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Okanagan Media Alliance Freshsheet

WEEKLY VIEWS, REVIEWS & NEWS FROM THE OKANAGAN INSTITUTE

Freshsheet
Home, Round the Last Corner
 
 
Freshsheet
NUMBER 160   ll   THE WEEK OF MARCH 9, 2015

Taking Measure, Taking It Twice

Okanagan InstituteExpress Some few among us have the opportunity to dictate, in however small a way, the direction in which our society is headed. Let's hope they're working hard at getting it right. Some many among us are looking for our own personal and collective path into the future we're stuck with for now, especially those entering the last quarter or third of their lives. We look for models, for routes to follow, and the ideas and connections we should pursue along the way. We are a navigator tribe, constantly looking for signs in the sky, written on the earth and the waves, and in the creative output of our time on the planet. Through the dark and light ages of history, we have been the explorers of imagination and inspiration, constantly installing wayfinding devices along the way for others to find long after we're gone.

Okanagan InstituteExpress Our regular Express series of community conversations continues this week Thursday, March 12th with Making Sense of Innovation. It features a unique exploration by three experts on the process of delivering innovation and how we - as a country and a community - stack up. Every year the Canadian Conference Board gives Canada a failing grade on innovation, noting that, "Despite a decade or so of innovation agendas and prosperity reports, Canada remains near the bottom of its peer group on innovation, ranking 13th among the 16 peer countries," and that "Countries that are more innovative are passing Canada on measures such as income per capita, productivity, and the quality of social programs." Join us, click HERE.

Re-Earthing the NeighbourhoodFreshsheet Re-Earthing the Neighbourhood is a unique learning program made available in association with the Wildcraft Forest School. It carries participants to a Permaculture Design Certificate as well as entry towards achieving a Wildcraft Practitioners Diploma for becoming a Master Wildcrafter. Participants will be guided through core wildcrafting teachings that they can apply to their approach to permaculture, and places special emphasis on introducing wild dynamics into urban, suburban and agricultural "edge" areas. The program, the first of its kind in Canada, will take place starting in late April at the Proof Centre. More information is available at the Wildcraft Forest School website HERE.

Passionate PlatesProofOur new Passionate Plates culinary arts program will introduce participants to the local food movement and engage them in expanding their healthy food choices and knowledge of sustainable local food sources. Interactive cooking classes and demonstrations and shared meals at the end of class. Chefs, farmers, food artisans and food security activists will share their ideas for building the local food economy. With support from the Society for Learning in Retirement, Urban Harvest, the Okanagan Food Policy Council and others, the program will begin in late May. We are reaching out for volunteers and participants, and welcoming contributions. For more information, go HERE.

Okanagan InstituteExpress Creative Aging is a powerful new social and cultural movement that is stirring the imaginations of communities and people everywhere. Often called Sage-ing, it takes many forms: academic, social and personal. It includes festivals, conferences, classes, group sessions and individual creative pursuits. Our new book, Creative Aging, brings together more than 50 essays and galleries of images that showcase the power of the imagination expressed and enjoyed. The book is 320 pages, 6 x 9 inches, paperback with french flaps, with 32 pages in full colour. Published in association with Wood Lake Publishing, the Okanagan's publisher. Available at quality independent bookstores, and online HERE.

Mark you calendars for the World Community Film Festival and Seedy Saturday, coming soon. The 12th Annual World Community Film Festival takes place March 12-15th. Films will be screened at UBC Okanagan, Ki low Na Friendship Centre and at Okanagan College KLO Campus. See the schedule and room details HERE.
Seedy Saturday will once again be held at Okanagan College KLO campus. Over 30 vendors and groups will be at the event from 10am to 3pm, Saturday, March 14th. Local farmers will be selling organic, heritage, heirloom, open polinated and native seeds. Other vendors will be selling seed potatoes, garlic, herbs and difficult-to-find plants. More information HERE.

Passionate PlatesProof Symphony of the Soil is an artistic exploration of the miraculous substance beneath our feet. By understanding the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil's key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Screening irganized by the Allan Brooks Nature Centre. Thursday March 19, 7 pm at the Schubert Centre, Vernon. Tickets are $5 at the door. More information HERE.

Passionate PlatesProof The Okanagan Print Triennial is a collaborative project of the Vernon Public Art Gallery, the Kelowna Art Gallery, and the UBCO. Printmaking processes have historically come from industry and artists have chosen to make use of those processes for their creative potential. Printmaking has always been a hybrid medium and has constantly adapted to and embraced current technologies. The rapid changes that occur in all forms of media technology today have only fuelled printmaking with even more options and possibilities. The exhibition will run from March 19 to May 21. The Vernon Public Art Gallery will host an opening reception on Thursday, March 19, 6-8pm, open to the public, offering locally crafted beer and wine, signature cocktails, and appetizers by local caterers. Admission by donation. For more information, go HERE.


Making Sense of Empathy

Something truly amazing happens when we abandon our cliques and bred-in biases and begin to truly see the world through another's eyes. There's a term for this: it's called widening our circle of empathy and, believe it or not, it's how we're going to save the world.

Albert Einstein said that we free ourselves by "widening our circle of compassion". The Dalai Lama said: "The key to a happier world is the growth of compassion." Only through genuine intercultural understanding can we solve the global problems of our world. But where do we begin? We may already have.

In his book, The Empathic Civilisation, Jeremy Rifkin argues that human empathy initially existed solely for one's tribe, but has since evolved through the course of history to include one's religion, and nationality, and there's no reason to assume it will stop now. He believes we currently have the capacity to radically expand our compassion until it encompasses all of humanity, other species and even the planet itself.

Freshsheet Okanagan Media ApplianceFreshsheet Widening the circle isn't easy, but there is hope: neurological evidence proves that we're hard-wired to care.

The drive to connect is more primary than the drive to destroy. And now we are at a point in history, driven in part by technology, in which we are poised to extend our identities beyond the parameters of religion, and the fiction of the nation state, to include solidarity for all living beings. We see this happening in numerous ways such as in initiatives to protect animal rights, in growing respect for indigenous cultures, in the changing face of economics. But, in order to continue to do so, we have to nurture our empathy. We have to feed our intercultural understanding or the demons of our lesser nature - aggression, prejudice and violence - will take over. Our fears will shrink our heart.


Drawing the Silent Crescendo

The creative process is a subject of study across disciplines including the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Creativity is a practical skill for individuals, which can lead to innovation, effective learning, and self-discovery.

This short film, Silent Crescendo, is an intimate portrait that explores the creative process. Slobodan Dan Paich, an ex-Yugoslavian émigré artist, follows a daily ritual creating simple drawings with tea and ink. He discovered this art form accidentally by spilling tea on a drawing. He defines his creative process as "a searching approach." With more than fifty years of life in the arts, Slobodan is currently the Artistic Director of Artship, a San Francisco cultural initiative, whose mission is to offer broad access to the transforming powers of the creative process and to present new opportunities for breakthrough thinking and creative work.

Freshsheet Slobodan leads collaborative teams creating works for theater. He also curates exhibitions, and researches and presents scholarly papers at conferences in the field of comparative history of arts and ideas. His "Windows Project" showcased 5000 artists in vacant storefronts in downtown Oakland for over ten years.

Slobodan accidentally discovered the art form of drawing with tea and ink by spilling tea on a drawing. As writer and poet Maya Angelou expressed it: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." The creative process in the film is shown from the perspective of an innovator, writer, and artist who has embraced the power of creativity. The verb create means to bring something into existence. Throughout history, scientists and inventors have discovered solutions through creative accidents, including the discovery of penicillin, the x-ray, and superglue, among others. Slobodan says that his drawings try to reflect a nonverbal narrative that nourishes us.




Beware the Happy Bureaucrat

Freshsheet

In 1972, the fourth Dragon King of Bhutan pioneered the idea of a "Gross National Happiness Index." Since then, the idea that we might express such qualitative phenomena as "happiness" or "life satisfaction" in quantitative ways has gained a surprising degree of credence.

In his book The Illusion of Well-Being, Mark White focuses on efforts to enhance gross domestic product (GDP) and other measures of economic output "with more direct measures of people's actual well-being-in simple terms, their happiness." For decades, economists, behavioral psychologists, and the occasional benevolent despot have argued that merely toting up economic gains from year to year does not give us a complete enough picture of a country's aggregate well-being. We need more wide-ranging and sophisticated data to help guide our policy makers.

Governments everywhere are now considering how various forms of happiness measurement might help improve regulatory policy in ways that promote the goals of economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.

But as White argues, the sense of precision such quantification produces is largely illusory. How do we arrive at a single definition of "happiness" or "well-being" that we can apply to people of widely divergent temperaments and living situations? And even if we could agree on a definition, how do we then accurately translate highly subjective feelings and perceptions into actionable data?

Typically, happiness surveys ask respondents to choose from a selection of potential phrases to describe how they are feeling, then convert these answers into numerical amounts. We know the spaces between inch or centimeter markings on a ruler are the same, as are the spaces between degrees on a thermometer.

Freshsheet But we shouldn't have any confidence that the difference between zero as "utterly unhappy" and one as "fairly unhappy" has any particular meaning, much less the same meaning as the difference between one as "fairly unhappy" and two as "neither happy nor unhappy."

As arbitrary as these transmutations may be, they offer the appearance of precision. And that precision - and the seeming knowledge and insight it implies - legitimates intervention. If we can determine that banning all car traffic for one day each month in a given test city leads to a 0.5 percent uptick in Average Regional Happiness, aren't we compelled, and perhaps even morally obligated, to implement this tactic on a national scale?

But how likely is it that government policy makers at any level will decide to check their ambitions when it's getting easier and easier to collect and/or manufacture data that legitimizes increasingly proactive behavior? If anything, the idea that government should adopt such tactics will only become more commonplace. After all, it's what Google does. It's what Facebook does. If the Department of Health is going to pour millions into combatting obesity, why not measure outcomes? And once we understand what influences those outcomes, shouldn't we deploy tactics that help deliver the intended results?

The problem is that such thinking imposes a viewpoint about what's "right" or what's "best" upon myriad individual lives. A state that emphasizes processes over outcomes is a pluralist state, whose citizens have the freedom to define and pursue happiness in their own particular fashion. A quantified state optimizes outcomes by narrowing possibilities - and establishing "efficiency and uplift for all" as the new national mandate.

You don't need a sophisticated sensor network to register that as a step backward.


COMMENTARY

Freshsheet

People aren't the only ones getting a jolt from caffeine these days; in a new study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, scientists found elevated concentrations of caffeine in the Pacific Ocean in areas off the coast of Oregon. With all those coffee drinkers in the Pacific Northwest, it should be no surprise that human waste containing caffeine would ultimately make its way through municipal water systems and out to sea. The precise impacts that exposure to caffeinated seas may have on humans are not well known. However, related research indicates that evidence of caffeine contamination serves as a good indicator for the presence of other potentially harmful pollutants that have found their way into our waterways, such as prescription medication and hormones. With so much uncertainty surrounding the effects of caffeine pollution on an ocean already marred by the presence of plastic garbage islands, how much research needs to be conducted before cities decide to embark upon ambitious ocean-cleansing efforts?



The Beat of a Better Drum
 
 
Freshsheet
NUMBER 159   ll   THE WEEK OF MARCH 2, 2015

The Ideals & Innovations of Spring

Okanagan InstituteExpress The first flowers are sticking their inevitable heads up through the soil, beckoning us outside to join their joyful celebration of the awesome power of nature. The dense multicolour carpet left by last years fallen growth has started to loosen its grip on the ground, and the soil beneath started to warm and give back its nutrients to the seeds, bulbs and rhizomes to enable them to push through the surface and reach for the sun. So too us. We are looking forward to sharing our new initiatives with you, and gather with you to showcase and share the creative spark and tinder.

Okanagan InstituteExpress Our regular Express series of community conversations got off to a rousing start last week, with our two artist curators documenting their creative journeys. Join us to engage with the people and ideas that animate our community. We're in the process of developing a stellar roster to address topics around creative and cultural affairs, the life of the mind and spirit, the culinary arts and agriculture, the natural and the built environment, as well as social and community issues. Our next event is Thursday, March 12th - Making Sense of Innovation - which features a unique exploration by three experts on the process of delivering innovation and how we - as a country and a community - stack up. Watch for announcements on our website, in your email inboxes and in the press.

Okanagan InstituteExpress Creative Aging is a powerful new social and cultural movement that is stirring the imaginations of communities and people everywhere. Often called Sage-ing, it takes many forms: academic, social and personal. It includes festivals, conferences, classes, group sessions and individual creative pursuits. Our new book, Creative Aging, brings together more than 50 essays and galleries of images that showcase the power of the imagination expressed and enjoyed. The book is 320 pages, 6 x 9 inches, paperback with french flaps, with 32 pages in full colour. Published in association with Wood Lake Publishing, the Okanagan's publisher. Available at quality independent bookstores, and online HERE.

Passionate PlatesProof Re-Earthing the Neighbourhood is a unique learning program made available in association with the Wildcraft Forest School. It carries participants to a Permaculture Design Certificate as well as entry towards achieving a Wildcraft Practitioners Diploma for becoming a Master Wildcrafter. Participants will be guided through core wildcrafting teachings that they can apply to their approach to permaculture, and places special emphasis on introducing wild dynamics into urban, suburban and agricultural "edge" areas. The program, the first of its kind in Canada, will take place starting in late April at the Proof Centre. More information is available at the Wildcraft Forest School website HERE.

Passionate PlatesProof Our new Passionate Plates culinary arts program will introduce participants to the local food movement and engage them in expanding their healthy food choices and knowledge of sustainable local food sources. Interactive cooking classes and demonstrations and shared meals at the end of class. Chefs, farmers, food artisans and food security activists will share their ideas for building the local food economy. With support from the Society for Learning in Retirement, Urban Harvest, the Okanagan Food Policy Council and others, the program will begin in late May. We are reaching out for volunteers and participants, and welcoming contributions.

ProofProof Thanks to the hundreds of people who have signed up for Club for Creatives information and memberships. We are now working through the process of reaching out to each of you to determine how best to achieve our goals and meet your expectations. It's no small thing we're trying to accomplish with Proof. We now have architectural drawings and are sourcing equipment and furnishings, among many other tasks. Everything about the process of realizing this dream of a community-driven creative and learning centre requires no small amount of patience. We appreciate yours as we work our way through this - thankfully creative - process. If you haven't already, you can join us HERE.

Passionate PlatesProof Thinking of writing a screenplay? Spend Saturday afternoon, March 7th, with one of Canada's top script editors to get the latest tips and techniques, part of Dona Sturmanis Curious Beyond Words Writing School series in the small meeting room, second floor, at the downtown Kelowna library, 1380 Ellis Street. Linda Coffey is one of the top script editors in Canada, and is one of the few to have worked successfully in every aspect of film and television development and production. The cost is $55. For full course description and to register for this workshop, call Dona Sturmanis at 778.214.6318, email her at donasturmanis@yahoo.com, or check it out online HERE.

Mark you calendars for the World Community Film Festival and Seedy Saturday, coming soon. The 12th Annual World Community Film Festival takes place March 12-15th. Films will be screened at UBC Okanagan, Ki low Na Friendship Centre and at Okanagan College KLO Campus. See the schedule and room details HERE.
Seedy Saturday will once again be held at Okanagan College KLO campus. Over 30 vendors and groups will be at the event from 10am to 3pm, Saturday, March 14th. Local farmers will be selling organic, heritage, heirloom, open polinated and native seeds. Other vendors will be selling seed potatoes, garlic, herbs and difficult-to-find plants. More information HERE.

We encourage you to spend some time with our friend Harold Rhenisch at his Okanagan Okanogan blog. Harold, more than most of us, looks deep into the heart of our local environment, and strives for a deep understanding with his inspiring words and photographs. "I am working at rebuilding human relationships to the earth, growing the global from the local and developing new environmental technologies out of close observation of the land. The land is the watershed and run of the Okanagan River in the North American West, and the Chilcotin and Columbia volcanic plateaus and basins that surround it. It is the goal of this blog to build the future now and to do it through attention to art, earth, science and beauty, so that there is, actually, a future for our children and a path for them to feel out their way to the earth should they ever find themselves in the dark." Look and listen HERE.


The Creatives Sparkle Among Us

In many ways, British Columbia has historically been a land of accidental opportunity, and wealth. Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, we haven't had to think long and hard about, or do the heavy lifting, that would create a sustainable economy.

Buoyed by a relatively cheap dollar, the BC creative economy has been another example of such accidental opportunity and wealth. Unlike other incubator- and innovation-rich centres, we have done little to foster and even less to cultivate the creative sector.

As a result, our creative economy has devolved into a new form of the branch-plant economy, one where global players chase small differentials in tax incentives or immigration policies, and pick and choose small opportunities that can be swallowed into the maw of globalist ambitions. While this can create good local jobs, these are not going to be deeply rooted and can quickly leave the province - and our communities - at the click of a mouse, or the mostly avaricious vagaries of venture capital.

We can counter this by re-imagining the role of our local communities in the global economy. And by remembering that sustainable businesses and communities are also - and maybe most importantly - a function of place, prosperity and people.

Freshsheet Okanagan Media ApplianceFreshsheet Communities, maybe especially those in the Okanagan, can foster co-investments in local companies that are capable of generating unique and compelling intellectual property and regenenerative business opportunity. A new community capital corporation would be a great vehicle to seed and support startup initiatives in clean tech, digital media, and agriculture.

In terms of jobs-for-the-buck, these sectors provide a much greater potential return than the resource industries. And these are jobs that are cleaner, greener, better paid and more sustainable - exactly the sorts of jobs we want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

Innovation is the key, and support for innovation is the way the job gets done. With so much wealth in our communities that is spent on frivolous pursuit of temporary pleasure, how better we all might be if that resource is dedicated to boundary-pushing rather than pleasure-making.


The Rising Tide of Divest-Invest

Freshsheet

A new weapon has been added to the arsenal against climate change and fossil fuel consumption in Canada. It's a familiar word being used in a new context: divestment.

Popularized in the fight against South African apartheid, and gaining strength in its more recent application against Israel, divestment is something proponents hope will trigger the shift needed to build an international movement to "keep the oil in the soil."

Early signs suggest the divestment campaign has traction. It is spreading faster than the anti-apartheid divestment campaign against South Africa did, with universities and colleges already pledging to divest. According to Canadian organizers, there are also over 300 active campaigns on campuses, in public institutions, and among pension funds worldwide. Of those, over a dozen are active on Canadian campuses.

The simplicity of the campaign seems attractive: universities and public institutions are encouraged to withdraw funding from fossil fuel investments, exerting financial pressure on oil and gas companies. The ideas is spreading. The Divest-Invest Philanthropy is a coalition of foundations committed to divesting from fossil fuels and investing in new energy solutions across asset classes such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, water purification, and agriculture. Around the same time, the New York Times ran an article announcing that 17 foundations had resolved to get rid of fossil fuel investments in their own portfolios in support of cleaner energy. The movement has gained momentum in galvanizing foundations across the world.

At the UN during Climate Week, more than 70 foundations in collaboration with individuals, universities, faith-based groups, schools, hospitals and cities from around the world - representing $50 billion - announced that they would divest from fossil fuels and invest in new energy solutions.

This is an exciting example of the power of an idea whose time has come. Not only have these funders moved beyond their own specific agendas to engage with a community in a shared collective goal, but also they are working in solidarity with faith based groups, universities, schools, hospitals, individuals, cities, and civil society in general to achieve it.

Freshsheet There is precedent for divestment changing the course of history. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has emphasized the joint moral imperative between divestment from apartheid South Africa and the fossil fuel divestment movement. By harnessing ethical and financial power, the worldwide divestment movement accelerated the downfall of racist apartheid rule in South Africa.

Divestment in the context of a movement means more than just a sale of an asset; it sends a signal. It says business as usual is no longer acceptable. Ina recent op-ed, Tutu wrote: "People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change." He argues that we need to end our addiction to fossil fuels.

Rather than investments undercutting grants, tax-exempt organizations such as foundations have a responsibility to make their investments reinforce their grants. Furthermore, the power of communities to support each other in this work is extremely significant. The Divest-Invest Philanthropy movement is becoming a strong community of practice.

Individuals and institutions of all shapes and sizes are committing to divesting and investing; both members of the general public and institutions are joining the commitment to divest from fossil fuels and invest in new energy solutions. Grassroots campaign groups have played an important role in supporting students, giving them the tools to engage their universities and shift them in the direction of divesting and investing.

Part of the power of Divest-Invest of course is active investment in sustainability and the new energy economy. On the invest side, many assets deemed responsible investments outperform the general market as measured by standard benchmarks, partly due to the fact that energy businesses are often grounded in innovative technology, giving them the potential for rapid growth.

There are some great opportunities for investing in the new energy economy. We can support wind, solar, geothermal, and other clean energy innovations. But also other sectors such as energy efficiency, industrial waste recycling, and sustainable agriculture and building materials can also propel the clean energy economy forward. This approach represents an opportunity for individuals and institutions all around the world to align their values with their investments and show that business as usual is not the business of the future.


DESMOND TUTU ARGUES THAT FOSSIL FUELS ARE THE APARTHEID OF OUR TIME

"Never before in history have human beings been called on to act collectively in defence of the Earth. As a species, we have endured world wars, epidemics, famine, slavery, apartheid and many other hideous consequences of religious, class, race, gender and ideological intolerance. People are extraordinarily resilient. The Earth has proven pretty resilient, too. It's managed to absorb most of what's been thrown at it since the industrial revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine.

Until now, that is. Because the science is clear: the sponge that cushions and sustains us, our environment, is already saturated with carbon. If we don't limit global warming to two degrees or less we are doomed to a period of unprecedented instability, insecurity and loss of species. Fossil fuels have powered human endeavour since our ancestors developed the skills to make and manage fire. Coal, gas and oil warm our homes, fuel our industries and enable our movements. We have allowed ourselves to become totally dependent, and are guilty of ignoring the warning signs of pending disaster. It is time to act.

As responsible citizens of the world - sisters and brothers of one family, the human family, God's family - we have a duty to persuade our leaders to lead us in a new direction: to help us abandon our collective addiction to fossil fuels.

Freshsheet Just as we argued in the 1980s that those who conducted business with apartheid South Africa were aiding and abetting an immoral system, we can say that nobody should profit from the rising temperatures, seas and human suffering caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Over the last three or four years, we have seen the rise of a new civil society divestment movement to stand alongside the scientists, environmentalists and social activists who have been challenging the moral standing of the fossil fuel industry. Once again, it is a global movement led by students and faith groups, along with hospitals, cities, foundations, corporations and individuals.

There is a word we use in South Africa that describes human relationships:Ubuntu. It says: I am because you are. My successes and my failures are bound up in yours. We are made for each other, for interdependence. Together, we can change the world for the better.

Who can stop climate change? We can. You and you and you, and me. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so that began in the genesis of humanity, when God commanded the earliest human inhabitants of the Garden of Eden, "to till it and keep it". To "keep" it; not to abuse it, not to make as much money as possible from it, not to destroy it."


COMMENTARY

Freshsheet

The Beat Generation, that was a vision that we had in the late Forties of a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly rising and roaming America, serious, bumming and hitchhiking everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly graceful new way - a vision gleaned from the way we had heard the word "beat" spoken on street corners on Times Square and in the Village, in other cities in the downtown city night of postwar America - beat, meaning down and out but full of intense conviction. We'd even heard old 1910 Daddy Hipsters of the streets speak the word that way, with a melancholy sneer. It never meant juvenile delinquents, it meant characters of a special spirituality who didn't gang up but were solitary Bartlebies staring out the dead wall window of our civilization. - Jack Kerouac



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