The Practical Radical

Somewhere (way) Over the Rainbow

July 10, 2010
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I am excited by mother nature’s bounty as much as the next gal or guy. Now, I may be more restrained in my response, but the feeling is still there.

Yet, I feel that maybe I need to express myself more forthrightly – let go a bit – give a bit of shout, if not a scream.

A case in point. There’s this guy who saw a double rainbow – one of mother natures true mysteries – close to (but not quite) as amazing as the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis.

So what? Well it seems that not only were the rainbows amazing, but so was his response. Basically he lost it – in awe – tongue-tied. And for his grand expression of awe, and the videotaping and subsequent release of that video on YouTube, his video went viral, and he started up a whole new business.

Here is the initial video:

Here is the follow-up news story:

and here is his garage band double rainbow song!:

So has does this link to my concern over my diminutive emotions? Well, I saw the same (if we put physics and time aside) damn rainbow in Ecuador 13 years ago!

My way-cool Double Rainbow in Ecuador - 1997

Perhaps if I had the same response I could have been rich! famous! Clearly YouTube did have something to do with it, but perhaps a few copied video tapes, and bam! I’m rich and famous and would be having someone else write silly blog posts like this.

So, I promise from here on in to get in touch with my emotions, my inner awe. Believe me you, you’ll know when I see a double rainbow next time around.

p.s. this is my favorite rainbow song – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Canada Day – Gone Fishing and Tired Out

July 1, 2010
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I don’t know about everyone else, but I am just pooped out. Tired. Its been a great and “interesting” ride the 8 months, but really, I do not have the energy to go out and celebrate Canada.

It’s not that I am not possibly more patriotic, but with the year being so far bookended by the Olympics and the G8; recovering from a global meltdown; a dysfunctional parliament; and, in Vancouver at least, rainy spring like weather … well … I just am too tired to party and play.

So, I am going to stick around home, surf the web, have lunch, hug the kids, put on a new batch of wine, and … chill.

Happy Canada Day.

* My favorite Gone Fishing song by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong

RIP Floppy – Thanks for the Memory!

June 10, 2010
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Oops ... wrong floppy

We'll miss you!

At the end of April, Sony announced they will stop manufacturing the 3.5 inch floppy disc, even though they sold 12 million in 2009. A sad parting to a revolutionary product.

I remember fondly moving from the 5 inch limp black floppies, to the crisp, firm multi-colored 3.5s. They made a comforting kachunk as they went into my computer. And they were durable … I still have a few around and an external drive. Though the CDs and then DVDs hold more, they did not shine a light to the protection that hard plastic covered disk gave.

Thanks for the memory!

How Animals spend a typical day …

May 17, 2010
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I am still working on my graph … I am thinking that before my Starbucks mocha in the morning, I am between a lion (ripping the face off a gazelle) and a jellyfish (being a jerk and ruining a perfectly good day at the beach). How about you?

Thanks to Pleated Jeans for this great infographic.

Posted in humor, Musings

I am not an environmentalist …

April 14, 2010
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Ok, admittedly a rather dramatic statement from someone who was a senior manager of an environmental agency for 17 years. I often used it as a opening statement in speeches and presentations – it got peoples attention – and in meetings – it pissed people off.

I first noticed this affliction when I did my first real environmental activity and went on a “wilderness trip” to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii) with a number of young environmentalists in kayaks. To make a long story short, i was often miles behind them, and almost didn’t make it across a stormy Hecate Strait (I remember the waves as 5′ – that might have been exhaustion though.) My try at being an “urban” environmentalist met with a similar fate – composting the heritage strawberries  brought about my ban from working in the community gardens. These two experiences (and there are many more)  made it clear to me that if I was  going to make it in this movement I was going to have to find my own niche.

Kayaking Haida Gwaii (me taking photo from behind)

A relaxing moment …

I found my answer through focusing on the “people” more than the “green” part of the environment agenda. What jazzed me was less what physical environment needed saving, but more a question of who did not have access to a healthy environment, and what were the social and economic conditions that kept them from that environment. In Vancouver, where my agency was based, the answer became obvious – it was those on the other side of the tracks in East Vancouver, or in a more global sense, those on the proverbial other side of the tracks in the developing world. They were the ones who did not have access to a healthy environment, an environment that no amount of kayak trips would give them.

So, with this expanded focus, I and EYA slowly and sometimes painfully changed how and what we worked on (see my Master’s thesis The Environmental Youth Alliance: An Exploration of Complexity Science to be understand how this changed happened in EYA). We moved from the richer Westside to the poorer Eastside of Vancouver; we partnered with marginalized communities such as aboriginal, gay and lesbian, immigrant, and street youth, and asked them what they needed for a healthy environment.  We began to expand our focus from the developed world to the developing world. We also committed to working where our new partners lived – the urban environment, and not the remote or rural areas.

Along the way our friends changed.  We gravitated away from traditional environmental agencies, and made links to social justice/human rights groups, urban environment groups, etc. This is not to say I or EYA left our environmental roots – there were many in the agency who were true environmentalists – we just assured that whatever we did was seen through a lens of social justice.

Much has changed in the 19 years since I started with EYA. Environmentalism has grown from being defined by the saving of wilderness areas, to incorporating social justice and economic issues. There is a growing realization that the phrase”urban environment” is not an oxymoron. I would argue that cities, which now house over half of the worlds population and growing, have an environment just as important and as diverse as any rainforest.

So, am I an environmentalist? Guess it’s all in how you define it.

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