Climate Change & Future Generations

I recently attended the Climate Reality Project Leadership training in Bellevue (Seattle) Washington. It’s a not for profit organisation involved in education and advocacy and all about climate change. It was established in 2011 after the joining of two environmental groups, The Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project, which were both founded in 2006 by Al Gore. Gore was the 45th Vice President of the United States and well known for his work regarding environmental issues and of course An Inconvenient Truth. Along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), they were awarded The Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their efforts to obtain and disseminate information about the climate challenge.

Hundreds of questions emerged during this three-day event such as; must we change, can we change, and will we change? Perhaps the most confronting were my reasons for being there. When exactly had I become an environmentalist and was I a fraud among these passionate activists and friends of the earth? Oddly, I felt at home and perhaps a little like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. An outsider at the beginning, and feeling more like I was in the right place with family and friends as the days blended together called together for some existential reason. It was easy to talk about how I had been beckoned down this rabbit hole in school as it began with an interest in defining what wilderness is, how we treat each other – humans, animals and other, and how it moved to a broader discussion about climate change and the speed at which it is unfolding and how it is making it increasingly difficult for us to adapt in what some believe is an apocalyptic scenario. Recognizing that it may not matter what wilderness is if we can’t address these issues, there is a growing vulnerability about what to do first and in the “five alarm fire” that Naomi Klein frames in No Is Not Enough, how to effect positive social change while we figure out what to tell our kids and future generations?

Remarkably, Mr. Gore brought this home for me with his closing comment’s. (you can skip to the bottom and hear him)

“As many of you know one of the most appropriate ways to frame this choice now before us is to project ourselves into the future world that we are going to bequeath to the next generation. And when they inherit the earth that we give to them – that we pass on to them, depending on the circumstances in which they find themselves, they will ask one of two questions.

And if they find themselves in a world of steadily diminishing hope and increasing despair with political disruptions, and chaos and billions of climate refugees, threatening governance structures and social cohesion, diminished food supplies, and challenges to the availability of fresh water, deeper droughts, stronger storms, floods and mudslides, rising sea levels, tropical diseases and all of the other horrors that the scientists – who have been right in their predictions of decades ago and are now telling us we must act quickly to avoid much worse.

If they lived in a world that was careening through such catastrophes and destroying hope they would be well-justified looking back at us in this time, and in this place and asking – what were you thinking? How how did you fail to see and feel that we were at risk? How did you fail to do what was necessary, to protect God’s green earth and the conditions that could give us happiness and joy and the lives that you’d told us we deserved.

But there is another alternative if they live in a world with rising hopes with hundreds of millions of good new jobs and occupations held by men and women who are busily transforming our civilisation into a sustainable and prosperous and clean civilisation. If they see that we have turned the corner and even though they face challenges, they know that they are in the process of diminishing and that they can not only survive but continue the work that will go on to safeguard our planet. If they can look into the eyes of their own children and feel with confidence and in their hearts that those children will have better prospects still. I want them to look back through time again and ask a different question: How did you find the moral courage to stand up to change, to work, to join together and to build a future that allows humanity to achieve its destiny”?

Attempting to answer these questions lead to interesting discussions involving science, fake news, eco and social psychology, religion, domestic and foreign policy, centuries of socioeconomic inequalities around the world and a reminder from Thich Nhat Hanh, “…that only love can save us.” So what about future generations? It is not so accidental that I feel called to do whatever I can to make a difference in whatever little ways that I can. I really don’t want my kids or grand kids or yours asking me, “what were you thinking”? We have work to do!

(Al Gores closing comments from the Climate Reality Leadership Conference, Bellevue Washington June 29, 2017)

“Edges”

A drive around Lake Okanagan reminded me of the edges between the year that was and the one that lies ahead as it’s always been an interesting time for reflection.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “edge” as a noun or a verb, and often described as the outside limit of an object, area or surface. It`s that place next to the steep drop; The point before something unpleasant or momentous occurs, as personal as an epiphany at the beginning or ending of a self-realized moment, it can be subtle and sweet, or as large as the economy, perhaps our world teetering on the edge of a recession or a country or civilization at the edge of collapse; An edge is also the sharpened side of the blade of a cutting implement or weapon; A thin linear thread or a thought that holds the edges of time between this and that, then and now; The line along which two surfaces, real or imagined, meet. The forest edge or the rocky shore are examples of ecological edges which are rich in diverse resources as are the edges in time, those magical moments between one period to another.

These edges are transitional or “liminal” spaces that exist in everything known. They occur every day and in every moment, and they have throughout time. They are often unannounced as they gently take shape around, as well as within us, often unconscious as we often don’t recognize them at first, sometimes decades. Others make a momentous entrance defining the beginning or end of something such as a birth or death, a change in a relationship, the end of war, hunger, poverty, or in this case, the edges between the ending of the old year and the beginning of a new one.

There have been centuries of discussions regarding humankind and the many wonders of our world. Every new decade, a spokesperson surfaces with a poignant opinion and is provided a place in history to proclaim their particular point of view regarding the many attributes and complexities of the world we live in. These queens and kings, philosophers, holy women and men, even politicians throughout time have witnessed us at our best and worst. Concurrently, with all of this wisdom and enlightenment, it would seem that populations have become less concerned with each other, animals and nature, as they have grown faster than our planet’s ability to sustain them as carbon fueled capitalism and consumption levels soar at unprecedented rates changing the face of our world, perhaps heading to the edge of something that only a few want to acknowledge.

With so many great thinkers throughout time pointing to the frailties of humanity, the ills of society and the way we treat humans, animals and nature, it’s hard to believe that we could be at the edges of the sixth extinction. This was 2016 for me as it began with a deep dive into Genesis, Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and Seneca showing us how to live and die well. It ended (academically anyway) with Pope Francis, Rachael Carson and Frantz Fanon teaching us about the pitfalls of industrialization, racism and power and more questions than answers about our future.

I have been wrestling with how to make the transition from this apocalyptic scenario to a place of living in relationship with the rest of life and learning as much as I can from the Buddha within, you and many others at home, work, school and on the street. I like the way Rachel Carson frames this in Silent Spring: “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smoother superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one “less traveled by” – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth. The choice, after all, is ours to make.”

Carson’s reference in Silent Spring for a choice between two roads seems a metaphor for the edges between two points. A choice to continue doing things the way we always have, or a not so gentle tug to look at the world, each other and nature a little bit differently with hope that we might do better. There are daily reminders of our interconnectedness with our own spiritual and religious beliefs, on social media, domestic and foreign policy, and centuries of socioeconomic inequalities around the world whether it be in the Dakota Hills, Burnaby Mountain or Africa. Even Sally Armstrong’s words echo in my head as we approach the US Inauguration, “that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander” and a call for mindfulness as well as individual activism.

I found the edges distracting this year and I had to work my way back to the middle, finding those liminal moments for quiet refection and gratitude in each day. For all that I have learned from the Buddha within, friends and family, teachers and colleagues and many strangers around the world, I am ever grateful. Its easy to get lost in the past or future and miss those important moments like traveling down century old laneways that gave up stories of the people who lived in those old buildings that lined cobblestone lanes. And the many wonderful magical moments with friends and family in Vancouver, Kelowna, Venice and Cambridge watching my daughter (Paisley) get her Masters.

If loss and grief are gates to something better, perhaps we have seen enough to stop and hear the words of those poets that speak to each of us. They have left an indelible mark in history in front of us as we work our way from the shadows to save each other, animal, as well as our planet. Aeschylus with an all too familiar refrain seems a good message to take into our new year “Tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world”.
Thanks for pulling me back from the edge!

With gratitude and heartfelt thanks, Happy New Year!

Self Love

When invited to join the Liberal Studies Program at Simon Fraser University, I was deeply moved knowing that I would be learning about the ideas and beliefs that have guided human beings and shaped civilizations for thousands of years. This journey through the ages has provided an introduction to an amazing roster of authors. During this excursion into time, I was drawn to Hilda Doolittle and her Selected Poems. Often referred to as H.D., her work seemed strangely familiar, perhaps even – Sappho like, a centuries old text.
HD

Struggling to understand her life as well as her work more thoroughly, my search for context led me down familiar paths of other passionately and equally creative women that I have been introduced to over the years. Each woman was fiercely talented, expressive and in search of her individual freedom.

These included Georgia O’Keeffe and Simone de Beauvoir in particular who appear to share similar lives and views. Gifted and involved in complicated, if not often conflicted relationships similar of H.D.’s, these relationships appear to interfere and restrict their freedom and creative expression as well as allow for the nurturing of a new creative spirit and soulfulness in their work.

In the following pages I hope to explore some of the themes that these amazing women share in common, get to know them a little better through their work and, perhaps, begin to discover a deeper appreciation of my role and understanding about my own significant relationships.

My sister and I were raised by our grandmothers. I believe that experience allowed me to grow up differently from many men. While only skimming the surface of the past one hundred years or so, thanks to the many women in my life I believe that I have a better appreciation of the struggles in the fight for equality and women’s rights, healthy loving relationships, and a deeper understanding of the complexity of relationships and how they impact our creativity. Each has taught me something new about myself, about love, speaking my truth, staying inspired, not judging, and being truly present, moment by moment.

The end of the nineteenth century saw tremendous growth in the suffrage movement that helped open doors to women into the next century. For decades, women became incredibly active and influential as writers, artists, photographers, business leaders and activists as they began to occupy more positions once dominated by men. By the middle of the twentieth century, women in the Western world had redefined their roles in almost every social, political and cultural arena. Hilda Doolittle, Georgia O’Keeffe and Simone de Beauvoir were just three of these women who caught my attention.

Hilda Doolittle was born in 1886 and the oldest of the three women; one year older than Georgia O’Keeffe and twenty-two years older than Simone de Beauvoir, who was born in 1908.

H.D.is primarily known as an imagist poet; however, she also wrote novels, memoirs and essays. Her work is considered innovative and experimental, both reflecting and contributing to the avant-garde climate that dominated the arts in London and Paris until the end of World War II. Immersed for decades in the crosscurrents of modernism, psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud, mythologies and feminism, H.D. brought a unique voice and vision to her writing. The similarity and delicate writing in some of H.D.’s work is likely attributed to her fascination and love of Sappho. As well, the sensuality of Hilda’s work was often likened to the intense eroticism of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings.

Hilda had a difficult and challenging relationship with once fiancée and lifetime friend, Ezra Pound. “In-the End To Torment, ” H.D. wrote that “Ezra would have destroyed me and the center they call Air and Crystal of my poetry” (55). H.D. said that she felt “smothered and smudged out” by Pound (55). While Ezra Pound remained a close friend all of her life and was even present at her marriage to Richard Aldington, H.D. lived a life in open relationships that remained a central pattern that she discussed with Freud. It is reported to have been encoded in much of her writing

In her poem “Eurydice,” from the archives of the Poetry Foundation, H.D. writes:

At least I have the flowers of myself, and my thoughts, no god can take that; I have the fervour of myself for a presence and my own spirit for light; and my spirit with its loss knows this; though small against the black, small against the formless rocks, hell must break before I am lost; before I am lost, hell must open like a red rose for the dead to pass.

A heartfelt embrace in her aloness as H.D. takes in all that life has to offer.

Georgia O’Keeffe was considered an early modernist in the 1920’s. She was the first female painter to join her male contemporaries. Her exquisite flower paintings were sensual, as were her sculptures and collections, and gained her a reputation of rendering nature in shapes and forms that made them seem familiar and, at the same time, new and different. Georgia had a lifelong relationship and marriage with Alfred Stieglitz. His penchant for younger women, however, turned this into more of a business relationship, allowing, perhaps forcing, each to spend time apart with their lovers for the remainder of their distant marriage and friendship.

O'Keeffe-(hands)

Of their relatively open marriage, O’Keeffe wrote to Stieglitz in 1934, “The difference in us is that when I felt myself attracted to someone else I realized I must make a choice—and I made it in your favour. . . . You seemed to feel there was no need to make a choice” (Collection of O’Keeffe Museum Research). While Stieglitz remained in New York until he died, Georgia found her most creative moments in an old pickup truck outside of her new home near Santa Fe in picturesque New Mexico.

In the collections carefully stored in the O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, Georgia O’Keeffe once said of her encounter with a hummingbird:

One day a hummingbird flew in. When I had it in my hand it was so small I couldn’t believe I had it- but I could feel the intense life- so intense and so tiny. And I am, at this moment, willing to let you be what you are to me- beautiful, and pure, and very intensely alive.

Simone de Beauvoir is considered a post-modernist and the mother of the second wave of feminism. A French existentialist philosopher and writer, she played and worked alongside the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Maurice Merleau Pone and many others. She was prolific and wrote about ethics, feminism, fiction and politics. One of her best known works is The Second Sex that remains an important text in the investigation of women’s studies. Simone shared a loving yet seemingly tormented relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, who wanted an open relationship. While she appears to have reluctantly agreed to this, Simone was prone to depression and jealousy, walking the streets of Paris in search of him and his lovers.

In The Second Sex, Simone writes

When not encountering love, she may encounter poetry. Because she does not act, she observes, she feels, she records; a color, a smile awakens profound echoes within her; her destiny is outside her, scattered in cities already built, on the faces of men already marked by’ life, she makes contact, she relishes with passion and yet in a manner more detached, more free, than that of a young man. Being poorly integrated in the universe of humanity and hardly able to adapt herself therein, she, like the child. is able to see it objectively; instead of being interested solely in her grasp on things, she looks for their significance; she catches their special outlines, their unexpected metamorphoses. She rarely feels a bold creativeness, and usually she lacks the technique of self-expression; but in her conversation, her letters, her literary essays, her sketches. she manifests an original sensitivity. The young girl throws herself into things with ardor, because she is not yet deprived of her transcendence; and the fact that she accomplishes nothing, that she is nothing, will make her impulses only the more passionate. Empty and unlimited, she seeks from within her nothingness to attain all (374).de-Beauvoir1

Hilda Doolittle, Georgia O’Keeffe and Simone du Beauvoir share a spirit and passion complicated by a world of human relationships, emotion, love and control. Clarissa Pinkola Estes perhaps best describes this in Women Who Run with the Wolves, “The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and season of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questioning and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul place” (276).

Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male dominated societies for thousands of years and to this day, continues to play women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making. While important figures in these women’s lives, Pound, Stieglitz and Sartre may have brought a shadow or corrupted old world belief system into their relationships where love and control could not co-exist, thus impeding and suffocating the creative spirit of all three women. In spite of this, each woman transitioned through the difficulties of complicated relationships and the cavities of depression to find herself and her creative freedom.

These women were all very distinguished and creatively passionate artists. The men who were instrumental to them remained close throughout their lives. but each woman sought the freedom to create the space to be in their truth, to be all that they could be, and, in the process, they had to allow and accept their significant loves to be all that they could be as well. Perhaps caught between their desire to live out a female destiny and to function independently both at work and in their personal life, they found their own unique freedom in this polarized world.

I find it interesting to be invited to explore these three incredibly gifted and talented women at a time when I am exploring my own feminine and masculine aspects and how they impede or restrict as well as compliment everything, including the relationships in my life. What do I and other men have in common with Pound, Stieglitz’s and Sartre that we have the capacity to change in order to bring about deeper, more loving, free and creative relationships? Forced to relinquish their focus from their lovers and traditional relationships, these women appear to fall back in themselves to discover an inner love, a different terrain from which to experience themselves and their creative worlds. A self-love to be all that they can be!

Georgia Okeefe art

The Magic Is In Our Hearts

_WDP1781Families around the world used to gather and listen to what Orson Wells referred to as the “magic inside that little box”. Those gas filled tubes glowed brightly with the news of the day, live music, special events, theater and voices large and small that brought our world a little bit closer. The format was as varied as the talent and we called it “full service” radio. Most days there seems little magic left on the radio with more sensationalism, shrinking playlists, less creativity, less choice and very few stories worth sharing.

I believe the internet saved radio, or at the very least, leveled the playing field so that almost anyone with something interesting to share could reach people with similar interests. With the exception of some very small town radio stations who remain hyper “local”, most commercial radio stations haven’t caught on to what’s happening at CBC, NPR, BBC, campus or community radio stations or hundreds of online storytelling sites that can be really interesting to listen to.

Just over a year ago our small company which is made up of four families from British Columbia and a staff of about 30 was awarded a license to build a new radio station in Vancouver by the CRTC. After what seemed like years of dreaming, endless hours of brainstorming, research, planning and finally writing a heartfelt application for a commercial radio station with a community focus that we call Roundhouse Radio, we set out to build it.

SarahAs our small team celebrates our accomplishments of getting this far in a new digital age – its a great time to reflect on the past year and what lies ahead in the new one. There was finding a building from 42 others, building permits, designs and construction. The painting, staining, furnishing and Yvonne guiding our hiring, look & feel.

Tracey, Monique and Barb in temporary offices at Red Robinson’s planning our web and and social media strategies and hours with Tracey and I meeting at Nelson the Seagull looking for potential team mates one at a time from over 300 resumes. Six applications to the City of Vancouver to find a better transmitter site and a nine month delay, hundreds of community meetings and weeks of rehearsals, 100’s of little things and then finally signing on the air October 13th 2015 with Sarah McLachlan. What a year! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5v2xuFGUGA

Our owners group and advisory boards have been amazing through this crazy “startup process” and a real source of support and inspiration. In my 52 years in this crazy business, I have never seen anything like what is happening at our roundhouse. It’s magic on air, online and on the street, with a stellar lineup of heartfelt and talented hosts and support staff, a steady stream of guests focused on social change and regular people who simply want to make Vancouver a better place to live. It’s a joy to be a small part of such a unique project that is truly making a difference. That’s real magic!

The pace has been quick and I almost became a casualty to our momentum in a car accident driving to Kelowna this December. As my Jeep lost control on the black ice and tumbled into oncoming traffic the first four cars had a nurse and helpful partners who likely saved my life. What’s the chance?

Anne Newlands suggests that there are no accidents in life so…This could be an existential crisis, or more likely, one of those wake up calls that gave the holidays a very special meaning as everything changed for me in a heartbeat.

accident 3

Every moment has become more precious as it clearly wasn’t my time. I am revaluing everything in life and what I am doing with it, understanding and feeling our impermanence and finding more meaning in every moment. https://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/Kelowna/15/12/17/Social_Media_Brings_Okanagan_Crash_Survivor_and_Good_Samaritans_Together/

It seems like a good time to wake the Buddha within!

To suggest this has been a bench mark year for me is an understatement as I could write volumes. It’s been as big a a year for my family and friends – old as well as new, at Roundhouse and with a great cohort at SFU. We all became a little bit closer. I am full of gratitude for everyone’s love and support and that I am able to write this and dream about how to make tomorrow even better! It seems somehow ironic in all of this that I will be leading the discussion next semester on Genesis?

I hope you have an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful things you accomplished this past year and consider the new one with optimism, wonder and joy.

Heartfelt thanks!

towershot
www.roundhouseradio.com

Canadian Music Week

10404517_813725658679908_4787489178306961401_nI received a phone call from an old friend a few months ago advising me that I had been chosen for a life time achievement award at Canadian Music Week.

While awkward and humbling, I am naturally full of gratitude for all who made this possible. I did my best to thank everyone that took the time to help me along the way in a few interviews and at CMW this past week.

Acknowledgments (from my CMW Speech)

I am honored to be this year’s recipient of the Allan Waters Lifetime Achievement Award. Allan was a great broadcaster and humanitarian and I am grateful to the CHUM organization, the Waters family and everyone at Canadian Music Week to allow me to share this stage with so many good friends, mentors and colleagues.

With me today are my wife and partner Yvonne Evans, my daughter Paisley & her husband James, my son Evan – my son Heath with his son Oliver – my daughter Ally – my sister Khris and Tracey Friesen who is our Director of Programming at Roundhouse Radio. Unfortunately my daughter Shalon and my step daughter Monique, were unable to attend today along with my daughter in law Sarah, granddaughter Esther and my nephew Ben and his family.

I’d like to think Shalon is here in spirit.

Having just celebrated 50 years in broadcasting I am indebted to a handful of owners & managers who had the faith and vision to turn their radio & television stations over to me. I am as grateful for the talented teams I was allowed to work with and for their patience and understanding as I learned my craft.

There are many people to thank as it’s been many years since listening to the magic of that little box late at night growing up in Pittsburgh. I mentioned some by name in a recent FYI interview but there just isn’t time to thank everyone in every chair at every station, all the passionate music people, promoters, artists, advertisers and good friends that I have met across the country.

There were some lost years learning more about my craft and myself. Leaving the states and traveling across Canada has taken it toll and I will forever be humbled by the love, understanding and most importantly – forgiveness of my family and close friends for those darker times.

I would be remiss not to acknowledge those who have seen me through some of those darker times; Yvonne, Gary Slaight, Bill Varecha, Nancy Brown-Dacko, Rob Parkin, Eric Rothschild, David Marsden, Jim McLaughlin, Nancy Brown Dacko, Gail & Cliff Goldman, Neil Dixon, John Parikhal, Shelley Zavitz, Frank Gigliotti,John Honderich, Roy Hennessey, Ray Daniels, Sam Feldman, Bruce Allen, Red Robinson, Terry David Mulligan, Jim Waters, Rick Pushor and my coach Dr. Anne Newlands.

Heartfelt thanks to my family, each of you, a great independent ownership group and the CRTC. I have never been more excited to be building a new radio station with a new team that are inspired to make a difference in Vancouver.

In closing I would like to leave you with a few thoughts.

Sally Armstrong says that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander. You can be part of the problem or a part of solution!

Taking my own advice, I hope that CMW will consider having more women on their panels next year!

Also, I’ve become a big fan of David Whyte. He is an Irish poet that lives on a little island in the Pacific Northwest

In his poem “Sweet Darkness” he writes,

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

That anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

I have had the privilege of working at a time when there were no rules, formats were in their infancy and creativity was encouraged by some of the most amazing owners and teams – that were never too small for me, and with very few exceptions – they all brought me alive.

I have always loved radio and I remain passionate about what it can do. Gifted story tellers, artists and creative people from all disciplines will always find a way to be heard. As will driven journalist who are committed to witnessing the world we live in.

Radio can do much good work in local communities and I believe that the companies that encourage innovation and allow creative teams to do what they do best will be the most successful on air, online and on the street!

So please remember
anything or anyone (any person or any company)

that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

Thank you very much

Time is Precious

ILM Gastown IMG_5007 A new sign now lights up the home of Industrial Light and Magic (Formerly Pixar) animation studios in Gastown. In clear white neon it announces day and night that “Time is Precious”. It stirs many thoughts and feelings for all that see it.

We all use time in various ways as it has become a keystone for clergy, authors, poets, philosophers as well as the rest of us. Ken Nordine did some word jazz about time. He’s an American voice-over artist from the “beat” generation. His deep voice was featured for many years in commercials and movie trailers. I always liked “what time is it” and “infinity o’clock”. Both are classics and still on YouTube.

http://thelistenerd.com/2010/07/31/video-ken-nordines-what-time-is-it/

The end of a year often asks us to consider how we used our time as the world slows down just a little for reflection and contemplation. I need more for both these days as I enter what many refer to as my last couple of chapters (ugh). This years headlines were about relationships, kids, retirement, birth and death, establishing our new company, working with the Pattison Broadcasting Group, CRTC applications & hearings, developing Roundhouse Radio, new beginnings, new friends, meeting my shadow and yes, more introspection. I could go on…

I was recently introduced to David Whyte who asks, “are you up to the conversation you are being invited to participate in”. This could be with your partner, family, friends, personal coach, career, community or where ever you are in life. For me, all of the above resonate more clearly than ever. Making sure that I am present and available so that none of the above “are just another thing to do” is my focus of how to best use my time.

I am grateful for the gift in the suggestion or loan of a book as it is usually a window for growth from a friend who see the things I miss. Dr. Anne Newlands loaned me one recently with a piece from R. D. Laing that I’m quite struck by:

The range of what we think and do
is limited by what we fail to notice.
And because we fail to notice
there is little we can do
to change
until we notice
how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds

When carefully considered, I missed some things this year because I failed to notice, hear and feel many of the conversations that I was invited to join. I have extended myself some grace for being mortal and will give my heart – to do better and be more present in the days and years ahead on this road to enlightenment with more humility and grace.

Our time together is precious.

mo·jo /ˈmōˌjō/ Noun 1.A magic charm, talisman, or spell. 2.Magic power.

medicine bagThis marks my 50th year in broadcasting where I began running for burgers and teletype copy while in high school. I have since occupied almost every chair in radio and television stations in two countries as well as a few at the Toronto Star Newspaper.

Funny, as I am still running, maybe not as quickly and looking forward to renewal and “reinvention”. While God only knows what that looks like, I do love media whether it’s on air, on line or on the street and particularly people like you that bring so much passion and intelligence to it. I remain committed to find a place that will allow me to continue contributing to its growth and making a difference in the communities we serve.

With this said, I will be leaving Bell Media at the end of this month.
I wanted to write a short note to thank everyone who has been instrumental in my career since leaving Pittsburgh and moving to Canada from Los Angeles in the late 60’s. Admittedly it’s a growing list!

I realized that as I moved from station to station over the years that each of you played an important part in my development and growth in an industry that I remain very passionate about. It has been and continues to be a great honour to learn from each of you and to share your lessons and mentoring with others.

I am off to Italy in a few weeks to attend my daughter’s wedding, maybe a little fly fishing and camping to contemplate life and “reinvention” – and then I’d like to publish my monograph, “Media & Not For Profit Organizations” , take a few guitar lessons and launch MojoMediaInc.com or the Hamilton Media Group.com (waiting for approvals) to help advance the good work of the not for profit community across the country. I know a little bit about fund raising, media and teamwork so if you know of any organizations looking for their “mojo” please send them my way.

I appreciate all the recent help from my friends in radio & television stations across the country with PFLAG Canada and the LGBTQ Community as well as the many other organizations that I have the privilege to work with.

All the best and my heartfelt thanks…

A gentle nudge!

gallery01I dreamt last night that a friend who had recently died picked me up in a truck with bald tires and we went off for a ride. It was pleasant enough although there was that part where we were going down a hill and were about to hit some other cars and then of course I woke up. I have no idea if it was just my subconscious at play or if I was really on the “other side” hanging out with Don.

Don McConachie was bigger than life and an interesting and engaging man. He was always “fantastic” and willing to assist anyone needing help whether they knew it or not. He was also known for taking in strays like me and I heard many stories at his celebration of life where he did the same for many others.

I remember first learning about Don while on a fly fishing trip in the Nicola Valley with Terry Mulligan. We spent the night at the Quilchena Inn many years ago when we met up with the owners. When they learned that I would be moving to Kelowna they were kind and offered to have a friend call to help us get settled.

It seemed like a well intentioned offer and sure enough weeks later Don McConachie called me during my last days at the Toronto Star and introduced himself. Don took over most of the arrangements getting us settled into a new city. Within hours of his call he had arranged a lawyer and now another good friend, a real estate agent and he made dozens of suggestions that proved invaluable. Perhaps most of all, he became more like an uncle over the years checking in frequently and inviting us over to have dinner with him and Penny and trying to get me more involved with the Conservative Party, golf and the Okanagan Foundation.

I was reminiscing this morning and wondering if I had become like my grandparents and obsessed to see if I knew anyone in the obituaries. Fortunately, I have not taken to that past time just yet however when I think about it, I have been saying goodbye to friends throughout the years and like Don, remembering how important they were to me and the lessons they taught. I miss them.

I know that you know this but every moment is precious and we shouldn’t count on them to keep reoccurring. When they do it’s another very special day to do what Don did and so many of the friends we have had over the years do – make a difference.

Have a “fantastic” day!

Advocate or Activist

good2greatI seem to find myself involved in more discussions lately regarding advocacy and activism. Admittedly both are terms that are often used interchangeably, and while they often overlap, they also have different meanings. It’s important to remember the distinctions especially if you or your organization plan to participate in either activity.

An activist is a person who makes an intentional action to bring about social or political change.
An advocate is one who speaks on behalf of another person or group.

Activism can be described as intentional action to bring about social and political change, economic justice, or environmental well being. This action is in support of, or opposition to, one side of a controversial argument.

An advocate can also be involved in controversial activities or issues, but because they are speaking on behalf of a group, they tend to be more likely to follow the paths of lobbying and legislation. They are also often part of a bigger group, such as celebrity speaking on behalf of the UN, Green Peace or other global organizations.

I recently wrote about the need for more activism in media to be more aggressive and vocal about crimes against humanity and discrimination of all types. Media readily promote or give time to the top diseases in the world but not as much time about sex trafficking, rape, domestic abuse, female circumcision in third world countries, civil rights for the LGBT community, poverty, homelessness, a more sustainable planet and a growing list of issues, attractive and not so attractive with the exception perhaps being the headline of the day.

Knowing that ratings drive programming perhaps that says as much about us and our desire to escape what’s really going on in the world and what we choose to watch or listen to?

The more publicity given the atrocities occurring globally and in our communities the more anger I feel and the more compelled I am to take action professionally and personally.

The more people I speak with the more I find others wanting to get engaged in some form of “legacy work” and to give back. Thus, a lot of introspection and more questions regarding what our individual roles should be and the degree of advocacy required to make a meaningful difference. I am not for a moment diminishing the importance of curing the diseases looking for a cure or any particular activity as all causes that make this a better world are worthy of support!

I know that I can become emotional charged quickly, and my partner has been careful to point out that activism that comes from anger or aggression simply attracts more of the same. I will admittedly have to work on this – however it does speak to how we move from anger and emotionally charged events to a higher place that can actually facilitate change. So, I have been introduced to Andrew Harvey recently and the principals of “Sacred Activism”.

I like the balance this provides me and thought it worth sharing as I work at being kinder and gentler, and as we move forward with a list of activities that are “heartfelt” and that we want to engage in. Consider this…

“A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.” ~ Andrew Harvey

http://www.andrewharvey.net/index.php

There is a common theme among NGO’s and Not for Profits as they are often organized by individuals propelled by a wound around a particular issue and who understand the principals of “sacred activism”. It gives them a sense of purpose and meaning to create a structure to hopefully instigate change.

This said, there are often many gaps in their business acumen and knowledge of leadership and infrastructure that many of them do not succeed. I don’t believe that this means that they should operate more like business as there are many poorly run businesses however it does suggest that all organizations require a common purpose, heartfelt connection to their work and most importantly greater disciplines in all aspects of their enterprise. Jim Collins points out in his Monograph that accompanies “Good to Great” in the social sectors that ‘a culture of discipline is not a principal of business: it is a principle of greatness.”

Hopefully you are involved or perhaps considering getting involved with something that stirs you to action and a desire to “give”. Activism of all types truly makes a difference and we all have a piece of the solution to make this a better world!