“When I was young my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there” – Jim Henson
I think most people are born with a certain amount of hope. I believe I was born with about a clay jug full of hope and sipped a lot of it in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I took the occasional swig of hope from the wine skin as I marched in anti-Vietnam protests, I took deeper draughts of it as I fought for equal rights and a level playing field for marginalized individuals. As a person with a disability I drank flagons of it throughout my life relying on it to create a more fair and just society.
Lately though I have been hearing a lot from my network of access advocated and those involved in disability activism. Hope seems to be waning and that isn’t a good sign. Effective advocacy is based on the presence of “hope”. We all live with the hope that those making the decisions that affect our day to day life will do it based on integrity and fairness. Unfortunately this Kavanaugh debacle south of the border has taken the winds of hope out of a lot of activists sails.
Kavanaugh’s track record on Obama Care is not great and he is now in the position of striking down the section that protects every American with a preexisting condition. In other words if you have a medical condition related to your diabetes, you have a preexisting condition. If you are a polio survivor now experiencing post polio syndrome, you have a preexisting condition. If you have secondary issues to a cardiac issue you have a preexisting conditions. Getting the gist here, changing this one stipulation could affect millions of Americans living with a disability. Hope can be hard to hold on to when it appears the whole system is rigged against you. Continue reading
Posted in Disability, Personal Life, Philosophy, seniors
Tagged #Calgary2026, access, activism, despair, Hope, Jeff Flake, kavanaugh confirmation, Olympics, policy makers, polio, Terry Wiens
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared” – The Giver
CONFESSIONS – It is challenging to distinguish between a confession and whining however after two weeks of fighting for some hope it is time to lay out a confession. There couldn’t be a better time than Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving’s over the years hold a lot of memories for me but also represent “hope”.
This whole Kavanaugh confirmation issue south of the border was quickly draining my chalice of hope and in light of the outcome I’m going to have to find a way to refill my cup. It wasn’t so much as the accusations brought forward by Doctor Blasey Ford’s (and those shouldn’t be trivialized) but more the contempt and partisan behaviour he showed in the Senate hearings.
Personally I am getting tired of this type of mentality making it into positions of power where they can, on the whim of a personal belief, have life-long effects on other people. I have spend my life as an activist and advocate fighting for rights and, in particular, disability rights. Now that Kavanaugh holds the balance of power in the Supreme Court every disabled person in America is under threat. He has already ruled on a court case against the current health care act which threatens anyone with a “pre-existing” condition. I fear for my disabled friends in America but also see too many of these same practices seeping into Canada. I spend the last four months in a battle with Alberta Health Care and just received my letter on Friday telling me they have reversed a decision in my favour which would have gone uncorrected if I wasn’t like a dog with a bone on these issues.
I am quite use to this two steps forward one step back when it comes to individual rights but I am personally pretty fed up with it. I have spend a lifetime challenging policy administrators on decisions they have hoisted on me despite right or wrong. I get tired of challenging but life goes on and if you don’t challenge you lose ground quickly. Continue reading
“Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something IN people” –
Calgarians will go to the polls November 13, 2018 for, what appears to be, a straight forward plebiscite on whether or not to pursue the bid for the 2026 Olympics. True to form this has become a very polarizing issue with most polls (depending on whose you are reading) keeping things close to 50-50. My problem with this is the lack of detail and the various ways facts are being presented. I was a volunteer for the 1988 Olympic’s and they were (and continue to be) an enviable benchmark for every winter Olympics since. However they were just as plagued with naysayers during the bidding process as these new ones are so lets move past that.
I find the lack of information on the “Return on Investment” (ROI) on the 1988 concrete legacy structures a little disturbing. I know the Olympic Oval has been used many times for national and world competitions as well as a training venue for other national teams. That’s almost thirty years of returns. I know the bobsled/luge course is used winter and summer for a wide range of activities. That has to be worth something. I know the Olympic Plaza has been used for much more than “medal presentations” since 1988 so that has to be worth something. However I am no accountant so that kind of ROI assessment should be done by people with bigger calculators and more in-depth spreadsheets than I have access to.
However an ROI on the legacy issue is a whole different matter. Legacy is not only a concrete concept measured by structures but also an abstract concept measured by thought and memories. An example of the abstract legacy of Olympic Plaza is held in every kids heart who has skated on the outdoor ice pond there, held in the memories of every parent who has taken their children there over the years and held in the realization of everyone who has attended an outdoor event there. That legacy cannot be measured on the Olympic spreadsheet but can be measured in the joy of the Calgarians making use of it.
Since returning to Calgary I have listened or read the pro and cons of both sides. The one area that seems to be missing is the abstraction of the living legacy created by the venues. The grade ten class of today doesn’t remember the bobsled racing of 1988 but do recall the thrill of the class outing where they rook a ride down the chute. That kind of legacy, again, cannot be measured on a spreadsheet but will provide a lifetime of value. Continue reading
“People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people” – Alan Moore, V for Vendetta
I am blown away by the apparent pettiness of that sack of air the people of Ontario elected to guide their province. I haven’t lived in Toronto for over 40 years and at the time I loved it. I loved the downtown life style of Toronto as much as I loved the week long canoe camping trips in Algonquin Park. I loved the culture of the Toronto theatre district as much as I loved spending weekends at my roommates parents corn/dairy farm up by Peterborough. All in all it was a good time in Ontario.
I remember the sighs of relief of so many Ontario citizens when Bill Davis and the Ontario Progressive Conservative won their tenth consecutive government but tempered it with a “minority”. People were tired but frightened by the thought of change. It was a different, and many say much simpler, time. Change was slow but Ontario was booming.
This was the early days of learning to vote for the lesser of the evils rather than the best for the province. The Charter was still six years away and Toronto proper was still Toronto. It wasn’t an amalgamated super city yet. For me, it was a time of fun and life was just beginning to take on a more serious turn. I was living my life accordingly and the absences or presence of rights meant nothing to me. It wasn’t fully in my sphere of interest at the time but the shadows were creeping into the recesses of my mind.
I left Toronto in 1976 to return to Vancouver and never got past Calgary. I landed my first job of any real consequence with the Canadian Mental Health Association and entered the world of advocacy. I had, in my past, participated in some anti-Vietnam war protest marches, took some stands for early gay rights, been quietly involved in promoting a more comprehensive building code to acknowledge accessibility but had always seen those as activities that were a vehicle to meet women (yes I was pretty shallow when I was younger). Regardless I matured. Continue reading
Posted in Activism, Personal Life, Politics
Tagged #SpeakUp, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Doug Ford, fascism, Opt out clause, responsible government, Section 33, Terry Wiens, Toronto City Council