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Okanagan Media Alliance Freshsheet

OCCASIONAL MUSINGS AND AMUSEMENTS FROM THE OKANAGAN INSTITUTE

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Watching for Signs of Life
 
 
Freshsheet
NUMBER 157   ll   LATE JANUARY 2015
In February our regular Express series of community conversations will start up again, and we look forward to having you join us to engage with the people and ideas that animate our community. We're in the process of lining up another stellar roster of speakers and presenters 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. Watch for our announcements.
          Hundreds of people have signed up for Club for Creatives information and memberships. We are now working through the process of reaching out to you to determine how best to achieve our goals and meet your expectations. 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 attention to detail and no small amount of patience. We appreciate yours.


Finding Food That Sustains Us

Vast sums of money are being spent to convey certain messages about food choices. The level of advertising aimed at increasing consumption of highly processed, generally unhealthy food products is shocking to behold.

Such advertising also tends to saturate the available space, crowding real, honest, more healthful messages out.

The globalized food industry is very keen to "let the market forces decide" people's food choices and is very critical of any kind of political interference. Therefore, social forums, alternative media and word-of-mouth have emerged as the most promising avenues for promoting messages that run counter to the prevailing, consumerist ones. Chefs and food activists have an important role to play in that arena. More and more enlightened restaurants and farmers are also playing that role.

And they are also creating new platforms of awareness. For example: when people go out to eat, they anticipate reading the menu and making some choices. Once they have read through the options and ordered, they wait for their food to arrive at the table. Some restaurants have come up with a way - playful, unobtrusive, yet powerful and reproducible - to make diners more aware of the significance of their choices while they're waiting for their food.

Freshsheet Okanagan Media ApplianceFreshsheet For the last several decades, a huge amount of private and public funding has been given to medical and biological research. On the one hand, these efforts have dramatically boosted both the human survival rate and the level of food production. On the other hand, there is increasing awareness that the food production system is fundamentally flawed, and some of the technologies that have increased production run counter to our best interests.

An interesting development at present are the growing number of charitable organizations, individuals, and forward-looking private companies becoming involved in the world of sustainable food production, and food security. They are making bold decisions to support initiatives that would have been unthinkable just five years ago. These enterprises know that they cannot change the world themselves. But by enabling radical ideas about the future of food to be realized in practice, and to prove their validity, they are helping to catalyze that change. That change will come when we turn off the commercial messages and choose real food.


THE WORLD IS STILL WILD AND WONDERFUL

The Social Lifestyle of the Ants

Freshsheet

Most ant colonies begin when one newly mated queen digs a single-chambered nest, seals herself in, and rears a first brood of workers. Queen ants need to be fertilized only once.

They store a lifetime supply of sperm in a sac, and in mature colonies, if the ambient temperature is warm enough - 72 degrees Fahrenheit - some queens can lay 1000 eggs a day for many years.

The brood hatches in a week and, feeding on reserves in the queen's body, grows to maturity in a month. Then the workers begin foraging to feed the next brood of eggs. And so the colony expands. Workers live about a year, but a colony can survive 10 or 20 years, until the queen dies.

The colonies of most ant species are social, cooperative, seamless organisms, differing from what we think of as an individual organism only in that they're not stuck together. The colony is a kind of creature - a superorganism.

Ants may be the only creature apart from mammals where interactive teaching has been observed. A knowledgeable forager will lead a naive nest-mate to newly discovered food by the process of tandem running. The leader is acutely sensitive to the progress of the follower and slows down when the follower lags and speeds up when the follower gets too close.

Freshsheet It is estimated that the combined body weight of all the ants on the planet is the same as that of human beings. There are clearly more of them than of us - about 500 billion, at last count - and they are amazingly good at looking after themselves.

The ant lifestyle is surprisingly like ours. Ants live in large cities. They farm crops. They get into fights with their neighbors over resources, even to the point of systematic warfare.

The collective intelligence of ants is about the same as ours. Yet we hardly ever see them. They don't seem to have any pollution problems or obesity pandemics. They have found extremely elegant solutions to the work of being-in-the-world.

What is their secret? It's practice, practice, practice, and some strict discipline. And they have been at it for 50 million years.

It's all about social skills. The ants are not alone in this: they belong to a group of insects commonly called eusocial insects: insects that live in large, well-organized groups (bees and termites are further examples). This group consists of only two percent of the known insect species, but more than 50 percent of the total body weight of the world's insects.

We urgently need to learn more about how ants and creatures like them go about leaving such a small footprint on the planet.



THE PROOF CREATIVE & LEARNING CENTRE
Freshsheet

A Gathering of Characters

Kelowna has long needed a place where smart and interesting people can gather to make good - if not great - things happen. Proof is that place.

The former church building at the corner of Ethel Street and Cawston Avenue in Kelowna is in the process of being transformed into the Proof Creative & Learning Centre. In the process, the former sanctuary will also be transformed, into a private club for members of the creative community, the Club for Creatives.

The Club will be a warm and inviting space, and contain bar and table seating for up to 80 people, as well as a small performance stage. There will be a comprehensive and adventurous lunch and dinner, and special event food and drink service provided by the Proof Kitchen.

Membership in the Club is reasonably limited, with modest initiation and monthly fees, and special usage and guest privileges.

Here's some of the things we have imagined are possible at the Club for Creatives: design a toy, conduct an experiment, meet interesting people, share a manuscript, enjoy a freshly baked pastry and a cup of coffee, invent a new product, compose a symphony, propose a solution to a problem, build a trapezoid, attend a

Freshsheet Proof

workshop, host a lunch, present a seminar on the fate of a species, show a collection of bones, participate in a ritual, make a jar of pickles, display a wall hanging, learn to write poetry, edit a journal, construct and finish a picture frame, paint a picture, code an algorithm, learn to cook, have a quiet lunch, conduct a roundtable, plan an event, sculpt a face, discuss a manifesto, write a manifesto, play a game of chance, demonstrate a magic trick, start a business, start a rumour, throw a party, listen, dry herbs, solve a logic puzzle, join a committee, observe a chemical reaction, shape an argument, conduct a review, curate an exhibition of lithographs of food, create an album of photographs, make a maquette, sing, share a harvest feast, form a group, ferment a liquid libation, foment a revolution.

Freshsheet Here's what it takes to become a charter member:
First: You need to be creative. Tell us a bit about yourself and your current creative activities.
Second: You need to pay a membership initiation fee of $100. Once we accept your membership we'll send you a link to a webpage where you can send us this fee. Once you pay, we'll add you to our membership list and send your membership card and orientation package.
Third: You need to agree to pay a monthly membership fee of $20. Your credit card will be charged during the preceeding month, starting the month before opening date.

That's it. The membership orientation package we'll send you will detail all the rules and expectations (there are few), hours, amenities, guest privileges, and other matters. You'll also receive invitations to the pre-launch preview and launch party.



The Proof Creative & Learning Centre is an idea, a building and an opportunity for a small group of organizations who share a common goal of contributing unique, thoughtful and high-value services to the community. These organizations are - along with the Club for Creatives - the Society for Learning in Retirement, Rucker Archive, Proof Kitchen and Okanagan Institute.


Memberships invitations and requests for comment are being sent out now. Not signed up? Go to www.proofcentre.com
or send us an email today to info@proofcentre.com, to express your interest in becoming a charter member.
Proof. The Club for Creatives



COMMENTARY

History teaches us that conservative, backward-looking movements often arise under conditions of economic stress. As the world faces problems ranging from climate change to the demographic cliff of aging populations, it's wise to imagine widely divergent futures. ¶ Yes, we may find technological solutions that propel us into a new golden age of robots, collective intelligence, and an economy built around the creative class. But it's at least as probable that as we fail to find those solutions quickly enough, the world falls into apathy, disbelief in science and progress, and after a melancholy decline, a new dark age. ¶ Civilizations do fail. We have never yet seen one that hasn't. The difference is that the torch of progress has in the past always passed to another region of the world. But we've now, for the first time, got a single global civilization. If it fails, we all fail together. - Tim O'Reilly



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Celebrating the Creative Age

The most recent issue of the Okanagan Institute journal Sage-ing with Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude is online at www.sageing.ca

A volunteer publication of the Okanagan Institute, intended as an initiative for collaboration and sharing, the journal presents the opportunity for the free exchange of wisdom gleaned from creative engagement, and is focused on honouring the transformational power of creativity.
We hope that your perspective on the arts and creative engagement might also change as you read stories of Okanagan artists, experienced and emerging, who engage in art for the joy of stimulating personal and community wisdom and well-being.
Freshsheet Sage-ing Okanagan Institute

Freshsheet A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS & AGING
"One of the strengths that sages possess, regardless of age, is a willingness to be educated by all things. Curiosity leads them to learn from all they encounter. They do not judge people or situations. When one relaxes into just being, everything can nourish and stimulate. For those who embrace life as a sage-ing experience, things come to them from the world and from the events in their lives. By taking time and giving attention to creatively respond to what might at first seem ordinary and not deserving of notice, life ripens with significance and meaning."

To view online go to www.sageing.ca