Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh Calgary, you and your big ego...

From Paul Jackson's editorial today in the Calgary Sun:

Stelmach could easily have eradicated Calgarians' angst in two quick strokes: Give the energy portfolio, now held by Grande Prairie MLA Mel Knight to a Calgary MLA and give Danyluk's municipal affairs and housing portfolio to another Calgary MLA, perhaps Fritz. The energy portfolio obviously belongs in our city, and municipal affairs and housing should as obviously go to an MLA from a major city, not some northern, far-flung riding.

Honestly. Thinking Ministers from your city deserve top portfolios simply because of where they are from is a ridiculous idea. Since when do we choose any job applicant because of where they originate from as opposed to what they bring to the table? Mel Knight has energy industry experience like no other MLA, who do you expect to take his place? "The energy portfolio obviously belongs in our city"? I don't think so. And Danyluk is a pretty good minister. Municipal affairs, in my opinion, sort of belongs with someone who isn't from the big city... yeah, Calgary has housing issues which could be fully understood/visualized by a Calgary MLA, but municipal affairs is important, especially in a cabinet which seeks to embrace rural Alberta which has been feeling left out for a long time. I think originating from rural Alberta helps Danyluk in this portfolio. Though that's not the reason why he's good at what he does. I watched him speak at the AAMDC conference a few months back and the Reeves, Councillors, etc. adore him. He's built relationships with these people.

Dear Calgary: get over it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Starbucks wisdom of the day

The Way I See It #247

Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.

-- Bill Scheel, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario. He describes himself as a "modern day nobody."

Edmonton needs a PR makeover

June 27, 2007: Edmonton is still having problems promoting itself to the rest of Canada. A Toronto PR firm has been hired at a cost of $175,000. Council says Edmonton needs more exposure. Mayor Mandel says in the past we haven’t done as good a job as we should have done to promote the city. Between 2002 and 2004 according to the city, Edmonton appeared 25,000 times fewer than Calgary in National newspapers. Global Edm.

Last night I attended a forum put on by Next Gen re: Edmonton's image in the media. It was pretty interesting, especially from the view of someone who wasn't raised here. Panelists included Bridget Ryan from City TV; Mari Sasano from the Edmonton Journal (‘8 ½ Things to Do’ every Saturday in ED Magazine); Jason Manning, Music Director from Sonic Radio, 102.9 FM; and Ted Kerr, freelance photographer and writer.

I found myself nodding quite a bit to what Jason Manning had to say (as someone who also flocked here for opportunity and is astounded by how great a city this is). Edmontonians kind of brush off pride and put down the city a little bit as Redmonton/Deadmonton/etc. They tend to focus on the negative effects of the boom and what has come of the city's rapid growth versus the positives the city holds.

Bridget Ryan talked about a recent trip to NYC, where her cab driver's eyes lit up to hear she was from Edmonton because he was moving himself and his family here in a couple weeks.

Edmonton does have an image, we need to focus on not hiding the negatives, but also on promoting the good. We have an awesome arts/music scene that is fairly unique from that of Toronto/Vancouver. We have the river valley, which is one of the largest greenspaces in North America. We are a quietly diverse city which doesn't exploit our multiculturalism and segment our population into ghettos and stereotypes (though these surely exist to an extent). We have Whyte Ave, a bustling little community... and downtown, which is getting there. On the flip side, the city has a drug problem which needs to be tackled before it can truely flourish.

Ted Kerr talked about the importance of story telling versus marketing, which I do think is a great idea... focus on the lives and stories of individuals rather than "come to Edmonton because it's the land of milk and honey". Make it real for people. Which also means not lying. Yeah, we have a housing problem. Yeah, infrastructure needs work. Yeah, winter is pretty damn cold (but there are plenty of cool things to do even with the temperature at -40).

I've said it about a million times, and I'll say it a million more. One of the things that I noticed about Edmonton pretty early on is how many successful young people there are. There is a great opportunity for success here, and success early on in life. Which is quite different from the scene in Toronto where you need to know people to get anywhere. For me, as a recent graduate and young professional, I find this incredibly inspiring.

One of the other interesting things that was mentioned is that a lot of great things in Edmonton get overlooked because they don't have "Edmonton" in the name... they opt for using "Capital" whatever or "Alberta" whatever. These are the instances where people automatically assume that these things are based in Calgary (for example, University of Alberta, Royal Alberta Museum, Capital Heath). It's going to take change on a larger scale to change the views of people across the country and around the world. Many people do think that Calgary is the capital since it's bigger and gets more attention.

What do you think? What makes Edmonton great? What can the city do to get this message out?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Girls, girls, girls.

I remember a time talking with the sisters about how awful boys are. The reality of the situation is that girls are so much worse than boys. They are catty and vindictive and they hurt our own gender far more than the opposite sex does. This has become glaringly obvious through conversations with one of my best girls... girl drama is the new boy drama. And it's completely ridiculous.

Why can't we be supportive of each other? Why must girls be so petty and jealous and vindictive? For the most part, I stray from these girls. I have my core little set who typically are the ones who have more guy pals than girl friends, who are always ready with a bottle of wine or an escape to a patio with a plethora of beer when you need it, either to celebrate or to get over a bad day. Ones who never throw out the "I told you so", even though they do have rockin' advice when it's needed.

Even in some of the confusion that has surrounded my little universe these days, it's not men that are the problem. I can handle men. I am not naive, I am realistic, I know who I am and know that things don't always go the way I want them to. I can accept that. I can exist in a world of unknowns. For now. It's the girl talk that has my head spinning and my soul aching to escape from this place.

It's the girl talk that makes me start questioning myself.

This weekend consisted of a glorious (though short) visit to Ontario to visit ma famille. It's kind of funny how I've barely been in this city for a year, and yet it feels so right. Even if I were to return to Ontario, I wouldn't move to my hometown. I couldn't. It's not who I am anymore. I'm not sure it's who I ever was. Though there are aspects of it that I love, love, love. I love the family. I love the seclusion of the farm (though there was a time in my youth when I absolutely detested this luxury). I love waking Kiki up to play catch on the lawn in our PJs because it's doesn't matter what you look like when no one can see you. I love my dog. I love the quiet. The escape. Nature.

And yet, I come back to the sirens and the hustle and bustle of a city of over a million... greeted by my buddies in the airport and swept off for a drink... and it just feels right. Someday I'll regain the peacefulness of my old life... but for now, the balcony suffices. Our glorious downtown balcony with our herb garden and barbeque.

With the last week at this department wrapping up and the permanent department on the horizon, the trip home only made me crave more of an escape. Plotting imaginary travels with one of my guy friends and squealing over the real to-be travel to Stampede with one of my best girls is just going to have to do for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happiness, Vaginas and Strong, Inspirational Women

This is absolutely incredible. Eve Ensler is hilariously funny and incredibly brilliant. Her talk about her journey, V-day and the Vagina Monologues is definitely worth a listen.

The women whose stories she tells near the end of the talk are absolutely astounding. I have been blessed to never be in a situation even remotely close to anything any of these women have encountered, and I can't say that if I was I would have this much strength to affect change.

In university, a friend and I were part of a group which went around to highschools and discussed violence against women and healthy relationships. It was all part of something that one brave woman put together after her daughter was killed by an ex-boyfriend that she had been in an abusive relationship with. This woman traveled to schools everywhere in order to show other young girls what abuse looks like and discuss how to get out of that situation. Incredible.

Even if you're not into the Vagina Monologues, watch this clip.

"When we give in the world what we want the most, we heal the broken part inside each of us."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wish list, not overly Canadian

Facebook has this "Great Canadian Wish List" thing going on right now. It's an interesting experiment by the CBC to interact with the younger generation, they plan on compiling all the data and releasing the list on July 1.

I'm interested in seeing what things people think would make our country better; which ideas they have to make our country greater.

A few examples of what has been written:
Abolish Abortion in Canada (top wish)
Spirtual revival (number two)
Pro-choice Canada (number three)
Restore the Traditional Definition of Marriage (number four)
Lower/eliminate Tuition Fees (number five)

I'm a little afraid for this future. There's also a "wish" that Canada be completely athiest. Yikes. Let it be said that I consider myself to be more "spirtual" than "religious"... mainly meaning that I don't think the problem lies in people believing in a higher power, but that the problem mainly lies in the politics and drama of organized religion itself. I believe that it is our differences and the toleration of these differences that make our country what it is. Tolerance and respect, no matter which culture, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, age, etc.

On Abortion: I don't support the idea of abortion. I don't think that anybody really does. But I do support the idea of trusting women enough to make these life decisions for themselves. I know that no matter how much I may disagree with any decision that somebody else makes, it is in fact their decision to make. Not mine. And the people who will have an abortion now, are the ones who will continue to resort to this end even if abortion was not legal. It is far greater to have these procedures carried out in a medically controlled, safe environment rather than in basements and back alleys. This was the whole purpose of legalizing it in the first place. Abortion should never be used as a form of birth control, and when people consent to having sex, they adopt pregnancy as a possibility. They have to be prepared for the consequences of their actions.

However, there are a plethora of situations out there which makes this whole topic a very sticky thing. It's definitely not black or white. And I am not one to determine what anybody else should do in their own, unique situation. I don't believe anyone else should make this decision for them either.

We should rather build a community of acceptance which allows women to feel safe enough to discuss their options and possibilities so that they can be sure their decision is an informed one. And no matter whether they carry through with a pregnancy and raise a child, give birth and put that child up for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy... in every situation these women need support. They don't need to be shamed.

The Spiritual Revival wish claims that "40 years ago, there was the Hippie Revolution - a turning away from the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. 40 years has our country been trapped in the ideals of free love, drug uses, practices of abusive lifestyles et cetera; we are turning too far away. Now is the time for this and our younger generation to step up, get out of our comfort zones and pray together for a spiritual revival in Canada from sea to sea to sea!"

Blech. Way to blame the hippies for all the troubles of our country. I grew up in a family that went to church every Sunday and didn't give in to the free love, drugs, and abusive lifestyles. And let me tell you, those church-goers were far from perfect. Furthermore, they should know about the values that God/Jesus/InsertHigherPowerHere teaches. What's that? Tolerance, respect and love? Love thy neighbour as thyself? Treat others the way you want to be treated? No where does it say only to love the other Christians. It says everyone. Regardless of their creed. The great thing about religion is that nobody really knows what's right or wrong. And so really, people shouldn't pretend they know it all. It's not possible to know it all.

All we can do is respect each other and be kind to each other and hope that in the end it all works out. Again, the great thing about Canada is that it does have this convergence of values, cultures, beliefs. And ideally, we would be accepting of the values and views of others... celebrating our similarities as well as our differences. It definitely makes democracy a lot more powerful when ideas are discussed from different viewpoints before people are elected or decisions are made. Our differences are one of our greatest strengths.

On marriage, it's kind of like everything else that has been discussed here. You know what? Any two people getting married is none of your business. And people who use the argument that gay marriage "demeans" or "lowers" the value of their traditional marriage... they are full of crap. Any marriage is a vow between two people and two people only (and God if you so believe). The only thing that can decrease the value of that vow is those two people involved.

And for those religious people who believe that homosexuality is wrong? Even if that is your view, the Bible/various religious texts say outright that it is not your job to judge people. That if anyone makes a wrong choice or acts in any way which could possibly be considered "wrong", they are the ones who answer for it in the end. So be quiet. You don't have to agree with the decisions and beliefs of others. You do have to respect human kind and the ability of people to make decisions for themselves. Further to that end, I would suggest that the only thing that would possibly demean this sacrament in my eyes, is when people enter into it lightly.

And on tuition fees, I think I've written on this before. I have. February 7, 2007, for those who care to look back. Basically, I don't support lowering/eliminating tuition fees. I do support people learning the value of money and having to work for what they get. People who don't have things just handed to them tend to value what they get out of it and work harder. I think an increase in grants, scholarships and financial aid is a good thing. Education should be accessible for those who really want it. That doesn't mean that it should be free.

I think this is all the ranting and raving I've got for now.
What are your wishes for Canada and the future of our country? Go.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Read this... absolutely incredible article by the LA Times' Megan Stack.

I just can't imagine living like this. We do have a lot of rights in this country, and on this continent, that we take for granted. Yes, there are still things to work towards but what we encounter is nothing like what Stack encountered in Saudi Arabia.