Canada’s New Identity

Al Etmanski has once again brought together a group of amazing authors to write about the topic “What are you skating towards 2012?“. My contribution for this series titled “Canada’s New Identity” has been published today and I encourage you to read it and share your feedback.

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We are destroying future generations for now and forever

Lee Brain’s retelling of his observations working at an oil refinery in Jamnagar, India at the Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings. A place where some of the most skilled and highly trained people work together on are project that they acknowledge as part of how “we are destroying future generations for now and forever” Full text available via the Vancouver Observer.

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Life: Steve Jobs

Life was created by people no smarter than you. Make your own.

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Doing my part – making a map

Wanted to contribute to the 99% and create a map that people could use to help coordinate locations for #occupyvancouver. The map is open to the public to contribute.

To add locations to the map, click here and login through gmail

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Vancouver Community Gardens – Fun with Fusion Tables

At Google Earth Outreach in Vancouver #geoyvr learning about geo apis. Here is a fun and quick example of data available public through the City of Vancouver on the locations of community gardens. If you know of any more or have any photos, information, or notices about new plots, leave a comment and I’ll update the map.

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For the archives

Would like to thank Al Etmanski again for helping make my essay on Entitlement one for the archives.

On the topic of archives, I’ve uploaded past posts from my other blogs. Amongst the occasional rant and prediction, there are some pretty great pieces on alternative power systems and other fun bits. If you happen to subscribe to my blog by email, I encourage to check out past posts from the past.

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Featured Essay: Entitlement – Becoming Visible 2011

After much work and consideration, an essay I’ve been writing has been published on the blog of Al Etmanski as part of a series of essays entitled Becoming Visible. The topic of entitlement is one is constantly on my mind, and I imagine for many of those who seek change in their countries. I’m excited to share it with you and hope that you’ll consider responding either here on my blog or through facebook. Thanks for reading and any feedback you might consider sharing.


Being born should not mean inheriting a life where your primary purpose is to pay for the unrestrained social, environmental and financial decisions of those who came before. The abundance of today should grow and not be diminished for tomorrow.  We should not hold future generations of citizens to ransom.

In 2011, I’d like a discussion of entitlement to be taken seriously. What makes us feel entitled? Why does that justify our actions? How does this help future peoples? These questions should inform our actions. Inter-generational entitlement, should be embedded in a revision of the concept of citizenship.  It should govern, and inform our rights, privileges and obligations as citizens.

For example, a citizen should be entitled to clean air, free education and affordable housing.  If we took entitlement seriously we might have to establish laws to limit the exposure of future generations to burdensome taxation, and massive debt and ensure the fair distribution of wealth from one generation,class, or government to another. They should not suffer the consequences of a problem they did not create. A serious entitlement discussion would also look at what is fair for both current AND future citizens.

The fight to rebalance societies is ongoing.  The short-term needs of the dominant economic class should not create second-class citizens. Unfortunately, the current economic crisis shows evidence of this type of imbalance and injustice. Reduced expenditures for health care, for primary and secondary schools, for jobs, for tuition, and fair tax breaks for those who need them, all speak to a growing disparity of wealth. Witness the concentration of corporate wealth, extravagant bonuses to financial sector CEOʼs and growing military defense budgets, in the face of widening poverty and environmental degradation.

Just a few years ago it was reported, “the 500 million wealthiest people (7% of world population) are responsible for 50% of the gas emissions that produce global warming, while the poorest 50% (3,400 million of the population) are responsible for only 7% of the emissions.(Fred Pierce, New Scientist 2009) These signs of the time reflect a crisis of entitlement, not only because of the lack of fairness in the existing distribution of wealth but also because the systems used to create it; systems that no one small group should be entitled to use exclusively.

Todayʼs crises, financial and otherwise, are alarming not just because the impacts were predicted long before they occurred, but particularly because this type of short-term thinking is still largely viewed as acceptable. Somehow in the midst of our present efforts, campaigns, and policy changes, we forget we aredealing with a double whammy – the effects of previous decisions plus current decision-making without a serious consideration of entitlement.  More of us need to say, ʻthese resources are being set aside for people 100 years from now, and it is our responsibility to ensure they are kept that way.ʼ

A discussion about entitlement will force us to swallow some bitter pills. Today we need bold changes, world-impacting change, stop in the street and talk with strangers kinds of change and that kind of change doesnʼt start in the court-room,nor end in a parliament. A good place to start might be to consider this simple idea that “you are only entitled to the value of the investments you make in the future of others” and see where that takes us.

Our lives cannot be defined by a race to the bottom for the declining resources we have available on this tiny planet we occupy. Nor should it be lead by members of our human family who dictate we fight each other for the scraps they leave behind.

As the Globe and Mail has been stating recently, “The next discussion we need to have” is about entitlement. In 2011, I hope that you will sit down at a dinner table with your friends, family or colleagues and ask yourselves this simple question, “Am I taking more than I am entitled to?”

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Egypt: the rising tide of youth, technology, democracy

EDIT Jan 27 11pm : Egypt’s youth at forefront of ‘people power’ movement – Globe and Mail

It could only be a matter of time before the ability to communicate rapidly and freely without censorship caused a revolution. Tunisia, Egypt and now Yemen as examples, the group most enabled by these abilities is youth.

Without jobs, rights, and opportunities to live free of oppression, youth have come to the conclusion as so wisely stated by John F. Kennedy (JFK) in a speech at the Whitehouse in 1962 that “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

In an article by DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and MICHAEL SLACKMAN published yesterday in the New York Times titled, “Egyptian Youths Drive the Revolt Against Mubarak“, a detailed discussion of the different political factions and factors driving the revolution are analyzed. The most valuable knowledge gleaned from this article seems to be that the movement to unseat the government is across all levels of society and is not being led by any one group. Though youth were the first to act because of their ability to mobilize online, the rest of the citizenry supported their actions and joined the movement.

Now with an announced nation wide protest dubbed ‘The Friday of Martyrs and Political prisoners’, to begin 1pm immediately after friday prayers, we may yet see a stronger more organized movement for rights in Egypt before the week is out.

Trying to make sense of the situation has been akin to suddenly getting hit in the face with a firehose of information. Refering again to Kirkpatrick and Slackman article’s concluding remarks gives perhaps a hint of why that may be. It seems as if the United States foreign affairs portray the situation in Egypt as stable and support the current 30 year long standing government. With authoritative state level messages being one of support and stability, it would be easy to dismiss messages of dissent by Egyptian citizens. After all what country does not have disenting voices.

But the situation in Egypt is different, as was Tunisia and now perhaps Yemen. Dissenting voices can only be dismissed for so long, especially if these voices represent an entire nation, and a nation that is willing to take to the streets with nothing to lose. The resonating message from the thousands of citizen transmitted messages via Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and all of the other technology platforms online (before these services were blocked by the Egyptian government as reported by the CBC) repeat the a similar message, but I have found none more powerful than the following:

“We will not be silent. if you are a Christian, a Muslim or an atheist. You will demand your god damn rights! And we will have our rights, one way or the other!” – Egyptian citizen (in video below at 0:44)

As we in Canada watch from a distance, I can’t help but comment that these uprisings may in fact be the greatest example of engaged citizens acting in the name of their rights I have ever seen. I can’t help but feel the best lesson on democracy is playing out in a million fragment messages from a million different voices unified in a similar message.


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Losing is not a failure

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Communicating with Technology

The story of one family’s efforts, and how the voice of one of their members was found inside a body enabled by technology, perseverance and love.

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