EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

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Just Peace-people power

Posted on March 9, 2018 at 8:55 PM
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.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, journal writing, just peace, social justice and change

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Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.