Posts Tagged ‘Calgary’


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I had the surprising pleasure last night of attending Professor Brian Cox’s lecture at the Jubilee auditorium, thanks to my good friend Scott. I was not sure what to expect, it was about physics was all I had heard. For those who may not know, Professor Cox is a cosmologist and particle physicist. So yes I followed perhaps 1/4 of what was being said (seriously I am smarter than that, but it is a field of interest not deep study). The hook is that Professor Cox is the one that explained the science of Doctor Who. We entered into a timey wimey fun night.

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Picture of light of Big Bang

The crux was understanding space and time, to be able to understand black holes (always cool) and the Big Bang. Whoa! Yes, dear reader, we can see the light from the Big Bang at about a billionth of a second after it happened, and, man, is it an awesome picture looks like a Dyson Sphere (my Next Gen. Trekkies will get) on fire. Robin Ince, his co-host of the Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC Radio 4 (and podcasts). As a professional comedian he brought a higher level of levity and connect-ability, though that was already present with how Professor Cox presented his lecture (though, as he said, at this price can you call it a lecture).

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Image of Black Hole

Robin Ince did a great job of explaining energy transfer and re-incarnation, as different atoms from previously existing things now making us up (it was an explanation of what comes next, and death to his son).

It was a wonderful job with full images (and the dreaded Conics from Grade 12 Math 30) to explain how our universe formed, and the possibility of life on other worlds (which is a yes or no answer). In my own understanding I hold life on other worlds is infinitely possible and why no contact? Would you want to make first contact with our world currently?

There was some good questions taken from the audience as well. FYI when Ant-Man goes to the quantum realm he would not be able to breathe (but the wormhole from Thor is scientifically accurate).  Another question raised, was can physics explain good and evil.

I actually do not remember fully Professor Cox’s answer. For the lecture up to this point, seeing the wonders of all the universe again together was awe-inspiring. It truly was for me, confirmation, through evidence, that science explains the how of our galaxies. It is our spiritual beliefs that give the why behind things. In fact, this synergy is needed. As Professor Cox would take time to explain science does not exist within a vacuum. The creative is a part of it, that is the arts, drama, philosophy, etc. It all needs to work together.

Yes, the how and why is out there for what life is about. It is not found in an isolated silo, but in a multi-disciplinary sharing to more deeply understand.

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Soul Ripples my new book on inter-generational mental health, faith, and beginning recovery is available at Amazon.

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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.


“You have an overinflated sense of responsibility for others”

            -Dix, Psychologist (Jesse Stone series)

            I have been journeying through neurologically triggered PTSD. Let me tell you it is not a fun set of events to relive the negative of one’s life. This journey is not about bragging or self-aggrandizement. It is for the 99.9% of times my brain reboots and says you have not made a difference in the little corner of your world, I have a critically laid out path to go maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but damn it brains the heart knows I tried.  Hence the walk through the idea of how many times experts/elites, whom we have defaulted to have told me not to bother, or I am wrong and my stubborn streak has gone in the vernacular of my redneck roots, “hold my beer bud and watch this.”

I point out the default to “elites/experts” because it is the shift society has made to the idea of quantitative data only, and zero-based budgeting which makes every person, every story something that must be quantified by a statistical number and/or cash pay out. Essentially a new way of doing the old pedagogy of worthy poor, worthy citizen for aid or elevation. Which I am sorry, if you enter the trenches, bash the knuckles, bloody the soul, wipe the tears away, hold the hand of the dying, cradle the body in the last gasps of the death rattle, these are things that you will always question.

            Why?

Simple, we as people are not a statistical number, we are not a label. Our worth does not come from what we cost or save the system. Our worth comes from something very simple. Being human. Our worth is inherent because of whom we are, a human being regardless of whether it is a spiritual, religious or scientific path that brings you to that understanding.

How does that change the lens you view things through? Who are your experts/elites? Your gurus? Are they coaches? Clerics? Scientists? Ideologues? Celebrities? Who do you allow to shape your world view? Why do you allow them to shape your world view? The Stanford Experiments tried to prove why the horror of Nazism happened, and the outcome was the default for the human being to believe the man in the white coat. The expert or the elite. The one that has power. Sadly, nothing has changed except whom we give the power in our lives. We forget that behind every “white coat” there is a grass roots movement of support that has bestowed that power on them and can strip it away if we default back to the total truth that worth is inherent and we as a species are in this together interconnected through an eco-system of beautiful mystery.

My words of the struggle for a better world dreamed are throughout this site, with the oldest being found in the archives and through these meanderings you can see how even after decades simple battles for inclusion are still being battled. 31 years of my life have been given to this journey, and looking to enter the second decade of my 2/3 of life, I know the journey will continue. But it is a journey where story of the quest needs to re-emerge, where we as societies need to move beyond balance sheets, labels and metrics to understanding what/who is our neighbour. So what follows is some simple musings of issues facing us as a community:

“Don’t call me a saint, I do not want to be so easily dismissed.”

-Dorothy Day, Founder Catholic Worker’s Movement, Single Mum

 

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I encourage you to buy Warren Kinsella’s first fiction work Recipe for Hate, based around true events in the Neo-Nazi-Punk world, for those more of the non-fiction type his seminal work Web of Hate on Canada’s neo-nazi movement in Canada (it inspired me int he `90’s to fight the good fight, and take stands against elites/experts that yes this was a necessary battle)…and why this hit me is seeing the fact that my own hood actually had to have an anti-racist walk yesterday…thank you for those that turned out (my heart was willing–the body and brain decided it was a no sadly)…we are the northeast, we are the world in a few city blocks, we are better than hate, because we know what it means to love your neighbour and be neighbourly. End sermon

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I also encourage reflection for those ideological entrenched on recent Canadian political history as we prepare to repeat in Alberta. In the early 2000’s the PC Canada party was taken over by the Reform-Alliance in media mirrors of a merger vote that saw Red Tories left politically homeless. Some would say it was successful as the Harper Cons eventually won power with their first minority government in February 2006. But just reflect on that for a moment for a party trying to root out corruption, and build inclusion with our First Nations through the Kelowna Accord, lost to a party that sided with the separatists to shut down parliament and strip Canadians of our Constitutional right of Peace, Order and Good Governance. No one else may realize how it will be written by the historians, but also, I do still firmly believe Minority Parliaments are the healthiest forms of governance for our country for it forces the politicians out of ideological blinders to truly what is best for the citizens.

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The fight over Harm Reduction versus abstinence in addiction treatment is just one of the false dichotomies we attempt to foist upon the public. Each treatment resonates with certain individuals (I can just hear the Twitter-soundbite politicos gasp) for it is about understanding the person in front of you and what works for them to be healthy.

It also moves into the idea that triage/silo health care does not always work. The human being is a holistic microcosm that does need to be treated as such. Yes, some things need to be prioritized within medical treatment, but somethings are interdependent, intertwined, co-dependent or simply co-existing. Ala addiction—the use of substance or behaviour creates the label, what causes it is rooted deeper whether you cease or stop the behaviour the actual cause whether emotional, physiological, neurological, etc (or all of the above) needs to be treated or we are setting the neighbour up for failure.

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Housing. Our nation needs a strategy, I know several federal parties at certain points have had policies (as I have been part of writing groups for these parties). Yet what is missing is the fundamental of Housing First principle 1: Consumer choice. (or better yet, citizen choice). It needs to be a policy and action that looks at affordable spectrums of home ownership (types of homes-house, condo, mobile) to apartments to lodges without age restrictions to group homes to supportive housing to hotels (yes hotels, many of the chronically homeless have come to shelters because they lived in hotels that closed down, where some money could have seen these places brought up to code, and some extra monies to the owners could have curbed settling in of unsavoury elements) to name but a few. Also, the idea of rooming houses ran by seniors is also something to be looked at, or on-site living in convents/monastic communities, or in shops/warehouses, mini houses…secondary suites, laneway housing, converted garages, the list goes on and on.

Yet it takes a citizen will to force politicians to challenge city planning back to a community and citizen focus and away from money politics.

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In the case of Health Care especially in Alberta we tend to forget that we were governed by a party set on Privatization (breaking the Health Act) through the Third Way that essentially created a system for failure, never forget history or we are doomed to repeat it. On an aside stating you never voted PC, or never voted does not remove your complicity from the state of our province now, for we are all citizens that allowed a party to run our province. Whether it is oil, health care, AB works or other social safety nets, are designed for those moments in life when you need them, not for when you do not. What we have done as a society is create a shame based system so those in need avoid and costs sky rocket for the person literally comes to the precipice of disaster before access and then is in a full cycle that is harder to get out of. And yes I was forced out of a job by taking a stance publicly for universal health care.

I still firmly believe active eugenics may have stopped in Alberta, but seeing how easily the Calgary Board of Education can blame special needs students for budget short falls, how hard it is to access AISH or lack of mental health supports, that passive eugenics is still practice.

And let us not forget the closure of the horrid institutions that if proper protocol was followed would have seen transition of those folks to proper home, group home or smaller care home placements in the community…but instead say nothing but shelter beds…because…eliminating the debt.

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Calgary City Hall is looking to cut preventative programs for at risk youth and seniors while continuing the shadowy no firm numbers exploration of an Olympic bid. Makes you wonder where following the money trail would take you? Also makes you wonder in a generation with these policies how our city will be judged by the way we have treated our young and elders?

Yet this is not new practice at City Hall, for when the Child Sex trade exploded in our city in the mid-90’s what the response was—cover up, cutting vice unit budgets… hmmm…. Lip service, not actions. My high school law teacher asking me when presented with the facts about the child sex trade saying the assignment was to show what is controversial about it? My response led me to being kicked from class that day when I simply stated, “the only wanker that can’t see the controversy based on the facts is the one that goes to the pizza parlour back room in our hood and asks for the child.”

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Political party vetting when I ran in 2006 that saw the questioner unable to comprehend how I could be pro-choice on abortion without using the buzzwords. Yes I believe in a woman’s control over their own body, yes I believe in the family, and I believe we need to build a world in which every child conceived should be wanted and until that happens then this needs to be free and open to all who desire, need or want.

I also believe that the government needs to invest in a system or pre- and post- procedure counselling and healing of the holistic person. I believe we need a freer adoption service. I also believe the pre- and post-procedure aid needs to be open to the one that gave the egg, the one that gave the sperm, and those that may be affected by the ripples within the family.

But I will never say I am anti-abortion for. Yes, this is after coming from a position where an ex who was so lost in addiction made the choice to abort and her only rationale was to inflict pain on me who chose to not come second to a chemical.

I also firmly state I am pro-life with dignity. Which is why I so easily can stand and argue that medically assisted death is a necessity within our system so human life is one with dignity, for it I would not let my fur baby suffer in such a way, why would I let my loved one.

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The continual move away from city accessibility. In Calgary our at home garbage/recycle/compost system is designed for new communities with attached garages, and condos. Yet also falls short in understanding challenges of constantly carrying out buckets of compost in established neighbourhoods. The reduction in garbage pick up removing dignity of the person for those with continence challenges as their garbage output is not reduced but now the overflow is on view for the whole of their neighbours to see.

Yet with some thought, and work at a provincial wide level perhaps we could expand the recycle from house program, thus truly reducing garbage so the bi-weekly pick up can work. The expansion could shift as other provinces have done so the monies from recyclables pay for the program, thus  reducing costs to citizens. Then expand to multi-unit dwellings so it becomes cost neutral so this type of bylaw does not increase rents.

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That at the end of World War 2 my Great-Granddad Lewis who was a veteran of both wars battled for the Commonwealth to care for its veterans appropriately, and during my tenure in the world I have fought the same battle in the 21st century. This is a staunch reminder, war needs to be the last resort, and one that we enter into realizing that we need to be prepared to care for those that give some, and those that give all…also this needs to carry through to those we send out to peace keep for they enter the hell mouth as well.

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Look to the Alberta Government looking at removing age restrictions on housing stating it is a human rights issue. The realization is not understanding the complexity of the issue when it comes to congregate (condo/apartment living).

At the very least, if a person or couple have moved to a building believing it is kid free, and they chose to live there because of this a new family that moves in you are setting them up for harassment and complaints. A situation that may only end with one side or the other being evicted. Sadly, an eviction for whatever reason creates an issue on re-housing.

At the worst, you are setting up a place for predators. Sadly, those that abuse children and prey on them do not spend their life in jail. Upon release, they need to be housed, with this new legislation you are removing a housing option that keeps our communities’ safe…yet…

It is also short sighted, in that there are also many folks with the psychological predilection for children (due to trauma or neurology) that choose to work with Alberta Health to keep themselves and others safe. Using pharmaceuticals and other therapies, but also building a life that keeps them away from children as much as possible. Now comes this new bill…and…

Sound bites and twitter politics over critical thought of the best of the whole.

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That over 20 years after I got my knuckles bloody defending my op-ed piece in the Calgary Sun over a person’s right to love and marry whom they choose (and multiple thousand death threats) …both our governing and Loyal Opposition parties still distract by fighting this battle over again thus distracting from more core issues. (yes, for those doing the math, my 18th birthday was when the editorial I wrote in support of marriage equality came out). Why did I write this? I remember sitting with my Nan, when US President Bill Clinton announced he was against it, and her tears and simple statement that maybe if our world were more accepting and Christian as Jesus taught her lovely cousin would not have taken his life. So I took a stand, and took the lumps that came with it.

I am going to be blunt, when it came to clubs I was a part of in public school, the only time my parents needed to be contacted was when we were leaving the school so both sides were creating news and not holding true to the sanctity of learning, growth and discovery of the child. The only time parents were contacted about school behaviours were when they put myself or another at risk.

For those that try to blind with extremism, ideology or religion, let the war bride’s words ring in your ears. If our world was more Christian…love would win, and whom you love would not matter.

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The constant reminder that user fees are a flat tax on the working and poverty classes. A reminder that when political parties speak of the middle class, it is an innocuous term used to gain votes, but pragmatically roles out to households making over 100K a year, thus not the average Canadian.

A reminder that our natural resources do not belong to companies or politicians but to the citizens and need to be leveraged for OUR benefit above all else. That our Constitution Act 1982 does need to be re-opened, a social charter that was originally removed at the behest of Lougheed needs to be reinserted, and the division of powers in Section 91 & 92 needs to be looked at for the reality of Canada in a globalized world and things like Health Care and Education need to be in Federal jurisdiction as we are stabilized at about 30ish million people.

We need to take a serious look at the abolish of the reserve system and either incorporating into the Constitution territories of provinces for First Nations depending on population size (ala Nunavut).

We also need to realize that we only get the representation we are entitle to as Canadians, when we realize the local representative should hold the power of the vote. Party whips and Cult Leader politics are the Americanizing of our democracy to our detriment. As well, for it to work properly the elections acts need to be amended so the candidate needs to live in the electoral district at whichever level it is defined; PACS, union and corporate donations are abolished. Actually, all donations are. Each candidate must attend a set number of debates, public media must carry local candidate ads, interviews and discourses so that the public can be informed. If we really want a throw back perhaps the UFA system should be implemented in which a leader is not elected until all MP’s or MLA’s are elected (like the Constitution dictates) …but let’s take some giant baby steps first. Once the system functions the way it is laid out to, then we can look beyond a first past the post system to other voting systems.

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These thoughts continue to crop in my mind like I said as I look back on a life of work to try and build a new world, then the reboot hits and the brain lies to the heart stating that it has all been for nought.

On the grand scale still seeing the pain that exists within our world, yes it may appear as failure. Yet the failure is in stopping to raise the issue that we are all in this together.

These are musings that rest on my heart and are leading me to another pragmatic spiritual work as I look back on history of the sector I have worked in. If one spends time with the writings of J.S. Woodsworth and how his shelter functioned in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, and then look at our system today you can come to a simple conclusion, all that has changed is our mats are thicker. 100+ years on, what needs to change?

We still haven’t answered the core question of his work, for we still look at the person in need, in pain, in sickness, in jail and in our homes, communities’ and lives.

The central question?

The one I have spent a life attempting to unpack, and will be the focus of my next pragmatic memoir?

Who is My Neighbour?

JS


The following is an e-mail that was sent out to parents of students in the Calgary Board of Education. It is there response to Bill 1- A Reduction in School Fees. Please note my pithy, yet thought out response will follow in bold italics. Also note that it is an organization using tried and true status quo methods of deflection in Alberta—when in doubt blame another level of governance for you inability to actually serve those you are charged to serve. As many have noted government is neither business nor non (not) for profit but a hybrid with a dash of exceptional. For far too long in Alberta we have settled for mediocre, and as the School Board Trustee elections approach in October 2017 I implore all Calgarians to vote for anyone but the incumbents for the future of our kids.

Now without further ado, their status quo deflection:

Update on Fees and Transportation for 2017-18

 

Dear Parents/Guardians

On Thursday March 2, the Provincial Government introduced Bill 1 – An Act to Reduce School Fees. This legislation will impact transportation service levels and fees for CBE families beginning this fall.

As directed by Alberta Education, on March 3, 2017 the CBE forwarded a letter from the Minister outlining some details about changes to transportation. At that time he wrote:

“Bill 1, if passed, will also remove bus fees for eligible students traveling to their designated school. That means that if your child attends his or her designated school and that school is more than 2.4 kilometres away from your home, you will not be charged transportation fees. In some circumstances – for example, if parents choose to enrol their child in a school other than their designated school – fees may still be incurred.”

We still have many questions about this legislation. We are working with the government to seek clarification and work through the details.

Until we better understand the impacts on fees and service levels for our families, transportation pre-registration for the 2017-18 school year cannot begin. We had planned to begin in late April. However, with the introduction of Bill 1 this process will be delayed. Early registration helps us plan our routes more efficiently resulting in fewer changes in the fall. It also allows us to share more accurate route information with our families sooner.

We know this timing may be challenging for our families. During our engagement last year families clearly stated they wanted information on transportation – including service levels, stop locations and timing – as early as possible to begin planning for the next school year. We will do our best to provide information on routes as quickly as possible.

We are also seeking clarification on instructional supplies or materials (ISM) fees. We need to understand if this includes bulk purchase of schools supplies for students in grades K-6.

We will continue to update you once we have more specific details about Bill 1 and what it will mean for CBE families.

 

My Response from my FB status April 7, 2017:

So CBE multi-million dollar organization is told to start doing their work within the grounds of the constitution, and they e-mail parents pleading poverty essentially, and that services may be cut to the kids—- hmmm… or do what responsible service providers do and look where cuts can actually happen– that is between budget disbursement and kids, look at the bureaucracy, the pay of CBE trustees, and quit threatening the educational mechanism on the front lines. Do not tell us you cannot start taking registration for busing, plan routes, or are unclear on being able to purchase supplies for our kids. Oh and did you remember this year to collect all tax money from the city? Bill 1 is not the enemy, Bill 1-an act to reduce school fees– is actually making life affordable for families, now do what you were elected to do and provide quality education, safe transportation for our kids.

P.S. The Bus Fee controversy is the CBE finally being called out on the smoke & mirrors they did a few years back to punish Special Needs kids and families. We never have a say in where our kids go to school, the CBE designates based on support structures (which makes sense). For this we paid a reduced rate. Parents of typically developing kids got uppity, but instead of working towards what the government has now imposed, short-sighted “fairness” un-advocates accepted raising bus rates for special needs kids, to the typically developing kids rates.

Now if you send your child to an non-designated school that is your choice, and yes you should pay for buses. But if the school, regardless of child, is designated and requires to be bused, I agree with the Ministry of Education, there should be no charge.

-30- for now.


It is a question that is 30 years in the making. Okay not really, but that was a great intro line not to have used it.

But it is 30 years since a type writer first typed out the words “The Adventures of Rick Saturn: The Bionic Knight.” and history was made in my fiction writing as a whole super hero universe was birthed that in junior high became known as the Tyverse (Raganverse following the Reagan era of politics just seemed to pretentious). It saw a plethora of heroes and villains created with literally tens of thousands of pages written over the past 30 years on pulp adventure yarns. Some greats like the Agency, Street Avenger, Johnny Power, Speedster and the Great Crime Fighters and some not so great like Rock Dude, Tigorr, and the Rubber Guy (hey not all can be winners).

Yet the first was a hodge podge origin creation, the story of a teenage orphan being raised by an elderly foster parent couple, the Harumphs. A blonde girlfriend, Susan Kobwash, with a nerdy best friend from a wealthy family, John MacCurtis. Yes, this was Rick Saturn, the dweeb, the bullied who one night while escaping tormentors would stumble into a dump, and have Gerklyn the wise (Merlin’s crazy cousin) bestow upon him a ring of power.

What can I say, it was the late 1980’s. I was a child of the 6 Million Dollar man made for t.v. movies; a passion for knights in shining armour and the Arthur/Robin Hood legends; loved Spider-Man (n0te the story of the group); and a time of cartoons of the Bionic Six and Visionaries. It all became boiler plate for a teenage hero who with the “magic mantra” of “Bionics On!” was replaced with the golden armoured knight hero of Calgary…the Bionic Knight. Added a few years later to some angst of his back story was that his family was actually organized crime, killed in a rival shoot out.

But I digress. This character’s sidekick was John MacCurtis, who too would get a magic gift and become PinBall, and eventually Bionic Archer. As well as other identities…but Rick Saturn would centre on the B.K. identity throughout his career. At times a teenager, who aged, in other moments the elder statesman role of the superhero set like one would read in the Justice Society comics. But always holding to a code of a simpler time. Do right, no killing, good always wins.

A light in the dark. As bionics lost favour, I would drop it, and Knight would become his code name, later it would evolve into PenDragon, and the idea of Gerklyn would recede, to Merlin being his patron as the lineage tying directly back more to the mystical side of Arthurian legend reincarnated would become stronger.Perhaps it was due to tracing matrilineal lines back to Uther that led to this clarity. Each year, regardless of other writing there would be a Saturn story produced.

Which is unique, because in the creative process it was MacCurtis I tended to resonate with more. The sidekick, probably as a younger brother. Even to a time when MacCurtis on the page would act as a Tulpa to journey through a spiritual labyrinth.

Yet here I am re-introducing the Bionic Knight to the reader. For you see, part of the journey as well, is to realize that even though the sidekick may assume the helm (think Wally West as the Flash, even Dick Grayson becoming Batman for a time). There is a point in our own journeys, when it is no longer the younger or the sidekick that our life role identifies with.

There comes a time, when where we are in playing mentor to others we realize, we are not Wally (West, Kid Flash, Flash III) or even Barry (Allan, Flash II) but have become in our own journey Jay (Garrick, Flash I) and perhaps are a sidestep away from being Max Mercury (a sage not affiliated with role).

So this year, 30 years on, I begin to plot a new adventure of an old friend. The hair a little thinner and grayer, with a wife not a girlfriend, a family, mourning the loss of a close friend as seen in the last Speare adventure…

So it is time not for a rebirth or reborn moment for a hero. But a grail quest moment.

Watch closely over the next little bit, for it may not be an old manual type writer pecking away at keys, it may be a netbook onto a blog.

But soon…

the question of Who is the Bionic Knight? will be answered, here…when…

The Quest of Rick Saturn: The Bionic Knight debuts.


It’s funny. If you are an Albertan you know we have this tendency to elect governments that overstay their effectiveness, but are populous and then vanish. One of these was the Social Credit Party.

Outside of family discussions, the full introduction to SoCred Ideology was actually at a family reunion where my Great Uncle Ed well into his 90’s actually tried to sell me a party membership at the humble age of 16 years old.

Yet what would inspire such loyalty in a constantly changing political landscape. Some say it was Ernest Manning (no one remembers the 3rd SoCred premier who lost to that guy Peter Lougheed)…yet Manning was the apprentice, and actually moved the SoCred’s to the right.

No, where the movement was inspired and rose to power overturning the United Farmers rule. It goes to a small charismatic baptist preacher (what was with those baptists in the Dirty Thirties? The Great Depression church basement spawned many a preacher trying to change the world, note another gent named Tommy Douglas from Saskatchewan)…this preacher, who also founded the Prophetic Bible Institute, and a radio hour, leveraged tea/coffee times in peoples living rooms to explain a progressive-social ideology to change the world.  His nick name was Bible Bill, and William Aberhart took his young upstart SoCreds into governance as the third party to govern Alberta.

Now under Manning the progressive was forgotten, yet under Aberhart they were so progressive, Aberhart and Douglas came to agreement to stay out of one another’s provinces to allow CCF/SoCred governments to flourish without splitting the vote.

Quite a history lesson on how the progressive voice for change, inclusion and love can make our country better. What sparked this political digression?

On one of my whims of fancy to share the province’s history with my kids, thought hey Westbourne Baptist still exists and has a seniors manor attached and pre-school, should take in a service with the family…only to go on their website and find after 104 years they have moved into a new journey, and from what the internet has shared it looks as if it stalled out after dissolution.

So another piece of history has lived its life cycle, and the question still remains, where will these types of individuals rise up within the spiritual realm to speak into the soul of a country? Province? City? for the simple gift of equality, justice, compassion, peace, and joy. All that comes out of the root of Love.


Others have claimed their towns as a Hell mouth or the vortex of horrors, a weirdness magnet…those may be apropos for what existed in Calgary, but truly it was a nexus of weird. A confluence of energies coming together both mystical, extraterrestrial and what some may say is benign to create the epicentre of weird in Canada.

Speare knew this, and it was why he always had trepidation over new cases. They either could just be a very benign divorce or even the usual run of the mill Perry Masonesque murder case or it could literally be hell on wheels bat shit crazy “Conjuring” possession to a simple alien invasion. When it went sideways to the X-Files, it also became very hard to verify payments and without payments well, one became more of a pro-bono investigator which did not pay the bills.

It was these pro-bono style cases that could quickly resemble Episode 3 of the X-Files Season 10. You know the one, where a monster was bit by a man and became a man and lived the true horror of working minimum wage and desperately sought out any ways to become his happy go lucky monster self again.

Speare was hoping this would not be one of those types of cases as he waited in the bustling McDonald’s (best place for morning coffee, over Tim Horton’s, as they gave free refills and a great muffin/coffee deal). The cover of the daily newspaper showed Jason Kenney, a former MP who started seeking the third party leadership while still drawing a salary from his federal job. Speare may not be happy with some of the decisions the current NDP government of the province had been making, but he definitely hoped the PC’s had learned something in their banishment from dictator to third party status to not elect this guy.

The double double was warm, and the blue berry muffin was baked well. To top off the morning he had managed to avoid dealing with the stupidity of the touch screen order system and actually talk to a human being. Bonuses all around.  He scratched the whiskery beard he had been sporting since the last warped case as the client, a rather stereotypical looking accountant sat down across from him.

The small older man, with the bad comb over that barely covered the growing Picard scalp, actually straightened a navy blue bow tie that matched the suspenders showing underneath his cardigan. His moustache with the turned up ends looked like something from a turn of the 20th century barber shop quartet. There could almost be a passable twinkle in his green eyes.

“Mr. Speare?” He said.

“Simply Speare. How can I help you Mr.?”

The man had started to bead sweat profusely simply by sitting, as Spear finished his muffin and took another swig of coffee through the peaked plastic lid. It was time to let the silence do the heavy lifting so as not to guide the wood be client into making false statements, thus creating a false start for the sleuthing.

Bow tie takes another scan around the restaurant. Speare is sure if the cardigan was off, the white shirt underneath would be soaked with sweat around the arm pits. The sweater wore a sweater to cover up the act of sweating.

“Samuel, just Samuel. Look I heard about you.”

Speare chuckles. “Friend of a friend like the telephone game?”

Samuel shook his head. “Uhm, Natan, we are in the same book group. He said I should call you for help.” Natan, formerly crippled husband to Speare’s closest friend Sax. Formerly crippled, because during one of those pesky X-Files like cases he got a spontaneous healing that had reinvigorated the marriage to almost newlywed proportions.

“That is surprising.” Speare said.

“Surprising someone would recommend you?”

“No, Samuel, I am quite good, what surprises me is Natan has friends.” Lame joke, but the stress had to be broken if Samuel was ever going to open up and tell him why he was interrupting his morning coffee.

The accountant is now rubbing hands and looking more nervous, Speare mulled over changing contact messages to say that you had to reveal your referrer and bring them to the first meeting to make awkward situations like this not possible. Sometimes awkward was awkward and sometimes…

The arrow shattered the glass behind Speare’s booth striking chest….


It is mixed emotions when I saw the article that Inn from the Cold in Calgary had ended their church based inns. The rationale behind it made sense as with the larger family inns, the more scattered inns became home for singles in need. Unfortunately the singles in needs mental health was becoming more than church based volunteers could deal with in a safe manner.

I get this. It saddens me though because in the early 2000’s I was an overnight volunteer at a community inn and I saw how it transformed the local parish that hosted it. I look on the picture of my wall of my last night volunteering at the Inn, with Sister Josie and myself. A group of volunteers that worked to welcome families and singles in need. Ensured that for that one night even with moving around they felt like they had a home. Whether it was helping kids with homework, listening to the adults, seeing what clothes and food could be provided. Making lunches, cooking breakfast, serving and evening meal. Father Bob the parish priest who volunteered and realized a basic necessity was needed…showers for the families going to work and school so they could feel truly refreshed, calling in a plumber to have them installed and then at Mass requesting open hearts to give to cover the costs.

Hearts opened up to who was our neighbour. Realizing every Calgarian is in this crisis of hopelessness and loneliness together.

Now the closures opens up a new challenge to the hearts of Calgarians. A realization that there is not only a lack of homes that are affordable. BUT there is a lack of homes that are appropriate, ones with the proper supports for those lost in the shadows can come into the light and live fully engaged lives within the community as a whole.

This may seem like an ending, but it is not, what it is is a call out to the city, to neighbours to fully engage and demand proper homes for all our neighbours, so everyone has a safe place to lay their heads and feel welcome and hope.


Our home has always been a bee hive of activity. During my journey in the ministry, one saint has been there, St. Francis of Assisi, former rich boy, failed soldier, and beggar. Trouble Maker, or as I worked spiritual development with the Lay orders and explained it to my Dad, apptly described as “shit disturber.”

It is interesting that as my family goes deeper within the New Thought Movements, and we begin to discern which path for us to take, and perhaps rejoin the ministry within (Centres for Spiritual Living or Unity) it strikes me that Francis re-enters my mind more deeply. The formation, the vows, the Rule of Life all have spoken so deeply and engrained themselves within my life that I walk the Charism daily without even formerly acknowledging it, it just happens when I am healthy.

It was the basis of my book, Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, how to develop one’s own spiritual praxis.

Matthew Fox’s (the defrocked Dominican priest, current Episcopal Priest, wisdom teacher) recent works around Hildegard of Bengin and Meister Eckhart showing the connection of wisdom/mystery schools, panentheism, mysticism and the Holy Mystery.

For the untrained reader this may appear as a senseless ramble, yet like the two mystics Fox writes on and works with, Francis shook the world just as much– it not more. When he renounced the world of materialism to be one with Holy (full on acknowledgement of the Unity of all things) and entered into the world to transform it…well he attracted followers that also challenged and shaped his understanding of the world.

Clare, a wealthy young lady, who renounced aristocracy, and would prayerfully fight four popes on equality fo women to choose their own path…an she would win (we remember this blessing each Easter with our eating of Hot Crossed Buns).

And then little randy Brother Leo, who well couldn’t keep from leering at the ladies, and chasing them, Francis could have cast this friar out, but Francis was astute. If the whole world was celibate, soon there would be no more children of God for it is very hard to have babies in celibacy. So Francis would commend, release and re-vow Leo to go forth with the love of his life, And with a slight wink, to produce many fine bambinos.

As I continue to reflect, I ponder the metaphysics that connect with Francis’ story, connect with the Master Teacher, Rabbi Jesus, and wonder about my own city and community, and wonder if there is a place for a grassroots Franciscan Mystic movement within Alberta?

Discernment continues—