Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Books Between Friends

Posted: December 10, 2019 by Ty in Current Events
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Many in Calgary may already know, but we had a hidden gem that aids many charities and non-profits through ongoing fundraising. How?

BOOKS!

You can donate books, and then shop to buy new to you books, and all monies raised go to make a positive impact! Here is their latest e-mail I thought I would share, and maybe aid some in their Christmas shopping for the book worm on your list:

Our Christmas book table is loaded with
great seletions. Come in and brows.
Christmas Specials
(Until December 24, 2019)
All Christmas themed books – 10 for $5.
All Hard cover and Large Size Soft cover books – 12 for $15
Gift Cards for stocking stuffers:
    Special Christmas Gift Cards
    Buy a $25.00 gift card for only $20.00
    Buy a $50.00 gift card for only $40.00
    No expiry date
Store location:  #14, 3434 – 34 Avenue NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6X3
403-291-3855

As the journey unfolds it comes time to seek a new path. Wow, that sounded uber eloquent, and it causes me to reflect on the writings of Henri Nouwen I have dove back into during this time of transition. Nouwen was an acclaimed priest, and Harvard academic when he shares the story of a man showing up at his office and sharing that Jean Vanier sent his greetings. Nouwen assumed that was all, no, Vanier was there to meet with Nouwen. It was a meeting that would lead Nouwen to serve in the L’arche community of Daybreak in Toronto. L’arche is a community, a home, for persons with disabilities (core members) and their staff (assistants). Nouwen faced backlash and an inquisition about stepping out of the high life of acclaim and academic celebrity to join L’arche. To choose passion and home, over ego.

Why does this resonate? I reflect on this as I seek out my new vocation. See, I tend to apply for front line roles. Yes, I hold many degrees, have been everything from a director to a manager to front line staff to an author to a speaker to an international teacher… yet there is something about the one to one work that always appeals to me.  The human resources lens resumes are put through (if they make it through the computer algorithm) looks at a resume of mine, and says:

  1. Overqualified.
  2. We cannot afford him.
  3. He will become bored and leave.

What is missed though is some simplicity.

  1. I am qualified. I have a passionate drive to make my own little world of the corner better, to create a good quality of life for my family and for those I serve. My degrees and experiences have grown out of opportunities to learn and grow to better SERVE the person before me. To journey with them to learn and discover alongside them becoming who we are both meant to be.
  2. You can afford me. It is quite simple, if I am applying or discussing joining your organization, I have done the household budget number crunch for what you are offering to pay.
  3. Retention is about the health of the organization. Each role is a piece of the journey. When I was hiring for teams I looked for diversity, and qualifications, I celebrated when someone with quite a bit of experience and education applied regardless of the role because that wisdom then became part of the team pool. Staying within an organization is about the organization being a place where team members and what they bring to the table is honoured, where there is an understanding that having a diverse team of experiences and educations is a firm foundation to build the now on, but also to build forward and create a strong pool for earned leadership within the organization regardless of title.

It is not about passion over money, both can come and go. It is about where one places the emphasis for their vocation (career) trajectory. What is the core value pushing it forward? Is it climbing a ladder and claiming titles? Or is it simply creating ripples that make a world better? Both-and are possible, and sometimes it is either or, but like Nouwen deciding it was time to shift gears to Daybreak, sometimes that resume that appears to good to be true in the incoming applicants is entirely, and simply, an application for the role.

My wife says, it is an inherent trait of mine to live what I believe and it can be counter-cultural. I wonder how better our world would be if it was simply cultural?

Yes, my family is now on a new trajectory. I send out feelers and resumes, and ponder if an organization will risk to call and a new journey will begin. . .


Simple thoughts before our vote on October 21, 2019 for our next government of Canada. Don’t let the leader or party loyalty outshine the hustle, character and integrity of local candidates. The ballot was finalized on Sept. 30, 2019, So as gotcha politics happen because EDA’s hope that our loyalty is to leader and brand over local, we are left asking where some of these nutters and lemons came from?

They come from apathy to dig on who is local, they come from looking at local and saying that does not fit my party, so I am choosing option B instead.

Because this late in the game, leaders primping firing candidates is just political theatre, once the cameras are away the name is still on the ballot next to the party– and honestly, if they are elected under the party banner will they truly keep them out of caucus without the election run scrutiny? Highly doubtful.

Think. Engage. Demand good local representation.

As well, it is deplorable to watch those elected to other governmental levels in Canada, door knocking and flying out to other provinces in a partisan debacle.

Parachute candidates, whether in the same city or further afield, is a practice that Elections Canada needs to rule on, especially when the candidate states unequivocally they do not have an intention to move to the riding even if elected should be a disqualification.

The English Language Leaders debate on Monday reminded me of a grade school classroom playing sink the sub. In the midst, I must admit, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party showed he has grown into his role as a national party leader, and as such deserves the growth he is seeing in the polls.

One comment though I heard about the debate stuck in my brain about how fall political discourse in Canada has fallen. The comment was that May and Singh had the same policy yet still argued, trying to paint the fallacy that both parties are essentially the same and a false choice. When in fact what was being shown is two parties that wanted similair outcomes but the path there was different. It is what we used to see in Canadian political debates (provincially and federally) here is the shared vision, here is the road map each party is laying out in our common identity in our diversity. Now choose. May and Singh showed what it was to be parliamentarians. To actualize the constitutional promise of Peace, Order and Good Governance.

Perhaps, the other 4 leaders will learn as well, and our electorate will engage…

To paraphrase Mr. Singh, and something I have said quite a bit, have the courage to vote for what you believe in…not out of fear.


Homogeneous and Heterogeneous are two scientific terms I remember from the early days of elementary school science class. The first being everything is alike and blends in if you will, the other being like 1000 Island Salad Dressing. The political typology is melting pot versus mosaic. In story telling to get to the former from the later it involves a device known as “Ret Conning” that is retro-fitting continuity to fit the new normal story line. Jettisoning that which does not abide. We see it through the use of terms such as Canon (which I love in Christianity as the Biblical Canon is not as set as many would like to believe, but that is a post for another time or perhaps you can track it down in the archives) of the fandom, which have become more exclusive than inclusive since geek went chic.

Image result for the milk warsY’know what is awesome: Great stories about characters that are awesome, and not sweating the small stuff on how this fits in with a,b, or c of continuity. What happens is then you don’t wind up with constant reboots (soft and hard) and the ability to have creative fun.

Now, having vented on the state of geek, let me get to the point of this post. A great collection out of DC Comics’ Young Animal brand– The Milk Wars. The Young Animal brand is where weird went to live in the DCU, titles like Shade, Mother Panic, Doom Patrol and Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye, not sure if they are still publishing, but the titles volumes under the brand are worth the pick up just for the fun. The weirdness connected with DC main though in the Milk Wars crossover which touched on this absurdity of reboot/ret-conn on a meta-narrative breaking the fourth wall kind of event (Wonder Wife, Batman as a Priest if you will)…and the heart of it is the Superman without the morals, but hard Capitalistic Ayn Rand values inputted– Milkman Man.

The crux is simple Lord Manga Khan (from the awesome Bwahahaah era of Justice League International) wants to buy reality, the seller wants to make it pretty and simple, homogenized if you will– the solution— Milk and the Rett-Conn Corporation. Destroy the beautiful creative mosaic that exists on a spectrum, to make it all 1950’s comic codes approved, do not be controversial, cutesies…

Well– no spoilers– but the outcome is more than spilled milk :).

But as I read the collection, and reflected on the Federal election in Canada, I saw a Image result for the milk warsparable that was speaking to more than simply the state of story telling and the comics industry. I saw a parable that spoke to our hyper-fixation on leader and party over local candidate. See we are like Ret-Conn, we are expected to drink the shady milk, and believe that every candidate is 100% their party platform (if anyone has bothered reading it in the era of tabloid gotcha politics) and because in Canada we have given so much power to the PMO that all that matters is the leader.

It leaves us in a cognitive dissonance where we vote for local representation but behave that person is not a piece of the whole, but only a paper vote used by one person. We have drank the milk and stripped our parliamentary system of what makes is so democratic. We have removed the mosaic, to homogenize behind the leader as the be all and end all.

As we set to vote on Oct. 21, 2019, first read Milk Wars, if for nothing else than just the weird fun, but also read it and ask are you voting as a before or after milk drinker?

Do you know the local candidate? If we did the local scandals of hate, misogyny, homophobia, incompetence would not be so shocking because the local members would not have let the person stand, but also they would not be polling on a leader’s coattails in our all or nothing farce of party over people. The local candidate, to borrow an analogy of St. Paul, is but one part of the body, as each member is, each has a function and a role, yet we want all candidates to function as the leader–that is the face– but what is a body if it is all face?

Look at the other pieces, your candidate may be a pinky toe, or an appendix or even a superfillous third nipple, but they are a person…push them to step outside of the “stock face” and show who they are and why the want to represent you. Also know, this outting will reveal warts, scars, halos and all… and in  a pre-milk reality, ya wanna know something?

That’s okay.

Everyone has a past, a present and a future. It is what we have done with our past, is there growth and change? Is it visible in actions not just words? Does this sound daunting? Not really, it is about meeting the candidate as what our parliamentary holds they should be, as neighbour. As a neighbour is this someone you trust to make our country a place of peace, order and good governance… a place where all citizens are taken care of, and given space to be the best they can be in glorious and beautiful interdependence that is the mosaic of our multi-cultural nation we call Canada? Are theyImage result for the milk wars a person that inspires you to dream and vote for something? Not vote to stop or fear?

It is time we stopped ret-conning our politics and politicians. It is time we expected honest conversation and transparency who they were, are and are trying to become. It is who we are when we wake up in the morning, so let’s accept it is the same with those that are called to serve publicly– the challenge is being engaged to weed out the farcical Lex Luthors’ and to have authentic, leadership.

So…

Which side of the milk cup are you voting from?


Many on the political discourse like to look at other countries. Yes, I can spend my time doing that with what is happening in Hong Kong, Camaroon, Sudan, Ethiopia with the Annuyak, or our neighbours to the South (and yes I realize there is also the EU, and Middle East). But I think we need to address voter apathy here, because voter apathy allows for bad economics and governmental policy. It allows false narratives that governance is like a religion, non-profit or business model…it is neither, but can be all of those things. The current Religious Right ala Social Conservatives in Alberta/Canada that lead the religious charge are a multi-faceted mosaic, mostly good hearted, but are using the Cross or the Crescent (or pick the religious symbol) as a means of stripping away the care of neighbour which underlies most if not all religious belief systems. The ethic of care surrendered in the chasing of political power, and bringing everything down to a debt-credit bank statement style budgeting, and an either-or, us-them analogy that is also perpetuated by the secular-progressive-left.

This is a post I have been struggling to right, because I am religious, I believe in the Holy Trinity, and have shaped my life on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Politically I fall in the Red Tory to Socialist-Communist leanings, yet I am not made to feel there is a political home there due to the hate I take for my religious beliefs. 

Image may contain: one or more people and textWhile the place where a religious is welcomed does not fit with my core values of what government is supposed to do in care of citizens.  It is what has led me to affiliate with a grassroots organization Reboot Alberta, and continue talking to folks that all levels of governance are important to engage in, and at the very least cast a vote in. Get to know the candidate above the party, understand we have more than 2 parties in Canada and Alberta and discover the party that resonates with you the most. Vote for something not out of fear to stop something.

This is where this ecclectica post began, as I begin ruminating on the City of Calgary and Province of Alberta begin their cuts.

City of Calgary-

We have not learned the lessons of history. We use austerity, and front line cuts as a way to show that we are being “fiscally prudent”, but do not address the burgeoning muffin top of city managers, and the exorbent pensions for City Councillors. Instead we attack the least. This started, as I wrote in Soul Ripples, with the way the City dealt with what is now deemed child sex trafficking when I was in high school, and the ripples it created in youth homelessness, youth gangs, rise, fall and re-rise of neo-naziism, and child sex trafficking.

I was reminded of this short sightedness when dealing with the property tax department as they cancelled my TIPP program in complete violation of the contract. The City did not accept responsibility or fix it. In fact they left it to me to fix, and pay a fee to re-up in the program. Not seeing the ripples of the time it takes a person to accomplish this, and that the re-up fee is directly from my family’s grocery budget as an unexpected expense. If I hadn’t solved the issue, or had been away and missed the deadline all together getting into arrears with property taxes can have the ripple of affecting insurance and mortgages, yet City of Calgary does not care. It is CYA all the way and screw the citizen.

Image may contain: 4 people, textLook at the first wave of austerity they have unleashed? 14 new suburbs, yet cuts to Fire, EMS and Police. In Fact, we are in the midst of a rise in youth gang violence (which actually is modus operandi for the council)…so they also cut free programs like the mobile skate parks, and shutter 2 pools. Places that create safe community for our youth are chopped. The ripple effect? As history has shown us, is more lost youth to the darkness, yet City of Calgary doesn’t care. It’s a CYA to protect themselves not govern the citizens.

Hence, a ripple effect of the current Government of Alberta approach, as municipalities are a function of provincial powers, not an autonomous entity. The current government refuses to release a budget until after the Federal Election. They can use any smoke and mirrors they choose, yet it comes down to the fact they have seen the effects the Ford Government has had on the federal party in Ontario and do not want to cause the same effect here.

Yet, it has created the conversations and actions noted above. Let’s look at the beginning roll outs after the smoke and mirrors of the 5% MLA pay cut, or even before when they attack the lowest paid-but hardest working- cutting minimum wage for youth workers from $15/hr to $13/hr, and now exploring cutting servers wages the same if they serve alcohol. The tax cuts to big oil that led to over 14,000 more job losses. Yup, it is for the people (note sarcasm for those who do not have a British background).

The us-them dichotomy is ringing true as they halted work  the new school curriculum. The new curriculum which was started under the PC Government pre-2015, and continued by the NDP government. Stating that the Alberta Teachers Association and partners were not apt to do this. They stated parents… well I was engaged and spoke about things in the previous curriculum consultations. Yet, lets be real…a good reality check. Who is the best equipped to design curriculum and curriculum delivery? Do you go to the doctor with a bursting appendix and be like, yeah I know this can kill me but really can you deal with my ingrown nail? Same effect here. I have seen the majority rules parental ruin of education. Under Klein it led to no fail policies, it has created a culture within education and society where bullying is so allowable we have 9 year olds committing suicide in Calgary. How about we let those trained in lifespan development, educational theory, pedagogy, curriculum development do their work. The goal of education is a well rounded, functioning life long learner. It is designed for those meant to go on to post-secondary to achieve there, for those meant to be in the skilled trades to thrive and achieve there, and for those not in those two streams to still be life long learners and discoverers so they are able to support the next, current and elder generations. See why educational curriculum in an era of post-truth become such a whack-a-mole? If everyone completes grade 12 (which Alberta has an atrocious track record of) as engaged citizens and critical thinkers, it makes ideological populist movements harder to steal power.

The next is the over 3 million cut to the Calgary Homeless Foundation. Now, yes it is bad, and punishes the most vulnerable. Yet, I want to engage in another conversation of question asking. Why do we have organizations like the CHF? Third Party funders that get government funds and distribute to the sectors. They are funded for a full staffing structure including directors, etc (taking money out of the helping pot)- they have created another organization to own real estate that then master leases to non-profits, so the non-profits don’t build their assets to leverage for clients. The questions that should be asked is, what is the full costing going towards the sector? What changes if they third party funder is removed? What increases in funding go to agencies? What happens if we direct fund the clients? So their decisions direct funds to the agencies they choose to use? How does this transform the sector in truly investing in staff health, staff retention, and increase to front-line staff salary for good human services delivery is built on the trust of relationship.

Yet, as the cut happens, it becomes an austerity measure, another us-them battle. But what happens when we engage and ask? What happens when the marginalized do not allow themselves to be herded into a one-size fits all solution. Admitting that each situation has a myriad of reasons to the now, and takes a mosaic to heal and get to home.

This is also the failure of the debate over the Supervised Safe Consumption Sites.  Location is important. It needs to be accessible to those in need. Yet, it also needs to be controllable. What does this mean? It means that the users need to be safe, the staff need to be safe, and the predators need to be kept out. Is the Sheldon Chumir the best location for this? Location wise, yes. For the other two, no, as it is too open and easily targetted. It is akin to when they moved the safe house for child prostitutes in the early 2000’s onto the actual stroll, the kids could get safety, but the pimps and predators were ringing the bell for them the next night. Perpetuates a cycle of harm acceptance. Now however if we critically look, expand, and create safety for harm reduction then it creates space for keeping people alive, having conversations, niggling out what led to…

Which is the other piece. See it is not safe sites OR treatment. False dichotomy for twitter wanks, and sound bytes. It is both and. It is not harm reduction OR abstinence based programs. It is both and. See, human beings are tricky, some who slip into addiction need the stability of harm reduction and may shift towards abstinence, others to simply survive need a sober environment period. To discredit either is to say that person’s life has no value in our society. But if the goal of harm reduction or abstinence is simply survival then it has missed the mark.

The root of the addiction is trauma. The human system attempting to null the unspeakable pain. This is the other sound byte that annoys me speaking with front line staff. Trauma informed care is not a pass for a person to be abusive, it is understanding where behaviours come from and in the courageous safe space to have conversations around healing, and when something goes awry to be in that type of intimate healing relationship to be held to account.

But that word T-R-A-U-M-A. It is healable. It takes time, it takes trained clinicians. It takes healthy community around a person. No, it is not staying in unhealthy family or community, rather it is knowing where health is and re-planting oneself there. It takes expansion of mental health services, normalization, and giving a damn about one another. It takes the removal of labels, and seeing each other as citizens, but beyond that as a PERSON. We are not monetary transactions, we are people. The simple act of being people, is our inherent value.

The question though, is as are we going to allow this current populist belief system to continue, or are we going to critically engage and challenge what needs to happen. To firmly, accurately, and compassionately call out the false narratives and dichotomies regardless of the institution they exist in and we exist in as members?

Are we willing to truly be person first in this life?


If Trudeau does not do what Harper did, we shall have an election on the fixed date in October 2019. We have just come out of an election in Alberta. It is a time to give pause, for there are a few fallacies that parties rely on:

  1. My vote does not count. It is an apathy that keeps people away from the booth. It is peddled and not fought against because it allows for two parties to court their base and get them out to vote to maintain the governance.
  2. There is only two choices. NO! Federally and provincially there is many choices, including independents. It is when we decide to vote against something, or to default to this logic that the best governance for the citizenship is lost. Government entitlements, human rights, Universal Health Care, were all policy planks of 3-whatever number parties. Due to their rise in popular vote (note not polls, but vote)…these policies carried chutzpah, and even though there may have been moderation, came to fruition.
  3. Strategic voting– is the ultimate B.S. that drives people out of voting. It is precipitated on voting against something, instead of for something. It allows for parties to wallow in the much, court the trash that is the extremist, have false arguments over food guides…it is about not standing on beliefs, and pointing to records. It is fed by the rabid base of both sides, and once more sidelines the importance of the candidate.
  4. Party over candidate. Especially this last round in Alberta with historic turnout (54% is historic, I weep for our democracy)–do you know how man folks are shocked about the investigations? Who did not know what the name of their local candidate was? That they were voting for “Leader” (unless you live in their riding, you are not voting for them. The leader of the party with the majority of seats forms the government, and becomes first minister. In the Westminster system said minister serves at the pleasure of the caucus, in Canada, we have lost this and made the leader all powerful–reclaim the power of the representative over leader/party). Know not only the party, and how their policies affect not only you, but the seniors, kids, neighbours…y’know think beyond the not my family, not my issue mental b.s. Authentically get to know the person and see if they have the character you think matters.

See candidates go through a vetting process. It is akin to a job interview when you put your name forward or someone asks you to run. There is usually an application, have to get some party support, win the nomination in a vote or by acclamation. Part of the process is biographical digging, resume, and interview. Lately it has also been the party wanting all access to a person’s e-mail and social media.

See it is no longer about a person who holds to the value of the party being able to speak from who they are in that context for their constituents or those they wish to represent. It is about, becoming a puppet of the leader, and the party line. See at its worst with Conservative Party of Canada candidates Federally, and United Conservative Party candidates, who literally re-read their leaders’ talking points or directly from policy manuals. They are not themselves among those they seek to represent. For it is leader and party banner over citizen.

Now, lefties, you are not off the hook either. For yes, there is some control on talking points, but what is even scarier (seen across the spectrum) is the sanitizing of social media. The idea that you have sold your very being to the party and they now can delete or close whatever they wish from your online footprint. It is a pristine person who only mimics the party line like a good parrot they want out there.

What is lost?

In this system we are growing, we have lost the importance of the local candidate. The idea that how their beliefs are shaped (religious and-or secular) matter. How they live in community. Communicate online and in person. The genuine person. It does matter, for what if the party wants to do something in power that harms the citizens, will this person have the guts to stand up and speak out? Or will they succumb to power/money?

Never admit past mistakes, default to no comment. If you can delete it.

BUT what if, we as a citizenship demanded different. We are okay with our candidates being human, like we are. Be authentic. I always joked growing up there was “happy black spaces” where I wasn’t too sure what the full story was, but I never did not comment when something was brought up, or challenged or questioned on a belief I had espoused. It creates conversation, discovery, and connection.

This is probably the biggest reason why the fallacy of Leader Branding perpetuates, then there is no actual connection with the diverse ridings folks seek to represent, the only connection is with the party War Room, and whatever Bizzaro type Rocky-Bullwinkle villain escapades they dream up to play gotcha games with instead of vision casting, and talking with us.

In these less than 90 days until the vote, demand better.


Image result for netflix historical roastsAh, comedy. It can pull a band aid off quicker and more painfully than the toddler that decides to slowly pull it off an adult’s arm hair. Jeff Ross has a new Netflix series that is creating controversy on cyber waves. Why? It takes the roast format, essentially satirizing a person for laughs. It is being done with Historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to Anne Frank to Cleopatra to Freddie Mercury to MLK to name but a few. There is controversy for things like other comedians dressing up as historical roasters from the person’s life.

The truth is as the amateur historian I am, I enjoy the series. Yes, at time the humour can be crass, yet the historical facts put forward are accurate. To lend credence to the study of history, it also calls out our contemporary world about what we did not learn. I have heard and seen the rumblings for the controversy around the Anne Frank roast. One of the roasters was Hitler.

Let’s pause. The roast itself celebrated the young girl, and roasted Hitler…then called out 21st Century world for not learning from the Holocaust, and continuing to repeat the B.S. today. Hitler’s jokes were crass, played by Gilbert Gotfried, but accurate of what the Reich was and how he would’ve viewed someone. It was hard to watch, but a mirror lifted up for where our own hate and anger can take us. We are a world that likes to sanitize history, and by doing such we are doomed to repeat it. It is not just by removing that which offends- instead let’s flesh out the story to encourage critical thinking, and understanding why this is a horror. It was great to hear an actual acknowledgement of all that were targetted by the Third Reich in their experimentation and extermination (Jews, dissenters, LGBTTQ2+, Little People, Persons with Disabilities, Roma, multiple births).

Humour can make us uncomfortable, it forces us to look in the mirror and ask, is this what we were? Even harder, it makes us look in the mirror about our reality today. Whether it is through the life and legacy of Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr, Freddie Mercury, Abraham Lincoln to name but a few…  It is easier to scream for censorship than to look deeper an understand the point is to learn.

Have we learned anything from our past? Historic or personal?

P.S. If for no other reason, one needs to watch the MLK episode for Jaleel White (yes Steve Urkel `90’s child) playing Nelson Mandela.

______________________________________________

coverA stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

Buy your copy at Amazon.ca today.