Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Do drink the water

Friday, October 15th, 2010

This year’s Blog Action Day topic is water. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to share how grateful I am to have access to some of the world’s best drinking water.

But first, I want to talk about phones. Have you noticed the disappearance of public telephones? And how the remaining ones are falling into serious disrepair? This is a direct result of the migration to cel phones for those who can afford it. The fact that more and more of us don’t use public telephones allows them to vanish and fall into disrepair. As we use them less, the phone companies uninstall them to save money, while our lowered awareness of the remaining phones leads to less maintenance.

The ones who lose out are the economically disadvantaged. If you can’t afford a cel phone then you get to use the public phone a mile away if it wasn’t destroyed or barfed on by the last user. Complaining won’t do much good either as the phone company doesn’t see them as much of a profit opportunity anymore. Economic disadvantage leads to communication disadvantage while the wealthy move on to greener pastures.

What, you may wonder, does this have to do with water? It’s simple, the best way to protect the water supply is to drink from it. (more…)

Olympic follow-up

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up for some time to my posts on the Vancouver Olympics. I realised that I came off sounding pretty radical and I want to share some of what I saw and felt during and after the event.

Prior to the games I was quite cynical about what they were about and what they would do. Overall, I think I lost a great deal of that cynicism but I can’t exactly say it was replaced with optimism. Except for the conspicuous commercialisation I enjoyed what I saw happening in Vancouver. People were out taking over their streets, celebrating their homes and their heroes. To the average Canadian, the Olympic games were just plain wonderful and I had the privilege of walking amongst those good vibes on my downtown streets.

That’s not to say that everyone was happy and joining in. Just down the road a homeless awareness demonstration worked to shine a light on the problems being ignored and pushed aside so the games could take place. What do you do?  I know I’d rather live in a society where both of these things can happen than one that stifles dissent with force. (more…)

Game On!

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

The games have finally begun! The past few days have seemed a bit dreamlike as the countdown got closer and closer. But it really happened as yesterday brought us the opening ceremonies for the Olympic games in Vancouver.

What an interesting experience, full of diverse people in the midst of contrary experiences. After the torch was diverted from Commercial Drive I headed downtown to the art gallery square, a common meeting point for political action by the citizens. There were a lot more people there to protest the Olympics than I thought would show up. The original forecast was anywhere from 1000-1500 and I heard estimates for the turnout as high as 5000. This seems a little high to me based on my experience with Critical Mass and I would have estimated anywhere from 2500-3000 on the ground in front of the gallery.

Olympic Torch Diverted

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Torch Protest PartyThere was excitement in the air on Commercial Drive this morning. People were beginning to mill about to greet the torch around 9am, the scheduled time for the flame to begin making its way up from Hastings and Commercial. Things were running late and there was a rumour that a group of protesters at Victory Square had caused a delay.

By 10am there were people lining the street all the way from 1st Ave to Hastings, and around the corner into the distance. Most were out to support the torch run with red and white worn on clothing, painted on faces, and waving in the air.

But at Grandview Park, a couple of hundred people had turned out to protest. They were in mostly positive spirits and feeling festive themselves, though they carried signs criticizing the Olympics for everything from overspending to questionable corporate sponsors and their connections to environmental degradation.

Led by the incredible Carnival Band the protesters moved their way down to Venables and Commercial where an impromptu party got going in the middle of the street. For good or bad, depending on your perspective, the powers that be decided to reroute the torch away from a possible confrontation. Legal, non-violent public protest blocked the torch from appearing on The Drive!

Victory in hand, the band marched the crowd up to 1st and Commercial where they blocked the intersection, played music, and danced in celebration. While I heard a few pro-Olympics spectators grumble a bit, most seemed in good spirits despite losing the chance to see the torch come through and many were even seen enjoying the excellent music and good vibes amongst the protesters.

But the highlight for me was walking by Brittania school after the parade disruption and hearing the students being addressed over the loudspeaker. Many if not all of the students had been out of school to watch the torch come through. The speaker was explaining the value and importance of freedom of speech and the right to protest. What a great lesson for the day!

Let the games begin!

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Olympic RingsBack in 2003, I voted against Vancouver hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. Our new mayor had run on a platform that included a referendum on whether we should hold the Olympics, even though the IOC had already awarded them to the city. I don’t think such an Olympic referendum had ever occurred before and I imagine the IOC will do whatever they can to ensure it doesn’t again. Either way, history speaks for itself and we are now just over 3 weeks from the opening ceremonies.

Now, up until recently I thought I’d just get out of the city while the games were on. I don’t really have an interest in viewing the events and figured the mess wouldn’t be worth staying for. But recently my opinion has begun to change. I’m actually getting excited about this!