Posts Tagged ‘Coquitlam’

tideAs the ups and downs of life are measured, I begin to think of them less as ups and downs and more like ocean waves, ins and outs; perhaps it is because I was lucky to emigrate from Alberta to the west coast at a formative age. Sometimes when the tide is way out, instead of appreciating the stretches of sand, the driftwood, the barnacles, the hermit crabs and such, I focus on the wrong things. But not so often… I know it’s a choice. Somehow, somewhere within, through luck, philosophy, good reading or good breeding, I can and do focus on the positive. A woman I recently met, having experienced just too much stress, remarked on my attitude and all I could do was give her a hug; was that an instinctual attempt to transfer some of this positive energy?

My mother thinks my sister is the lucky one. She has succeeded financially, has an abundance of health and healthy offspring, winters in Arizona and will settle next week in BC on waterfront property in Victoria. But I am lucky, I experience true joy almost daily. Last night I was moved to tears by the sweet, pure delightful voice of AMYlubikAmy Anne Lubik. It is hard to describe that feeling. Had I died that moment, it would have been just fine. In that warm, soft voice was definitely angels’ song. Not a lot of music nor a lot of art has this profound an effect on me, yet how lucky I am to actually know someone who breaks frequently into song AND can do this with her voice. I told Amy about a piece of art by Csaba Markus that had the same effect on me. My inner dog began guarding the piece; I didn’t like it when people looked at it in the wrong manner. I was offended when people, clearly wealthy enough to buy it, would remark that it would match their sofa. Were they interfering with this inner joy that I was lucky enough to feel…

And last night, after thinking Amy’s voice would sustain me for so long, dear friend and champion of change, Rick Glumac, played his guitar and sang a song he had written just for our Greendrinks, evoking another type of pure pleasure, laughter. We all laughed at his straight-faced genius talent. How lucky to not just be there, but to be able to call Rick a friend; to know him, to encourage him, to stand with him, to be wowed by him – constantly. And while we celebrated the talents of all our GREENDRINKERS, we saw comments from the ever-talented Graham Girard, from across the country, whose brain I had the luck to watch at work as we founded and refined the original Tri-City Green Council.

Lucky indeed, not to have lost so many friends and dear ones, but to have had the privilege to know them, to write about them and for them…who knew the bit of writing talent identified in my youth would lead to a large collection of eulogies…will I publish a book of them…one day? Each person known and lost is etched in my being. I am lucky because I know I have more than inhaled some of their molecules. I AM some of their shared experiences…some of that ocean tide.

I have the good luck of being someone who can help others. I am grateful for that. In an email I received this morning, friend Simona writes, “Thanks Elaine. You are exactly what I need when I’m hurt and also when I’m happy.” Does life get better than this?

And last night, the all too amazing young Sara Norman brought her mother, poet Renee Norman to Greendrinks, and she wowed us all with her poetry about motherhood. And while she watched and listened to others at the microphone, she fondly twirled bits of Sara’s hair.

Last night was very special for me, euphoric in simplicity. Amy was so right, we need to take some time to just enjoy, especially those of us passionately trying to make the world a better place. I was so lucky to be there.

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I am privileged to be a member of the Tri-City Green Council Steering Board. For the most part this intelligent, hard-working group of people has spent the last few years dedicating spare time working to make sure that local governments pay attention to environmental issues. As the oldest member of the group, I have moved to elder status. I like it. This has become another family and when we last got together, instead of sprawling over sofas to eat while we talked, we sat, unplanned, at the dining room table and ate our meal formally. To honour the occasion, I am presenting Graham Girard’s recipe for cucumber salad.

In the future Graham will be famous for his architecture, mark my words. He is the youngest member of the group. I have watched him think – his creative processes visible on his face. He has the power of synthesis – generally attributed to older brains (or so I have been reading). When I met him he was studying Environmental Engineering. Having secured that course of study, he is now studying Architecture. Did I mention I admired his mind…and that he can cook?

Here’s his recipe – I’m sure it has a lovely name – somewhere – other than Dill Cucumber Salad.

THE RECIPE:

2 organic long English cucumbers

6 cloves finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp thyme, 2 tsp dill (or 1 T lemon dill dip mix)  THAT’s it!!

Adjust amounts to taste. I used Epicure Lemon Dill Dip Mix and topped with fresh parsley. I am pretty sure I used more garlic than Graham used in his original recipe but it seems to have worked.

It is not an easy decision to run for Council in Anmore. It is a tiny municipality. There are currently about 1400 voters. Three years ago there were approximately 1200 voters which actually demonstrates the growth we are experiencing, and one of the reasons I decided I must, once again, offer to serve. From 2001 to 2006 there was a 32.8% population increase, and this upward population pressure continues. With a “Rural” designation from Metro Vancouver and an outdated, incomplete Official Community Plan with a firm one acre minimum lot size, the village is evolving via the drift rather than plan mechanism that is created by development pressures. Land values continue to soar and conflict between development and sustainability have come to the fore.

What to do about it? Clearly deflecting attention from it with conflict will not solve the problem. Communication, consensus-building and judicious planning are required to create sustainable development. The Official Community Plan must be revised and adhered to. We must also work effectively with our neighbours. Anmore does not exist in a vacuum. The region of the Tri-Cities shares air and watersheds, we share roadways, transportation and infrastructure. We share services. Working within this small region is as important as working with the greater region of Metro Vancouver in planning and decision making and I pledge to keep communication key for shared resources and services. Already I have inserted myself into committees relating to hospital services, watershed management, social services and the arts in the Tri-Cities as I believe so strongly in their importance.

So, a vote for me is a vote for communication, for dialogue, and for advocacy for our village and our region. I promise to stand for and maintain open government, to be responsive to the voices of individuals and to groups. Sustainable development is not rampant development; we need careful planning to keep Anmore beautiful, green and livable.  I have no hidden agenda. My life for the past several years has been devoted to advocacy. I offer that now in service as your Anmore Councillor. Vote for Elaine Willis on November 19th.

I have the privilege of working as a representative in an exciting, new kind of governance body – a ROUND TABLE. Now when I say “NEW”, the historians amongst you may bristle, and point to the early twentieth century origins in Britain. What Wikipedia doesn’t show is the current use of ROUNDTABLES as more than just a form of academic discussion, but a new way of bringing governance to an often diverse group of stakeholders.

I have been participating on the Core Committee of the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable. The process of forming the Roundtable took years and evolved from the Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy.  When the Roundtable officially formed, it was defined as ” a multi-interest body with members representing various sectors with interests in the watershed. Governments and government agencies are represented on the Roundtable, which is an independent entity, not under government direction. The Roundtable does not have authority to make decisions related to the jurisdictional authority or legislative responsibilities of governments or government agencies.”  Now my initial sentence, states that the Roundtable is a governance body, and ultimately, by having all the stakeholders together, with common goals and common values, it is my belief that the Roundtable will drive decisionmaking through its collective strength. After all this is my BLOG, I can say what I believe without censure.

Ultimately, what I want to comment on at this juncture is that this process is working, and working brilliantly. On a subcommittee tasked with revisioning the website, stakeholders have donated hours of time on a regular basis to work through goals, visions, beliefs and ideas to achieve consensus. This is no small feat. Yet, outsiders working with the group, see us as homogenous.

I see the subcommittee as a diverse group of experienced community leaders, each with a view of the Watershed and the world, willing to share and debate, but even more willing to achieve harmony. Our enemies are time, constraints on our creativity and assaults on our cohesiveness. Yet these very things, perhaps like all opposing forces, only serve to bring us closer. I have great respect for each member of this group, for everything they bring to the table.

How lucky I am to have the luxuries of time, creativity and consensus-building skills so I can participate fully. As I participate, thinking (Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve) I have spent most of my life as an “Innovator” or “Early Adopter”, and seeing many of the other members as “Late Majority” or  later, I find myself delighted that we are working in a modern process style and exploring extremely innovative ideas. Diversity, when given opportunity and nurture, can point the way to new and successful paths.

I very much enjoyed the experience of presenting. I realize, after the fact, just how much my left brain dominates.  Although I have a good understanding of how the artistic, right-brained individuals function, I am less tolerant of their function than I would like to be when it comes to what I perceive to be  “professional” events and functions. I am not sure if that is something I learned or if it is innate.

I wanted to (and was) on time for the meeting for the presenters. Part of me knew it would be foolish to worry about being on time for an “artsy event”  but that’s who I am (remember the left-brain dominance). The meeting did not occur and the person who called it did not arrive until forty-five minutes later. In fact the level of organization was just not the tight, structured,  Japanese, haiku-like form that is PechaKucha. So as I waited and watched for the show to begin, safely inhaling oxygen at 4 litres per minute (one of the presenters wore a LOT of fragrance), I experienced some cognitive dissonance. I so firmly believe that the production should be organized, should start on time, should be coordinated  professionally – after all people are paying to see the show. On the other hand the audience is happy, largely unaware that the media is not present, the photographer and film crew are absent, the meeting did not take place – they are more than happy.

Dissonance…tells more about me than the situation… “dissonance is reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying”.  I realize I have done all three. So while other people turn inward with nervousness, do I look outward…settling upon justification for the situation by noting that all went well despite the disorganization which I perceived?  The arts community pitched in and did what was needed. The audience was inspired. The focus was on the positive. The networking was amazing….and the feedback I received was great.

It seems that people were, on the whole,  inspired and motivated.

And when I reread “What makes a good PechaKucha” (it means chitchat in Japanese…) from the originator’s website, I know this whole thought process is something I need to continually work through…

“Good PechaKucha presentation are the ones that uncover the unexpected, unexpected talent, unexpected ideas. Some PechaKuchas tell great stories about a project or a trip. Some are incredibly personal, some are incredibly funny, but all are very different making each PechaKucha Night like ‘a box of chocolates’.”

It was a box of chocolates – there was something for everyone at PKN Coquitlam.

I was excited to see the PECHA KUCHA format for presentations. My tenant, Jay Peachy, was the very first presenter on Coquitlam’s very first PK night. He was brilliant. The whole event was exciting, fast-paced, interesting. Reminiscent of TED talks, but with the feeling of community and an artsy edge, I was immediately drawn in… I should do this, I thought.
So with Pecha Kucha VOLUME 4 looking for presenters, I volunteered, knowing what I wanted to say but not recognizing fully the limitations of the format. I am a teacher, thought I. Timing, meeting objectives, recognizing diverse listening styles…no problem…
As I began to prepare, I realized that I had a lot to say. Will it fit into the 20 x 20 format? PECHA KUCHA, the Japanese term for chitchat, is a simple idea (so they say). The presenter has 20 images with 20 seconds to speak to each image. The pace is rapid. OKAY, this works for design but I want to educate, elucidate, leave a powerful message that has my audience ready to, at the minimum, understand some changes they might need to make. But even better, I would like them to leave feeling the need to themselves advocate for change. Can I do that in less than seven minutes – telling my whole story with the pace imposed by the twenty second slide change? This really is a challenge. I am taking this art form and challenging it as well as myself to deliver.

That written, time to stop procrastinating and work on that timing…