Sunday, June 08, 2008

Blog Jam


"Spindrift" by friend Tom Sears.

I am startled sometimes by how full life is and how unexpected the surprises that come my way.
I was invited to a workshop on Thursday, held in a community hall about 150K from here, given by a very inspiring, and as it turns out, quite well known U.S. professor, author, lecturer John McKnight. He had much to say on community development and enrichment, enough to give me an article to write.
He was succint in his analysis of the difference between Canadians and Americans. He said he was astounded to see workshops advertised on the Chicago transit system on how to become "Americanized". He said could you imagine that here, in Canada? And we all laughed at the idea of how to become "Canadianized". Here, he said, you celebrate differences, which is what community is all about. And he then proceeded to share with us how we could improve on that. What made successful communities (less government, more associations) and how to make it all come about.
The event was catered by volunteers who provided a marvellous homemade lunch and endless coffee and tea. Through the windows we could see the crab catches being hauled in by the fishers, the many boats on the water, an iceberg floating on the horizon. On the wall was a huge banner outlining the twenty one reasons it was the best place in Canada in which to live (#7: most eligible bachelors per capita. Me: Where are they?!)
Yesterday I was invited to a BBQ, a last minute kind of thing, everybody was involved in the food preparation and the meal was wonderful. I was startled to ascertain that a most attractive couple who were there were refugees from Iraq, she's an engineer and he is now the local doctor in an outport. We talked of emigration and invasion of sovereign territory and the distinct line that bifurcates your life when you cut your ties with the past and forge a new life in a distant land.
They were an extraordinarily articulate and intelligent couple and meeting them took the devastation of Iraq to an up close and personal level.
Today I took the day off and attended a new farmer's market, a short classical concert, Musica Terraqua, at The Rooms and read (and finished) Jodi Picoult's "Change of Heart". A modern metaphorical messianic tale. I like Picoult's unusual novels. I recommend this one.
Tomorrow it's back to a slew of work that has arrived here and needs urgent attention, playtime officially over.

19 comments:

  1. interesting observations about the differences between canada and the US. but i think they're right.

    after all, we are responsible for generic-izing the world.

    it has never occurred to me to read a jodi picoult novel. perhaps i've had the wrong impression of her all this time.

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  2. Especially when they come from a U.S. citizen, Laurie!
    Re: JP, you might want to give her a try, you may be surprised. I think the name "jodi" iis offputting, too lightweight!
    XO
    WWW

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  3. It must be synchronicity at work WWW - as you've noticed I wrote on the topic of immigration today too.

    Americanization - LOL - they're on a sticky wicket with this Brit.
    I've learned the answers to all 96 civics questions, and taken an interest in US history, but it doesn't mean I'm Americanized. I wonder what they do to applicants at those workshops?

    I could get mean and saticical here, as I'm feeling a bit anti-Am to day. Best to keep my own counsel in that department, I think.

    You are blending right in to your new location, WWW - and so quickly too! I'm glad for you. I haven't done the same, sad to say, at least, not to the same extent. Maybe I ought to apply to attend a workshop to get me Americanized.
    ;-)

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  4. I am unashamadely Scotterising Bobo and he doesn't bat an eyelid. He's obliging like that.

    The more work you have on, the more important it is to have play time too, honeybear. Glad you enjoyed your weekend.

    {{WWW}}}

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  5. Thanks for sharing with us the happenings of last few days.
    I find it quite interesting that they have workshops for Americanising people in America; as Americanisation is happening all over the world simultaneaously. Parts of Turkey for instance is fully Americanised. Money rules, people stress so much about their careers, materialism and consumerism dominant, and what's worse, cultural traits that made Turkey "Turkey" is diminishing, instead fundamentalism (an extra effort to make religion pre-dominant in practice, in daily life) - although the religion is different the backward and non-questioning belief is the same in both countries.
    Anyways, I am anti-American in every way although I have a handful of great friends and I am sure there are many wonderful people there, however what good is wonderful people when they don't speak up about the things they discuss and complain about at a dinner table...
    On Canada; I were too young so at school when I lived in Canada for 18 months on student exchange, if I were finished with school at the time, I would have probably stayed in Canada and make it my new home. :) It is a lovely country and multi-cultural mind-set is the best you can find anywhere in the world.
    Gx

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  6. T:
    You set me to thinking about democracy and what it really means. It certainly doesn't mean the homogenization of citizens, I believe. And it certainly doesn't mean "shop till you drop" even tho the incumbent instructed his citizens to do so after 9/11. And I think that most of the US citizens would agree with me, workshops on becoming American be damned. Stay as sweet as you are, the Americans don't know what they're missing!
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    Oh wee tartany Bobo must a a treatie in his kiltie, H. I hope you teach him the words to "Flower of Scotland" one of my favourite anthems of all time!
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    We're not perfect, Gaye but I find an enormous acceptance of 'others' here. And a healthy curiousity as well. I am amazed at how many displaced Iraqis we have taken in and also at the waiting list of freedom loving Americans who decry what is carried out in the world in their names.
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    XO
    WWW

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  7. But you know, here in Europe there is this drive to get the foreigners (the Muslims)bas European as possible as quickly as possible. All you hear about is integration and that people aren't well enough and if they were only more like us we wouldn't have any problems, so it is not just an American attitude. God forbid a woman should walk around with a head scarf or a man with a turban. We are so xenophobic when it comes to certain groups of people. How is that in Canada?

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  8. Hi WWW

    I am learning how to become Australianised - it involves stripping all the soft vowels from words - easy when you know how.


    xxx

    Pants

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  9. As you say, differences are what make life interesting so the whole idea of "Americanising" makes me shudder. And since people are all different, what the hell does it mean anyway? Presumably what Bush wants it to mean i.e. war-loving, Bible-bashing, rest-of-the-world-hating and happy to be poor.

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  10. Nora:
    Extraordinary what fear is engendered by perceived 'differences' isn't it. I mean how can we possibly criticise a piece of fabric? Why are we so smug in our 'better than' outlook?
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    Pants:
    And a fine job you are making it of it too, I have no doubt!
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    Nick:
    yes, that's what's called 'democracy' in the land of the free. More and more fascist.
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    XO
    WWW

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  11. Well I guess America still remembers what it stands for better than Britain. I think our test for Britishness has pretty well been laughed out of legislature once it was discovered that the vast majority of the natives couldn't answer half the questions either!

    I guess we like to think that we celebrate 'difference' too, but I'm sure Canadians do it better and with less PC-madness, as our multi-cultural ideas have largely resulted in disaster (and a real possibility that the Muslim minority will one day assume political control, rather than politely integrate and be proud to uphold British laws and society as previous generations of immigrants have.)

    But I'd better shut up now, for to question Brit immigration policy in any way is of course 'racist' and must be shouted down.

    Sounds like a most interesting lecture WWW. I'm glad your life is full and rich. Mine too, I'm happy to say.

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  12. The refugees from Iraq? How do they feel about being refugees and what is happening in their country? Particularly now that US action there, post Surge, seems to be beginning to work. Do they want to go back? How do they regard the US? As an enemy? Or a hope for the future?

    When it gets up close and personal the great big political decisions of Presidents and Prime Ministers look very different.
    Regards

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  13. Laura:
    I think crowded living conditions and 'ghettos' have an awful lot to do with intolerance. England has changed dramatically in the last thirty years in a lot of ways. I found London well nigh intolerable when I visited a few years ago. A huge change from when I'd bounce over there every second weekend in the sixties! Far too many people crowded onto one tiny island...
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    OF:
    They will never go back, the country and its neighbourhoods and beautiful ambience is just about destroyed, they say. They carry no hope for their country and despise the Americans in its thirst for foreign oil and say it will get far, far worse when the water wars start.
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    XO
    WWW

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  14. Oh yes, I do wish my country would get rid of the entire 'melting pot' nonsense and begin celebrating diversity--we settled our country as a groups as diverse as any could wish; we were founded on diversity and we've proceeded to forget this basic fact of our makeup. My maternal grandmother came from old Europe on the Russian border hence my Slavic cheek bones and ludicrous nose lol. My paternal grandmother came from Norway (guess where my blonde hair came from)and they both settled here before WW1. They maintained their ancestry in fraternal groups that flourished in the country into those few decades after WW2 when the groups began to die out and be replaced by today's vanilla culture. It's a shame really but the march of progress. Right? Meh! There have been many times in my life when I wished I been Canadian but it was not to be.
    C'est la vie, c'est la vie.

    Beau in Seattle

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  15. Beau:
    Good to hear from you again. I think it all part of the plan (which McSame will continue) for the New American Century, a dulling down of citizenry, non questioning compliance for world domination and fodder for the cannons. From chatting with Americans, I recognise that most are almost in shocked paralysis at what has been done in their name.
    Rise up! I say.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. I've had a nice long read of all that I've missed since you first started your 'rules'. After reading your comment on the name 'jodi' I thought I'd have to get the book because the name had put me off too. Am I shallow????
    The Great Dane and I got up one Sunday, from our pew three from the front, and walked out of our church when the priest started in on another family values sermon. Sad. The church, not we!

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  17. Re Iraq, I read that the USA wants the Iraq government to sign an agreement that the USA will stay there indefinitely and effectively run the country. Bush wants the agreement wrapped up ASAP so Obama can do little about it.

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  18. Pondside:
    OMG, I can't believe this! us 3 (me, daughter and granddaughter)got up about twelve years ago, the last time we were in church, first time for g-daughter when the priest said the trouble with the world is that women are insisting on working outside the home.
    I guess he was so godly he didn't have to put food on his table or roof over his head!
    XO
    WWW

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  19. Nick:
    It was all part of the Plan for the New American Century - colonization of the Middle East (read oil). Christianization too, even the soldiers are handing out Christian medals. In the U.S. God we trust. Here comes Walmart.
    I am so very glad that Europe is so strong and that Canada ia aligning herself more and more with the European Union.
    XO
    WWW

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