EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

The Cooperative Way

The cooperative movement encourages and assists the formation of worker co-ops. Advocates and their organizations lobby for legislation to require companies to first offer their employees to buy their firms before they invite other interests to do it. Such legislation exists in some states such as the UK and some within the United States of America. Some employers prefer to do this, for they respect their workers and their work and do not want to cause them harm. They may believe that their businesses would be in better hands were the employees to take them over rather than strangers and people who are not so familiar with them. 


Where there are allowances for workers to take over the ownership of enterprises, rules and a lending system are in place. The government provides low interest loans and a framework and training for workers' collectives to be able to run companies themselves. In some cases, workers can make arrangements and find funds on their own. There are organizations within the cooperative movement who can educate and facilitate such takeovers.


The cooperative movement does not challenge or object to trade unions; there need not be a conflict. Some unions support workers' co-ops, for they see them as allies and the co-ops, if unions are friendly, see the unions as allies. Collective agreements can offer ideas for the terms of a cooperative arrangement that guarantees and protects the workers rights and safe and reasonable working conditions. However, a worker-owned business would not need a union. Worker's unions are established as a defense against exploitation by owners as all owners of private enterprises profit from the labour of their workers and they do so by keeping wages down and trimming overhead costs by withholding resources and measures that would make workplaces safer, healthier and more comfortable. Private owners certainly do not want to give over the decision-making to workers--no way! They have management to impose restrictions such as time limits and methods. Workers are always pushing back to improve their earnings and conditions.


A cooperative is far more democratic. Workers within it, whether it is a fast food enterprise or a factory, meet and have an equal say in how the work is done. This arrangement is far different from the typical employment where the owner and his representatives command the workers, dictating everything they do at work, from when and how long to use the toilets and take meals to procedures and reporting. Contemporary workplaces may adopt a friendlier management style that shows signs of more respect and appears to consult employees, but you know that the employees' say doesn't count for much; it is still dangerous for them to say anything as their words can be used against them in the end. While there can be all sorts of personalities and ideas present in a cooperative workplace, the relationship of the employees to it and their work is fundamentally different. People simply cannot be abused much since their is no owner exploiting them and everyone who works there has an equal status. True, there can be variations in salary levels considering varying education or training and experience levels, and a bonus system can be implemented as an incentive or reward. 


The cooperative workplace has potential to develop a communal environment wherein workers get to know each other, socialize and assist each other with the problems and demands of life even outside work. In fact, there is a societal vision and philosophy around the worker-owned-and-run cooperative enterprise. It is a vision of a cooperative and caring society with a profound democracy. It is a new kind of communism, a society empowering the people at the base without a government functioning as a centralized decision-making order overseeing and commanding the society. Government has a role in providing services and resources and setting regulations and laws. However, it is one with proper representation of the people, not business owners that dominate and drive and bribe the government to do their bidding to make life richer and more comfortable for them alone. No, it would be a government with proportional representation, perhaps with regional and national election candidates coming from councils filled with nominated and elected workers from the cooperatives and other mass organizations.


There is also a vision of new kind of international relations based on cooperation and aimed at avoiding and settling conflicts through negotiations that would not allow war to break out. the United Nations Organizations would have to be rebuilt and refitted to serve these aims.


An model of a cooperative world has been drawn up by the "All things Cooperative" division of "Democracy @ Work". Here is a link to a video about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-T0XOA5hI0





Life Without Community

Without the communal experiences that common people set up for themselves, life is harder and colder. Without the social and recreational organizations, ceremonial practices, neighbourhoods in action, nonprofit organizations and various associations in which relationships  and support networks, what is there? 


Workers do not have control over their workplaces, so communal experiences cannot be counted on there. Except for recognitions of birthdays, the Christmas party and occasional lunches together, if the they are lucky, employees must perform prescribed tasks on a given schedule and be subject to monitoring. Atmospheres and management styles can vary, but generally employees grab what chance they can to enjoy the coworker relationships but beat it home, happier to escape the confines of oversight and regime in an enterprise directed by others who reap the most rewards. 


School does not always provide relief, either. Private schools are generally business or religious settings run according to a corporate model with its quantifiable assessments and goals. In many countries, public school is an institution regulated and prescribed by government, and are often large. From upper elementary ("middle school" to some) through secondary school, the ambiance cools down and the focus on scores is sobering. After years of neoliberal austerity measures, too, there is nothing much in the budget to provide extra-curricular and cultural experiences. Even if there are student clubs and a student council, the object is career driven, with the ambitious eager to scratch notches on their resumes. Teachers and concerned observers complain how schools, reformed and relaxed somewhat in the 60s, have become like factories. 


At least any school is a place where friendships are made. The local elementary school might be the only locus of communal activity. The degree of communalism depends on the location of the schools. Some school boards that ascribe to a more humanist approach, especially as concerns the youngest of the student populations. Parents are involved. There could be exchanges and special days. Teachers can assess a student's wellbeing, family life and outlook and try to intervene with one sort of support or another. Volunteers from the community could be in the classrooms and hallways. Also, the school can be used for community meetings such as political campaigning and election polling. There may be continuing education classes run in the evenings and on weekends. 


Without much else in the way of community networks and activities, children and parents rely a lot on the school for social nourishment and growth. this could be why it is reported that many youngsters and teens suffered a lot during COVID lockdowns. Most people were cut off from communal experiences and community life. If both parents were absent from the home to earn their livelihoods or very preoccupied earning money from the home, even family life was inadequate. Families with more resources, of course, could manage better. It was the poorest who suffered most.


Without other communal offerings, people hang around shopping malls and parks. They may get to know others who work at or otherwise frequent those places. They may make and meet friends there. However, there is not much in the way program and structure. It's every person for her/himself. 


People who either start associations and get something going or pay membership dues and join some existing thing are much better off. Their lives are richer and more fulfilling. They should support people's associations and organize them to build society in a positive way.

Recreational Clubs

Recreational clubs are communal to one degree or another. I belong to several, as I like casual sports for fitness, culture, interest and social activity. They are all communal in that they are groups that share space to do things together using common resources. 

     For example, my ukulele club meets in a regular club house and plays together following a leading musician. We participants donate a few bucks at each session to support this leader. Members get to the session on his/her own means. We drink and chat together as well. There are no other meetings of this group other than practice/ play times. 

     My hiking club is another example of a common group experience. It is a couple of degrees more communal than the uke club. We have to register, pay a nominal membership fee each year and follow designated hike leaders who plan each hike. There is a publicly accessible website that bears a calendar, information on each scheduled hike,  and reports on past hikes. Our annual fees pay for it and liability insurance, nothing else. There is a car pooling system for transportation to each location of hikes; passengers pay a set amount to the driver to cover fuel each time they are driven to a hike. The trip leader ensures that there are a few photos taken of the location and participants of each hike, which will be posted along with that leader's brief report on the hike. While hiking, we get to know one another. We bring our own lunches, though. There is only one social event each year: the annual barbecue at a favorite lakeside place. Someone lends a barbecue or two and everyone who goes is supposed to bring a little food to share. However, the picnickers bring their own items to barbecue. There is minimal cost to participants and no cost to the club for this event. The province regulates and oversees all organized sports in the province, so this club must follow the provincial regulations and the insurer's stipulations. The city carries information on the club and provides a few gifts to distribute to club members on the day of the annual social.

     The most communal of all the recreational and cultural clubs I belong to is the lawn bowling club. This is a traditional English sport that traditionally serves older people. A whole community thus revolves around the local lawn bowling club. Although the provincial government sets the standards, the city provides a subsidy and the property including the equipment shed and clubhouse. Therefore, city staff clean the washrooms inside the clubhouse and manage the flower beds inside compound regularly. However, members do everything else themselves; it is a member-run organization, with members paying an annual fee to cover insurance, maintenance, outdoor equipment and kitchen and game room supplies. Besides the annual membership fee, we each pay a couple of dollars each time we play a game so that we provide additional funds for snacks, the maintenance of the green and seasonal prizes. Members can drop in any time to present themselves for games on bowling game nights three times a week and one bowling morning session once a week. There are competitions against nearby clubs at least twice a bowling season. The club also runs a croquet evening. There is always social time after games, which volunteers from among the membership organize to set up tables, prepare and serve food and clean up. Volunteers take care of grounds and run the games. In fact, this club is a full-fledged nonprofit society with an executive body. There is one official coach to train members and apply the rules. We follow international rules and techniques established ages ago in England. Though the club keeps some spare equipment, members have to acquire their bowling kits each containing four uniquely marked bowls and paraphernalia. 

      As such a developed tradition, community lawn bowling clubs provide vital opportunities for socializing. Seniors benefit tremendously and enjoy it for the outdoor setting, the company, the mild activity and thrill of the game. Older people can play this despite some physical restrictions and weaknesses as they age. People join as of their late 40s; they typically are people who enjoy sports but who have had some kind of long term injury or ailment, or are just looking for another way to relax outdoors on spare evenings. Many are longtime members who play until they are no longer able at a very advanced age. In fact, club archives with photos are kept and memorial plaques for the most active members are displayed.

      The social schedule of the season offers a lot, from the monthly barbecues to the holiday bowling lunches and the season opening and closing banquets. Participants bring their own lunches to the holiday games and salads and such to share at barbecues, when individuals bring their own items to cook on the grill. The opening and closing events are ticketed meals, but surplus club wealth is used to provide gifts beyond the raffles tickets that are offered at each banquet. 

     The bowling season is only three-and-a-half months long, but the club remains open all year round. There is one card, one darts and one carpet bowling session each week so that members can stay active and engaged with this community. Surplus funds from the summer season provide small snacks. People can buy beverages at each season; a volunteer keeps it stocked up.

    The games organizers keep stats of everyone's performance in all the clubs games, from bowling to darts, so that the persons with the highest scores and most wins can be identified and rewarded a little monetarily from time to time. 

    You can see that the lawn bowling is a full communal experience. It grows a community who do many activities, physical and social, together regularly in a communal space. Lasting friendships form. The membership develops to a more intimate level than other types of recreational clubs. Things are planned to be fair and inclusive.


Humans Helping Humans

I am reflecting on the memorial banquet I just attended. Friends, family and extended family came to share memories and catch up. Now I'm thinking how much such an event is a communal experience. First I consider who and what makes up a family. Then I consider how people rally around someone in need.

In the case of this gathering, close friends and extended family were quite a mix and acquainted in a variety of interesting ways. Of course, there was immediate biological relatives and relatives by marriage. In addition, there were several cases of close friends and family established by volunteer child raising. Here is an example. One man had been in a relationship with a drug addict who continued to help to raise her child well after breaking up with the girlfriend. That child is now a young man who attended the honouring of his quasi-uncle with his wife. Another man brought his biological daughter and grandchildren, as well as a teen-age adopted daughter whom he and his late wife met as foster parents when she was an infant; they looked after that girl for a few years and opted to adopt her after the natural mother, another drug addicted, passed away.             There was a young child at the dinner; she was there under the informal guardianship of her mother's friends, the mother being absent and unable to take care of her. These are all examples of stretching the perimeters of family to

take care of people where there is no obligation by birth or law; people help because they care.

     After the meal and the planned proceedings, informal chat gave rise to a few exchanges about different types of services and individual preferences. One issue is notification of the passing. One person may have a larger or different sort of network than another. How and who to notify? What is the responsibility? I got to thinking that various people well acquainted with the deceased through work or other organized activities and by proximity. If any of them learn of the passing, chances are that someone among them will respond on their own initiative and hold some sort of event to acknowledge it. Take community and leftist social and grassroots political activists, for example. It is normal for fellow activists, perhaps organization leaders or volunteers, to arrange something apart from what the immediate family or close friends do; the activity could be a letter to the family, a public message, a small gathering or a larger service. Work or recreational/ social club mates might react similarly.

     Then I got to thinking that there are a lot of situations of people helping people. Disasters are obvious examples. People will open their doors, provide food and supplies, donate money, etc. On the other hand, there is a lot of talk about how the population will respond to severe economic conditions as stagflation strangles economic life and a deep recession unfolds in the USA and Canada. I hear many expressions of fear. The gun promoters and survivalist convey great fear about their neighbours who they surmise will run rampage thieving and killing to stay alive ,so stocking up on guns, ammo and necessities and preparing to defend themselves or perish is recommended. I, though, believe in human kindness and concern. I think that many able people will organize to take care of each other and try to repair the crisis.

     Think about it. Who runs shelters, kitchens, mobile street services, and outreach and counseling? Who sets up charities and nonprofit or self-help organizations? Average people step forward to work hard finding resources, making public appeals, researching and sharing information, obtaining qualifications, getting funds, and so forth, and they are often volunteers.

COMMUNAL LIVING


Sorry for the lengthy absence. I do not like this blog format and input process, for one thing. For another, I did not have another theme except peace; I cover peace at my Just Peace Committee page on Facebook and my justpeace.blog (Wordpress) as well as in an internal newsletter for the International League of Peoples Struggles (peoplesstruggles.org), which is the Commission 4 publication called "Peace 4 the People". I also write statements for ILPS Commission 4 and Just Peace Committee, internationally and locally, respectively.

     In my activism for peace, we confront imperialism (domination, exploitation and plunder to make astronomical wealth for the few) that is the main source of various forms of violence and oppression. The long term goal is to build an alternative to monopoly capitalist imperialism, which concerned people involved generally call socialism. There are different types of socialism which are mainly state control of land and production and state laws and programs to provide social benefits and protection to the masses. Communist parties have been able to rule and institute vast state socialism through revolution and through electoral campaigns and reforms. We can think of Cuba and Venezuela as examples of one and the other. From the 1930s through the 1970s, US and Europe-based capitalism made compromises to socialize some industry, provide social programs, build infrastructure for working people, and so on. Capitalism's weaknesses, though, could not be avoided: wars, periodic slowdowns, debt and currency crises. The neoliberal approach of the 1980s to 2020 ruined that project by dismantling it and privatizing and deregulating everything. Politically aware intellectuals and working folk are talking about socialism again and decrying "the imperialist system" and all its violence and ills.

     Therefore, I have been thinking about socialism. Capitalism is not working out; it is in total crisis, at least US-based monopoly capitalism is. The crisis is economic (stagflation, approaching recession, debt), social (rising suicide, alienation, displacement, bigotry, disruptive and dysfunctional family life), education (rising illiteracy, lack of supports), health (insufficient public care for all, rising mortality and morbidity, mental health and opioids), unemployment or underemployment, housing (quality and affordability with rising homelessness). I don't have to tell you.

     If more people continue to get politically active and join protests, they can only be effective when they join forces, share info and materials and ideas, collaborate and make demands for change together. All the movements have to come together as one to confront imperialism. It has to have a grassroots, worker and poor people base.

     What alternative and how can we get there? Through collective action and discussion, forms of organization come into being: cooperative enterprises, committees, shelters and workspaces, bartering and sharing arrangements, social and recreational clubs, nonprofit enterprises and charities, popular non-corporate media, art projects, education and skills training programs, worker-owned factories and so on. Oh, you have heard of at least some of these? Yes! They already exist. You probably realise that they are each a product of local struggle. You probably know that they could not be accomplished by a single person, but rather had to be by a collective. When victorious, such endeavours result in people/ worker/ community-run, autonomous collectives that serve the people somehow. The struggle may have required and won state funding and legislation, so that many such collectives are state supported. It is this collective, popular action and organization that interests me, for I see it as the foundation for a whole new society that cares about and operates for and by the people. I envision a governance of representatives from among the communities and collectives that does not own and control projects and enterprises and programs but is designed to facilitate and support them.

     The socialism built in the Soviet Union and elsewhere has largely been systems of state ownership, control and direction of production and community life. I am not knocking what has been achieved. Clearly, the people fought and worked hard for it and benefited from it for a few decades. It is the top-heavy, top-down system that is vulnerable to corruption. Economic critics of capitalism have also reviewed former socialist states and come to accept that, to date, they adopted a capitalist production and distribution model, though wealth and production was not in private hands. State-owned enterprises used the monetary, price and wage system and accumulated wealth, which was to be redistributed into investments in infrastructure, homes, services, culture, and factories aimed at continuous expansion. In other words, they borrowed the capitalist model and changed some of the language. True, there were local committees and trade union and party locals from among whom representatives to the massive regional and state assemblies were regularly and properly elected. However, democracy was at risk and the state vulnerable to corruption as long as the economy and management were centralized. Too much power in too few hands.

     Today, new models of socialism are being discussed. Many prize communal life and governance. I want to think about this approach.

The next steps will be to look at examples of communal life around me. You probably have not held communism high, but that ideal is alive and well around the world as people continue to form and run various types of collectives. You likely belong to one or support one. I will discuss how much each case is "communal".

Communal living is my new thread to be discussed in the next few weeks, if not months. Stay tuned.

Blog

The Decade

Posted on December 23, 2019 at 12:27 AM Comments comments (553)
My personal experience of the past 10 years.

10 years ago, I was taking a 3-month break from living in Korea. I stayed in Victoria, BC, making visits to Vancouver and one to Calgary from there. It was a very snowy winter in BC. 

I had just been hired to start working as an Assistant Professor in the English foreign language section of the English department, which was housed in  European Languages division at a private, foreign languages university in South Korea. This was reason to celebrate. I was being elevated from "hagwon" life of teaching English to kids afternoons and evenings in after-school programs at little institutes. It was a change from the hard and lowly life of a teacher teaching outside the public school system to the privileged and comfortable life of academia. 

My career grew during this period. My teaching skills and knowledge of language and language learning expanded. I went to several conferences in Asia and one in Europe. I presented lectures and published articles. I had roles in our educators' association. The subjects and students varied, so that work stayed interesting. 

Outside work, I continued to enjoy new experiences and personal growth. For example, I toured South Korea. I participated in local hiking clubs. I went to cultural events. I travelled around the region. I broadened my horizons by visiting more of the US and made my first trip to Central America. I also made my first trip to Italy.

Activism became more and more a part of my life. Initiating a teachers' support network, I added contacts and met others in the labour movement. I helped to get Koreans involved in the International League of Peoples' Struggles (ILPS). We had regular meetings and discussions in Seoul. I worked on the international coordinating committee of the ILPS and went to some of its conferences. 

It was in this period that my writing took off. I began some short stories reflecting on my teaching experience and wrote my first novel, which used the teaching abroad experience to craft a romantic story. In addition, I wrote poems on and off. A year or two after starting work at the university, moreover, I began to do professional editing of translated texts. 

I finished my middle age phase and moved into my senior phase as I left South Korea to resume a life in Canada. Life back in Canada seemed easier by then. After a year of resettlement, I had  acquired regular work in education and begun some self-employment. Fortunately, I found good housing that makes me happy, quite a contrast from the residence I was inhabiting before I went to Korea! I was prepared to face retirement and life as an elder. My professional writing was expanding, too. I caught up with friends, family and associates, enjoying a return to some activities while trying some new ones. 

I have gradually learned to improve my health management. I am managing the business of aging both physically and mentally. I adopted my own approach to positive thinking. I learned exercise routines more suitable to my age and condition, especially methods to slow down the development arthritis. My diet has been honed to address aging, weight and my particular metabolism and activity level.

I created this website exactly 10 years ago. I took to blogging by the end of 2013. I have more blog followers who take the trouble and time to offer comments quite frequently. Before the blog, the views of my site had stagnated at around 1500; afterward, they increased sharply. It has received 100s of 1000s of views. Whereas I used to get hardly any comments, comments skyrocketed last year and kept coming through this year even though I was prevented from posting blogs during most of this year. My readers' comments amount to over 1500 as of this month. I don't know why

I am very pleased to find one or two new comments nearly every morning. Aside from the odd spam and sales pitch, your comments are positive and encouraging. You compliment me on my writing as well as the content. I do try to share things that are useful and provide commentary that is helpful.

taking stock of 2019

Posted on December 16, 2019 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (7)
Just passed another birthday and the calendar year is closing. Time to review the year.

I always review my goals and see what I accomplished or changed. I refer to both short (1-year and 5-year) and long term (10 years).

What's more, I consider a few categories of life: finances, career, social, travel, health, activism.

FINANCES

I've had a steady income from self-employment and employment, working generally part-time, with a few relatively high-income months. My savings have remained frozen this year. However, they are set to mature in January, as planned, when I will have to decide what to do with the cash. Following through with a second goal, I have applied for my Canada Pension benefits, picking mid-2020 as the time to start receiving them. It is financially advantageous for me to claim them a little early. Tbirdly, I am able to reduce my taxes by virtue of my growing status as a self-employed citizen. As well, I am taking advantage of other senior programs. For example, I qualify for a housing subsidy and a discount applied to prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Furthermore,living in this province offers some financial advantages. Premiums for the provincial medical plan were halved this year. Members of this plan will not have to pay any premiums as of 2020. Their are transit and other concessions coming in the near future.

Last year I wrote about a dispute with the tax department, which was billing me for 10s of thousands of dollars. A series of my objections were ignored, but I was finally vindicated in the spring of this year. All taxes, fees, interest and penalties were canceled. I even received a small refund in the end.

I am developing a longer-term financial strategy with information coming available over time. Rather than purchasing a home by full retirement, which would have had to have been in a small rural community, it appears that my savings would best be used as partial income. I am contemplating having an annuity fund set up. It would dispense a small, pre-set amount each month for twenty years plus.

WORK

Two-thirds my income comes from self-employment. This represents an achievement of one of my five-year goals. I wanted the independence and control over my paid work. The arrangement also saves taxes because there are more deductions allowed as business expenses which employees of other companies cannot claim. It also has to do with the type of work I do. I am doing things I prefer over other types of tasks related to education and writing. I am tutoring children, teens and adults in a range of areas, from straight-forward beginner to intermediate English Language Learning, to study skills and preparation for college entry and entry tests. I teach writing extensively as well as vocabulary, reading and speaking. Occasionally, a student wants tutelage in French.

One of the things I do is provide evaluations of official English speaking tests that measure fluency and competency for work and study in English language environments. My rate of compensation for the testing climbed two levels this year.

I pretty much finished a book project, though I may have to do a little further editing in early 2020. I am thinking of a new writing project.

More importantly, my satisfaction has risen. I have a better handle on my schedule and geographical areas of work, as well on the types of work I do.

TRAVEL

I was surprised to find myself going on two voyages that were on my list of travel dreams. They were both tied to attendance at huge and important political gatherings. 

I thus fulfilled several wishes just in one three-week trip. After attending the activists' conference in late spring, which was one goal. I continued on my way by returning to Italy to explore it further (2nd goal), after which I returned to visit France (3rd goal), during which time I revisited an important place where I resided in France in my youth (4th goal). Everything came together--my schedule, the budget, the timing with the conference, the availability of lodgings and regional transportation in Europe. One decades-long dream came true! Despite the extreme heat, I reveled in the beauty of Torino and enjoyed the comforts of swapped, free-of-charge private housing. In France, I explored Lyon, which I had not seen before. I finally returned to a place that opened up my life and transformed me while I was in my early 20s. It restored and concretized my memories.I could see what had become of the place, which, I have to say, was a bit of disappointment as it has turned into a big tourist site. All the same, I felt the trip validated the experience and the life decisions I took as a result. Though little made sense to me back then, looking back it all comes together. I could see clearly how my life adds up today.

In September, I decided to embark upon the second trip after having received an invitation through a local organization in late July. I took this trip just before Halloween and it lasted just one week. It was a fantastic opportunity and colleagues needed someone to go represent them and use the event for networking and research. I had not been to Cuba in 17 years, when I participated in a social and political, group tour with folks from Vancouver. We sang, met trade unionists and got political lessons as we rolled from town to town, meeting to meeting in our coach bus. This time, I attended a huge gathering in the main conference center in Havana in the year of the 500th anniversary of Havana and the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. There were many of my comrades from Vancouver and across Canada, as well as my group's associates in Central America and elsewhere. We tackled the attacks on progress in Latin America and the Caribbean and pledged solidarity on many fronts, from the uprisings against neo-liberal policies in Chile to the demands for a decent standard of life and democracy in Haiti, from defense of regional revolutions to support for the movement for the independence of Puerto Rico. Many important politicians, popular leaders, and intellectuals were in attendance, including current and former state leaders! It was greater than what I had dreamed as a return to Cuba.

ACTIVISM

My biggest rewards of the travel in 2019 were the advances in my roles as an activist.The conference attached to the first voyage was an international assembly of a league of anti-imperialists groups to which I belong. I hadn't been to such a gathering in about 10 years, so it was a gain just to attend this last one. At that event, I found a way to boost my volunteer work in political causes as I had hoped. It had been one of my 5-year goals to increase my participation and responsibilities as an activist. Check! 

I wound up leading a commission workshop on peace when I stepped in to fill a vacant seat. It was successful, so we were able to keep our peace commission marching on by making plans and finding volunteers to coordinate it. I found myself in the leading coordinating role. It was owing to that position that I represented our league at the international anti-imperialist, Latin America solidarity conference in Cuba. After attending that event, I have since been invited to join a peace building collaboration effort in Latin America. I have also been able to revitalize my home organization, the small "Just Peace Committee" and contribute nationally to the peace movement in Canada. I have started up a newsletter and built a website for the league's peace commission (https://peace450.wixsite.com/website). Through collaboration, we have coordinated three actions: to remember the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, to take to the streets on UN International Peace Day and to oppose the most recent NATO Summit.

HEALTH

On course, steady as she goes. I generally keep up my regular, moderate exercise. I do an all-round set of movements to manage the effects of aging. They include quad squats or presses to keep the knee joints strong, shoulder and back presses to keep the core, back and shoulder joints strong, actions to sharpen my balance, stretches for general flexibility, some abdominal movements for core strength and a little low-impact movements for cardio and weight control such as rowing machine or glider. I go to the gym once or twice a week or do some exercises at home. 

Though I have not had a specific weight loss plan, I lost about 10 pounds last spring and a couple in recent weeks. The loss occurred during my busiest phases, so I guess being busy, especially since I have relied on catching buses.

I eat well. I have honed my diet down to a food list that seems to work well for me. The items on this list address aspects of nutrition suitable for my age. They are mostly organically grown. I take vitamin and mineral supplements daily. I eat kale with a variety of other vegetables to make it interesting most days. For minerals, It is high in vitamin Bs. I eat whole grain bread and cereal for protein and B vitamins all the time. For minerals, especially electrolytes, I eat a little a couple of teaspons of avocado, 6 oz. of coconut water, a stick or two of celery, and one small or 1/2 large banana nearly every day. I eat pears for magnesium when they are available at a reasonable price. I eat one egg nearly every day for Vitamin E, sulphur and protein.  My diet is almost dairy free except for a little cheese; I use unsweetened nut milk. Still, my diet is high in protein; I rely more on fish and vegetables than red meat and poultry. I occasionally get a little beef or other red meat, tryng to find it from locally and small farm grown, organically grain or grass fed sources. Same for chicken, though I have chicken very occasionally. Instead, I look for wild seafood or some legumes.

As a consequence of this high quality diet, I do not yearn to go to restaurants much. I experience an aversion to fast food and mass produced, processed food.

Overall, the budding arthritis, which was detected two years ago, has been kept at bay. I hope to slow down or, better, stop its development.

I may get a flu occasionally, but symptoms are relatively minimal. I have no other health complaints.

SOCIAL LIFE

I just accept I am a loner. I am generally content. I have not tried reaching out to go dating again. I try to keep up friendships and the bond with my brothers and their families. I have made more friends through work and activism.

NEW EXPERIENCES

I continue to enjoy new things. It is important to learn and do new things for the sake of keeping life interesting as well as keeping the brain sharp. It is also good for personal development. One should not let one's life stagnate.

-I read at least 20 books.
-I completed a non-fiction manuscript about the nuclear industry.
-I used a new web-building program to build a website for the second time in my life.
-I got through two probational periods as an English speaking test examiner.
-I did my tax return online for the first time.
-I explored two cities I had never explored before.
-I attained a leadership role in the peace movement.
-I have been tutoring English literature, which is a joy.
-I learned some more physical exercises.
-I learned a couple more songs recently.
-I watched some TV series by means of DVDs, series I had seen little of before.
-I got back to blogging.
-I participated in a vacation housing swap for the first time ever.
-I saw a live performance of "The Taming of the Shrew".
-I got several new students.
-I attended an international solidarity conference in Cuba.


Summer

Posted on July 22, 2019 at 4:27 PM Comments comments (69)
Summer--a period of growth. Growth is strong here, this summer. Following a densely flowering spring due to a balance of rain and warm sunny periods, we are into the idyllic weather typical of this region in late July. Life is surging! I feel terrific!

Summer is the half-way point of the year, a time to take stock. I therefore ask two questions to help me assess my growth so far this year: "What new experiences have I had?" and "How well am I living up to my stated goals for the year?"

First, what's new? Here is my tally.

-I saw a live production of the comedy, "Taming of the Shrew" for the first time. It was also my first time attending a matinee performance at the local Shakespeare-in-the-park program.

-I attended the 6th International Assembly of the ILPS (International League of People's Struggles), which was the biggest such assembly ever. Also, it expanded its sectors, adding 3 more causes.

-I have taken on a new international role in the cause for peace.

-I did a vacation lodgings swap for the first time in my life, and, overall, it was successful. I certainly enjoyed my traded lodgings abroad!

-I visited two cities in Europe which I'd never explored before.

-I learned some choral songs.

-I started work at a new teaching location and I have had new private students.

-I am working on a new book project, which may generate income later.

-I have read several books this year, both fiction and non-fiction.

Now, how well am I achieving my goals, short and longer term?

-Regarding my plans for this year, all of the above are germane. Also, I am on track with respect to work especially self-employment, and finances. My income is better than expected, actually, this year. Additionally, my goals for personal health are being pursued, as I am keeping up my fitness. I am even losing weight more gradually. Socially, I have not found a steady partner and am not even dating, but I am content, anyway, and at peace with myself. I am maintaining friendships and family relations. Politically, I am active and taking on more responsibilities as planned, especially with my pledge to work for peace.

-With respect to my 5-year vision, I am generally on track on most points: health, housing, finances, relationships, work, retirement planning and activism. About finances, I continue to generate income through self-employment as well as some employment. Work is steady. Having cashed in some savings packages at the end of last year, I have re-organized and re-invested those funds. I could be saving more funds, but I opted to go ahead to achieve certain travel goals instead, since the opportunity had arisen. I plan to sell the small investment property soon, and put cash from it into my savings accounts, which is one task on the 5-year agenda. Though I am not receiving pension benefits yet, I am starting to benefit from seniors' programs. Another aspect is to expand my writing experience, which I am doing by taking on the non-fiction book project. The project is going well. I took an old manuscript, checked it over and organized the sections and written many inserts. I don't have prospects for new writing projects, but I am sure something will pop up. About housing, particularly for beginning my retirement, I have secured a place for now with a subsidy and am keeping an eye out for an even better situation. As for activism, I have been seeking new experiences and different roles, which are being realized. I am continuing to do political writing and am managing two blogs and a group page. About travel, I have ticked off a couple of items on my to-do list earlier than expected after returning to France and Italy this summer. I completed the goal of vacationing in Mexico for the first time just before 2019 launched.

bots

Posted on July 14, 2019 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (93)
I attended a seminar on cyber hacking and sabotage. The speaker is a computer programmer. She explained that cyber attacks are bombardments of bots that overwhelm a page to impede its operation. This is why a targeted web page cannot be found sometimes. It can be why data does not get saved.

I believe this blog has been attacked and that is why I have hardly been able to post anything all year. I think the reason is the political content. 

I am working to try to thwart these attacks.

just peace -Misconduct

Posted on May 27, 2019 at 11:59 AM Comments comments (39)
Make sure you are not falsely accused of misconduct by an employer. Misconduct is willful attacks on the company, management or co-workers. It could be deliberate damage of the employer's property or that of co-workers, sabotage of operations, making pejorative comments about co-workers, the company or its service/ products. It could be using violent language or physical violence or threats of violence at the workplace or at work-related activities. It could also be repeated insubordination, which is refusal to carry out normal, agreed-upon work duties or specific instructions about tasks that properly fall under your job responsibilities. 

Sometimes, competency issues get confused with misconduct. That is to say that mistakes or omissions in carrying out work may be mistakenly labeled misconduct. Incompetency would be repeated, proven mistakes of regular duties. It would not be legitimate to declare incompetency in the case of occasional or common errors, or circumstances such as fatigue and distractions and environmental issues (air quality, etc.) that increase the probability of errors. A person could be released from a contract or employment if there are consistent competency issues. However, the employer would have to discuss the mistakes and take measures to correct them with the employee's cooperation and efforts before a dismissal could take place.

Even in the case of real misconduct, there would have to be meetings to discuss the problem and warnings, giving the employee a chance to improve their behaviour or resolve a situation such as antagonism or conflict at work.

Do not accept a claim of either misconduct or incompetency if it seems to be invalid. Question the claim and do not engage in discussions of misconduct or incompetency if it appears obviously invalid, for doing so can incriminate yourself.

Just Peace -approaching 62

Posted on December 3, 2018 at 4:48 PM Comments comments (11)
This website has not been very reliable lately; I have not been able to post some days because of interruptions and malfunctions on this site and it was slow to open up the blog today. Sorry about that.

Today I have the luxury of an unexpected day off and I am glad for I really need it. I have been busy with political and social activities and work.

At last, here we are. Nine days until my next birthday--time to put in my reflections over the past year, review and reset goals and look forward to more precious time on this Earth.

I consider myself by and large fortunate overall and in this particular period of my life, despite setbacks. I was dismissed from a contract working for a local international college as a Sessional Instructor, for example, yet it seems like it was for the best because self-employment is coming to me. I am enjoying working part-time for good hourly and piece rates. I am also enjoying some state support for loss of employment and to subsidize my housing rent.

Though I feel a bit pooped out today, my health has generally been good and my mind has generally held to its optimistic vision.

Attempts at dating through online services have not worked out and I am still flying solo, but I like my 1-bedroom apartment and my work, overall. The entertainment budget might be small but I get out and about somehow or other--potluck dinners, singing, café meet-ups, a little shopping, gym and so on. I see neighbours and shop workers enough in the area enough to stop and chat. The bros keep in touch.

I am still growing, having new experiences. I see prospects to look forward to on the horizon.

Let's take a look at some of my goals set in recent years and compare with actual outcomes and turns of events.

10-year goals:

-own a home. Well, I still have land as an investment. However, it looks as though buying a home probably does not make sense under the circumstances. Prices are still high here, for one thing, For another, senior's benefits including housing assistance, there is no longer an incentive to buy. To much work and worry, and it might be difficult to keep up maintenance and costs beyond a mortgage. Not worth it considering my funds, neither for living or letting.

-financial development. I am working and I continue to look for other sources of income. Learning about benefits and breaks for seniors and the self-employed.

-health on track. Have resolved some irritating issues. Making adjustments to the conditions of the aging body.

-self-employment: making progress. Right now earning a good portion of my monthly income through self-employment as writer, editor, teacher and examiner, pretty much as I had planned. 

-writing. It is happening. Not doing any creative writing, but able to bring in a little income through professional writing and editing.

-professional development: I now have a certificate for giving and rating international speaking tests. I am using my 2016 training in editing. I have had some training in working with children.

-social. Keeping up friends, making new ones. Keeping up with family. Went to a reunion and cousins are in touch now. Political friendships deepening. No romance for me, though. Finally, I can say that I am teaching (tutoring) a broader range of subjects, including writing and literature, French and ESL.

-travel. Prospects were looking dim for a bit, but new opportunities are opening up. I decided to take a beach vacation this winter in order to counter the blues and chose a place in Mexico. I have the chance to fulfill a life-long dream of visiting Mayan ruins soon! Also, vacation home-swapping opportunities are on the horizon, with invitations to two locations in Mediterranean Europe. I want to go to a political conference in East Asia in June, then travel for pleasure. I'll be able to catch up with activist friends in Asia and fulfill a long-held dream of returning to the Mediterranean coast where I stayed in my youth, and exploring regions in Italy, France and Spain more for a couple of weeks. I'll be able to stay for free since people will be using my place here during my absence.

-political activism. I keep trucking. Struck up the "Just Peace Committee". Though participation is minimal, I have been able to carry out a few small events with help from participants, and have written some materials.

5-year goals

-Home. AS stated, buying a home is not on the table at this time.
-professional development, self-employment going forward.
-Financially, things are positive, though the threat of a big tax debt has been looming. I have been fighting to cancel that debt and there have been some favourable developments in that struggle. Furthermore, I am now enjoying the provincial housing subsidy. I am considering taking one of my senior's pensions within a few months while I develop plans for financial security beyond 65. I am pretty much decided to carry on self-employment through my sixties. I take advantage of senior's discounts here and there.
-writing. I am a paid writer. Producing materials for income and political commentary. No creative stuff, though this blog is alive. The national writers grant system having changed, I am no longer qualified to apply, though I will check into it again later.
-health. I had personal training twice a week for twelve weeks, which really helped, and I still go to the gym, though a bit irregularly. There are exercises I can do at home. I resumed bike-riding around the city and went as far East as Coquitlam Centre and as far West as Commercial Drive in East Vancouver last summer. 
-social. Some deepening friendships, especially with activists and a few neighbours. No dating. Good rapport with relatives and have been enjoying very pleasant get-togethers with bros and others. 
-travel. I hadn't planned on much travel for this period, but I will take the short beach resort holiday around Christmas. I am planning a trip for political work over a few days plus a couple of weeks of travel for pleasure next summer. This means seeing some travel wishes come true, which I had not been expecting!

1-year plan
-As some invested money was freed up last week, I had a decision to make about its use. I am neither buying home/ property or a car. I will bundle it up in short-term saving plan and review the situation in about two years from now. I am not selling the little parcel of land just yet, as selling prices are lowish.
-retirement. I am thinking of taking the CPP (employment pension) benefit in 2019. I am not working enough to be able to increase contributions great enough to cause a substantial increase in the benefit rate by 65, so I may as well save the contributions and take the benefit early to help me as of next year. I will no longer seek fulltime teaching, but I'll remain open to part-time teaching in addition to some work at home. Working even part-time at home should qualify me for some tax deductions.
-writing. Being a member of the editing and writers association was not so beneficial, after all, so I dropped out. Am getting paid gigs for writing, editing and consulting, regardless. I determined it was not worthwhile to continue professional training in editing, so I have not taken any more editing courses. As stated above, federal writers' grants are no longer accessible.
-employment. I get teaching gigs here and there, but I don't think I will rely on full-time teaching any more. I am therefore semi-retired from teaching. I'll rely more on self-employment, in various roles providing various services including tutorials. Speaking examinations, ghost writing, translation editing, tutoring are all contractual gigs which are classified as self-employment. Right now, I have enough income to afford a holiday, pay off the cards and save a bit. Let's hope things remain that good for awhile.
-social. No more online dating. Not good experiences. Just seeking friendships, building on existing ones and enjoying my independence. Getting out a little, though it would be nice to take in a concert or show with some compatible companion now and then.






Just Peace-Rebuild a movement

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 5:18 PM Comments comments (8)
This is the copy of a draft article I just submitted to a local, progressive magazine.


JUST PEACE NOW!

    As April 22 approaches each year, I always recall the large peace marches in Vancouver. They were huge. Though lead by the opposition to nuclear weapons which demonstrated concerns about war and environment, there was nonetheless a united participation of various political concerns from the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, to advocacy for certain international relations policies and structure or processes of cooperation, to appeals for safety and conservation.
    Now I wonder why apparently so little peace activism in the context of terrorism, counter-terrorism, territorial and civil war, foreign aggression, militarization, occupation and increasing military spending and a tendency towards state repression against dissidents and liberation struggles. It’s not as if the problem of war has disappeared. When the US, France and Britain bombed Syria on the dubious premise of destroying sources of poisonous gas allegedly used by the state of Syria against its people, it was shocking how few people demonstrated their objections to the aggressive intervention. Efforts to build or rebuild a united peace movement are urgently needed.
    Let’s review what happened to Vancouver’s big peace movement. It subsided when the Soviet Union collapsed, signalling the end of the Cold War. (The collapse was actually preceded by a period of détente between the USA and the USSR.) Then the call was raised to move forward on activism to protect the environment, with less focus on nuclear weapons, although nuclear power and war remained obvious threats to the environment. On the peace front, there were intermittent mass mobilizations protesting the bombing of Yugoslavia, the Gulf War and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, but nothing the size of the previous “Peace Walks” recurred. A nation-wide, anti-war coalition (Stopwar.ca) formed for purposes such as those, and there was even a World Peace Forum held in Vancouver. There were sporadic and weak responses to the plan to invade Colombia and the perpetual support for Israel’s aggressions and support for repressive dictators such as a series of presidents of the Philippines. Lethargy soon hampered responses to the bombing of Libya and other international crimes and aggressions. The idea that bombs should be a remedy for human rights abuses was becoming normalized. What’s more, the problem of nuclear war has re-emerged and there has been widespread support for the perverse clarion call of deterring the nuclear threat by sanctions and military intervention in Iran and Korea. The Iran situation was saved but we have yet to see whether reconciliation with North Korea can be reached. (Here’s hoping!)
    The danger of war including the threat of nuclear war is ever-present and even worse today. Besides a patchwork of regional conflicts, it seems to me that world war looms again, considering the tensions between Russia and its allies, and the USA and its allies. The Syria situation as well as that in Yemen and Palestine concern me, as do the military encirclements and sanctions against North Korea and Venezuela. No matter what your politics, there is no justification for military solutions. The people must rebuild the peace movement. I suggest we need to better understand the context that produces conflict, militarization, state repression and aggression, and to show solidarity for peoples struggling for liberation. Objectors of conscience and peace-loving, democratic-minded activists should come together with a clear-minded view about the global system that produces and extends so much violence in the world. They should carry the banner of peace with social justice.
    I think there is no contradiction with environmentalism. For example, minerals and petroleum feed the war machinery. As we can see by the Kinder Morgan pipeline and terminal expansion, environmental struggles necessarily confront multi-national corporations, incursions on indigenous rights and lands, their destruction of lands and communities, and state support for it all. There has to be a new way of life to resolve such conflicts in the long term.
    For my part, I am involved in launching the Just Peace Committee. Allied with critics and opponents of the global system of monopoly capitalism (imperialism or neo-colonialism), it is starting out with discussions of four areas of conflicts: Korea, Venezuela, Philippines and Palestine.  It is my sincere wish that groups can regroup in this way and come together with a fresh outlook and process of cooperation because of the urgent necessity of our times.

Just Peace-people power

Posted on March 9, 2018 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (9)
I submitted this essay to a national newspaper; don't know if they'll accept it. Regardless, I thought it worthwhile to post here because it discusses people power, the power of the masses to wage struggle together and make change happen. I defend this sort of struggle, even if it takes up civil disobedience. In fact, I beleive there are situations where taking up arms against oppressors or occupiers is necessary and defendable.

Today I am only talking of the combined forces that make up the opposition to oil pipeline expansion in my region. Regional mass and ruling party opinion is clearly against the expansion, though the federal government supports it, as well as the government of the source province where the oil is piped from, which just so happens to be of the same political party of the provincially governing party in this province, British Columbia.

As I point out in the essay, this anti-pipeline expansion movement is huge and composed of diverse groups and sectors. A multiplicity of organizations or doing what they deem fitting, from letter-writing and petitioning to street protests and direct action. Here is the piece.

(March 8, 2018)

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING ABOUT BC: PEOPLE POWER
 
                The most precious resource of British Columbia is its people. Their magnificent will and strength is proven time and again, and none so more as in response to the threats of humungous and reckless resource extraction projects. No, it has never been Russian rubles that have stopped clear-cut logging, dam or pipeline construction and preserved huge chunks of the land; rather, it is the magnanimous spirit, profound commitment, phenomenal spirit and home-grown ingenuity of British Columbians, and some allies south of the border, that have pulled through despite high odds.

         I have been a witness as an activist over the years. This is the land of the epic battles to save the Clayoquot Sound and Meares Island that broadened the system of land preserves in the province. This is the birthplace of Greenpeace. Its great metropolis is where nuclear power or weapons are banned, the city that saw thousands of peace and anti-nuclear marchers year after year in the 80s, I among them with sweaty brow and sore feet.

        The environmentalists taught us great lessons about the value of nature and the importance of maintaining it so as use and enjoy natural resources in the future. These lessons got absorbed into the regional ethos. We also learned of the perils of dependency on single export materials and the havoc that multinational corporations can wreak, informing the “anti-globalization” movements. Relations with indigenous people and labour were built by focusing on shared concerns. Environmental concerns pushed forward transit expansion, car sharing, bicycling strategizing, energy saving methods and recycling programs into the 90s and on. I, myself, took on the problems around mining by the late 90s.

      The mobilizations against oil pipeline, storage and shipping expansion right at my doorstep in the Westridge district of Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver, have got me reflecting. They began with the successful and galvanizing opposition to an expansion atop Burnaby Mountain in 2015. That movement has grown; it is multi-sectoral, multi-faceted and under a rainbow of political ideals with one simple goal of stopping the expansion. It is marvelous how the contributions, from petitions to street protests, from letter-writing to dinner table and classroom discussions, are drawing in the masses of every age and walk of life and building a cooperative force of goodwill and steadfast determination that may become greater and wiser than the old anti-nukes movement.

      As I child, I used to gaze across Burnaby Lake and see the huge and chunky green storage tanks on Burnaby Mountain below the university and conservation area, and the eternal flames soaring from two refineries, one at each end of the small mountain. There are 14 storage tanks on the south side. There are three refineries: two on the inlet on the north and east sides owned by Suncor and one to the west owned by Chevron.  A fourth plant has only functioned as a storage site on Burrard Inlet for about 20 years. Suncor and Kinder Morgan (KM) have terminals. Chevron and KM have partnered to increase the oil tanker berth to three, which will increase inlet marine traffic seven times. They also hope to double the number of storage tanks on the Burnaby shoreline from 13 to 26, a plan that the Burnaby Fire Department staunchly opposes. Do you get our concern yet? Don’t worry, because they are going to paint them a light colour so as to reduce the emissions.

      I trip over the pipe heads that warn of jet fuel along a pipeline in my neighbourhood that broke in 2016 and leaked the stuff into houses and gardens. This 24-inch pipeline comes from Strathcona County, Alberta, via the Transmountain (TM) line. Laid in the 70s, KM, who also ships crude oil into the US, wants to not only upgrade but enlarge the TM line.

        In a packed hall last week, I listened to Amy George of the tiny Tsleil-waultuth nation (North Vancouver), granddaughter of famed Chief Dan George, who is heading the Save the Inlet campaign. Describing the wasteland of the tar sands excavations, she told of the grave health problems she has seen that humans, animals and plants suffer in their vicinity. She spoke of the high cancer rates among people living around US oil fields, too. How much have metro Van residents been harmed already? She urged everyone to unite to stop pipeline expansion for the good of all. Indigenous groups have often lead ceremonies, talks and actions on this subject; I, like 2,000 others, followed First Nations elders gratefully and joyously for 12 klicks through Vancouver to the Westridge Marine Terminal (WMT) in 2017 as part of the glorious Walk for the Salish Sea caravan. Save the Inlet elders will lead a dignified march to the WMT again this Saturday.

        Everyone is digging in her heels and stepping up the fight. While the government goes about an environmental assessment process, those in the grassroots are meeting, walking, sending in more postcards and protesting. The inexperienced have been moved to take action. It is truly awe-inspiring. They give up personal time and funds. They drum up support. They work hard for the common good. I have stood in the rain urging passersby to make a pledge. I have been at the WMT in the darkness before dawn to join others in trying to impede KM by holding up vehicles along adjacent roads.

Such is the magnificent and beautiful essence of BC. This is the greatest energy of the land. This is what is most worth saving.

Just Peace - self-exploration

Posted on January 25, 2018 at 10:51 PM Comments comments (219)
I wrote some advice for my nephew. Recently leaving secondary school, he is flummoxed about what to do with his life. He had some sketchy idea about pursuing one of the sciences, probably pushed a little by his parents, but backed out, taking a retail sales job instead. He does not know what to do.

I think he is hiding things on/ in his mind but not telling his parents. Sometimes I think he is just saying something to provided an expected answer, and sometimes maybe what he thinks others think he should be saying.

Whatever my nephew's situation, I always recommend committing time for reflection. In the case of making appropriate and satisfactory career and life path choices, self-exploration is paramount. So many people follow some occupational or industrial trend, perhaps pursuing what seems prestigious and lucrative at the time, without looking at their own identity, assessing their own best skills and aptitudes, tallying up their accomplishments and experiences, translating experiences and abilities into skills and qualifications, and making a conscious choice for something fitting. Taking the time and making the effort to search one's soul and assess oneself can save a lot of grief and stress in life. For the sake of one's own peace of mind, I strongly suggest the following steps, as I laid out for my nephew a couple of weeks ago.

Just working on a resume and searching the job postings, even with a little research into career and industry profiles, is not adequate. Maybe reflecting on oneself seems a scary proposition to some people, at first, yet it can be fun and uplifting to explore likes and dislikes, become more aware of one's own leanings, and know well your best attributes and abilities. It can be a relief to go through the process. One comes out not only with a better sense of one's identity in terms of career, but identity as a person, and with clear goals. This is also a motivating process.

My notes to my nephew:

The self-exploration phase is about making some basic decisions about the life you want and who you want to be. To make the decisions, a person needs to learn more about himself and build self-awareness. That way, he'll have more control over his life, have clear goals, be confident about who he is, and remove a lot of anxiety about life choices and purpose, etc. It also means becoming more true to oneself (being real, authentic) instead of trying to be someone else, and having a solid self-identity, which in turn means being with people and living a way that are better for you .

I'll describe the process and tell you about some online resources in the next message.
main steps of the process:
a. Find out more about yourself. (Keep these lists and re-do them a few months later)      1.brainstorming: a) write down all the dreams that appeal to you, no matter how crazy or impossible they seem                                 
 b) write down some adjectives to describe yourself                               
  c)write down all your favourite things                                 
d)write down what your goals are at this time
      2.Get more clarity on who you are. Use several online questionnaires about               a)your interests and preferences   (Out of lists of stuff, what seems the most interesting to you and what do you like the most?                   b)what can you do? 
               1.Use online tools to find out more about names of skills                                    2.write a list of your experiences: activities at home, at school, travels, work (paid or unpaid)...                                        
             3.write a list of all the things you think you can do  "I can (verb)."                      4.From all the above, put names to the things you have done and can do

      3.What kind of person are you? Use online tools to help you discover it. With this information, and summing up your dreams, skills and interests, decide who you are. (This will change over time, so it is good to review and re-do the process once in a while over the years.) 
       4. What kind of lifestyle do you want? This includes income, household, schedules and more. Use online tools to explore the kind of life styles that are possible. Read, talk to people, look around to find out. Then try to create a picture of how you wish to live your life. Reading or watching  biographies of or interviews with various people will help. Reading or watching personal testimonies and life achievements or transformations will also help.

b.Goal-setting
Now that you are more aware of yourself, re-write your goals. Write 3 sets: short term (this year) and long term (5 and 10-year goals), and life goals (where do you wish to end up in life? What do you want to achieve?)

c.While you are doing this, try different experiences such as making things, traveling, hobbies/ pastimes, meeting different people, listening to /watching speakers or documentaries on different topics. As you know, there is a wide range of pastimes and hobbies available to most people these days. Examples are collections, music, body movement (exercise, dance...), writing, stand-up comedy, getting out in nature somehow, study, volunteering in community or social services or fundraising for some cause, public speaking, ....
Keep a journal. I cannot over-emphasize the value and usefulness of keeping a private journal to write down observations and thoughts as you are going through this, and generally through your life. Write daily or weekly.
Travel. This is an excellent way to give yourself time and space to get inspiration, talk to a variety of people and think.
Read. Make use of the local library, which has lots of career and self-improvement/ development resources, as well as books on industries, careers, biographies,..

d.Research industries, economic trends, change and career profiles. Don't start out with this, or you could end up in the wrong situation for you. As a youth in Canada, in your situation, you have a lot of opportunities and choices, and the luxury of time to figure things out. 

THERE ARE NO SHORT-CUTS  to this process. It is good to repeat this process a few times during your life time.

Just Peace -citizen journalists

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (3)
I have been reading a collection of essays and sociological research papers on trends in journalism. The authors of this collection specifically raise questions about claims of objectivity and weigh the validity of allowing or admitting subjectivity in news reporting. 

Generally, they agree that objectivity never was. Established news media, state and corporate, have claimed and striven for objectivity but, naturally, select topics and sources, and colour news with opinion, overtly or not. They were to be unquestioned for being professional and knowledgable. However, history shows that the news media was first created to put forward views of specific powerful interests. Some facts were ignored and others picked and artificially lined up to suit those interests. Editorializing could/ can be construed as truth.

With the technologies of today and the skepticism about political and corporate for-profit institutions and representation, citizen journalism has been growing. Not only do citizen journalists challenge claims in the mainstream media, they report and discuss news. They have become so influential, that investigating and reportage have changed. Conversational treatment of news is the trend.

This is learning and deciding on truth through argument. Someone reports some fact either on a new item or on one raised by the mainstream media. Others answer, often inserting other facts to support their opinions or presenting the facts from a different angle. People involved in news stories can speak up this way, lending more awareness and insight. The opportunity for casting opinion and opposing other voices has thus increased, but also a validation process that checks news reporting and exposes powers at play, deception, distortions and campaigning, for example. The public ends up with a rounder picture of what is going on and public opinion can alter and flow further. THis way, systematic exposure of untrustworthy politicians, crimes, dubious financial ploys, recounting of history and such take place, sometimes quite rapidaly and affecting systematic change.

Overall, these trends of citizen journalism and a conversational approach to news reporting is healthy and positive.