Wednesday, December 31, 2008

home sweet institution


disclaimer: the following is an account of this morning's trial at the victoria's courthouse, documented to the best of my ability and understanding. it may not be absolutely perfect or accurate. i make this disclaimer because, among other reasons, the city's lawyer submitted, to the judge, a bound document containing evidence which included a photo of me i'm assuming he took off this blogsite. i have no idea of his intention, or why the city would cite information and photos from this site in a court trial that has nothing to do with me, but i suppose it's good to know someone's reading it, and i'll be sure to destroy all those naked spy photos the cia took lest they should appear in places unintended.

the city of victoria's lawyer (de souza? the same guy who ran against keith martin for the conservatives in the last federal election? the former uvic student society chair during the 'how'd we get in this financial mess' years?) argued three very interesting things today:

1. the definition of the word 'home' includes the word 'institution,' according to oxford, therefore a 'homeless shelter' is actually a home, therefore david johnston and kristen woodruff and tavis dodds (who were on trial for sleeping in the park in a tent in the daytime) are not homeless because there was room at the homeless shelter and they didn't need to sleep in the tents in the park in the daytime.

2. david, tavis, and kristen are not 'homeless,' they're 'urban camping advocates.'

3. madam justice carol ross' ruling (that found a city bylaw stating that people could not erect structures in the park to protect themselves from the canadian elements is in violation of canada's charter of rights and freedoms which says we have the right to life, liberty, and security of person) does not strike down the bylaw. the bylaw still stands, therefore the city's bylaw enforcement policy (that they enacted after they appealed the ruling and which states people can only sleep under shelter in the parks between 7 pm and 7 am) is actually enforceable.

he spent about an hour going over and over and over these points, trying desperately to convince the judge, the lawyers (he called his 'friends'), the defendants, the court stenographer, the court's witnesses (and there were many of us), and the historical record that madam justice carol ross didn't say what she said, didn't intend what she intended, and that kristen, tavis, and david are not homeless and even if they are they're activists so the law is supposed to apply differently to them. we all listened carefully, some of us incredulous that anyone would embarass themselves in an attempt to justify the city's obviously sinister intentions.

4. as a last ditch attempt, he introduced something about a case involving shell canada in south africa, a situation where a bylaw enforcement policy was in fact recognized. in south africa.

the lawyers for the defence, irene faulkner and cathie boies-parker (seen above), refuted his claims:

1. it's not this court's responsibility to define the word 'homeless.' if the city of victoria wants to pass legislation defining what it is to be a homeless person, and to enact bylaws that affect them, they're welcome to do that. if they do that, then a trial may well follow that challenges the constitutionality of the definition, and the ensuing bylaw(s). but the question before the court today is about determining whether the city is correctly and/or appropriately interpreting madam justice carol ross' decision, and whether tavis, kristen, and david are actually guilty as charged.

2. the three are charged in violation of the city's parks bylaw, #16, which reads:

16 (1) A person may erect or construct, or cause to be erected or constructed, a tent, building or structure, including a temporary structure such as a tent, in a park only as permitted under this Bylaw, or with the express prior permission of the Council.

the lawyers for the defence argued that this bylaw no longer applies to homeless people (and kristen, david, and tavis currently have no fixed address, and have been issued tickets stating that), because madam justice carol ross clearly stated, in her disposition (available online in its entirety here - click on 'read more'):

[239] Accordingly, this Court declares that:

(a) Sections 13(1) and (2),14(1) and (2), and 16(1) of the Parks Regulation Bylaw No. 07-059 and ss. 73(1) and 74(1) of the Streets and Traffic Bylaw No. 92-84 violate s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in that they deprive homeless people of life, liberty and security of the person in a manner not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, and are not saved by s. 1 of the Charter.

(b) Sections 13(1) and (2),14(1) and (2), and 16(1) of the Parks Regulation Bylaw No. 07-059 and ss. 73(1) and 74(1) of the Streets and Traffic Bylaw No. 92-84 are of no force and effect insofar and only insofar as they apply to prevent homeless people from erecting temporary shelter.

they reminded the city's lawyer, and informed the judge, that the city has already approached madam justice carol ross asking her to refine her judgement to pertain only 'at night,' and she respectfully declined, therefore her use of the word 'temporary' refers to the type of structure rather than the time it's permitted.

3. irene and cathie concluded that the city cannot simply enact a bylaw policy, amending a bylaw that no longer exists, and then attempt to enforce it. the bylaw has been rendered inapplicable, according to madam justice carol ross, and therefore it's impossible to refer to it or any bylaw policy that is attached to it. what the city ought to do is rewrite the bylaw, in light of the court's decision, and then the courts can decide if the new bylaw is constitutional or not.

if it were up to me i'd hold the city, and the city's lawyer, in contempt of court. they are clearly attempting to ignore and/or invalidate the ruling of madam justice carol ross. it leads me to wonder if they'd be so adamant about ignoring what the judge said if the ruling were issued by a judge of the male persuasion.

i'm no lawyer, but it seems clear that the city ought to just recognize and accept that the judge's ruling finds their bylaw in violation of canada's charter of rights and freedoms. after they accept the reality of that, they ought to write new bylaws - or, if they want to be democratic about it, call a public meeting and have an open discussion about how to proceed when there are 1500 (and counting) homeless people and nearly zero affordable housing units. if they're determined to argue about the definition of the word 'homelessness,' and what constitutes a 'home,' then they ought to do that and create legislation that reflects their beliefs in the form of legitimate bylaws, not bylaw 'policies,' and see what happens from there. their constant deferral of 'the problem' to victoria's police department, sending in the goons to arrest the homeless and steal all their worldly possessions, is like a teacher sending their problem students to the principal rather than sorting it out themselves. i know about this because i did it myself, during my student teaching. i realized, then and now, it's a lousy way to deal with stuff - deferring to an alternate authority. but i've forgiven myself - i was an overworked, underpaid, entirely unappreciated (they'd rather throw us in jail) activist stuck teaching junior high (the last place i wanted to be), and they're elected officials with time, money, and the means to hire lawyers who might offer better advice than just proceeding as if victoria v. adams never even happened.

despite all the lawyer jokes, irene and cathie are heroes, in my books. they've already been acknowledged and recognized by the bar association - their peers have celebrated their provincial supreme court victory. i've heard a professor of law, at uvic, express his jubilation that, as evidenced by justice ross's decision, justice is something that can actually happen and affect peoples' lives. for three years irene and cathie have stood by david johnston and those who have joined him in the quest to protect the rights of the homeless. they do this work pro bono, for free, presumably because they believe that justice is possible, and they are making history in the process. as irene said today, those homeless people who acknowledge their charter rights, and who attempt to hold others accountable when those rights are violated, are to be applauded ..... not ridiculed, arrested, and prosecuted.

there were no representatives from the newly elected mayor and council in the courtroom today. rumour has it they've agreed to meet next week with a single representative from the committee to end homelessness, to talk about the tent city solution, but only one single representative. i hope she records the meeting.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

About Tent Cities in America

at least these folks are allowed a tent city .... here in canada they're thrown in jail if they try to do this. they just freeze to death, at the rate of about two a week in victoria. i hear it's about two a week in toronto too. the final solution to homelessness - let them freeze. it's the canadian way.


Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Message From the Bottom of the World

Tracking the Cetacean Death Star

By Cpt. PAUL WATSON

It is Christmas Eve down here off the coast of Antarctica and I can absolutely assure you that we are all having a very white Christmas. And it is a happy Christmas because there is no place else we would choose to be.

Not only is it a white Christmas with towering massive alabaster icebergs and heaving floes of cobalt blue ice, it is a magical Christmas as orcas, humpbacks, fins, blues and piked whales escort us through these seas, as albatross, petrels, and skua gulls fly along beside us. And on the floes, the penguins, primarily Adelie and kings comically "salute" us as we pass by.

Being in these waters is like being on another planet or in another dimension of time and reality where humans are a scarce species and the oceans teem with the diversity of life. The air is pure and smells alive and the waters even purer and moving with life.

I have spent five Christmas days since 2002 in this wondrous place and I love it here, love it perhaps more than any other place on Earth despite, or perhaps because of its isolation, its wildness, and its unpredictability.

To love something is to defend it - to be willing to fight and to die for it. And such is the love that I feel for the magnificent citizens of this vast frozen region that I have no hesitation in acting in their defence, whatever the consequences might be.

Ahead of us at this moment is a fleet of killers. Led by the ship I call the Cetacean Death Star, (formally known as the Nisshin Maru), and accompanied by three vicious harpoon vessels, they have only one purpose in these waters and that is to deliver an agonizingly cruel death to the intelligent and gentle giants that grace these waters.

We are here to save life and they are here to kill. Our purposes are clearly defined.

I do not hate these whalers. I do pity them that they can take life away so thoughtlessly and so casually without pause for remorse or reflection.

As Marc Anthony said in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "Pardon me, thou bleeding piece of Earth that I am so gentle and mild with these butchers."

For gentle and mild we are indeed. Every fibre of my being wants to sink that obscene floating death factory, yet I must by necessity employ gentler tactics and a more complex strategy.

But every whale that dies pains me to the core of my being. I feel every harpoon and hear every scream. I smell the blood and the fear and I see the smirks of chauvinistic humanity as they pull the triggers of their harpoon cannons and mutilate the corpses with their lances.

Restrained by our own compassion and ideals of the sacredness of life, we intercept, harass, block and pursue, driven by the guilt we must endure as whales suffer and die because of our decision of practical restraint. We seek year after year to silence the harpoons and to silence the haunting screams of the whales through tactics that although somewhat effective require time to be truly effective and time is a commodity that the whales are running short of.

And as we willingly choose to abhor a violent solution we must suffer accusations that we are violent by these same mad killers who answer our non-harmful tactics with bullets and grenades. They accuse us of being violent as they spill thousands of steaming gallons of the hottest blood on Earth into the frigid waters of Antarctica and fill the polar air with the pitiful screams of whales dying in horrific agony.

Nothing is simple in this world where commerce is absolved for passing death sentences on intelligent socially complex gentle sentient beings and where diplomacy is used as an excuse to ignore the consequences of the slaughter of the gentle and the innocent.

On this day, the eve of Christmas, the day of love and respect, we find ourselves in the most welcome position of pursuing killers with the purpose of defending their intended victims. We have them on the run and once they stop and attempt to whale we will be on them and we will stop them, as we have stopped them before and we will continue to stop them, halving their quota and costing them their bloody profits.

What better way to spend Christmas Day than saving the lives of such beautiful and uniquely marvellous beings as the whales.

And to add joy to this Christmas for all forty of us on this ship is in knowing that we have the support of so many people around the world who have made it possible for us to be here to be doing what we are doing.

Every whale we save is a whale that you save. Every blow we strike against the illegal profits of the whalers is a strike that you also have struck. In this great venture we are a team and it is a partnership that can change the way things are done on this planet - where we can challenge the arrogance and the ignorance of those who reap life and sow death for profit and culture.

If we can save just one whale from the harpoons it would be victory. However, like we did for the last two years, we intend to defend, protect, and save hundreds of these endangered and threatened giants.

As we enter a new year, we do so knowing that we are not down here alone. You are with us and for that we are deeply grateful. You give us the strength to be strong and the passion to be compassionate and the encouragement to be courageous.

Thank-you sincerely from my crew and I.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the forty of us at the bottom of the world to all of you around this most beautiful blue and white sphere of life and diversity.

Captain Paul Watson is director of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.



For The Birds


I think this is the first Christmas, in my entire life, that I wasn’t even in the room with a dead turkey. I’m not talking about those interesting friends and relatives who appear this time of year, I’m referring to that most intriguing of seasonal phenomena often referred to as “The Bird.” As in, I’ve got to stuff “The Bird,” or everything’s cooked and ready except “The Bird.”

Growing up in a typical meat and potatoes household, “The Bird” was considered a normal part of this annual festivity. Sometimes there was a discussion between my brother and my mother about “The Ham,” which he insisted he was tired of and she said she never cooked, but aside from that our holidays centred around the tree, the presents, and the preparation of food which always focused on “The Bird.”

Thankfully, many years ago I finally realized that I actually feel better (physically, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically) without animal protein in my diet (that story follows) but, to be polite or because of habit or whatever, I would indulge in “The Bird” on occasion. And I always regretted it. What’s the point? It doesn’t actually taste all that good, and it makes me feel really crappy all around. As the years passed I would more consistently decline “The Bird,” until I’m where I am now – alone for Christmas.

It’s okay, don’t send the funny farm police to arrest me on the pretence I’m depressed -- I’m actually very pleased with my ability to entirely remove myself from this annual holiday. There's a lot of pressure to participate, it's like a cult, and it's not easy to decline! But I was determined -- this year I didn’t spend hours writing cards (using up valuable resources), I didn’t buy any presents (sparing myself from participating in the global slave trade), and I was not forced to feign a good nature while secretly cringing in the presence of “The Bird.” I can contact my friends and family anytime I want to, I don’t need to surrender to the pressure of the season. And I do not have to witness the increasingly strange (at least from a vegan perspective in a world of mad cow and bird flu) ritual of death that the season promotes.

I can imagine the crowds downtown today (and I hope the Street Newz vendors are able to cash in on their presence so they’re able to support themselves and their families), and again I’m just glad I’m not a part of it. I have no desire to be a frantic consumer. I’m so much happier sitting in this lovely kitchen, watching the beautiful and colourful tropical fishies (though I have some animal rights concerns about that too but at least they're not worried about an oil spill) and listening to the Nature Boy on CFUV. George and his guest are talking about the Christmas bird count. All kinds of species live or travel through our fairly green urban environment. And then ... a reference to "The Bird". AAAAACCCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!! How can one profess to be a bird lover, or an animal lover, and then consume them without a second thought?

Humans are decidedly creatures of habit. How to wake them from their slumber? I dunno. We’re on the edge of a global economic and environmental collapse, and we’re not considered conspiratorial nutjobs for saying that anymore. And still they continue pushing the rock up the mountain, and watching it roll down again, and they push it up again Sysiphus is laughing, and laughing ...

I was once like them. Asleep. Unthinking. Moving through my life like a machine, programmed by the society I was raised in, participating without consideration for the consequences of my actions, surrendering to peer pressure, believing what I was told, refusing to challenge for fear of being wrong, for fear of reprisal, for fear of ending up old and alone at Christmas. Surprise – it’s not so bad!

If you’re so inclined, what follows is the story of my evolutionary food journey. (I tried to add a "read more" option to this blog, so it doesn't print the entire article on the main page, but it's all about adding html into the template and, although I have a fundamental understanding of html, I can't find the template tab. Maybe blogspot programmers will offer a simpler way of accomplishing this option in future?)

From Omnivore to Vegan ... Two Decades of Transformation

The year was 1987. I was 26 years old, a typical meat and potatoes Alberta raised gal, leaving a comfortable middle income existence to start my first year at a California College. Little did I know my life was about to change in ways I could never imagine.

The idea of College or University had always been in the back of my mind, but my parents never pushed me into anything – they let me make my own decisions, my own mistakes. I had recently ‘retired’ from 8 years working in various offices, rising through the ranks, climbing the ladder of perceived success, until a corporate take-over left me feeling unappreciated and ready for change.

My friend and I moved to California. He continued employment with the new corporate entity, I took the opportunity to check out the College scene. The agreement, between my friend and I, was this: He would pay the rent and utilities, and provide me with money for food; I would take care of the domestic chores, the cooking and cleaning. As an international student I was unable to be legally employed, except a few hours a week on campus.

I mention this bit of personal history because it’s essential information to understand my journey ……..

I loved my new life, especially the College part. We lived in a small apartment so I could walk or cycle to school. This pleased me, even prior to my unanticipated social justice and environmental awakening. I spent my days at school – reading, listening, studying, working a few hours in the college library. I chose a Liberal Arts program, and embarked on two years of studies that took me from ancient Greece to Central America, the bottom of the ocean. I learned about biology, anthropology, mathematics, but it was an ecology course that started my deep understanding and love for the magical mechanics and mystery that is Planet Earth.

One day I saw a sign that said a new club was forming – the Green Future Club. When we had enough people to actually achieve something, we began to transform the campus. With help from a couple of professors we started an on-campus recycling project, and hosted a “Rainforest Awareness Week.” One of our invited speakers was Michael Clapper and, when he explained how much food and water and other precious resources are used to feed a single cow, compared with how many people those same resources would take care of, that was the precise moment when I decided to be vegetarian.

I soon discovered that my veggie-based food money went a lot further than before, even though I had also begun to buy organic. At the same time I was enrolled in a nutrition course, so I knew that the animal protein needed to be replaced with tofu, or rice and beans, or other legumes and nuts. I began to feel better, both physically and spiritually, knowing I was living with a much lighter footprint, and moving towards a healthier body. The transformation to vegetarian didn’t happen overnight, it’s true that old habits die hard, it took a while for me to re-learn my way around the kitchen, shifting my headspace from frying ground beef to soaking and preparing beans, But I had opened that door of knowledge, made the commitment to myself and the earth, and there was no turning back.

Fast forward to 1999. I’ve been back in Canada for nine years, and I’m looking for a place to live. At Green Cuisine, one of Victoria’s vegan restaurants and hang outs, I see a notice for a shared apartment. It turns out that David Shishkoff, who now works for Friends of Animals, is looking for a vegan to share his space. I ask him what being vegan entails, and he explains – no animal products whatsoever. It was a nice apartment, I figured I could make the shift, and after a few days Dave tells me I can move in.

Now I must be honest and say I’d seen these signs about vegan gatherings around the University, but for some reason I’d stayed away. It sounded rather cultish, I thought. But 9 years later I’m still living in that apartment, I’m still vegan, and I’ve never felt healthier.

I’ll warn you, though -- moving from vegetarian to vegan required almost as much re-education and headspace shift as did my initial move away from meat. Being vegan, I quickly learned after opening a can of Campbell’s Vegetable Soup into one of Dave’s never been touched by meat products pans, is primarly about reading labels. The #1 ingredient in the soup was beef broth. Beef broth! All those years as a vegetarian and not only had I not learned to move away from corporate products entirely, but I hadn’t really done much label reading.

Dave provided me with a list (now available online) of animal products found in food, shampoos, toothpaste, soaps, cleaning products etc. and I began to shop much more slowly and carefully. It didn’t take long to realize that it’s the ‘alternative’ products that are most often vegan. These are often more expensive, and I’ve lived in poverty all these years, but somehow I manage it. I believe, now, that there’s an energy in the universe that moves to help those who are willing to live more gently, less selfishly, with consideration for all other living beings. And I continue to learn - many beers and wine also contain animal products.

Is it really necessary to put animal products into absolutely everything, I began to wonder? What’s the rationale behind that?

I’ll admit that changing a lifetime of habits is a challenging task, but it’s not impossible, and the rewards are plentiful. Salmon and pizza were my final sacrifices, but since giving those up I’ve discovered vegan pizzas and fake tofu salmon.

Not only do I feel better about the way I live in communion with all other living things (though interestingly my own journey began from a simple desire to protect the environment and live with a more healthy diet), I feel better physically. My weight no longer fluctuates as it used to, I’m much more even-tempered, and my skin and hair and nails are healthier than they’ve ever been.

Veganism is direct action ….. it’s the most powerful thing you can do for the earth, for your own health, for the safety and security of all the creatures on the planet.

I realize this is anecdotal ... for a more scientific analysis, there are lots of websites with documented information and data. I summarized a bunch of those and the resulting article will be published in the next issue of the Watershed Sentinel.

This article is dedicated to the spirits of all those turkeys sacrificed, unnecessarily, for Christmas again this year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

July 2009 IFCO/Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba


Time for Real Change - Time to end the US blockade of Cuba.

Support the July 2009 IFCO/Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

In July 2009 IFCO/Pastors for Peace will be sending its 20th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba, as an act of solidarity with our Cuban brothers and sisters as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of their revolution. We will take with us hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, much of it aimed at supporting the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Cuba after the devastating impact of Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma this fall.

We will also take a large contingent of citizens of the US and other countries, as part of a coordinated Travel Challenge along with sister organizations such as the Venceremos Brigade, US-Cuba Labor Exchange, and African Awareness Association. As always we will do this without requesting or accepting a US treasury department license to go, because we do not cede the right to any authority to license our conscience.

But this will not just be another caravan. We believe that NOW is the time to end the US government's policy of economically blockading Cuba, and banning travel by its citizens to Cuba. A policy that has:

* survived almost 50 years and 10 US Presidents
* been a sustained attempt to starve the Cuban people into desperately rising up against their government.
* caused tremendous economic suffering in Cuba over half a century, as well as hurting business in the US.
* divided hundreds of thousands of Cuban families.
* prevented both nations from interchanging and learning from each other.
* been subject to almost universal international condemnation, and is immoral and inhuman.

We judge that the situation in Congress is the best it has been for many years to repeal the laws on which the blockade is based. We note that President elect Obama said on the campaign trail in Miami that he would remove all restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting Cuba and sending money to their families, and this commitment was included in the Democratic Party's National Platform for 2008. He also said he would be prepared to sit down and talk with the Cuban government. Welcome steps if implemented, but we need to go much further.

* All US citizens should be free to travel to Cuba, whether for educational purposes, tourism, business, or cultural, scientific or religious exchange.

* Normal trading relations should be resumed, so that Cuba can purchase the goods it needs like any other country, to develop its economy and rebuild after the hurricanes, and so that the US can purchase the products that Cuba specializes in such as a number of unique life saving vaccines.

We call on citizens of faith and conscience throughout the North American continent to come with us, work with us, organize with us to ensure that this 20th caravan has the numbers, the aid, and the educational and media impact to make it a major focus for a broader push to end this blockade once and for all.

BE PART OF THE CARAVAN

In July we will travel in school buses, trucks and cars on 15 different routes to visit up to 140 US and Canadian cities. At every stop we will educate people about the blockade while collecting construction supplies and tools for hurricane reconstruction, as well as medical, educational and cultural supplies.

Our 9 days in Cuba from July 24th to August 2nd will be spent in fellowship with our Cuban brothers and sisters. In Havana and neighboring provinces we will attend cultural events and visit social projects such as organic farms, homes for the elderly and health centers including the Latin American School of Medicine. We will meet and learn from Cubans at every level about the problems caused by the blockade and how they have creatively responded, as well as how they are rebuilding after the hurricanes.

In Cuba there will be an option for skilled building workers to spend about a week working alongside Cubans on a hurricane reconstruction brigade. And as an integral part of the caravan we are inviting Hiphop and related artists to participate and perform on caravan routes, and in Cuba there will be opportunities to meet, record and perform with Cuban artists.

If you are interested in:

* coming with us to Cuba as a Caravanista
* hosting a caravan event in your community
* spreading the word to your friends, neighbors, colleagues or congregation
* raising material aid or money for the caravan

Contact cucaravan@igc.org or telephone 212-926-5757 for application forms, publicity materials or further information

Caravan Schedule

July 3-18 Caravan routes through US and Canadian cities
July 18-21 Orientation period - McAllen, TX
July 22-23 Border Crossing into Mexico and travel to Tampico
July 24-Aug 2 Fly to Cuba for 9 day Cuba program
Aug 2 Fly to Tampico and travel back to border
Aug 3 Reverse challenge crossing into Texas

IFCO/PASTORS FOR PEACE
418 West 145th Street, New York NY 10031
tel: 212.926.5757 - e-mail ifco@igc.org

MERRY

DAY

OF

MASS

CONSUMPTION !!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

HEAVEN BLESS THE NOMADS


the christmas story is about nomads.

according to mac's dashboard dictionary, the word 'nomad' is from the french in the late 16th c. (that'd be the late 1500s). in french it's 'nomade,' but originally it's 'via latin from greek' - 'nomas'.

its definition: 'roaming in search of pasture' and pasture, it says, is derived from the word 'nemein,' though it doesn't indicate where 'nemein' is from.

nomads believe they have a right to roam. most modern day nomads don't bother with the search for pasture specifically, though some of them appreciate a place their dogs can poo. they just seem to love to wander. or, at least, exist somewhere outside the dominant culture.

people who hold property privately often hate nomads. whether they realize it or not, the very act of attempting to a claim ownership over the god/goddess/creation given earth, air, and water (and everything else that moves) requires a hatred of the nomadic philosophy. and, i suspect, it always has.

and yet there they are, the nomads - front and centre, in the christmas story.

people who believe more fundamentally in the right to ownership of land than the right to wander will cite the fact that gypsies are thieves. i believe this has been overly generalized and, though true of some gypsies, is also true of some landowners. those who believe you can't own the earth would consider those who buy and sell it as thieves.

now don't get me wrong .... i like privacy. i like it a lot. i like knowing that i can live in a space, all by myself, with my own toothbrush and my own computer and my own underwear, and i'm not required to share any of it. i like to believe that i'm not being spied on.

i also like to wander.

somewhere in my heart is a soft spot for those who are able to live without possessions, without fear, having faith only in the moment and believing that whatever they need will somehow be provided or found or prepared or offered up in one form or another.

i don't know what it is about nomads .... maybe they're aliens who've landed on a foreign planet and, instead of searching for its leader in order to either push or beg their way in, have simply taken up residence in whatever available space can be found. or maybe they've evolved from a bazillion years of life on this planet, that has expressed itself in various forms. or maybe it's a bit of both. maybe somewhere in their imaginative psyches, or as a result of their current life experiences and beliefs, or a bit of both, they continue to believe they have a right to occupy land alongside their sisters and brothers. maybe they actually know how to share. maybe they don't feel the need to clutch onto something, with life and limb, from fear it won't be there tomorrow.

i understand both philosophies of being. i respect the need for privacy and stability. i also respect the desire to travel and live free from the trappings.

i thank you for my privacy, but i also appreciate that i can go to the park. i love the beach, and climbing mountains, and hiking in the woods, and sitting on public benches watching nomad ducks in a shared pond. i sometimes enjoy sharing those sorts of experiences with others - except when they try to take it all for themselves. they come along and they stick a sign in the ground and they claim it for their own. then they sell it to their 'friends' and the people at the bank and the lawyers make lots of money and there's an entire economy that grows up around sticking a sign in the ground. and suddenly it's necessary to destroy the nomads.

there are something like 6.5 billion humans on the planet at this very moment, and no doubt more on the way. when i really think about it, i can begin to comprehend how the earth must feel with the weight of it. at this time of year, particularly, and most especially in oak bay village. i swear there isn't an inch of light-free space available on the storefronts in that otherwise quaint little village! no wonder their taxes are so high.

travellers don't tend to accumulate much and, from the earth's perspective, that's a good thing. whereas, those of us who settle .... well it's like a magnet. before you know it you're piled under with stuff. i'm sure there's a good george carlin u-tube about it.

so .... what's the point of all this .... it's christmas. some people are preparing for a christmas mass that tells the story of a pregnant woman, some guy named joseph, and a donkey who travelled for a long time. our ancient friends struggled to find a space of their own when they finally needed to settle for a while. as i understand it, they had to beg some land/property owner for a place where mary could give birth. and then some big freakin' miracle happened. we'll never really know what all that was about. but it's worthing pondering. (we're allowed to do that now).

merry christmas eve.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BREAK'IN ICE radio presents '"Homeless in Victoria"


This Tuesday, Dec. 23rd from 4:00-6:30PM on Break'in Ice join Jack Etkin, and myself as we explore the reasons for homelessness. We'll also be discussing the solutions to solving this seemingly never ending issue.

Our guests will include:

Phil Lyons, who along with Alison Acker and David Turner (a former mayor) have all been quite involved with the committee to end homelessness (not the mayor's group, the grassroots group).

Kristen Woodruff, who ran for mayor and was recently arrested, handcuffed and shackled, for her attempts to establish a tent city.

Rose Henry, who has significant experience with street community and homelessness issues and is a tireless advocate for homeless individuals.

Lisa Helps, who is one of the people behind the scenes at Street Newz, and former chair of the Fernwood neighbourhood resource group which has built affordable housing than the city these past few years - she's also working on a PhD thesis about the history of homelessness in Victoria.

We hope to open up the phone lines and include listener participation - 250-721-8700.

Why is it that in a prosperous and wealthy province such as BC, a province that can spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on a two week Olympic event, making piles of money for a select few, that we don't have the resources to help out those in need?? This is backward thinking and homelessness is a symptom of a backward, broken system. There is no doubt about it, a change has to come. One important part of that change is fixing our political system. We must bring about a more democratic, progressive voting system. In the next provincial election vote for change. Vote for a proportional representation system, support 'STV' ( Single Transferable Vote ) ON THE BALLOT. This simple act of change will eventually help bring about a stop to the political madness we've been witnessing over the past years. This will bring a voice from the progressive left, which is desperately needed.

Thanks for listening
Richard Habgood
Break'in Ice/CFUV/UVic Campus Radio
101.9FM/104.3CABLE/ cfuv.uvic.ca

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tent city meeting notes


From: "Victoria Tent City"
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2008 15:03:12 -0800

NEXT MEETING:

Current priority is asking people on the street the question: "IF THERE WAS A SANCTIONED (LEGIT) TENT CITY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO IT TO BE?" and inviting folks to the next meeting:

Monday December 29th at 6:00pm at Camas (2590 Quadra at Kings).

There will be soup, snacks and tea, a presentation on tent cities and time for input, followed by a meeting for people who want to stick around.

Bus tickets available. Camas is wheelchair accessible except for the bathroom.

If people want to be brought up to date: ask Chris (forestaction@yahoo.ca) to email you recent updates on tent city things, or soon there'll be a tent city binder at the Camas bookstore
(2590 Quadra Street at Kings) behind the counter.

MEETING NOTES from Dec. 15th

Chris started by acknowledging that the meeting's taking place in Lekwungen territory.

Folks at the meeting: Scott, Chris, Levi, Elizabeth, Joanne, Phil, Colin, David

Possible to do's:

-raising awareness
-do up a summary of tent city-related events since the (charter challenge) ruling
-start with info gathering: compiling written stuff (and videos & audio) about other tent cities
-talking with city, affected people in neighbourhoods, etc. to have responses to the typical concerns being raised (like around security, drug & alcohol use, garbage) in the media & by chamber of commerce
folks.
-do a showing of the Tent City Toolkit (the Cmte to End Homeless has a copy of the DVD) and an evening for people living outside to get involved, so the tent city is more governed by people who use it.

Question: does anyone have an idea of how many people are actually interested in tent city in town?

Comment about how in Vancouver folks from DERA (Downtown Eastside Residents' Association) & APC (anti-poverty committee) set up a tent city, but they didn't get prior commitment from people who wanted to actually use it. Is it possible to get people committed to using the tent city before a sanctioned (legitimate) one gets set up?

Priority for the group: first finding out from folks on the street what they would like to see.

Idea: poster/flyer to leave at strategic places asking
IF THERE WAS A SANCTIONED (LEGIT) TENT CITY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IT?

-Levi and Phil will mention this tomorrow at the Power Lunch at Our Place, and Levi and more folks will ask around for ideas and input.
-tomorrow night Rose is hosting a Downtown Street Tour starting at 8pm outside of city hall (Pandora Ave. side).

Beginning conversations about intentions for tent city-planning...

-municipal vs. regional tent city (this means... one within the city of Victoria vs. one that might be far away/ located on the outskirts of the CRD)
-questions about having 'drug & alcohol-free' restrictions
-request for people to refer to "those who use the site" (people using the tent city) instead of service-provider language
-suggestion for referring to these meetings as "the tent city meeting" (instead of this becoming bureaucratic or institutionalized)
-security issues
-whether to have strict rules of conduct
-suggestion of offering a basic structure for regular meetings within the tent city to keep people in communication
-if landowners put restrictions on the space tent city is using, then this group could make sure people using the space know about these (but leave it up to people at the tent city to decide on what ground
rules are needed)
-a comment that some people (like land owners/ charity exec's) react when the tent city is referred to as being permanent

Ideas...

-Phil will check in with a few people about what needs & boundaries they would have a landlord hosting a tent city (and also look up the CRD's land bank for transitional space within Victoria city).
-while the group doesn't want to be domineering and pre-write ground rules for tent city, people will compile examples of some basics (like from dignity village, other codes of ethics).
-various groups could be invited together for a meeting re: tent city.
-the ideal would be to have multiple spaces for people choose, such as a place for folks using drugs and alcohol; another place for women.
-a code of conduct can never by fully enforced... so one idea is: what someone does in their own tent is their choice; however what folks do around the fire/ kitchen or if someone gets violent, then that's where the code of conduct applies.
-tent city is not for everyone.
-we're starting with tent city not being allowed yet (there might only be space for 20 people on the space that's 'sanctioned').
-in talking about a regional tent city, don't let the city off the hook.
-some people might prefer to be a bit out of the city: like setting up camp at the Goldstream provincial campground.
-ideally the group could pursue 3 pieces of land: private, church, and city (CRD or municipal), for setting up three places.
-on December 31st depending on the ruling, might find out that the 7 to 7 bylaw enforcement policy is bogus.

Comments on the group's meetings/ process...

-idea for setting up a meeting agenda -- so we can focus on talking about Food, or Security, or reporting back from meetings with folks.
-there's urgency (like this week's snowstorm and windchill), but the tent city planning process will take some time.



E-Bulletin from Denise Savoie, Victoria MP


From: "Denise Savoie, MP Victoria"
Victoria's Voice in Ottawa
December 12, 2008

Dear friends,

I arrived back in Victoria Wednesday night after a tumultuous few weeks in Ottawa. I have heard from many of you, via email and telephone, regarding the New Democrats discussions about a coalition with the Liberals and I am attempting to respond to everyone as quickly as possible. Although it has been an unsettling time for many people who would like to see their government demonstrating leadership and an inclusive action plan, I am encouraged that so many of you have become engaged in the debate and I
welcome your input.

>From my perspective, the Conservative economic update made clear that Prime
Minister Harper was not willing to represent Canada's diverse interests and
work collaboratively with opposition parties. He chose partisanship over
addressing Canada's economic priorities, and in doing so he lost the
confidence of Parliament.

In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the
1930s, Mr. Harper misled Canadians about the country's balance sheet, a fact
confirmed by the independent Parliamentary budget officer and many respected
economists. He offered no economic stimulus. Instead of attacking the
recession, he attacked women, workers and democracy. In the process, he, not
the opposition, precipitated a crisis of confidence.

The Prime Minister needed to reach out in a spirit of cooperation to make
Parliament work. When he failed to do that, the opposition had no choice but
to put their heads together and give Canadians the reassurance that rational
minds could prevail. The coalition between New Democrats and Liberals is
focused on the economic well-being of our country. It includes a stimulus
package with infrastructure investments in housing, transit, clean energy
and transportation, investments that economists tell us are necessary and
that municipalities, including Victoria and the CRD, have been clamouring
for. It includes key strategies for the auto, manufacturing and forestry
industries. It invests in working families through EI reform, skills
training and older worker adjustment. It helps seniors through pension
protection and reform to mandatory RRIF withdrawals. Simply put, it is a
plan for Canadians.

My New Democrat colleagues and I will continue to hold the Government's feet
to the fire on the need for a plan that responds to the needs of Canadians
in this economic crisis. Words are not enough given the Prime Minister's
damaging track record. We will be watching carefully in January when Mr.
Harper presents his budget to see if he is able to put the interests of
Canadians first.

In the meantime, it is such a pleasure to be home in Victoria, and like many
of you I look forward to spending time with friends and family over the
holiday season. I will also be busy in the riding attending community
events, and look forward to conversations with many of my constituents.
Today I attended the launch of www.britishcolonist.ca, the new searchable
online archives of the British Colonist. It will be an important source of
historical information for researchers, genealogists and students.

On Saturday morning, I will be helping out at the Oaklands Christmas
Breakfast with Santa at the Oaklands Community Centre and the Santa Pancake
Breakfast at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre. Continuing with holiday
festivities I will be attending the Admiral's Annual Christmas Reception
Saturday afternoon at the HMC Dockyard in Esquimalt.

On Sunday afternoon, I am looking forward to joining Victoria's new Mayor
Dean Fortin and the community for the much-anticipated Grand Re-Opening of
the Crystal Garden, an expansion of the Victoria Conference Centre.

I would also like to invite all of you to attend my annual Holiday Open
House at my constituency office at 970 Blanshard Street. Please drop by
between 4 and 6 p.m., for refreshments, conversation and good cheer.

I am in the process of planning two public events for the new year. One will
be a forum on the economy and the other an examination of proportional
representation. I will tell you more in a future e-bulletin.

In closing, I wish to extend a warm thank-you to all of my constituents for
your input over this past year. In my demanding work in Ottawa I am always
mindful that I am your representative and of the confidence you've shown in
me by re-electing me. I will continue to listen to you, and to be
accountable to you.

Best wishes for the new year.

Sincerely
Denise



*********************************
Available at My Victoria Office

2009 Calendars
My 2009 MP calendar features pictures of some of the special places in my
riding. All households will be receiving one in the mail soon, but if you
would like extras, you can pick them up at my office, or ask us to mail them
to you.

Canadian Flags and Pins
I also have a limited supply of large outdoor Canadian flags and Canada
pins. The federal Heritage department provides MPs with a set amount of
these flags and pins each year, and I'm happy to make these available to my
constituents for as long as they last. The pins in particular are very
popular, so we give out only 20 per person in order to make them available
to as many people as possible.

*********************************
Volunteer in My Victoria Office

If you have some spare time, and good computer skills (especially in data
entry), my Victoria community office could use your help. If you're
interested, please contact my assistant Donna Forbes at 363-3600.

*********************************
**Through this e-bulletin, I aim to keep you up-to-date about my efforts on
your behalf, in Parliament and in Victoria. If you have received this
message, it's probably because you responded to one of my mailings or
offered feedback on your priorities. I appreciate your input and it has
helped to inform and shape my work as your representative in Ottawa.

Please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail, in person at 970 Blanshard
Street or by phone at 363-3600. The office is open to the public Tuesdays
through Fridays from 10am to 5pm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

From: Ingmar
Date: 2008/12/15

Hi All,

This YouTube piece presents some of the results of this trip around Germany and Denmark!

Over the past few years, the 'Initiative2000Plus' effort has converted thousands of German schools to 'recyclingpapier' as it is called here in Germany, and I believe that they have now achieved a critical mass which will soon convert every school in the country!

The Initiative has issued a powerful foundational statement 'Kein Urwald für Papier' which means 'No Primaeval Forests in Paper.' PERIOD This powerful statement is resonating loudly everywhere I go here in Europe, and should strike fear into the hearts of those environmental organizations, namely Greenpeace, Sierra Club, ForestEthics and RAN who now facilitate the industrial logging of the final intact tracts of primaeval forests, in particular, in what is known as the 'Great Bear Rainforest.'



There is a very real momentum gathering here in Europe, that as this Earth's final primaeval forests are on the very brink of extermination, any credible environmental organization will now make the strong position statement, a powerful statement which will be abundantly clear to everyone, that no further desecration of such forests will be tolerated.

Cheers, Ingmar

Now in Göttingen, -in the final stretch of my lecture tour, during which I have delivered 29 lectures to date, including at Göttingen, Darmstadt, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Eberswalde, Norderney, Freiberg (near Dresden) Aalborg (Danmark) Löhne, Solingen, Rostock, Fredelsloh, Konstanz, Freiburg (im Breisgau) Frankfurt Airport Treesit, and today at Bad Sooden-Allendorf

anthony's weather report


it's frickin' cold here in victoria. i've lived on the west coast for about 20 years and i don't remember a cold spell like this except for where i left it behind, in alberta. i'll bet there are many immigrants from the colder parts of canada wondering what the heck's going on. this year we had another very late spring/summer, a scorcher of a fall, and now this .... and apparently with another dump of snow overnight followed by who knows how many more days of it. maybe the immigrants can help the others figure out how to shovel their sidewalks, and drive (or take the bus). chains are good if you're going over the malahat, or up mt. washington, but they wreck city roads. i suggest just point and laugh at those ones, hopefully they'll get the message.

the photo is ingmar lee, from the collection he took on another european lecture tour.

~~~~~~~~

Dear friends of our planet Earth,

NASA's latest report reveals that the Arctic has lost over 2 trillion tons of land ice since 2003, including 400 billion tons from Alaska, plus the weight of sea ice equal in size to half that of the United States. Currently Greenland melt is raising the sea level by about 0.5 mm per year. If/when Greenland ice completely melts off, it will raise the global sea level by about 7 meters (23 ft). If all land ice melts off, including the Antarctic ice sheet, and Himalayan glaciers (over 2000), the sea level will rise over 70 meters (231 ft). More graphically, all points of land lower than 230 ft above today's sea level will be submerged. What is your city's elevation?

With the melting of land ice will go the melting of the permafrost, which will release stored methane by the billions of tons. Methane (CH4), being 20X more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2), will generate its own feedback loop and release even more methane, accelerating global warming into Runaway Global Heating.

The massive melting of both sea ice and land ice will alter ocean water stratification and circulation, and could radically affect the major ocean currents, including the Gulf Stream, as well as disrupt the El-Nino/La-Nina cycle, which in turn will grossly impact on marine and even terrestrial (e.g. Amazon) life.

The melting of ice, both on land and in the sea, will generate its own albedo feedback loop which will add local heating to the Arctic.

With the warming of the Arctic Ocean will also go the melting of shallow methane hydrate deposits, release more methane into the atmosphere.

The Arctic is of special interest in global warming because it warms up much faster than the temperate and tropical regions. The current 0.78C global average increase means a 2-6C (3-10F) temperature rise in the high Arctic.

The Antarctic is less studied and less understood, but massive melting of the ice sheet will definitely have an impact on the whales, seals and penguins, most likely all negative.

So, what do I say to end this on a positive note? How about this: Cool it!

Anthony Marr, founder and president
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
www.HOPE-CARE.org
www.MySpace.com/AnthonyMarr
www.YouTube.com/AnthonyMarr
www.HomoSapiensSaveYourEarth.blogspot.com
www.ARConference.org

---

Thanks to Anthony for summarizing information printed in a different article that ends with this sentence: That, Semiletov said, "should alarm people." Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

away in a manger - by kristen woodruff


Further Greetings;

I was thinking about Mary last night. Thinking how she wandered such a long way to go to Bethlehem, which was supposed to be her home, only to find that she wasn't welcome there--everyone said: "No room for you." Because she was a young woman, unmarried and pregnant, she was an outcast, unwelcome--homeless if ever anyone was. No one cared that an angel had come to her in a dream and told her she was pregnant with the son of god--people in her time, as in ours, can have a hard time believing dreams, and an even harder time believing young women.

She just kept on walking, just kept on knocking, and her trusty friend Joseph (and the donkey, let's not forget) walked with her--what a man, unafraid to stand by her side, and to be outcast and homeless by virtue of his association with her--he believed her even if no one else did. And then, when they are just so tired they can hardly stand, and Mary so pregnant she's about to give birth right there on the Donkey, an innkeeper says: "No room in the inn...but you can stay in my barn." What courage the innkeeper had to agree to put up these renegades--he risked it all to house them--the neighbours would NOT have looked fondly on a man who housed an unmarried pregnant girl. He also risked becoming an outcast by association.

But what a risk--in his barn, with "only" animals and Joseph as her witness, Mary gave birth to God, they say. That innkeeper's barn became a Temple of the Most high. Miracles started happening---wise men and wise women came from far away because they saw what the common folk of Bethlehem didn't see--they saw that this outcast Mary was the vessel of God, and they brought her gifts to honor her. Gifts so valuable she would never again have to worry about how to provide for herself or her son.

And the shepherds came, too--those humble, truth-loving men and women who stayed outside the city, watching the stars, NOT lining up in the Inns to pay their taxes, to get counted by the Roman officials. (Remember, Bethlehem's Inns were crowded because the Roman Emperor had ordered that "all the world should be taxed"--and so everyone who believed in Rome was supposed to go back to their home town to be COUNTED AND TAXED). The shepherds knew better, and stayed away, stayed outside, knowing what most people refused to admit--that Rome was a monster and to pay taxes to it was to consent to slavery.

For all the corruptions this story has suffered at the hands of the Church over the years, its beauty and truth-force still stands. It reminds us that true things are often invisible, except to those with "eyes to see." It reminds us that it is hard to give birth to god--and what is god, if not the beauty and the truth that each of us carries and longs to bring into this world that can seem so hostile to anything beautiful and true. It reminds us to pay little heed to the opinions of taxmen, businessmen, and soldiers, and to trust instead in what animals, wise men, and outcast shepherds think.

May each of us find room, if not in the inn, then in the manger. And may our rulers see the ridiculousness of making it illegal to sleep in the manger.

in peace at the coldest and darkest time of the year,

Kristen Woodruff.

Photo thanks to Shelley Bluejay Pierce

Thursday, December 18, 2008

i'd make a lousy homeless person


i would not make a good homeless person. i'd have died years ago. i'm too much of a whiner.

this morning i was standing on oak bay avenue, in the darkness and the fresh snow covering icy un-shovelled sidewalks (we have a name for those people, on the prairies), waiting and waiting and waiting for a bus. after half an hour i started crying, wailing, saying 'oh my god i'm gonna die' and then remembering ... i don't believe in god.

normally, this waiting for a bus in the snow thing would just be something i do, sans whining and complaining. but this morning was the day after one of the most painful, if not the most painful (physically, anyways, not so much emotionally painful, though it's endlessly frustrating that i've had this physical pain thrust upon me) that i've ever experienced in my entire lifetime. i've successfully avoided the pain of childbirth, so i can't speak for that, but i'm certain that dental pain must rival it.

twelve or fourteen hours of it, yesterday, with no painkillers. i don't keep them in stock, i don't know of any that are vegan (though today's internet search suggests there are some out there), so i plied my amalgam inspired healing release with oil of oregano, colloidial silver, various vitamins & minerals and chlorella and organic vegan wine with no sulfites and greens and msm and sprouted mung beans and all i could eat was one tiny bowl of soup and a couple of smoothies all day.

nevermind waterboarding, those investigators with no social skills who depend on torture ought to consider tooth anguish as a method of interrogation. i'd have confessed to anything yesterday and, much to my own self-detestation, actually succombed to the relief of an animal-ingredient pain pill offered up by my flatmate - who was also kind enough to fetch cuban rum .... i like to support the cuban economy and i needed to sleep. i figured i'd just medicate its ass. i was scheduled to be here, at my holiday doggie gig, before 8 this morning. and there was no way i could take my bike and trailer, not in the snow and ice. in retrospect i should have called a taxi. i called in the evening, to reserve one for the following day, but they weren't taking reservations. they said to just call in the morning. but when i woke up, after actually sleeping a few hours in a row thanks to the little pill (sorry, tortured animals, it was an act of desperation, and why in the world do they need to add stearic acid to otherwise helpful chemical combinations of some of the earth's special offerings), i managed to avoid the wretched 4 am power steering screech (see previous entry), didn't feel too bad, and decided i could just take the bus.

so this morning i packed, and did the dishes (being unable to do anything the day prior except roll around on the floor making sounds that might be contorted and used for a porn flic) and dressed for the weather (wool sweater - sorry creatures, it's a hand me down), long underwear, toque, mitts, hiking boots, and leftover from alberta parka. by the time i left the apartment i was sweating underneath it all, probably something connected to yesterday's illness, but i had no choice except to walk the few short blocks to the bus stop.

i've never waited so long for a bus in my entire life. three or four buses passed me going the other way. i waited, and waited, watching for those lights on the distant hill. i just know that i'm going to catch pneumonia. my perspiration was confronted by cold, and wind. i could feel the cold enter my back body. the few people out clearing lots and shovelling sidewalks must have wondered what the heck was going on. i was sobbing. i'd be a terrible homeless person.

but the reason i'm writing this isn't to belabour my horrific morning, it's because i promised myself, yesterday, while attempting to focus my attention away from my pain and onto a television showing of 'the great escape,' that i would write about this pain. because this pain is entirely unnecessary. thankfully, there are now people in the world who have no amalgam in their mouths, and who will never have any amalgam in their mouths, and who will never know this pain. to those who are able to get theirs removed, i will again recommend that you make sure you have enough money not only for the amalgam removal, but for the detoxification that must necessarily go along with it. i couldn't afford both at the same time, though after yesterday i wish i'd have managed it somehow (though not just any old how because that could be more painful than anything, physically and emotionally).

looking at yesterday's notes, i have these:

"the great escape - all men - inventive methods to challenge the hierarchy while also engaging in it, with christmas music, a great holiday film.' in all honesty, by the time i was writing these notes i was in a self-medicated fog, inspired by indescribable pain that introduced me to segments of my brain i hadn't previously known. i remember being quite taken by the mens' mission to escape to the forest, to go over or under, and their simultaneously competitive and cooperative spirits working towards their goal. the little british club was particularly humerous, as the british are wont to be. i remember thinking this reminds me of hogan's heroes, i suppose that's where they got the idea. i know nothing!!!

i also wrote 'thank goodness for the cold,' because i want to be sure to remember how much i appreciated the frozen bag of organic beans that were attached to my jaw for much of the afternoon. there's a reason for darkness, and there's a reason for cold.

'my face is all puffy' - that much is self-explanatory. i could feel the metals being released into the rest of my system. i could taste the metal in my mouth, the feeling of my tongue on my teeth was repellent. i drank copious quantities of boiled water in the form of ginger and cayenne and metchosin special tea.

then i wrote about the homoeroticism in the ge movie (it's so obvious!) and that the clearcuts in the background (i guess that's how they got rid of europe's forests, too), and after that, 'i'm in so much pain i'm hallucinating .... this is a near death experience'.

i'd like to believe it's over, it's all behind me, but my vegan homeopathic mercury special order (with an alcohol base rather than a lactose one) won't be available for another few days ... and maybe not until after christmas. i know that my pain in connected to mercury, and i know that the hair of the dog that bit you is a solution because it's worked for me before. i have pain, i injest the mercury, it challenges my body to find it and remove it, and i am released from my pain. until the next time.

my jaw started aching this afternoon again. i'm not currently moaning with pain, not yet, but there's only so much of that a person can take and i feel exhausted. it's a good thing jasper (my new client) is an old guy, and doesn't require much maintenance. if the pain continues another day i might have to resort to regular homeopathic mercury, or at least search for vegan painkillers until the good stuff arrives. i'm not exactly sure what's going on in my mouth, but i do know a dentist would recommend a root canal. that's what they're told (by their hierarchical authority) to do. a root canal is a potentially helpful temporary solution, i suppose (though i do know someone who continues to have pain where the root-canalled tooth used to be), but it doesn't remove the mercury that's stored in the gums and inner organs and throughout my body. cancer research, anyone? why don't we hear of jaw cancer? i'm hoping that's what's happening with me is a release ... i'm drinking a ton of water and tea to flush it through, hoping the liquid calcium will help rebuild whatever might be destroyed, i've beem investing in herbal solutions, yoga, accupuncture, massage, and organic cruelty-free food ... i've got to believe this is a healing.

jasper's been trying to establish himself as the alpha-dog, he's patiently agreed to wait for his walkies ... perhaps now's a good time ....

there's something about all those christmas lights. i realize it's a terrible waste of energy, though my friend assures me they're probably low-energy led lights nowadays, but they are pretty. they transform the neighbourhood into an inviting place, the houses say 'you're welcome here' even if you don't want to go there, and probably you're not actually welcome there anyways, but it gives that illusion. this is historically a neighbourhood established by, i think, professionals. doctors. lawyers. dentists. nurses. they do good work, they deserve to live in a relatively green environment, in solid homes where they can raise polite, respectful canadian children. right? i dunno who could afford to buy here now, certainly not corrupt investment bankers. it's a pleasant neighbourhood and i'm strangely, and against my better nature, pleased that there is an effort to lift those massive pieces of metal into the air so that these good hard working people, who serve their community, can fly off to distant lands for the holidays, and leave me in care of their nests.

if only the same effort could be channelled into creating housing solutions for those who aren't blessed with such surroundings ....

i would not make a good homeless person. with all this pain, i'd have died by now. i'm so very thankful to be inside for the holidays. i wish everyone were as fortunate.

THE OLYMPICS THROUGH A LOCAL LENS


=========================================
THE OLYMPICS THROUGH A LOCAL LENS:
A day of discussion, workshops, strategy and action in Victoria, Coast Salish Territories
AN INVITATION AND PROPOSAL

March, 2009
=========================================

==> Get involved with local organizing in time for the 2010 Olympics!!
==> Make sure the issues your group, collective or agency is working are heard
as 2010 approaches!!
==> Bring diverse movements across Victoria together to build our action!!

With the 2010 Olympics just around the corner, the world's attention is being drawn to British Columbia. Despite claims that the government and business leaders will draw in enormous profits, opposition and resistance continue to build. Critical perspectives on the Olympics have raised a myriad of interconnected issues, such as colonialism, poverty, violence against women, homelessness, health, corporatism, and environmental destruction.

*** This email contains a proposal and an invitation for a collaborative event
on the local implications of the 2010 Olympics in Victoria. Scroll down for
info on (1) what we're planning, (2) why we're planning it, and (3) how you can
get involved! ***

=========================================
1. WHAT ARE WE PLANNING? THE OLYMPICS THROUGH A LOCAL LENS: A DAY OF
DISCUSSION, STRATEGY AND ACTION IN MARCH, 2009

In March 2009, with the Olympics less than one year away, individuals and
community members interested in local social justice issues are invited to a
day of workshops focused on building coordinated campaigns and actions in
Victoria. Ideas for workshops include:

- Decolonization, Land and Restitution
- Homelessness and housing
- Health, poverty, homelessness and "harm reduction"
- Sex workers' rights
- Ecosystem destruction, sacred site protection and environmental justice
- Corporatization and privatization
- State surveillance, security and police brutality
- Labour activism and the public sector

The workshops will be followed by a panel discussion on coordinating actions
and strategies surrounding the 2010 Olympics and ongoing local issues. Be part
of Victoria's "Olympic Countdown"!


2. WHAT DO THE VANCOUVER OLYMPICS HAVE TO DO WITH VICTORIA?

==> We're facing the same issues

Many of the issues that Olympics critics have raised in Vancouver are equally
prevalent in Victoria. Embedded within ongoing colonial processes and further
invasions into Indigenous peoples' territories, people across Victoria are
affected by issues such as increasing homelessness, cutbacks to health
services, privatization, corporatization and ecocide. While many groups and
collectives in Victoria are working on these issues, we have yet to come
together and draw out the connections between our struggles and the 2010
Olympics.


==> The Olympics will impact Victoria

The possible implications of the Vancouver Olympics in Victoria are unclear. We
can expect an influx of tourists before, during and shortly after the February
2010 games. Groups in Vancouver are concerned about the 'street cleansing'
initiatives that are often used to displace the urban poor and homeless from
the downtown Vancouver and seeking refuge in Victoria?

==> The Olympic torch relay will begin in Victoria

The Olympic torch relay next October before travelling across the province.
Communities across BC will be organizing to voice their opposition to the games
and to draw attention to local issues. The time to begin mobilizing in Victoria
is now!


3. HOW TO GET INVOLVED

==> Are you a member of a community in resistance, a collective or social
justice group? A service provider, a health worker, an activist, an advocate..?
Interested in either proposing or participating in a workshop or the closing
panel?

==> Are you an individual wanting to participate in organizing this event? Do
you want to help with outreach and mobilization, food, media, fundraising,
billeting, or other tasks?

** Get in touch with us at olympics.in.victoria@gmail.com **

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Am NOT A 'Homeless Activist' (D. A. Johnston - Victoria, BC)


by David Johnston

Let me make myself perfectly clear. The giant 'right to sleep' campaign did not originate over some altruistic desire to help the 'homeless'. The biggest inspiration came when, one night in late 2003, I put my bedroll down at one of my sleeping spots in Beacon Hill park, laid down then noticed an unusual smell. Upon inspection I found the ground covered in fertilizer (ground up fish) and subsequently my blanket was filthy. It was obviously placed there on purpose and from then on the fertilizer came to be known as 'bum-away'. To hold those responsible accountable the 'right to sleep' campaign began in earnest January 16th, 2004.

Up until that point I had been on the job as a preacher of fate, primarily meditating down at the lower Causeway and conversing with the multitudes of people strolling by. Since the campaign began the role switched from meditating everyday to playing this political character that, almost perpetually, has to defend itself from malicious defamation.

I have learned much. The thing has evolved from fighting for the right to sleep with a blanket under a tree, to sleeping in a tent, to, now, sleeping during the day. The city (which I'll now refer to as the Chamber of Commerce) has been fighting every step of the way attempting to protect its shallow little tourism industry from the visual effects of poverty. Part of my education has included becoming aware of the massively devilish take-over-the-world plan that, for instance, has the government giving out 30,000 needles (minimum) a month and a media that has blame placed on the 'homeless' for needles being found everywhere... a good plan in raising the 'need' to hire more cops. 'They' say permanent tent encampments are horribly dark magnets for crime, the truth is that there is a large population of people on the verge of nervous breakdowns (because they have to work 40 hours a week to pay for sleep) who might relieve themselves of some stress by 'choosing' to be homeless and taking advantage of their right to camp.

ON DECEMBER 31ST AT 9:30 AM IN COURTROOM #203, the Chamber of Commerce is hoping to convince a Provincial Court Judge, even after the Supreme Court of BC ruled that it is illegal to have an 'across the board' prohibition on sleeping, that an 'across the board' prohibition from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM is acceptable. I've seen how the Provincial Court works and will not be surprised if their judge finds that it is O.K. to force people not to sleep during the day. If that is going to be the case I will be immediately making an issue right in the courtroom, as the judge will be acting illegally, contravening the Constitution and the Supreme Court ruling.

So, even if I used money and had the biggest house in the world it would still morally behove me to risk it all to find justice, as it would any and all. Not for some obscure notion of 'homeless' people, but for sanity, itself, lest it lack the peace justice provides.

Patience be with us all.

David Arthur Johnston
Victoria, BC, Canada

Hatrackman@Gmail.com

Home page- http://www.angelfire.com/apes/hatrackman

Journal of the Occupation of St. Ann's Academy (Victoria, BC, Canada)-
http://www.angelfire.com/apes/hatrackman/welcome.htm

Crimes of Necessity- http://www.loveandfearlessness.com (from
filmmaker Andrew Ainsley. Very comprehensive.)

Concise Coverage of Victoria Municipal Politics- http://electionsvictoria.ca

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is the TC aware they're publishing lies and/or misinformation?

by chris johnson

This is the second local article this week that discusses the fact that many homeless people do not want to use shelters. The weather out there is as crappy as it ever gets in this part of the world, and you can’t even beg some people to sleep inside on a mat.

Now, I don’t want to go slamming shelters. They serve a pupose, they save lives and I’m glad they are there. I do however want to continue pointing out that homelessness is a problem that requires a diversity of approaches.

As I talk to more and more people about the need for a tent city style encampment, I keep hearing from some people that there are empty shelter beds. The implication is that we as a society offer this very minimal of assistance, and if a person does not want to take it, they deserve what they get.

I’m tempted to say that the people who think shelters are enough don’t care, aren’t paying attention or are just plain out to lunch, but that would oversimplify the matter. I don’t care myself how they arrived at their opinion. I just know they are wrong. It’s no personal attack on such people. They’re just wrong. It happensto all of us from time to time. Hopefully we can convince them, or at least convince the ones who have the power to stop us from doing what needs to be done.

It’s articles like the following that I feel illustrate the point that many of us are trying to make. We need alternatives to the conventional shelter system, and tent or simple structure encampments are one of those alternatives.

Tonight we are having a meeting at Camas Books (Quadra and Kings) at 6pm, to put together a solid, thorough plan for creating this alternative. This will be the first of many meetings, as the task before us requires a lot of research, discussion, meetings with the community and government, writing, negotiating, etc, all before the first tent can even be unpacked.

We don’t have to wait that long to help the people who need the help tonight though. We now have the legal right to erect tents in public parks. While the limit of those rights has not been fully clarified yet, we can safely say that there is the possibility of creating a tent city that is erected at 7pm and dismantled at 7am. There is the possibility of us finding places in this town for people to store their belongings during the day. There are possibilities to enhance the work that is happening right now, and this could very well be part of our discussions.

The worst case scenario is that we are unable to have a tent city on any land in the CRD, public or private, in which case we keep planning until we have created the alternatives that we all know we need. I feel strongly that there is a need for a collectively-run project, governed by the people who use it, and not as dependant on the same funding structures as the projects that have come before us. With a looming economic crisis, the possibility of this disaster getting worse before it gets better is a very real possibility, and we can’t trust our elected leaders to help everyone weather this storm.

So this is about us coming together as a community to help ourselves, to build for our community the kinds of supports that are not being provided and have not even been put on the table as being provided. It’s not an attack on the way that anyone is currently approaching this crisis. It’s about creating for homeless people the kind of freedom and choice that most others take or granted.

See you this evening.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

published in the Times Colonialist Dec 15 08

Spaces available but some refuse to leave outdoors

As temperatures dropped, the number of homeless hitting emergency shelters rose during the weekend.

The homeless didn’t wait for snow to take advantage of shelter offered through Victoria’s Extreme Weather Protocol program.

On Thursday night, 222 people opted to sleep in the nine shelters available. Friday, that number inched up to 229 and when the snow finally hit the city on Saturday night, 232 homeless found their way to shelter.

With last night’s temperatures expected to dip to -8 C

(-18 with the windchill), protocol co-ordinator Jen Book expected more to take refuge.

Book has no fears anyone will be turned away — she can open as many as 396 spaces — but she gets nervous for those who stay outside. She walked the streets Saturday night with Red Cross volunteers, scouting out homeless people who were settling into the city’s alcoves and corners for the night.

“It boggles my mind, but a lot of people say, ‘I’m doing fine,’ ” Book said. “It amazes me when they’re half covered in snow and they say they’re good.”

She said some are well-equipped to handle the wintry conditions.

“They have sleeping bags, winter coats, hats, mitts. They set themselves up quite well,” Book said. “But it’s highly variable.”

Some choose to stay outside because they don’t want to give up their outdoor location, their shopping cart or leave their dog. On that last count, Book they don’t have to, noting that St. John the Divine allows dogs.

“The dogs have to sleep with their owners and the owners have to keep them under control,” Book said.

There were no reports of frostbite or other cold-weather-exposure problems among the people entering shelters Saturday night.

Volunteer drivers who ferry the homeless to shelters farther from the city core experienced white-knuckle driving on the slick roads.

“One of our van drivers almost got clipped by a bus last night,” Book said.

The Red Cross trains and manages the volunteers who search for the homeless, but Saturday, they had a few untrained volunteers. Book said several of the homeless people in shelters hit the streets to invite their friends to come in from the cold.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

coats for the homeless


i'll bet all the homeless (an estimated 1500 in our fair city) are thankful for the free coats that the new mayor and the cool aid society and mark's work warehouse recently handed out during a photo op.

and i'm sure that all the wonderful people who work and volunteer at the shelters are just thrilled to put aside whatever festive preparations they're involved with to enact the city's cold weather 'strategy.' good thing there's no independent, free standing dignity village where people could actually have their own roof over their own heads. better to put the burden back onto the service providers and the city officials rather than enable people to take care of themselves and their friends during the first snowstorm of the year.

meanwhile, on the local public access station, linda mcquaig is teaching a simple lesson in global economics. (no doubt thanks are due to jack etkin for getting the presentation on the air). linda is speaking to a room full about the competitiveness index published by some accredited economic institute thinktank. the united states is number two in global economic competitiveness, she says. (i'm guessing this was recorded prior to the great collapse and subsequent bailout.) it's impressive that the usa is number two, linda says, achieving a competitive edge in the global economic scene is nothing to sneeze at. but what's more interesting, she points out, is that the country in first place has economic policies that are exactly the opposite to america. finland has big government, lots of social spending (free health care, free education through university, 7 weeks paid vacation, etc), regulation of industry, and public ownership and investment. in fact, linda continues, many of the countries listed as the top 20 most competitive economically are northern european countries with similar economic and social strategies as finland.

i'm looking out the window at the first snowstorm of the year. it started last night around 9 pm last night. how and when did the city, the province, the feds respond? how many unnecessarily homeless people froze to death last night? are our government representatives trained in the malthusian theory of population control? is this their 'final solution - just let them die?'

in scandinavia, they've all but eliminated child poverty and homelessness, they have free dental care in addition to health care, everyone has an opportunity to be educated and reach their full potential and contribute to the economy that will support them in their elder years. in comparison, what have we got? 1500 (and counting) homeless (up 500 from the previous year's 'count'), and a bunch of ultra-rich neo-conservative copycats who just don't give a damn, and refuse to anywhere but south for their inspiration. oh .... and their media that makes sure none of us know what's really going on either.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jail Break














photos thanks to Pete Rockwell

I was released from custody a couple of days ago. It is hard to climb stairs while handcuffed and wearing shackles, I learned. But even such movements can be converted into a dance, if a strange and marginally painful one.

I am the prison and the prisoner, the handcuff and the one being handcuffed. You can take the woman out of the tree, but you can't take the tree out of the woman. Still---jail is no place for a criminal, let alone one who has not yet been found guilty of any crime. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing to see so many people in the courtroom looking out for me----so many angel-gods whose presence in the courtroom showed that love is stronger than anything else. Friendship is a force no judge, however corrupt, and no prison, however cruel, can ever defy.

I have signed conditions, agreeing not to "attend at or near Centennial Square," agreeing not to set up a tent after 7a.m. or before 7 p.m., agreeing to "keep the peace and be of good behaviour." The police have all of my tents and all of my sleeping bags, so I should be able to meet those conditions easily---to be a "good girl" according to the City of Victoria's definition of "good" until the case goes to Trial, most likely on New Year's Eve--they will likely join my case to David and Tavis' case, and argue the whole thing in one swoop. I will be in Courtroom 101 tomorrow morning to enter a plea. Not guilty, for what it's worth.

The Times Colonist has done a good job of representing the whole case badly, thus influencing the general public to think badly of "those camping activists"---in yesterday's paper I look like a disturbing cross between Osama Bin Laden and mother Mary. And the acting chief of police's photo is there beside me, displaying a taser gun pointed in my direction. As if to say--"look out, you 'opponent of anti-camping bylaw.'" I have gotten a couple of threats in the last couple of days, and more than a couple teary-eyed thank-yous. I feel well-protected, and also am aware of the extent to which I have annoyed certain "powers that be." My intention is not to annoy the City (or anyone else), but to point out certain truths which, when ignored, lead to a whole lot of un-necessary suffering. And I by no means have "the answer," let alone "The truth"---so I hope that when I err, as I feel the City is in this case, that there will be someone there to point out my ignorance to me--and that Life will grant me the humility necessary to be able to listen to that someone and to correct my error in short order.

The heads of two of the City's chief charitable organizations--the Cool Aid Society and the Salvation Army--have now come out in the open about their hostility to the efforts of the "homeless campers." Well, fine. Cool Aid and the Salvation Army are in the (apparently quite
lucrative) business of providing charitable aid to people they deem to be largely helpless. We "homeless campers" (aka people who sometimes live in parks in tents) are in the business of friendship----friends helping friends to get through the night--and the day---with the honour and dignity that a community founded on love provides but that corporate charity does not. Selah.

There is a time to strive and a time to surrender. So for now I surrender. But I do not give up. As ever, one step at a time. My vision went fuzzy and I nearly lost consciousness at the pool last night--I suffered, apparently, a bit of a seizure. Lack of sleep and lack of sufficiently nourishing food over an extended period. I feel stronger today. It can seem like my spirit has reached a limit, and then there's always an unexpected new reserve. And it is good to remember that under-appreciated of the Ten Commandments--"thous shalt keep the Sabbath." Rest. So the City may be depriving its homeless Judeo-Christian citizens of their religious freedom---the freedom to rest. Good thing the City doesn't rule us. Good thing we keep our own council and are not bound by the council of City Council. Here I must remember the words of that great Saint of the twentieth century, Henry Miller---"I answer to God, not to the chief executive, whoever he may be."

Let there be light.

peace (and a good healthy dose of Holy Madness),

Kristen Woodruff..