Category Archives: Social Commentary

Social commentary

Not So Green Vancouver

Vancouver’s excessive construction is not environmentally friendly. My husband and I were traveling along Granville Street in Vancouver and couldn’t believe how many homes were slated to be torn down. Street after street we witnessed signs for future construction or the beginning of site construction. They weren’t inhabitable homes. Some were houses were large, stately and would be a dream home for past families. However, the developers and/or buyers of these homes see things differently and their desires are not just effecting the City of Vancouver, but also many communities beyond the GVRD.

Politicians talk about Green Initiatives, each district comes up with plans for Going Green and kids are taught in school about the importance of Protecting the Environment. If we take off our green coloured glasses we will see what we really are and what we have always been is wasteful.

There is so much rubble that gets taken to the dump every time one of us decides to renovate or build our dream home. With every trip a truck takes to remove or bring materials more exhaust fills the air. Some of our homes may even have asbestos so where does that go? It gets wrapped and taken to a special landfill and buried in the EARTH.

We destroy ecosystems above and below just for the perfect square footage that will accommodate our ever-expanding needs. We have not been innovative enough to consider alternatives to such destruction and developers prefer dollar signs towering in front of them over trees. In my neighbourhood opposition to construction is evident. Signs have been erected on many front lawns with a message to developers, buyers, neighbours and the city – Big Trees NOT Big Homes.

From an interior design standpoint, Home and Garden Television has opened up viewers to what is possible to have in a home. It makes many people question why they don’t have the latest and greatest already. What I have noticed is that stainless steel appliances and granite or quartz countertops have become very popular. Where do they come from?

Stainless steel is the combination of many elements found and extracted from the EARTH. It goes through an extensive process and is transported great distances before it finds its way into our home. Granite and quartz are mined and manufactured too. When I hear people complaining about mines I wonder if they thought of that before they ordered the slab of granite for their kitchen?

As we construct homes with wood, bricks and mortar while buying more creature comforts and technical devices we are making an impact on the environment. All the shipping and receiving has huge implications.

Tree 1 []“We have to protect the environment for the sake of our kids future.”

Are these the same kids that sit in these large homes with a need for the newest gadget, iPad or iPhone? Are these the happy children engaged with their plastic, glass and steel products equipped with circuit boards. When I start to see more children playing outside and noticing their surroundings instead of heads staring down at a screen then maybe I will believe our earth will be safer in the future.

Caring for our environment goes beyond putting out green boxes for food waste or blue boxes for recycling. We fill the boxes we live in with all of the mined and grown stuff we can muster. Our need to build and move to larger boxes should be a good enough indication that it is in our nature to want more.

There are large numbers of individuals and communities that are not so eco-friendly and I just think we should be more honest about that.

Otter dies at Calgary Zoo due to human error

The Calgary Zoo is getting some press but not the kind of press it would like. An otter drowned after getting tangled in pants.

Some zoo staff thought the introduction of pants would be a stimulating activity for the otters but apparently they were a death trap. Zoo management is saying it was an “unauthorized enrichment activity” and those involved have been disciplined.

Let’s do a pretend show of hands… How many of you have seen otters in the wild play with pants?

Otters_waiting_to_be_fed

This is what happens when humans place animals in captivity and try to create the illusion of a happy, content life. This isn’t the only death at the zoo. Bad things happen due to transport, feeding, environmental issues along with lapses in protocol.

I have no doubt that the staff involved feel bad and I like to think that anyone that chooses a career as a zookeeper believes they are doing great things. But, as long as the public pays to see cute critters on display some will die and its the reality of that business.

List of Animal Deaths at the Calgary Zoo

Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

Bell Let’s Talk is a campaign that seeks to “reduce stigma and promote awareness and understanding” about mental illness. I tweeted today in support of this cause because Bell will donate 5¢ towards mental health initiatives for every tweet using the #BellLetsTalk.

As a friend, family or community member we find ways to support those who have cancer and many other conditions through donation, runs for the cure campaigns or something as easy as being a phone call away. When it comes to mental illness many people shy away from talking about it or feel uneducated and therefore don’t know how to approach supporting someone who is struggling with this health challenge.

It is time that we become more educated, myself included, if not for the sake of an individual we care about but for our society in general. Our lack of understanding of and funding for mental health negatively impacts our communities.

Here are some examples of how mental illness is impacting us all:

  1. People are dying at the hands of police because they didn’t know how to deal with a person who is suffering a mental breakdown. Agencies need to be more informed and any response to this type of crisis needs to be in the hands of trained individuals.
  2. Families are being torn apart and are left to make agonizing decisions in an attempt to support their loved one. They are mostly living in isolation because they fear what others will think, feel shame or receive blame. This is not the way to live.
  3. Schools have enough challenges in the classroom but trying to educate a child with mental health issues is a huge undertaking. How many children do you think fall through the cracks?
  4. Drug use and abuse is often seen in people who suffer from mental illness. Whether it’s to numb the pain, lessen the sound of voices or a means to feel good for awhile, it never ends well and everyone around that person pays dearly too.
  5. Prisons are full of those that could not or would not receive help. The fact is, if we don’t start to see the value in investing in in-patient, out-patient, group or individual care, we a doomed to be a society that deals with the problem when it is at its worst.
  6. Mental health impacts our workplaces. Have you witnessed a colleague who was struggling with depression, anxiety or other forms a mental distress? I know I have and it is truly sad to see a good person lose so much. As a career counsellor I have worked with more clients than I can count who have left their jobs due to mental health challenges. Setting aside for the moment the compassion one feels for the individuals there is a real cost to business and through insurance claims that can’t be discounted.
  7. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate or care whether you are rich or poor, female or male, famous or not. When I think of all the people who have bravely talked about their battle it is clear this condition has an ability to destroy a life or challenge someone to manage their life differently.

Bottom line: It is time to talk, contribute and find better ways to support those with mental illness! #BellLetsTalk

iStock_000000930817XSmallFor an additional resource check out:

Mental Health First Aid Canada

The night Paris was attacked

Friday night in Paris and the streets come alive with people enjoying a night with good drinks, a tasteful meal, a game of football and music to their ears. It is like any Friday night  where the intention is to enjoy the things that make people feel happy but this night would be different because Paris was attacked.

Bataclan Concert Hall, Le Carillon, Le Petit Cambodge, La Belle Equipe, Stade de France all became places where gunfire, bombs, screams and sirens replaced the joyous sounds of cheers, laughter and chatter. Many of these places, unknown to most of the world, would become etched into our minds and take their place in terrorism history.

I couldn’t help but think about the many times I have shared a Friday night with those I care about and how I never thought for one moment it would be my last. I transported myself from my warm and cozy home to envision families that sit in their homes receiving the call that will forever change their lives.

An invisible thread binds us all together across this planet. We share probably more in common with each other than not. With this in mind my sympathy travels to those who suffer in Paris. To the those that caused that suffering we will never think like you, live like you or die like you. However, you strengthen my resolve to keep my way of life wrapped in a blanket of democracy, freedom and love.

“Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.”

~ Arthur Conan Doyle ~

 

 

 

 

 

Can Canada truly help the Syrian refugees?

How can Canada help the Syrian refugees when we struggle to support many immigrants already residing here?

As the world watches the nightly news we continue to see the images of Syrian’s trying to escape the conflict and dire situations that have befallen them. Countries scramble to deal with masses of people attempting to cross their borders in an effort to seek help. It is a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.

Canada has been trying to speed up the processing of Syrian refugees as the demand for safe haven is great and Canadian compassion runs high. Our country must act while still meeting the security requirements that protects all of its citizens. Despite the measures we may take, I can’t help but wonder whether we are prepared for what lies ahead.

Each Province will need to provide orientation, housing, medical, physical, educational, transportation, legal, counselling, interpretation and employment needs. The health of each refugee will now be dependent on our collective ability to support. There is no doubt in my mind that already overburdened services will be asked to take on more with likely little increase to funding.

Let me share with you just a glimpse of what I see at our employment offices with respect to newcomers and/or immigrants.

Individuals who…

  1. Struggle to understand our culture and who often seek refuge within their own very tight communities
  2. Have difficulty learning or lack motivation to continue to learn the English language
  3. Have employment challenges due to the above plus an inability to find employers willing or able to choose them as candidates
  4. Are frequently dependent on community or Government agencies
  5. Expect that things would have been easier in Canada

If we want to help refugees we have look beyond the immediate crisis and address the long-term expectations for support. At the point of arrival they are now on a path to permanent residency so this is a huge commitment.

As far as I know, funding for ESL programs was cut last year in BC so is that going to change? How many times do we hear about the need for affordable housing so I’m wondering where a few thousand people are going to live? In the future, how many local businesses are prepared to supply a job with a good living wage to support a family? Do you trust, in our haste to open Canada, that our national and security interests have been protected?

Are refugees prepared for the substantial investment they will need to make in their own success?

——-Always thinking beyond feeling——-

Resources:

The Refugee System in Canada

How Canada is helping Syrian and Iraqi Refugees

The Insidious Nature of Porn

It bothers me that porn finds its way into almost everything! Yes, I’m going to talk about porn.

I decided one day to look up some fashion pictures on Google images but what I learned very quickly is just one word could change what I was about to see. I won’t reveal what I typed but at the time it made perfect sense to me to type in what I did to see if items matched together as an outfit. Amongst only a few scattered legitimate images that reflected my query were a whole host of nude images of women.

A person I know that is a computer technician explained to me that this can happen quite innocently in multiple photo related sites. We are all just one search word away from porn. It was also noted that quite possibly the next time you decide to type in a similar query even more images will populate the page. I guess it anticipates that you are interested in such things so why not provide more.

I’m not going to pretend I didn’t know this was possible to stumble upon pornography but I was surprised that one misstep could cause me to be assaulted on such a mass scale. Yes, I have the ability to place security measures in place for viewing but up to this point I never felt the need.

How many other industries that have a questionable reputation are given freedom to blanket our pages with their product? Think of an industry that might cause people to be critical of its existence – like maybe tobacco or big game hunting or anything that gets people riled up. Then ask yourself if it was as easy to be bombarded by their images or advertising as you type on your computer? Certainly not in the same way porn has ‘positioned’ themselves.

The Internet may remain open to everything and users may be protective over their right to view anything but don’t kid yourself. Besides data brokers and hackers there is someone else watching you and that is the porn industry. They want the addiction to spread and they are willing to embed their product anywhere and everywhere.

It is designed for consumer manipulation and to draw people towards its use like a drug but I’m not buying it. I resent having my fun activity of researching fashion to be turned into an exercise in strategic key word searching in order to avoid porn’s sly tactics. Sick of it! Truly sick of it!

 

 

 

 

A Cigarette Smoking Environmentalist

My husband and I went out for drive on a beautiful hot summer day to Blaine, Washington. We stopped at a stop light and I couldn’t help but notice the bumper stickers on the car in front of me. The stickers read like this:

Tree Hugger Dirt Worshipper

Coltrane not coal trains

Corporations are not the people

How environmentally friendly are you when you are driving around spewing exhaust AND cigarette smoke into the air? I guess it didn’t occur to this person that automobiles are designed and manufactured by corporations. Maybe she forgot that cigarettes are made by very powerful tobacco companies. It might be important for her to look up the many ways the United States is dependent on coal. One thing she might appreciate is its use for generating electricity but I’m only guessing.

Hypocrisy – It can pop up anywhere.

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Dresses – How short is too short?

When it comes to dresses – How short is too short? After last night I believe I have the answer.

I attended a fundraiser for a child who has cancer and the event was being held in Abbotsford, British Columbia. My husband had been asked to play guitar for a singer and to be honest I didn’t know much more beyond that. When I arrived I was somewhat taken aback at the location of the event. Though I fully appreciated the altruistic reasons for the evening my eyes rolled when I saw the dresses worn by the organizers. ( I won’t even get into various performers outfits)

The first contact was with a young woman wearing a leopard inspired tight dress and some very high wedge shoes that really didn’t do anything for the outfit. She collected our $40 donation each and directed us to the entrance. When I sat down inside the studio another woman approached selling 50/50 tickets in a black dress so short I swear the fabric was using her butt to hang on to its position. I’m guessing she was probably 5’5 but by the magic of heels she was now closer to 5’10.

The same goes for the host of the evening who also chose a tight black dress paired with silver sequined stripper shoes. All night I watched as they each adjusted their rising hemlines and made pitiful attempts to bend down when they talked with seated guests.

If there is one thing you should know before attempting to wear short dresses, it is how to sit.  I watched one girl sit down and then absentmindedly spread her legs open to place her big purse under the chair. I think she realized at the last moment that she wasn’t wearing pants because she quickly swooped her hand down on the fabric between her legs and shut them.

The following is a few points to consider….

A DRESS OR SKIRT IS TOO SHORT IF:

Your skin covers more of the chair than material.

You do a bend test in the mirror at home and see things you have never seen from that angle.  (and nobody else should either)

You keep playing tug of war with the hemline and its winning.

blackdress

There is a way to wear figure flattering outfits without looking trashy. The sensual side of a woman can be explored and still remain classy. It drives me crazy to be in the presence of many young girls and women who have to advertise their body parts – it’s not attractive. In many ways I find it pathetic. I’m not saying they are pathetic but instead I feel some sadness in that any beauty they possess is being overshadowed by a cheap attempt to win attention.

I stumbled across the blog A Dose of Jules and I think she wrote about her feelings on this topic quite eloquently. (Along with comments from readers)  Check it out:

A-Hem…..A-Hem…Your Skirt is Too Short!

 

 

Protect yourself from identity theft

Have you been a victim of identity theft? Apparently many Canadians could answer that question with a yes.

I have experienced mail theft, ID theft, credit card theft and this very site has been hacked in the past. Shredding documents and perusing material on how to protect myself from the new break and enter artists is fast becoming a pastime activity. Well not quite, but you know what I mean.

Business In Vancouver consistently offers great articles and this latest infographic caught my attention. It provides some interesting, and quite possibly shocking, statistics along with a tip on what you have that needs protection from thieves. Check this out: