Archive for February, 2010

Check out the pictures and post on Owls Nest bookstore to see what Calgary Authors have been up to.  Such great energy! Eight members of Growing Past the Edge read at a Wine Pairing event last week.  The folks at Owls Nest had fun too!

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Young Victoria

I saw this movie at the Uptown two days ago and just loved it!  My favourite genre – accurate biographies of spirited women.  While it is hard to assess how accurate the relationship between Victoria and Albert actually was, the fact that they had nine children does attest to a lot of comfort between them.  Perhaps the passion and joy expressed in the film really was there – who knows?  My friend and I didn’t want the movie to end.  We would have been happy to watch another two hours.  Beautifully photographed, lush surroundings, complicated politics, an exquisite look into royalty that was — such a treat.  I don’t know how long it will continue to play at the Uptown here in Calgary, but if you can catch it before it leaves, DO.  Victoria and Albert’s nine children went on to share thrones in many countries in Europe.  I wonder if they showed care and concern for their people, as Victoria and Albert did?  If so, that’s a wonderful legacy to leave.  Congrats to the people who made this film – a combined effort of UK and Canadian film companies.  Lovely.


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(patterned on Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss)

On the ninth of the month our budget came down
Delivered  by Morton, whose face bore a frown.
He paused as he spoke; he was so well-prepared
And wondered just who would respond, if they dared.
He thought to slash spending by fifteen percent
But could not raise taxes because of dissent.
Stelmach said taxes would just stay the same.
The ten percent flat rate determines the game
Of how much the budget would start with each year
While buoyed up by oil and gas revenue dear.
The flat rate, adopted two thousand and two
Each year has resulted in lost revenue.
So over the years we have increased our debt,
Said Morton, “This is as much as I get?
I’ll do what I can in the framework I’ve got,
But to make changes I must cut a lot.”
So Morton considered Alberta’s health care
For rallies and protests appeared everywhere.
Albertans had vilified his predecessor.
Ron Liepert  advised him, “Eliminate stressors.”
The teachers would protest quite long and hard too,
And parents, the voters, sure knew what to do.
Their phone calls and letters and emails he read,
“I’ll save education for children,” he said.
“Now where can I cut the most dollars?” he wondered.
He had to be careful, the best not to blunder.
So from the environment he took a piece,
The oil corporations would thank him at least.
He looked at commitments to help infrastructure
In cities and towns for their cars and their trucks. Sure
Enough would the people there protest and whine.
He had to cut somewhere and now was the time.
Advanced Education was one other place
Where people could manage a modified pace.
Some grants became loans, increasing the debt
Of students who struggle their learning to get.
Ted Morton delivered a budget to us
That may help Albertans who make the most fuss,
To fourteen departments he’s caused much tumult
Now lost jobs and programs will be the result.
Did he have much choice? Ask these Calgary Grans.
Could he raise taxes to salvage good plans?
But Stelmach made promises not to raise taxes,
So more unemployment? Poor service? We ask, Is
It really a boon that our taxes are lower
Than elsewhere in Canada? Is this how we go, or
Should we agree to pay more for more service?
How do we help our friends most who deserve this?
Morton, on T.V., said “I’m Doctor No.
To a public pissing match I will not go.”
If in discussion he will not engage
About changes to tax rules, then that sets the stage.
The problem we have is not what is spent.
It’s lost revenue.  Change that ten percent.
With progressive taxes our incomes allow
We’ll address the gap in our lifestyles somehow.
With billions each year since 2002
We’ve lost too much money in our revenue.
Please change the tax laws, we plead, we implore,
Or else when we vote you’ll be far out the door.
Morton, it’s obvious you did your best
To cut where you could for the good of the rest.
As grannies we’re glad that you strengthened health care,
But as for the others, oh Morton, beware.
Complaints will be raised as the promised bucks stop.
“You can’t please them all” was heard at the top.
But Stelmach might listen if many folks call.
A person’s a person no matter how small.
by Sharon Montgomery, a.k.a. Granny Sharon of the Calgary Raging Grannies
We have been invited to deliver this poem at a meeting of the Council of Canadians, Tuesday March 23rd, in Calgary (Unitarian Church, 16th Ave & 1st St. NW, at 7:30 p.m.)  Diana Gibson of the Parkland Institute is the featured speaker than evening, and we will be saying this verse as an introduction.



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Alberta’s Budget

My first reaction to the Alberta budget brought down by Ted Morton yesterday was surprise, mixed with relief.  I am really pleased that he has increased funding for health care.  That’s the biggest issue I’ve lobbied for, by participating in rallies and protests with Calgary Raging Grannies about health care.  However, my cynical nature did wonder at his motivation.  I actually wouldn’t mind paying more taxes if it meant that Albertans were better able to look after its most vulnerable citizens.  To me, that’s what government is for.  The cuts in departments made in order to find the money for health care will have significant results in government layoffs and decreased public service.  It will affect students at colleges and universities, increasing their already high debt load.  It will curb infrastructure projects already underway in our cities and towns.  I’m not sure if it’s a good budget or not – but I’m sure it’s what Ted Morton thought was the best possible.  Not an easy position to be in.  Tomorrow evening I plan to attend a meeting sponsored by the Parkland Institute and the AFL:  Crisis and Recession: Alternatives to tax cuts and public program cuts featuring Norwegian Labour Leader Asbjorn Wahl and Parkland Research Director Diana Gibson.  If interested, go to http://www.ualberta.ca/parkland for more information. 

I wish I understood more about the economy.  Perhaps tomorrow’s meeting will help me “get it”.


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       I attended a symposium called Awakening the Dreamer: Changing the Dream on Saturday, Jan. 30.  This workshop featured videos, activities, small group sharing, and time to reflect and dream.  This symposium was initiated by Lynn and Bill Twist and the Pachamama Alliance with the Achuar people of Equador.  The Achuar tribe challenges the western world to change the dream that we have been living under.   That dream has led to the destruction of their homeland in the rainforest, as well as the present state of the world. 

     The first video, Where Are We? showed photos from around the world to illustrate the widely disparate ways people and animals live, survive and die.  Its comprehensive overview packed a punch and left most of us appalled and discouraged.  We were guided through meditation to identify how this made us feel.  This process is so unlike most other workshops I really appreciated it.  By naming our feelings first to ourselves, then to others, the expression allowed us to move on.
       The next videos were How did we get here?  What is possible for our future? And Where do we go from here?  Between each of these videos we had time to reflect, own and express our feelings, and move on.   The mission statement of the Pachamama Alliance is : to bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human existence on this planet.   Our planet is at the tipping point of climate change now.  Almost all animal species have shown a 90% reduction in the last century.  The only animal species that has increased is human beings.  We have only a decade to address this. 

       In groups of four we named our own unexamined assumptions that contribute to the present dire situation.  This part concluded with the statement  “The assumption that we are separate is the most serious assumption underlying our state”.  The goal is to merge the intelligence of the human mind with the wisdom of the human heart.  The human heart recognizes connection and oneness.  This is a significant step in Changing the Dream.  Our interconnectedness to all forms of life was stressed through video and meditation.  Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, authors of The Universe Story stated in the last video “We are the universe in the form of a human.  We are related to all things on the planet.  We are all part of one unified whole. “  These two scientists validated the knowledge that has accumulated amongst the audience.   Of course, the symposium attracted people who are already living this belief. 

      Is the present state of our world a hopeless situation?  Not when you consider how many organizations are currently working on the same goals stated in the mission statement.  One of the later clips was a list of those organizations worldwide.  It started off slowly enough I could read the screen, then speeded up.  I can’t recall the exact number (>1,000,000) but the narrator stated that if we were to read every organization’s name it would take us about 7 weeks of continuous viewing and reading.  There are so many groups working on these goals that anyone could find a group that fit her or himself. 

      What was particularly helpful was sharing what we were already doing toward  positive change.  At the end of the workshop people talked with those they wanted to join for further action.  The power of one is significant.  As Al Gore said, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go with others”.

      As I write this post I see and feel the friendship bracelet on my wrist.  It is a gift woven by a member of  the Achuar tribe in Equador.  At the conclusion of the symposium all 30+ of us formed a circle, sang and danced.  Then we each received a bracelet as a reminder of our attendance.  We had to ask another for help in tying the bracelet, which is also significant.  The bracelet is permanently worn, until I choose to cut it off.  Some of the faclitators had 5 bracelets on their arms.  They are quite beautiful (both the facilitators and the bracelets).  

       In Energy magazine, a publication by Healing Touch Program, a group called the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI) describes their research into global and personal energy fields.  They have set up the first of 12 stations worldwide to monitor the global energetic effect between people and the earth’s energetic fields.  For more information go to www.HealingTouchProgram.com , then click on Energy magazine.
       The GCI  is just one of the million organizations that are working toward the same goals as the Pachamama Alliance.  If you are one who also wishes to be a part, know how you want to live, then connect with like-minded people.  To know more about these symposiums, or to find the next one near to you, go to www.awakeningthedreamer.org  One of their handouts lists 20 websites for similar organizations.
       Be part of the solution instead of the problem.  Don’t be hard on yourself or others, and don’t give up.  Just embrace “blessed unrest” as Paul Hawkens stated at the Bioneers Conference.  You can learn about him and his book Blessed Unrest at www.bioneers.org .  

      I am so glad to be part of a conscious journey of life. I am grateful for my life, my connections, my family and friends.  It’s exciting to live at this time of history.  The more I learn the more frightened I become for the world, but on the other side of the coin of fear and despair lies hope.  Thank you to those who are facilitating these workshops. I’m really glad I attended.

Let the blessings come.

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