competent.  It becomes obvious that you know more about the subject than those who are regulating an industry or making zoning decisions.  [May]

Elizabeth's book is a how-to that advises how to handle details of many types of activities that make up the big picture of change.  She stresses the utility of humour, and the necessity of kindness, clarity, and nonviolence in actions. 

I only recently found out that she lived in Muriel Duckworth's home in Halifax, during at least part of her time at university.  Muriel was one of the founding members of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and someone I met and knew during my two years living in Halifax in the mid 1980s. 

I've met Elizabeth May only once here in London, Ontario ... and, as you see, my blog is named after her book.  Knowing that two of my most important influences had not only met each other but were long-time friends and colleagues, was a pure sit down and cry moment.  Totally soggy, throat swollen, and completely good ... knowing I was truly connected to not only a big picture but a big, many-coloured, many-peopled, vision.

Well, this post drifted from where I thought it would go!  I'd intended to make a few more notes on non-violence stuff and activism from The Transition Companion and mention more about Voice of Women, and the Raging Grannies ... mostly to say that Popovic's book might be a most recent one, but it sure isn't the only one, and I prefer the inclusivity of my other references.

The world needs us all.

Very best regards,

Why's Woman


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Risk Doing Something

Hello,  

I hope this note finds you well.

My husband and I were talking this morning ... about some online criticism Prime Minister Trudeau has gotten for "selfies".  Quite a few of the comments don't seem to realize that Trudeau is not the one taking the selfies; rather, others want him in their selfies.

Selfies are not the point tho'.  More to the point is that use of media is an essential tool in how politicians work these days.  As my husband said, [former prime minister] "Harper had a travelling hairdresser. If that doesn't tell you something about attention to image, nothing can!"

And if activists on fronts of environment, poverty, food security or anything else are going to get their messages out and - more important perhaps - if  they, if we are going to communicate with others, engage, others ... well, I guess we have to learn how to use media in ways that keep us ahead of the politicians and lobbyists on whatever the "other side" is in our cause.

 I suppose I'll come kicking and screaming to more media.  I hate having to learn new technologies and their individual quirks and ways of screwing up.  And I'll always say that getting people knitting together in a room is a great way to ensure that things get talked about and to make sure everyone knows what she (or he) is going to do once out of that room.

Underlying whatever methods are used to get people in touch and doing, is the simple fact that there are a lot of things to be done!  And, to quote further from something my husband wrote down:

"Tough times are not the times you want to go into a shell. This is the time to be optimistic, daring, out there, step up, stand out, say good things and be present. Turtles aren't going to bring Canada anything new... and foreign bigness is just going to rob us of what's left of our vision. If we want our economy to be our economy, we may well have to reboot it all from the ground up. That means that everyone who has a sense of industry and commerce needs to be industrious and commercial and risk doing something

That's as far as I've gotten today with this train of thought. 

Hope your own day goes well.  Best regards,

Why's Woman