12.29.2004

academic jargon

I found a conference (International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability) that really appeals to me in theory, but not in print. I had forgotten how nauseating academic-speak is even though I have at times been fully immersed in it. As much as I agree with the core of any statement (or not, I really can't tell in this example), no sentence should exceed several lines of type! Now that I look at it, I'm not even sure it's a sentence. This is taken from the abstract of one of the submitted papers.

It is the failure to realize that arbitrary assumptions about the relationships between parts (sovereign nation-states and national economies) and wholes (international system of government and global economy) in the present system of international government and in the economic theory that we now use to coordinate virtually all large-scale human activities are categorically different from and wholly incompatible with the real or actual dynamics of part-whole relationships in the global environment or ecosystem.

For those of you I didn't lose with that last sentence...
It really is a compelling concept to link environment, culture, social and economic fields and I'm pleased to see it as an emerging field under the banner of sustainability. It is unfortunate that those of us who aren't employed by major institutions that are footing the bill can't afford to go without serious dedication and saving. If there are any rich benefactors who'd like to send me to Hawaii to take this in I'm all for it. The virtual registration, meaning you get electronic versions of all materials I think, costs a mere $300US. I'll keep my eye on it for next year.

The beauty of stumbling on something like this online is that I can use the names and papers as starting points for my own research without paying anybody. If a paper really interests me I can order it through the site for about $5. Not as exciting as a trip to meet people, discuss the topics and lounge by the pool but great for a budget.

Incidentally, I found the conference link on a site called Rick's Cafe Canadien. A lot of the entries are academically oriented but I enjoyed browsing them for links. Odd that his focus is on educational technology...my interests and Jeremy's are coming full circle and connecting. Love it.


12.21.2004

another party

We were graciously invited to a Christmas party last weekend by hosts who barely knew us. I can't recall ever attending a party where ALL the people there were interesting. It's also a rare treat to find couples where you get along equally well with both partners. Within 5 minutes of arriving Jeremy and the host were deep into a lively conversation about the local official community plan.

There was a lot of talk about raising kids as that was the general demographic, but it was distinctly meaningful and interesting (to me anyway). Not "my little pookie can brush his own hair and stand on one leg at the same time", but more along the lines of "what's your take on the local school system - are you going to send your kids?". Lots of dialogue on discipline - frustrations and successes.

It was refreshing to meet a whole group of people that were simply themselves. The bullshit factor was zero. Maybe that has to do with being out of our 20's? On top of that the food was out of this world and we went home with extra goodies and party favours. We also went home with a sense of excitement for potential friendships and connections.

To the hosts - our sincerest thanks for taking the risk of inviting us!


thoughts on community

I have realized over the last few days that I am afraid of committing to living in Summerland.

It's not that I've found fatal flaws, it's actually the opposite problem. I'm starting to engage in the community and am understanding on a practical level that it means giving, not just taking. We idealize the perfect community as a place we could simply move into and all the things that interest and please us are in progress. I'm "getting" it that you have to interact and grow with a community if you want it to be meaningful to you. The fears are that you put all the time, effort and money into all sorts of projects and friends and end up leaving for some reason (like work, family or new interests). It's a very real possibility, but is it an exuse to live in self-protecting and disconnected way?

I care enough that I've drawn up a little plan for making our dwelling space and the whole complex more sustainable in the long term. The personal changes require more cash than anything and can be done in due time, but presenting some of my ideas to the strata will be a whole different experience. I want to plough up some of our unused, overwatered and low visibility lawn/weeds to start making a garden next year. A lot of other work needs to be done on the property so I'm hoping to organize a work day in spring and follow up with a potluck or barbeque. There is a precedent for the work day but that's as far as plans have ever gone. I hope to have the restraint to take things slowly - it would be all too easy to scare the tar out of people with over- enthusiastic organizing.

I like to believe that getting involved here does not preclude moving or doing the same thing somewhere else at some point, should we chooose that path. It does not "trap" me here, but rather "roots". Positive force, not negative. The beauty of committing, all fears aside, is the complete freedom to love being where I am. The consequences of not engaging are depressing. Isn't that why the suburbs are so dull?


12.20.2004

gap

When there's this big a gap in my posting it probably means one of two things. The first possibility is that I'm exhausted and can't get past the "eensie weensie spider" refrains in my head, much less come up with something to write. The second most likely situation is that I'm spending my free time thinking, reading and doing, which has been the case lately. Throw in some Christmas activities, (of which we have very few) and that leaves computer time pretty low on the priority list.

There is some stuff I will catch up on soon but in the meantime I thought I'd throw this pseudo-post in to let any readers that I have left know that I'm still here. Thanks for patience.

12.09.2004

thirty party

The local flavours party was fabulous, from my perspective anyway. To see a list of local foods we found, check out Jeremy's entry. My particular favourite was the Gewurztraminer Cheese from Village Cheese in Armstrong. Mmmm. Great friends, good food and lots of help from Jeremy's parents who kept the girls going and the kitchen clean so we could socialize (thank you).

A lot of people have asked me how I'm dealing with 30 and it seems to be disappointing to many that I don't have much to say. So if you're curious about how it's affected me - it hasn't really (or at least not yet). My theory on it is that I went through such dramatic transitions with becoming a parent as far as both responsibilty and body shocks go that 30 is anti-climatic.

I feel great about the years behind me and what I've gotten done and am really excited to take on the next decade. I'm more full of ideas and energy than I've been in years and can't wait to see where I go with it. Don't take that to mean that I'm not often exhausted and cranky because I've been a bear this week, but in general my mind is more active than it was when I had the teeny babes, and that is progress.

12.06.2004

book stack

I looked over at the stack of books on my bedside table and burst out laughing, hoping it doesn't fall on me at night. I'm going to try to list them without disclaimers...anyone who is familiar with my housekeeping style or lack thereof will have no trouble picturing this.

- The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin (Okay a disclaimer here - no, I'm not having any babies, it's a dream of mine though to see midwifery accessible to anyone who wants it).
- Animal Farm, George Orwell
- Pippi In the South Seas, Astrid Lindgren
- Barnyard Dance! Sandra Boynton
- The Overworked American, Juliet B. Schor
- The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Second Edition, Eds. Richard Ellmann & Robert O'Clair
- Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
- Superbia! Dan Chiras and Dave Wann

The last book is my most recent library find. It is fabulous! It is the first sustainable housing book I've found that really addresses the fact that there are millions of houses in the suburbs right now and that we can't all jet off to some remote acreage to build a "perfect" house. Ideas for retro-fitting current homes and transforming some of the grossest aspects of the suburban layout are presented. The steps take guts and vision but not necessarily a lot of cash or dramatic relocation which is refreshing. Check it out and you'll feel the activist in you start to get excited about the possibilties.