On Accountability and Enough

The Wheel turns whether I notice it or not. Half a year gone. Four holidays have passed.

My Beltane alter was colourful, full of hope and joy. It was bright and happy, just as the holiday was meant to be celebrated. My heart was full, and I felt blessed. I spent time posting ideas for future alters to Pintrest, excited about what I could create in the months ahead.

Then the waters came., and my Summer Solstice alter was left behind in the rush of evacuation. I spent the holiday itself glued to technology, trying to glean the truth amongst the grains of rumour and speculation. I greeted the sun, praying its arrival would herald the end of the rains. And then I travelled, and was fortunate enough to find a space where I could honour the water without dread.

My Lammas alter was subdued. While the waters had spared my home, that which I had to harvest was meager compared to earlier years. I struggled (and continue to struggle) with issues of sustainability, with alternative income streams, with sharing and gifting versus owning and consuming.

We’re now at Fall Equinox, and my alter contains small crochet leaves, a reflection* of my ongoing sustainablity concerns. I light the candle, breathe deeply, and open myself to the unknown. I ask for blessings for myself and for others who are struggling. I let myself feel despair even as I open myself to hope.2013-09-27 08.22.47

The Wheel turns whether I notice it or not. It turns if I have intentation or not. It turns if my practice grows from that intention or not. It turns even as the questions tumble from my mind.

I question to whom I am accountable: If I create an alter and stand before it, honouring the turning of the wheel, is that enough? If I write about my experience here, is that enough? If I organize circles of others, if I give my time and energy to support local pagan groups, if my words are published, is that enough? If I teach my son to honour the old ways, if I sing songs, if I bake and craft and share my blessings with others, is that enough?

I question what I am expecting in return: If I am blessed with a roof over my head and food on my table, is that enough? If I am able to buy my son a warm coat without sacrificing our food budget for the month, is that enough? If I am able to recognize that I am no longer carless by choice,** but by circumstance, and it has not changed my ability to move around the city, is that enough? If I remember that abundance is here and the Path is right, is that enough?

I question, and the Wheel turns, and I light a candle. Blessed Be.

* I crochet when I’m panicked about financial things, to in some way convince myself that if all is a wash I’ll at least have a stack of hats to sell.

** I actually question if I was ever really carless by choice, but that’s the subject for another blog post.

Elizabeth May Comes to Calgary (and Shares a Car)

Out and about on Calgary’s streets.
 It was great to see Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, come visit Calgarians today. She’s the first party leader to stop in since the election was called and it was great to see so many people come out and hear what she had to say about the environment, foreign policy, poverty and how the federal government should support cities. My favourite quote: “Are we are warmaking country or a peacemaking country? Canada should be a country that supports conflict resolution and stands for peace.”
Waving goodbye from the Calgary Carshare Prius.
It was also exciting to see a leader who “gets it” when it comes to transportation. She came down from Edmonton on the Red Arrow (our inter-city bus) and commented on how it would be great to have high-speed rail between the two (which I support). Calgary Carshare (our local carshare co-op, where I’m on the board), which is being used by some of the local Green Party candidates, was booked to take her from the bus to the event and eventually to the airport. (She had to be back in her BC riding for an all-candidates forum tonight, which necessitated a quick trip back.) IMHO, climate change is THE issue for this election, and while I’m disappointed/frustrated/angry that it’s not being talked about, I am glad that May and others recognize that it also impacts the way campaigning is done. Well done!

Carsharing rocks! (Photo by @Tisin)
Edit: There’s story/photos/video in the Calgary Herald and I’m in the background of one. (It’s like “Where’s Waldo?” if he had a pink scarf.)

(Political and Transportational) Choices

I’ll admit it – I have a political crush on NDPer Megan Leslie (who’s running for re-election in Halifax). Why? 

  • She was voted “Rookie MP of the Year” in 2009.
  • When she spoke on Bill C-449 (giving seniors free access to transit in off-peak hours) she talked about the impact of free transit (“Free transit would greatly increase the quality of life by removing the terrible choice between rent, food, or heat and bus tickets.”) and called for the development of a National Transit Strategy for Canada.
  • She’s had some great clips recently on CBC because of her role as NDP spokesperson on health.

But, most of all, she’s running a carbon-neutral campaign that includes transit, cycling and carsharing. It’s nice to see someone who actually gets it – how we do the work matters as much as the work we’re doing. I look forward to the day when this is the norm, not the exception. Until then, I’ll work on convincing people that I’m not a saint just because I use Calgary Transit to get to work-related events, ok? (I’ll point out the other reasons instead, hehe.)

**Bonus points for her reference of climate-change discussions in this election campaign as an “issue of inter-generational equity” because, really, isn’t it?

(Cross-posted at Zero-Fare Canada who kindly invited me to post with them. Go check them out!)

"Moving Beyond the Automobile" on Streetfilms

How exciting! Streetfilms just posted the trailer for its new 10-part series on reducing private automobile usage. Check it out below:

A new film will be posted every Tuesday, as well as lesson plans and discussion points if you’re planning a screening with a larger audience (especially nice after the DVD becomes available). I’m looking forward to the piece on carsharing, as we just had a great day-long strategic planning session for Calgary Carshare that included some exciting plans for increased visibility and membership in this city. (My to-do list includes “evaluate the membership application process”, “explore new partnerships with like-minded groups” and “bribe volunteers to fill out their timesheets”. And that’s just the first month!)

(Cross-posted at Zero-Fare Canada who kindly invited me to post with them. Go check them out!)

In the News…

(Twice in one week. I think that’s a new record!)
First, I’m quoted in the Calgary Dollars Newspaper (Winter 2010 issue, which is available in the FFWD on stands now) in the article “Connecting Bow Cliff”. For those who haven’t heard, the Calgary Dollars Markets are moving to Bow Cliff Seniors – join us on December 13, 6pm-8pm, when 32 local artists/sellers have tables and we’re celebrating the Hundred Dollar Holiday.
Second, I had a BCS member come into the centre yesterday to ask for an autograph. Yes, the Calgary Herald ran a great piece by Greg Williams (and an equally great photo by Dean Bicknell) on Calgary Carshare.
“When I was growing up, for me, a car represented freedom,” Braun says. “But now that I’m in the city, for me, having a car was a burden.”

We’ve already had new applications for membership (which you can do at the Calgary Carshare website) and that makes me happiest of all!

31 Days to a Brand New Blog: Day 5

Day 5’s challenge? Comment on Three Blogs You’ve Never Commented on Before:

Manhattan’s Non-Market Economy
It will be difficult to wean people off “free” parking, but it can be done with a carrot and not a stick. My city (Calgary, Alberta) tried to address the free parking situation at our local park and ride lots (located at train stations and major bus stops) by bringing in a $3 fee, and it caused a minor revolt amongst drivers. The difficulty was that they had not put any real alternatives to driving in place (such as frequent feeder bus routes to the park and rides or making transit more cycle-friendly) so most people felt they had little choice in the matter. If the investment had been made in good infrastructure, there might have been a different reaction to the fee. Instead, we have people who now drive downtown instead of paying the fee, even though it is more expensive, just to make a point. Very frustrating for those of us advocating for a better way!

Did Consumers Cause the BP Oil Spill? 
It’s not “just” about consumer choice, but that certainly is a factor in how we’re going to re-develop our future together. Point #3 and the development of car culture is accurate, but if know it was created then we know it can also be taken apart. Reducing the need for a personal automobile can be done in many ways: moving to a more walkable neighbourhood, taking transit or cycling, joining a carshare co-operative, etc. Yes, these are individual actions, but they also impact companies (less cars sold, less need for oil) and governments (more need for transit, more demand for high-density neighbourhoods) will act and how we will live in the future. That in turn will help create our next positive action and so on until we have something much better than the tarsands dependency we’re building on.

Monday Morning Rock Out
Happy Birthday Hildy! Great points about time and accountability. In the end, we all have the same amount of time (no one’s getting more than 24 hours in a day no matter how hard we beg!) and we’re ultimately accountable to ourselves for how we spend it. Now get out there and celebrate!

31 Days to a Brand New Blog Day 4

(or “what we really should be talking about”)

The challenge for Day 4 is to write a list post that relates to my purpose statement. As my purpose statement identifies politics as an area of focus, and as we’re now 64 days away from the Calgary General Election, here’s my list of the top five posts I’d like* to write before election day:

1. The Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge is the most controversial and misunderstood projects undertaken by the city, and it’s also the lightening rod that many candidates are using to rally support.

2. Plan It
Like many CivicCampers, I spent time last fall in council chambers as the council listened to presentations on Plan It, the document that would guide our city’s growth for decades to come. And, like many CivicCampers, I felt betrayed by a last-minute backroom deal that made developers’ interests more weight then that of citizens.

FCSS Calgary (Family and Community Support Services) is a municipal/provincial program that funds nonprofits that do a variety of things (including Bow Cliff Seniors). If the FCSS stat re: social return on investment (that for every dollar spent on prevention the city saves six to thirteen dollars in other costs) is true, why aren’t we putting more into prevention? The city has two roles here: increase the dollar amount it funds (currently required to fund 20%, they actually fund 25% of annual budget) and they can lobby the province for additional funding for the entire program.

4. Transportation for All
Better transit – not just trains. “Next Bus” real time technology. (Come on, even Winnipeg has this one!) Smaller buses and routes that come more than once an hour during “non-peak” hours – and redefining “non-peak” hours to be more then “when people aren’t traveling downtown to work”. Resources for Access Calgary so it can provide more services (especially as the population needing their services grows). And, of course, an obligatory “carsharing rocks” moment.

5. Housing options
Obviously the city needs to get its act together on secondary suites. But I’m sure they can also find ways to support non-marketing housing options (like co-ops and cohousing) and develop more TOD (transit-orientation development) projects that include mixed-use and mixed-income housing. Again, the aging population will be a critical factor to consider: changing needs, increased population and a need for greater community involvement should all play a part.

* That’s not saying I will, but I’ll likely be tweeting about them!