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The cool keeps coming 😎

This is just so much fun! Bill Plaskett has contributed some extra goodies to add to the post about the Solidarity Tour performance at Massey Hall, now online. (See post below)

Photo credit: Rhoda Rosenfeld?

First up, a cool photo of Bill back in the day, when I first heard Wally the Whale being sung in our livingroom, performed by the duo of my sister Joni and the styishly-hatted Bill Plaskett you see above.

Better yet, an mp3 of Bill singing the song. He notes that his voice wasn’t the best that morning, but shares it anyway. As you’ll probably guess from the lyrics, Wally was contemporary with the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Pure delight. Thanks, Bill!

Homework I wasn’t asked to do

The course on Reconciliation (See post below) includes aids for educators that seem wrong-headed to me. For example, this lesson plan for grades 9–12:

Invite an artist who creates “dream catchers” to explain what these works represent. Then ask students to make their own, based on what they learned during the awareness activities and the artist’s presentation.

Asking students to make copies of the artist’s dream catchers ignores the cultural appropriation problem. Now, if the idea is to have students invent their own versions of a device for capturing dreams, that’s different. I’d probably make a pillow … the settler’s dream catcher … but my guess is that copying is being suggested.

Here’s the thing …

Doesn’t the “invited artist” make dream catchers for sale as trade goods? That’s a longstanding and honourable economic activity that predates colonization. Why not bring that back as a classroom activity and let the kids buy or trade for dream catchers made by the artist?

Do you think that European sailors invited Haida carvers to show them their beautiful argillite carvings, just so that the sailors could copy them and make their own? Argillite carvings were made by the Haida specifically because Europeans liked them and would trade for them.

BTW, I hope the “invited artist” can expect to be paid for this classroom work, just as the teacher is.

Bye bye 506 streetcar, hello bus

Thanks to Bombardier’s ongoing failure to deliver streetcars on schedule, we are short of vehicles. The old ones are falling apart and our line is being raided to supply cars for other routes. It’s buses for Beach Hill for the rest of the year.

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Making the best of a bad deal, local artist Karen Franzen rounded up a band of 506 enthusiasts for a last, fun run to the west side. The itinerary started at the Flying Pony Café, went to the Olga Korper Gallery to see a Susanna Heller show, on to Café Diplomatico, then back east to the Beach Hill Smokehouse for ribs and beer.

Karen has exceptional energy and a talent for organizing events like this. She also has a strong vision of the 506 line as a unifier of Toronto’s east and west sides. My bad luck, a cold-turned-flu bug kept me home. 😞 Those that went report having a great time.

Going back to UBC, online

Why give 2-4 hours a week for 6 weeks to a free course called Reconciation through Indigenous Education? Because I want to clarify my thinking about the relationship between Indigenous people and myself. In doing so, I may also get a better notion of my own relationship with the society I live in and so often feel alienated from.

The course Overview speaks of “moving beyond conversations about empathy and understanding concerned with Indigenous-settler histories to consider structural, ideological, institutional, and pedagogical change in the places where we live, learn, and work.”

If that means getting beyond hearts-and-flowers do-gooderism, I’m in.

Here’s a 5 minute video taste of one of the course’s video segments.

The video link above is more entertaining and polished than much of the course content, which can be dry and, because it’s aimed at educators, pedantic. Some of the verbiage I’ve listened to so far is vague and unclear. Overlays of sentimental music do not make up for the lack of clarity, but the educators are themselves groping for answers to questions that have not yet been fully formulated.

No quick fixes are on offer, either. Reconciliation is presented as a slow, 7-generation process, if it occurs at all. Obviously, there are questions about whether or not there is a public will to attempt the work, not to mention the question of who will still be around in 7 generations.

As the video says, “But in the end, the land won’t care, which one was rabbit, which one bear.”

I hope the course will shape itself around concrete issues, after its initial attempts to explain unrecognized biases and the need to “think different”.

Still learning

Don’t try to buy a hat on Amazon, Bill. Go to a proper store and try it on.

Ordering, waiting for the box, trying on, applying for return labels, repacking and humping the box to the post office is a bigger waste of time, for more people, than going to a store.

The hat, ready for the trip back to Kentucky

And I still don’t have a new hat. In a month or so, I’ll probably get my money back. The harder part will be finding a bricks-and-mortar hat store. They are disappearing, and I think I know why. Too many people shopping online.

Coming soon to Toronto?

Danica took photos of bike-share bicycles that she saw all over the place on her recent trip to Sydney, Australia.

Helmets in baskets, ready to rent. Leave ’em where you want. No docking.

We wanted to find out more about these dollar-an-hour, dockless bikes. They are fitted with GPS locators and can be found, reserved and rented using a smartphone. Sounds like a good idea? … maybe?

The world’s biggest bike-share company was started in 2014 by Chinese university students. They distribute Ofo Bikes and have a couple of billion dollars of capital provided by the giant online retailer Alibaba (think Chinese Amazon). The concept has been rolled out to 20 countries so far, including the US and UK. Sydney has 4 companies competing is this market space already.

Not all is sweetness and bliss, of course. People leave the bikes in piles, block sidewalks and toss them into rivers.

There’s more to this topic, so I’ll do another post.