One gets a perspective on the world when they are engaged working with those without voice to discover voice. Whether it is a certain population, community, spiritualist, sectarian or political movement… or a child. It is the little moments when kindess can be modeled and taught. It is a proven fact cited by many sources and many times over (learned while a mentor with the Alberta Mentor Foundation for Youth; and re-integration mentor with Calgary Young Offender’s Centre) that an adult committing 1 hour a week minimum in a positive way into a child/adolescent’s life can change that life for the better.

Yet too often as adults we drop the ball horribly. I am not yearning for yesteryear, but publicly there was accepted behaviours, privately–well I am glad the roof has been blown off the private abuse. BUT we still need to understand what it means to be, well, human and to be a good citizen. This is the investment, the colloquially it takes a village, for we all need to participate. Unfortunately the extremism of Right/Left political spectrum helicopter parenting/parents-rights movements have shattered this ability.

What am I speaking of?

We no longer understand the simplicity. And as a community will no longer call out and hold accountable bad behaviour, but rather will seek the most expedient method responsible for ending conflict, even (and usually does) mean removing the voice of the bullied.

If we can’t understand yes means yes, no means no in sharing toys of snacks…

In schools we tackle the “no sharing rule” or the “only sharing with those that you play with outside of school. Yet we do not address the harassment that comes with “No” for the person who brings the snack and maybe does not want to share with someone. It is the movement of independent rights, separated completely from interdependent responsibility.  Reaction is to cancel sharing, or to allow harrassment to continue until the resolution is for the afflicted to give in, or simply feel so scared not to bring something to school as a snack.

This is seen in play groups, when my child would start playing with something, and another child would want it and demand they share. Parents would say our child was mean when they would continue playing until done, then pass on. “That’s not sharing”. Yes, that is sharing, she/he did not want to play with your child, but the toy, the time was up, and passed on to the next in line. Watching your child harass the other child until they are reduced to tears or pass the toy over, or attempt to share only to have your child walk away without you saying anything teaches nothing but that the most important needs in the world are the ones of your child.

Same repeat story in the Public Libraries with technology, the card allows for x numbers of minutes for each cardholder. One child’s time is not more valuable than another, they may choose to play together (kids have a knack for finding friends adults will never see–a maybe or yes to creating a better world), but also no is a proper answer and waiting your turn is a proper answer. Child or adult harassing or shaming the one using the device is not the proper response to no or wait your turn please. Staff watching this behaviour and not interceding shows that this behaviour is acceptable and will be tolerated in public with no repercussions.

The other piece is the “teach abuser grooming behaviour for victim” where the apology is not actually acknowledging what was done was wrong (ala I am sorry you felt that way, or (insert rationale to my behaviour here) or blame the situation or purchase the “sorry you are mad at me present”.

These are behaviours in our children. If we cannot get them before adolescence to understand simple things like Yes means yes, no means no. Taking turns is sharing. You are not the only/most important individual in the world. In a community everyone has value.

HOW ARE WE TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND:

  1. Significant others do not owe you sex.
  2. When you ask someone out, you are not entitled to a yes…they can say no…then leave them be.
  3. Domestic violence is wrong.
  4. Emotional/verbal/spiritual harassment-abuse-manipulation is wrong
  5. Involuntary Celibates (or any other hate adjective) really is simply you are the ass no one wants to be around. It is time for self-reflection not violence (so no the van driver in Toronto and the Texas School shooter are not the victims, they are the violence bringers).

Consent is fairly simple. Yes many generations in general have struggled with it to the detriment of humanity, and harm of many persons. We are at a point in time where that needs to change, the movements have been subtle and overt to bring this change. How do I know this? Look at the resistance building to change, it is at a tipping point for a better world for our children.

The better world. That what is to be built upon the world we have for the next generation, 7 generations down.

Let old ideas melt away, new ones take root and grow fully. Learn from what is being born, and be the person.

As our village raises this generation, we need to be part of the positive tipping point.

Will you?

 

 

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There has been a long history of computer hackers and brainiacs, artificial intelligences and uber geniuses involved in all layers of super hero and villaindom. Not to mention super spies. The Agency was what had been designed to work alongside, support and if necessary reign in or replace the heroes of Canada. C.D. (Compu-Death) was an erst while teen on the 1990’s computer genius back when it was a challenge, who was given a choice of service to his country or youth corrections and then adult jail. He chose service. One of those genius levels that was never supported enough in school so boredom led to his deviant behaviours.

I take a sip of coffee on the porch of my trailer thinking of the kid. My tablet is ready to click on an episode of Longmire. He served well, gave his life on a mission that, well, saved the world of course. There was also another computer presence that intersected with the Great Crime Fighter’s history. No one knew who they were. Just messages on a screen or a scrambled voicemail, dropping clues like the super heroes own Deep Throat if you will.

Last report of the three sick was that they were almost back to being in the land of the living. Still no idea where George vanished too. Hope Johnny is making a go with the monster, the receiver in my ear went down when…

The screen to my tablet illuminates. Weird. Pick it up. A simple message scrawls across in Comic Sands:

Your teammate’s last words.

A short video clip from the old Bunker, funny enough looks like C.D.’s command centre… Johnny in the midst of whatever burning energy and monster. He’s screaming something before everything goes black.

A garbled cleaned up audio clip comes through the darkness:

I’m sorry Dad..I love you.

Said Johnny “Power” MacKay.

In a scroll across the screen in giant green letters.

FROM

ENIGMA.

In the back of my mind a hollow voice as I feel a tear in the corner of my eye,

WE COME.


 

More profound thoughts will come later…but 4 years ago (and it feels like all 14 (?) of your years were here)…when you and a boi fell in insta-love. She never complained, always loved, and was ready with kisses for any child who entered our home…today she decided it was time to be with the Elders and Children who have gone before and is now apart of the Grand Tea Party of Paradise. RIP Queen Diamond (not sure when you entered this world, but onto the next joy May 14, 2018).

-Facebook post upon returning home from the passing

Perhaps the more profound thoughts.

diamondAnyone who has ever gone through a change, transition or loss whether short term or long knows that your system goes through the grieving process. This may be unconscious and quick or longer and drawn out. There is even more of the process when one looses a loved one of their family- whether blood, chosen or fur.

That is the reality that hit our small home once more on May 14, 2018. Our Queen Diamond, beloved rescue who came into our lives after the break in where family heirlooms were lost. The one that shared love with any child of God (creature or human) that entered our home’s light. She chose her time and it was a late-night stay with her and the wife at the 24 hour veterinary hospital, as she chose to join the grand Tea Party in the sky and be Momma Dog with our ancestors and children that have crossed the rainbow bridge before hand.  Laid comfortably with her head on her favourite giant stuffy and covered with a blanket.

A simple memorial stays in our home of her leash and collar (not removed until she had transitioned fully) hang on the wall by the door awaiting her spirit, my son still jingles it before leaving for school.

But how to honour who she was? No, I am not referring to the over priced memorials services drag you into the moment of grieving (still awaiting the over-priced ceramic paw prints that is another 7 weeks out)…but how to honour the personality. Yes, I realize for some they will say you are writing of a dog and this is true. But it is honouring a life lived. And that is the key of any memorial actions. They are there to aid in the grieving and release to enter into the new reality, but they are also there to honour whom the passed individual was and the life they lived.

Which is why we honoured our Momma dog, through actions that were her. Acts of kindness. Her food, treats, toys and dishes given to aid in another dog(s) finding the true home they are meant after trials they should not endure…

And like today’s final step. Finally qualified for that free bag of food from the pet store, and going and getting it to donate to other dogs awaiting forever homes at the SPCA. The comment when we dropped it off from the staff was, “that’s really high-quality food.” Yes, yes, it is. And we know it will help.

When grieving/memorializing/remembering…always remember there is part that is about your healing process, and part that is about a final moment of truly who they are in this world…for the new is across the rainbow bridge, just a cup of tea away.

2015 Ode to Our Diamond


I was gladdened a few weeks ago when the newest affordable housing complex in Calgary broke ground that the government corrected the service provider gently on the use of terms. It was deemed by the service provider as “permanent supportive housing” yet the MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), when announcing pointed to it as “permanent housing with supports”. Many will think this is just semantics b.s. that does not amount to anything but hair splitting. But it matters for the terms lead to the conditions which lead to the ability to create healthy communities through an interconnection of healthy interdependent citizens and their homes. It is the terms and conditions which outline the corporate and personal responsibilities for all stake holders.

Despite the long battle the City Council of Calgary had over secondary suites, and folks attempting to justify who their neighbours should be through red tape, let us be honest—we all have good or not so good neighbours—it has nothing to do with how they live (rent/own) but rather other life events that have shaped their personality. (and yes I am gladly awaiting new neighbours with secondary suites, and lane-way/mini housing). This is the hitch, and why words matter when describing housing (or as one round table for the federal government on housing in Calgary phrased it with member of Parliament (for Calgary Centre and at that time Cabinet Minister) Kent Hehr, spectrum of homes which is not just rental, but ownership).

I look to my own neighborhood. It is a mash up of group homes; long term care; seniors residence; affordable housing (which is a spectrum from near market; percentage off market to geared to income) rentals; family and friends couch surfing; shared accommodations; at one point I am sure folks residing in hotels; market rentals; condos; townhouses and houses (owned/rented).   As noted in rental there is different ways rents can be figured in; same with seniors or assisted living facilities or group homes, ½ way houses; Supportive Roommates (supported independent/interdependent living), sober housing and harm reduction (sometimes sadly becomes harm acceptance). All rolled up for singles; couples; roomies; and families (sometimes fur family allowable, sometimes not). As well, home ownership which can be straight through Canadian Mortgage; Habitat for Humanity style ownership or Affordable Homes (or perhaps another way I have not heard of yet).

These ways have a qualifying mechanism which can be as simple as credit/debt ratios to sweat equity to income levels to medical and/or care provisions. Each, depending on where they fall on the spectrum; have rules, regulations and laws that govern contractual obligations, complaint mechanisms, accountability tools, acts and levels of government that may or may not oversee, whom to seek out for conflict resolution or mediation. Essentially it lays out in computer terms for apps the terms and conditions. That is what are the rights and responsibilities for the owner/service providers/landlord/tenant/owner while building a healthy home, and when the need arises through positive or negative means—transitions out of that home to the next.

The contractual obligations before signing, while signed and at dissolution.

This is why I applaud the NDP (New Democratic Party) government in their subtle caring way for reminding us of that. In this example Permanent Supportive Housing falls under a legislative licensing act in Alberta which has a ministry; specific protocols of provision (i.e. housekeeping and/or meals); and a very specific anonymous tip line for complaints to protect the resident. This aids the tenant and the staff of the facility. For it lets the staff know their rights and responsibilities, also for the tenant, it allows their rights and responsibilities to be clearly understood and known by not only them but their circles of support (professionals paid to be in their lives, and social supports ala family, friends and chosen family).

The terms and conditions allows one when seeking a home, whether it is moving from one tenancy to the next, or into care or out of shelter to understand that what they are needing/looking/qualify for…is what is being offered by the operator and/or property.

Seek clarity, on what specifically the terms and conditions are.

More precisely, seek clarity on what this means for the rights and responsibilities of all involved in the contractual arrangement.

By knowing this. By being informed. It allows for a healthy home to flourish for the individual, couple, roomies or family…and by proxy be a healthy piece of the puzzle for the growth of healthy communities in truly living out the understanding of being and knowing neighbour.

Ty Ragan Psy.D. has worked many decades as a community builder in many styles of housing  for what many would term vulnerable populations, but are always someone’s neighbour seeking a healthy home.


The greatest fallacy of community building is that there is a magic formula one can pluck from one setting and insert into theirs and “voila” numeric and monetary growth happens. The “Eureka” moment. Formulas can be positive or negative for the human condition. Focus on a shining light, or the darkest night. Yet, what is universal is that the community wants something simple to grow numbers without changing their normal operating procedure.

I know this. I have experienced this. For it is the uphill climb that happens when building communities of authentic welcome, and the burning shit storm that rains down on the change agent, even going as far as character assassination. Yet the truth remains the same. A community needs to understand first who they authentically are. What follows is a simple treatise on growing a religious community, and communicating to new, old and inquiring spirits as to how things work and what is available. Most churches in Canada are small to medium sized (less than 200 active members) which leads to falling into the non-communication phase of operations. That is, they are not used to new members, voices, inquiries and assume everyone knows everything already. This needs to be the first step of change. Also, it does not speak into the pilgrimage of spirituality, for what may at one point not spoken to one’s journey may now, and the information is lost in the non-communication abyss.

So yes, this is a religious treatise, but can be adapted to any organization that uses small groups/committees/insert other name for same group here.

Preliminary:

  • Clearly outline governance. Break it down simply, so folks understand who to take ideas to.
  • How does one create a new group? This includes not only the idea, but what it takes to be lead on any new group ideas (i.e. teaching, outreach, community building).
  • What existing groups already exist? Are they Open? Closed? Membership decided on a demographic? This needs to be a simple hard copy brochure, and a tab on the webpage. Outline contact information, and what the group is about.
  • Since worship or web page can be first point of contact for new folks, and existing folks, it does not hurt to keep a current info section. This should include upcoming Sunday (monthly schedule if possible) on the speakers, short 2-3-line bio on the speaker (yes this may seem monotonous to some when it is the cleric speaking, but much can be shared in 2-3 lines so even new things can be learned), and if topic not available, the text that will be used.
  • Social Media presence: If you have a web page, twitter, YouTube, WordPress, blog site, Facebook, etc. ensure they are being used and update regularly as any and or all of these can become what someone new or old views your organization as being.
  • If the building is the hub of activity, ensure you have properly labelled meeting rooms, and directional signs up pointing which way is which (washrooms also visibly signed and directed) and use of whiteboard schedule so new folks know where they are going. If you are without a building, or use folks’ homes to meet in, ensure that information is communicated clearly and the leader is able to share the directions to the space either publicly or when messaged.
  • Any changes need to be clearly and transparently communicated, this also includes why the change was made, and who was there when change was decided (we all understand we miss a meeting thing can change).

That is the preliminary. Moving forward how do things happen?

Figure out types of groups happening and yes this includes one off events.

Outreach I view as volunteer groups. This is things such as volunteering as a group for this project (i.e. volunteering at a local homeless shelter, seniors’ manor, school, making sandwiches, community meal, etc.) something that anyone of any age can be involved in, but are outside the local church community or things within the church that are for the broader community (i.e. clothing giveaways, church garage sales, community cupboards, community gardens).

Service is also volunteer groups, one off, or ongoing, but it is basic running of the building or background services. This can be someone willing to take on IT trouble shooting, running the social media or webpage, hospitality for worship or other church functions; grounds keeping, maintenance, does the church have a library? Keeping that up; cleaning, any other project within the grounds that needs folks and their time.

Social is well social events. Games nights, outings, recreation leagues sports teams; BBQ’s, movie nights, books clubs, craft clubs, etc… a social event that may or may not have a spiritual component but is about getting people together to get to know one another. Please note these can and do intersect with the next one, so there may be a layer of leadership required dependent on what your church deems necessary.

Educational/Formational featured speakers, conferences, book groups, spiritual studies, movie nights, what is colloquially known as Sunday School, Church Camps, Vacation Bible School, Youth (or other age specific groups), etc. What are the qualifications to form and lead? What is the purpose? Who is welcome? Also this looks to specific sacramental teaching and membership groups.

Worship – these are the ones that bring us the smallest portion of the church week, but the one the most time can be spent on. Who shares the pulpit? How is music groups designed/chosen? How do we advertise? How are all generations connected with? What are key points that need to be communicated/explained if there is someone new attending even if they have a history in church but not our church? What are terms we use others may not?

Political– This is whatever leadership group heads up your church body (i.e. synod, board, committee, etc).

Beyond the headings?

This gives a group of headings to break up information in for people to understand. It also allows for ease of communication (i.e. we have a choir new member accepted from Sept-November or Raj’s Bible Study always open coffee is on Thursdays).

Also, breaking down who can lead which type of group. What are qualifications? Membership? Baptism? Sacraments? Who can be involved in worship? Who can spearhead a social gathering? Who can take lead in an educational/formational group? Who is allowed to have a seat in the political spectrum? Outreach and service? These are questions for your community to address, answer and advertise transparently. The other piece that will need to be addressed is what happens when someone bucks the system, what honestly is the community willing to do about it?

Beyond all this though the deepest question to be answered when entering a process of growth is answering authentically: Which type of growth? Spiritual? Numeric? Monetary? Most will say all, but being authentic states knowing what your community honestly values and it may surprise them.


I have been hearing a lot about church break-ins and/or vandalism lately, but it is a unique time for there is also things filtering my way about how to make our buildings welcoming for new comers or those who may not normally darken the door (or should that be lighten?). At first blush it would appear these are exclusionary topics from one another. Yet they can go hand in hand, for the best security is not a lock down approach but a “we are a home in the community” approach is my idea.

I approach the idea of part of the community not separate, because my hypothesis is that most vandalism stems out of hatred/boredom; and most break ins of institutions such as this at this point in history could be tied to the opioid crisis and other economic factors where literally it is smash and grabs for quick cash and valuables that can be dumped through those “gold/silver for cash joints”. Much like the break in at our own home a few years back.

These are just some thoughts from a community planner, not a security expert, but what could be possible, and may change trends. There are some factors that cannot be changed:

  • Location of the church building. It is where it is, so amount of traffic by will not change usually.
  • Varying of schedule of comings and goings as there is set times for events, office hours, etc. In fact, for safety of staff in an urban setting unless there is a plan for multiple folks to be there at varying times I would not encourage.

What can be done, some thoughts on the possible?

  • Ensure you have connected with the neighbours in a positive way. An example of this is signage around property- is it negative (i.e stay off the grass) or welcoming (i.e. free library at door).
  • Are there known offerings within the community that the building uses so many people who may never attend service, know the building exists and when there is usually and not usually activity. That is, if they notice activity around non-active times they will call at least non-emergency CPS or the office. On a quick smash and grab any sound will change rhythm.
  • Locks- not a fan of them. Yes I understand exterior locks need to happen, but when you have locks throughout the building on doors, etc. you encourage more damage to happen with break ins. For a lock to someone in desperation means wealth lies behind.
  • In church signage. Seems a weird thing, but it allows for proper streaming of traffic. Simple signs posted with arrows showing which rooms are where, in the foyer post a white board with that night’s activities and where they are before closing up for the day. That way those that come in know where they are going, anyone new to those events also knows where they are going. A simplicity act of welcome that shows value to an individuals time.
  • Lines of sight. This is a big one. I remember from being apart of the family general contracting company talking with what businesses want and what police would recommend. Is the interior visible and easily so, or is it cut off some how. This can be art work or an unnecessary barrier blocking eye sight. For most churches I have noted it is shrubbery. How do you deal with it? Simple, if it is around windows how about a shift from shrubbery to tea/coffee spot? Remove the shrubs, build a simple floating deck with sitting artistic benches (partner with local disability groups, schools to craft these) so folks have a spot to sit and enjoy, rest, and be. The simple act of welcome also encourages the varying of those around without changing staff/volunteer schedules. Also, you will find repaint/staining of benches a lot cheaper that replacement costs on property breakage.
  • Security systems- understand why they exist, understand insurance asking for them. Not a fan, simply like a safe in a store cast the look that there is valuables. Although from retail what can be learned is the decals on the door- no money on premises. Simple to the point, and cheap way.
  • Offer some fun community events (many can learn from the Baitun Nur Mosque at Prairie Winds Park or Robert McClure United Church) whether it is a stampede breakfast, Canada Day fun, Farmer’s Markets, food cupboards, garage sales, free giveaways, seniors teas, an open house to meet your (insert religion here) neighbours… the list can go on as you get creative, perhaps like Crossroads Community Church a Community Meal? Get out and discover where your community can have points of intersection for people to gather and get to know one another—these are the opportunities to build a healthy community watch where one looks out for one another.

Some thoughts along the journey, one can also implement in their own home with some adjustments for healthy community, and belonging that will reduce those activities that harm.


Judas Goat

A Judas goat is a trained goat used at a slaughterhouse and in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and on to trucks.

-urbandictionary.com

Wild Wild Country (Netflix 2018) the last 3 episodes one begins to ponder as evidence mounts whether Sheela was Osho’s Judas Goat. A role designed as the movement/settlement began to be confronted by vitriol hatred, and violence as noted in the first reflection is what radicalized the movement. Where it was about drawing together, the confrontation and harassment, breaking of the laws of the land to root out that which was different undercut the principles of this new religion growing a city in the heart of farm country.

It is a series that can be used for personal or corporate discussion and reflection. Key questions to come during this time of Pentecost:

  • Welcoming of the stranger at your gates? (a theme out of J.S. Woodsworth’s writings of the social gospel).
  • Who is my neighbour? How do I love my neighbour as myself?
  • How do I respond to that which is different from my norm, but is not harming the disenfranchised?
  • Where do I stand when the wave of hate begins?
  • How does my own grief of loss of what was, shape my reaction to what is becoming?

The series is a winding road, of a 4 year span that has been exorcised from the story of Osho and the Rajneeshis. It is the loss of what was a time of tribulation, and raises questions around who was set up? Who knew what was happening in the darkness? What happens when dark responds to dark? When silence is broken, and it is not the message of love and acceptance that is vocalized, but pain, hatred and jealousy?

It also speaks to what happens to true believers as is seen in two of the members, Sheela and Philip Toelkes (a.k.a Swami Prem Niren; 2nd Mayor of Rajneespuram and lawyer of Osho). Two sides of a coin in their response to the whirlwind around them. Yet clinging to what they had learned on the journey and still living the core of the teaching after the accountability dust settles.

For the question in the early 1980’s Oregon (and before in India that drove the movement International) is what happens when the world responds to love with hate?

It is a microcosmic battle within each of us, in Islamic studies it is the Jihad, within Christianity it is Pentecost…will the Holy Spirit shine through or not in the moment of choice to reside an acknowledge the Holy Mystery? Yet as seen, it also is a macrocosmic struggle when the world interacts.

Judas

An individual whom sells out his/her friends for their own personal benefit

-Urbandictionary.com

It is as the dust settles and the Osho International emerges, a Judas moment if you will, tracking through, you are left to ask the question:

  • Who betrayed the movement?
  • Who was the true Judas of the story?
  • Who held true to Love?

Sometimes the mirror held up to our own movements, institutions and journeys is through viewing and being the third party in a discourse about another’s pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred.