Sunday, October 19, 2008

A lovely surprise and blast from the past

Today I was unexpectedly able to get together with my friend and former colleague Margaret, visiting from Victoria for a short stopover in Toronto. It was great to chat over wine and dinner and hear about all the goings on back at Tourism BC.

I'm so grateful to have had the chance to live and work and be in BC for 10 years and every now and then am reminded about how wonderful the people are there. Tonight was just that - thanks Margaret for the catch up! As the team at TBC ramps up to the 2010 Olympics it's an exciting time and I know everyone will do an amazing job.

While I'm definitely at home back in Ontario, I do miss Vancouver and everyone there. Guess it's time to start planning a return visit!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What a difference a month makes

Following the US political conventions and the announcement of Canada's fall election, it seemed that the conservative factions in both countries were on an unfortunate upswing. Then, well, Palin spoke, McCain spoke, Harper spoke, the economy began its collapse... Now the Obama/Biden ticket is decidely (at least for now) ahead in the polls and Harper's grabbed-at majority win has all but disappeared. And possibly with a bit more time Dion might even be able to deliver a Liberal minority win.

I truly hope that Harper's mean-spirited agenda is defeated. And that Obama wins and leads the US towards a kinder, gentler and more unifying domestic and international approach.

Some time ago, I realized how important the following principles are to me, no matter what. Honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion and what can simply be called 'niceness'. When looking for a new job in Toronto, my mission was to do meaningful work with nice people. Luckily I found exactly that at Toronto Public Library.

I've also seen many signs of others looking for the positive in life and in each other. A Toronto businessman who held a "Thanks for being Nice" party for his colleagues and suppliers. The psychologist in Colorado who studies the states, symptoms and contributors to happiness as opposed to depression. Many people who leave or eschew prosperous private positions to work in non-profit organizations. Numerous young people who haven't yet lost their desire to make a difference in the world versus striving just for monetary advancement. And of course all those who have always been advocating devoted, peaceful, compassionate committment to the good of all in many, many walks life.

Before this double-barrelled election year, I hadn't fully comprehended what a significant philosophical difference exists between today's conservative and liberal factions. To hear the aggressive, negative, untrue and personal attacks launched by the Palins, McCains and Harpers of this time is not just offputting, it's shocking. What truly puzzles me is how so many can align themselves with this type of thinking and action.

I'm also perplexed about why political parties exist with the goal of winning the right to govern when they don't believe in government. In both countries right now the governing parties espouse de-regulation, privatization, tax cuts for the wealthy, corporate favouritism, minimal environmental protection, declining health care and educational standards and infrastructure, as well as questionable social policies such as the right to own (and thus use) guns, the expansion of prisons and imprisonment, attacks on the arts and on it goes.

Jane Jacobs, in her 2004 Dark Age Ahead, described the two different types of societal influencers as 'traders,' who champion markets, and 'guardians' who look out for universal wellbeing. While she claimed that a balance of both is essential for a healthy society, she was leery of 'traders' taking over the governing role of the 'guardians'. 1

That's my feeling as well - I will sleep much better if well-meaning, compassionate, open-minded, trust-worthy guardians are in government in both the US and Canada. Just look where the traders have led us.

1. As cited by Thomas Axworthy in Restore political trust with vote for guardians of public interest, Toronto Star, Saturday, October 11

Monday, October 6, 2008

Two of our favourite peeps

Just 'borrowing' this great shot of two of the best people in the world: Tom (aka Road Warrior) and Mika (aka Pansy Girl).

You'll not meet nicer, more generous or wonderful individuals anywhere. And while both are as modest as can be, they're worldly wise, always engaged, hilariously funny, supportive, compassionate and loved by many.

I first got to know Mika while we worked together at Tourism BC and we've known since that we're destined to be lifelong kindred spirits, even if living a country apart. Whenever we're in touch - which is a necessity every few weeks - the miles melt away.

Tom and Maggy and I bonded during our 3,000 km road trip from Vancouver to Toronto and it's an adventure we'll never forget. Especially as it was one of the kindest things to do - pick up and venture across the country in the middle of December while playing driver, tour guide, protector and fellow spiritual explorer.

Maggy and I both thank our lucky stars that Mika and Tom (and Tex and Maggie too) came into our lives.

Hope you two had wonderful birthdays and are enjoying time together following some intense travels. Love you!

Photo: Tom and Mika, by Tom (we think)