Category Archives: Life

No. 3 Saville Row, London

50 years ago on January 30, 1969, the Beatles performed live for the last time.  It wasn’t a big show, but it was a big deal.  The Fab Four performed on the rooftop of No. 3 Saville Row, home of Apple Corps.  According to Tripadvisor, No. 3 Saville Row is 679th on a list of 1914 attractions in London. The Beatles performed 9 songs including 3 takes of ‘Get Back’.  On the 50th anniversary of the fab four finale it’s announced that award winning director Peter Jackson will be piecing together unseen footage of the Let it Be sessions giving generations of Beatles fans a new look at the sessions that would result in the final Lp that the Beatles would release.  There have been many articles written about the rooftop concert, the movie shows four musicians  who still had something to prove.  For there to be a new film about that time, that music, that LP and that concert its like a new Star Wars movie moment for me.

Forty one years ago, was the release of another generational last concert .  On the American Thanksgiving in 1976,  The Band hosted “The Last Waltz” a dinner and a concert for and with many of their friends at the Winterland Ballroom in San Fransisco. Conceived by Robbie Robertson the Last Waltz was not planned to be the end of the The Band, but rather like the Beatles, the end of touring.  It ended up being the end of the Band led by Robbie Robertson though.   The Band invited many of their friends to join them on stage for the farewell.  The film directed by Martin Scorsese, stands as one of the finest concert documentaries.  Five different versions of the concert, five different song line-ups.  If you’re counting, there’s the  concert song line up which differs from the film which differs from the original 1978 soundtrack version which differs from the 2002 four disc CD to finally,  the 40th anniversary edition released in 2018. which is different from all the others.  Amazingly and for whatever reason each has a different song sequence.  Perhaps Robbie Robertson can answer the question with the follow up to his book Testimony which ended after the final song of the concert.

In 1976, Neil Young performed two songs in The Last Waltz, though only those who were in the Winterland Ballroom would see Young perform ‘Four Strong Winds’, it hasn’t appeared (that I know of) on any released version of the Last Waltz.  In ’76 Young was an established artist but it was only 10 years earlier that he started making a name for himself  since arriving in California from Toronto.

Young compared his music, especially the sessions for the ‘Everybody Knows this is nowhere’ album to that of the Beatles, short and traditionally structured.  Its not the only comparison he makes to the Beatles. In the biography “Shakey” his says his time with CSN&Y is like the Beatles while performing with Crazy Horse is like the Rolling Stones.

In 2006 Young started releasing his archive series, live recordings going back to 1968.  The second archives release is his concert in Massey Hall in 1971, it went to #1 in Canada and #6 in the US.   It was a time when he was extremely creative he would release music with Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, Crazy Horse and also released solo recordings.  The Live at Massey Hall recording is momental for a few reasons, first its recorded in Massey Hall and it captures Young just before he would have his first #1 hit, Heart of Gold. It’s this tour in 1971 that had Neil at his best.  When I first listened to the recording in 2007 I got chills.  Here was Young playing music that was new in ’71.  No one knew what would happen to it.  But as I listened I was envious that I was not there (I was only 11 at the time) to hear these incredible songs that would end up on “Harvest”.  The people that filled Massey Hall that evening had no idea that they were a part of a generational shift in music.

I can only imagine what those  people that jammed Massey Hall in 1971 thought of the music they were listening to – and then to have the chance to hear it all again 36 years later.  It gives me chills just thinking now how they would react to hear that show all over again kowing that his music that night would be as great today as it was when he played those songs befiore they were released on that in 1971.  There is a part in that show where I stand (or sit) still and just listen.  It happens as Neil has walked off the stage and the crowd starts clapping, banging seats and making noise with just about anything to bring him out for an encore.  It goes on for at least 4 minutes before Young reappears and starts into ‘I am a child’. I listen in amazement to the reaction of those at the concert when he comes back.  It gives me shivers every time.

Imagine being one of the 2,765 people that would have had the opportunity to be making that noise in Massey Hall that night to bring him back, but to hear it all again a generation later.  That’s what makes this recording worthy of being connected to The Beatles on the roof on No. 3 Saville Row and The Band in The Last Waltz in a trifecta of concerts we should not be without watching or listening to.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Goodbye, Hello and a Sad Farewell

The Headlines say it all…

Closed for Renovations: The Home of Canada’s Democracy 

(Toronto Star Dec. 18, 2018)

Lots of unresolved issues as Centre Block closes

(Penticton Herald Dec. 24, 2018)

The iconic Centre Block is closing indefinitely 

(The Globe and Mail Dec. 14, 2018)

Parliament adjourns for 2018, ending a final sitting in Centre Block for a Decade

(CTV News Dec. 13, 2018)

Closing Centre Block: Parliament Prepares to Leave

(CPAC, Dec. 17, 2018)

An empty House of Commons, December 2018

I have only been working on Parliament Hill for three years, but Centre Block, she is a grand old lady.  There are many areas to discover and to halls to wander down. The Library is an essential visit; there is the hall of Prime Minister portraits (including the story of the ‘wall’ between Jean Chretien and Paul Martin).  Working there, the committee rooms hold amazing artwork that captures our history, the Peace Tower and the memorial Chamber housing the books of those that have died in wars past. 

So much has been written about the “good-bye” to Centre Block that I figure the words on the new home of the House of Commons will be eventually written in January when MPs return to Ottawa.  Walking into the House and watching Question Period is always a thrill, I don’t always have to like the answer but its fun to hear the questions.   The many halls that take some getting used to may not be missed, but the meeting rooms, the corner offices, the Main Rotunda and the House and Senate Lobbies will certainly be missed.  They all have history and a person can get lost in thought when pondering the footsteps of thousands of MPs, Prime Ministers, foreign leaders, Governor Generals and many many many Canadians that might be only a echo in our history – but those steps loom large when you yourself have a chance to walk in Centre Block. 

The grand ole building will be missed, but boy oh boy do we have something amazing to call home for the next 10+ years!  Say hello the new West Block Chamber and the Senate chamber in the old Ottawa Conference Centre, that before that was the Union Station for trains coming in and out of Ottawa.

The work that has been done is phenomenal, the engineering in adding a major infrastructure within a building is something to behold.  The West Block doesn’t have the beauty of 100 years, but it is a beautifully renovated building that will house two large committee rooms that will also serve as the Government and Opposition Caucus meeting rooms.  The attention to detail in the West Block is intricate, the use of what were once outside walls to be indoor, the high glass ceiling in the House chambers creates a sense of limitless opportunities for MP’s all add to the awe of what is now our House of Commons.  

It is going to take a while to know exactly where the offices of the Prime Minister, Opposition and Third Party are and what is the fastest way to get there.  I imagine the many stairs and elevators will lead me astray – I will need a few weeks before I can adequately show guests around the building efficiently. 

Luckily I had the chance to walk through the West Block in November.  It was difficult to decide if I should take photos or just look at the transformation because you didn’t want to miss anything. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10161038762890858&set=pcb.10161038769540858&type=3&theater

Bruce Addo with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011

Finally, a goodbye to a giant of a man, Bruce Addo passed away suddenly on Christmas day.  He had just started working in the Minister of Environment, Rod Phillip’s office, in Queens Park after the election.  I knew Bruce briefly, we worked on the Larry O’Brien campaign in 2010 together in Ottawa, but the memory of him stuck with you.  He was a hard person to forget, because he broke the mould on how a political person should act.  He never had a bad word for his political opponents, but never shied away from a debate with them. 

He had a smile that never quit and time for everyone for a conversation.   I don’t need to say more about him, the tributes on Facebook have flowed non-stop since the news of his death.  I mentioned to someone that if we all did politics the way Bruce did, Canadians would have a better opinion of politicians.  Bruce had a great future in the governing of Ontario and eventually Canada with a Conservative government.  He would have gone far, now he is gone far away but his smile will always be near.  

We will miss you Bruce.

2018 in the rear view mirror

2018 ends in a few days and it’s time to look in the rear-view mirror on some events that shaped the past 12 months and a few that we should be looking out for in 2019.  35 posts (so far – including this one were posted on this blog, and a good portion, 9 were focused on the Ottawa Municipal elections.  I wrote five posts that were oriented to Ontario politics and the elections there. Six books were reviewed and the remainder of the posts were single topic posts from BC referendum on election reform, South Africa’s day zero of water availability, the #MeToo movement and there were a couple of music posts earlier this month.

In one of my first posts of the year I declared I was living a political year.  The promise I made to myself was to engage in debate and be better educated in my surroundings.  I reviewed three books last year one talked about our political system (On The House by Rob Walsh, posted in January) another was about our ancient societies and how we should always be listening to our past (The Wayfinders by Wade Davis, posted in April) and a third (No is Not Enough by Naomi Klein, posted January) was about a new political way that claimed the NDP Leadership of Thomas Mulcair, that sadly Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis the key authors of the Leap Manifesto chose not to claim.  Now the NDP have Jagmeet Singh as leader and the party’s hopes of a comeback seem dimmer because of it as he doesn’t seem to have grabbed the imagination of the left.

The results of the Ottawa and Ontario elections were not that much of a surprise, Jim Watson walked back to this office as mayor of Ottawa the day after the election with another huge win.  Doug Ford won not once but twice within 4 months and he moved from the Office of the Leader of Opposition on the 3rdfloor of Queens Park to the Premiers Office one floor below.  Both Doug Ford and Jim Watson face new challenges based solely on how they govern.  Watson’s governance model was challenged with his “nominations” for the selection of committee chairs and committee members.  The choices were seen as autocratic and bypassed the nominations committee at city hall.  None of the Watson named committee chairs were denied the nominations given to them by the Mayor.  

While no one should have been surprised by the actions of Premier Ford, everyone acted like there were.  I guess 15 years of Liberal rule in Ontario gave voters a blind spot when it came to his actions, all he claimed, were campaign promises. Those who didn’t vote for the Ontario PCs went on the warpath and protested.  A former Ontario cabinet minister told me once that if there were no groups protesting on the front lawn of Queen’s Park they were doing something wrong.  I believe it would be a true statement for any party in power to make.

Social media and politics provided much to ponder as our political landscape changed.  Elected politicians were challenged by those for the most part that did not vote for them went online and on social media to vent.  In the past year social media became a live debate between voters and our elected officials.  Until recently politicians who blocked those who did not agree with them did so with out any pushback.  In the 2018 Ottawa elections Mayor Watson was challenged for blocking those who oppose his views on social media.  A court challenge was launched and he relented, the Mayor unblocked all Twitter users he had previously blocked.  

The public discussion in the media (and on Social Media) on politicians using publicly paid devices for social media but limiting who could see them online didn’t provide much sympathy from voters. What resulted was the suggestion that politicians should grow a thicker skin rather shut people out.  Those who opposed the mayor’s actions cited the May decision in US Federal court that President Trump could not block twitter users. Once Mayor Watson relented, other local Ottawa elected officials followed suit. 

As Parliament rose for the Christmas/Winter break we saw in most polls a gap between the Liberals and Conservative party narrowing where it could be toss up between Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau. This does not shine well on Trudeau who for most of his term he has had a good lead above the CPC.  However government missteps, bad legislation and the move of the Liberals to a virtue signalling style of governing has Canadians thinking, “I voted Liberal, but I did not vote for this”.  

In 2015 the election was all about Stephan Harper, if Justin Trudeau has his way the 2019 election will be all about Stephen Harper as well.  You only have to go back to the Liberal convention in July held in Ottawa. There, Trudeau spent his entire keynote address attacking Stephen Harper – yep, he was going after the former Prime Minister as if he was still the leader of the conservatives.  Too bad the room was filled with Liberals so they took the whole 26oz of Liberal Kool-Aid without a pause for a breath.  In the last weeks leading to Parliament rising, Trudeau and his Ministers were answering questions in the house as if Harper was across the aisle looking at them.  Canadians must be confused by now.

As 2018 turns to 2019, I look forward to writing about more politics, writing more about books I’ve read and music I’ve been listening to.  Thank you for reading and providing comments about #RedHeartBlueSign, I hope you’ll continue to read along as post here.  

I’ve thought about expanding how I might talk about the things that interest me.  I have set up a new website, www.robertdekker.cawhich has some content, but I hope to use that for posting #RedHeartBlueSign posts and perhaps video content – I hope you’ll like what I will be bringing to 2019 and to you.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Day Zero

There are times when I feel sheltered from the news of the world. Last week was one of those times and I was shaken by the news report as I watched The National and a subsequent interview from Cape Town, South Africa. A 350 year old city was facing a day without water, WHAT? I was glued to the story. No Water.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 2.31.39 PM

No water, a concern that once only would have been seen in Star Trek (the original) and was recently addressed in the episode entitled “17 Minutes” on the TV show Travellers (Season 2 episode 7). That concern is now a reality.

Watching the report was alarming to me, alarming because it no only affects 4 million people. Daily water consumption is being restricted to 50 litres per person. There is now a 50 for 150 campaign in Cape Town; 50l of water/person for 150 days. It won’t safe the city, but it will help avoid day zero.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 2.34.36 PM

There are many reasons, but as the Premier Helen Zille, of the province of Western Cape writes, forecasts are unreliable, in an op-ed in the Daily Maverick as normal or more than normal rainfall was forecast last summer. 2017 ended up being the driest summer on record. The premier also writes extensively of the politicizing of water, something we see here in Canada almost daily – politicizing climate change. Read her fascinating column here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-01-29-from-the-inside-from-hot-water-to-thin-ice-on-the-day-zero-trajectory/?utm_content=bufferf0734&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#.WndgiGaZN-X.

Day Zero is not only about running out of water, its about circumstances that put our drinking water in jeopardy. There are communities in Canada and the US where the water is undrinkable and unusable. Boil water advisories are becoming more frequent and are in effect longer. Flint Michigan is the American example and California always seems to be on the edge of its own Day Zero. Our First Nations communities live under consistent boil water advisories; incredibly a 22-year boil water advisory will not end until later this year when the government invests $9 Million in a water plant in Neskantaga First Nations, 450 kilometers north of Thunder Bay. Multiple governments have failed the 350 members of that community.

In our own Ontario backyard we need to examine how our water supply will be managed and consumed. in 2016, Nestle bought a well near Elora Ontario, a small town not far from Guelph. Nestle planned to pump 1.6 million litres of water per day from the well for its Canada bottled water consumers. Nestle also pumps water in other communities across Canada including British Columbia. Nestle is doing nothing against the law. As we have seen with protests against pipelines, communities are very concerned with large corporations taking resources out of the ground.

All this has brought the delicate balance our water and natural resources to the forefront of my thoughts. We need to watch our actions, who we allow to take our water, ensure governments protect our resources; act to protect them from and have safeguards built in to contracts when corporations are given access to them.

As consumers of water, we know there is a lot of it in Canada, we should be wary of our consumption. It’s good to see the use of public water refilling stations at big events where we can refill water bottles and other containers. But all of this will mean nothing if we don’t learn from Cape Town and their count down to Day Zero. Little things to reserve our water will help, but as we see from Cape Town it is not enough if rainfalls decrease and drought becomes more frequent.

Cape Town went from overflowing dams to Day Zero in only four years. Day Zero in Cape Town is April 16th, only days ago it was April 12th; only the success of 50l in 150 days will push this day further and perhaps provide relief to the thousands of Cape Towners who now live with 90 second showers using reduced laundry, washing and flushing capabilities.

CBC Radio has been taking a ‘Day Zero’ contingency a bit further, considering the after effects of an earthquake along the BC Coast. Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe hosts “Fault Line”, which examines what will takes place Day Zero of a major seismic quake. Taking the listener from the response immediately following the quake, call it Day Zero plus with the minutes, hours, days, weeks and months following the earthquake. I found listening to Fault Lines to be a “wake up” kinda scary. You can listen to the 6 episode podcast on the CBC Radio app or via cbc.ca/podcasts.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Surprises of 2017

Surprise BBT 22017 was not as surprising as the year before it, but there were expectations that were not met.

We said farewell to some great performers in 2017 including Tom Petty and Gord Downie. Here, once again, is a list from CNN – let’s hope that there will be no more to add before the end of the year; http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/16/world/gallery/people-we-lost-in-2017/index.html

Yep, #Canada150 was not like #Canada1967. The biggest event of the summer was not Canada Day but the invasion of a Dragon and Spider.

The Ottawa Senators were 1 goal away from Stanley Cup Finals in the spring but as 2017 ends they are far from a playoff spot.

Ministers Morneau, Sajjan, Hehr & Joly (and not in a good way).

Our Prime Minister was found to have broken ethics and conflict of interest rules.

The Ottawa Fury switched leagues and still did not make the playoffs.

The Ottawa Redblacks lost too many close games and could not repeat as Grey Cup Champs.

Doing some work in the Whip’s office is pretty exciting!

Work took me to 9 provinces, saw the East & West Coasts and I drove across the Confederation Bridge. What an experience talking to Canadians and Veterans across Canada.

The Calgary Stampeders lost the second Grey Cup in a row they should have won.

A new City of Champions? The Argos won the Grey Cup and Toronto FC won the MLS Cup. Both games had snow.

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi broke more records on its opening weekend.

November 26, 2017, 36,000 people saw a snowy and cold Grey Cup game at TD Place;

December 19, 1917 6,000 people saw the inaugural NHL game between Montreal and Ottawa in Dey’s Arena. Almost 100 years later (December 16 2017) 34,000 people watched the NHL100 Classic outdoors between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadians at the TD Place stadium in -11C weather.

I had high hopes for the new Gordon Lightfoot biography; those hopes were dashed with less Lightfoot than I thought.

Who can believe that the Beatles Channel on Sirius XM is what I mostly I listen to?

The Tragically Hip delivered again, the movie “Long Time Running” delivered all the emotion and music from last year Man Machine Poem Tour.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is becoming a grumpy old man.

Support of the NDP continued to collapse in by-elections across Canada.

While considered the front-runner, Maxime Bernier didn’t have the steam to become Conservative Leader. That being said, Andrew Scheer is a breathe of fresh air as Leader of the Conservative Party.

Justin Trudeau is older than NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and CPC Leader Andrew Scheer.

Kathleen Wynne did not let all-time lows stop her from staying as Premier of Ontario

There is a revolving door at the White House with key staff coming and going. Somehow Donald J Trump is still here and did not fade away – not even a little.

This is my 200th #RedHeartBlueSign Post that I have written, really…200!

What surprised you in 2017? Please leave a comment with your top 3 surprises.

Finally, thank you for reading #RedheartBlueSign in 2017. With 65 posts, 1000+ visitors and over 1300 views again, it was another good year. I hope you’ll continue to read in ’18, with two elections coming there will be a lot to be seen. i

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

My Best of 2017: The Best of #RedHeartBlueSign

 

This year I have written over 60 posts, this is post number 199 on #RedHeartBlueSign since October 2010.

thank youOver the past 12 months I can say I am happy with each post, though some I have greater pride in writing. The five posts below represent what gave me the greatest pride. Each has its own beginning, that being, what was the motivation for me to write and post each of them.  Thank you for taking the time today and throughout 2017 to read #RedHeartBlueSign.

The Battle for Vanier (November 2017)

The city of Ottawa had two big battles with its residents this year. The first was the relocation of the downtown/main branch of the Ottawa Public Library; the second was a proposal from the Salvation Army to vacate its Byward Market building for brand new building on Montreal Road in Vanier that would house almost all it services under one roof, include approximately 350 beds (some long term and some emergency shelter beds. The response from the community was SOS Vanier, a well coordinated effort of raising the community’s opposition to a plan that goes opposite of the city plans. The big battle was strictly a fight between building use and land use – two very different concepts.

This was my most widely read post of the year, if you haven’t already you can click here to read it: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/the-battle-of-vanier-land-use-vs-building-use

Choose your healthcare cycle (September 2017)

The healthcare system in Ontario and across Canada is at a crossroads. Also at a critical point is the population of Canadians as the Baby Boomer Generation retires and the Boomers’ children and grandchildren are going to be relied upon to work and fund pension programs and healthcare needs for seniors. The point of the post was to emphasize the need for each generation to support the healthcare they need now, through fundraising, radio-thons and telethons and not necessarily the care that was used in the past. More and more provincial budgets will spend more on healthcare that all other departments combined. Hospitals and healthcare organizations count more on donations from the public to close the gaps left from reduced government funding.

My thoughts about this are here for you to read: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/choose-your-healthcare-life-cycle

When did it become legal to do illegal things (October 2017)

The line between helping others and protecting property is a thin one and easily causes words and sometimes actions that have a ripple effect. At the heart of this post was the opinion that the City of Ottawa was not acting fast enough to help stop the opioid crisis and prevent needless deaths. What been approved was a safe injection site in Sandy Hill, but was not ready yet, so Opioid Prevention Ottawa (OPO) set up a tent without approval and permits in a neighbourhood park where children and families played – they refused to close up and not many in City Hall would force the closure including the Police who said they were waiting for the city to tell them to shut it down. I wanted to include the a bit about the illegal Pot Shops that are opening up ahead of the legalization of marijuana but if I had I would have had to leave too much out of the OPO story.

To read all about OPO and the fight for safe neighbourhood and the fight to save lives from overdose clink on this link: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/when-did-it-become-legal-to-do-illegal-things

Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist (August 2017)

2017 was the summer that I became a cycling commuter, taking my bike to work almost everyday. I have to say I got my money’s worth in the spring tune-up. I wrote about my experiences on two wheels, observing not only other cyclists and pedestrians but also drivers of cars and trucks. I had one close call, but I transferred my defensive skills to my bike and stayed safe. I have to say though that cycling defensively is not as well received by other cyclists,

Read my Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/confessions-of-a-casual-commuter-cyclist

836,484 (December 2017)

This post came about from big news on two fronts. First was that the Toronto Star and the National Post were ‘flipping ownership on a large number of small local newspapers and few free daily papers (Metro and 24 hours). The other show dropped when 40+ of these papers were being told that they were closing, a few on the same day that the announcement was made. The largest of the local papers affected was the Barrie Examiner, which has been in operation longer than the British North America Act has been in force. All told I estimated that almost 840,000 Canadians lost a newspaper in one day. Since the day the presses stopped, many independent local papers have spoken loudly to reinforce the fact that local newspapers are still printing and distributing news.

Read 836,484 here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/836484

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Small Business, more than business – it’s social

first jobThere has been a lot of ink used about small business in Canada since the government introduced ideas about taxation. From these discussions it is generally agreed that Small Businesses are good for Ontario and Canada. They support community non-profits, create jobs – first jobs and spur growth in our local economies. There is more to it, there’s what small business does socially, yes, small business is a good social addition to our society.

By social, its not social media, but actually being social; social with customers, social with co-workers and social with supervisors. I recall my first job at 17, clearing a parking lot of grocery carts and looking after the parcel pick-up. It was also where I learned my first lesson of employment. I will have more about that first lesson later.

The social lessons of the small business employer have helped many youth with their first jobs. While as children we learn a lot from our parents, there are lessons that can only be learned from others. In our first jobs we experience different cultures, different languages and finally learning to have someone other than our parents as being figures of authority – someone else that we have to listen to and follow instructions from.

In our first jobs we have to listen to others, that can be challenging, but what saves us when have a new boss that is ‘challenging’ in their ways is our enthusiasm that we have for that first job and the regular pay cheque. We learn that what drives our employers is their need to succeed. Their business is their future and the future of their family. What we learn is not obedience but a respect for authority. While we learn respect in our first experiences of employment it also teaches us that we can also earn the respect of others when one day, we are in a position to supervise and employ others. While we might not know it then, we do learn good and bad leadership styles and hopefully keep the good lessons and learn outcomes from bad leadership.

The first job is not likely to be in an office cubicle, it’s also not likely to be behind a computer. It will probably be in retail, or a service industry – a Tim Horton’s or McDonalds. What is learned in these social settings will set us up for how we treat others for the rest of our lives. I learned in my first job to work with people of all different personalities, how to work for people with different personalities and how we serve so many people in our communities with different backgrounds. It can be very challenging, not everyone can ‘survive the bad boss, but these first jobs teach us the meaning of ‘being’ social to so many and smiling through it all.

In these jobs as service counter clerks, cashiers, grocery clerks is knowledge gained about business from so many that we worked for in those first jobs. When small businesses are lost, so to are opportunities to learn the social lessons by youth in those first jobs. When small business is called the backbone of the local business it should also be known as the great educator of our future business leaders, the leaders who will be better than we are because they will learn from our lessons and our weakness.

My first real lesson of employment came from the words of Roger Kingston, Store Manager of the old Woodchester Mall Dominion Store.  After working for a few weeks he asked if I liked my job, I said yes. He asked me “why does it look like you don’t? You know, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to work here, but if you do, when you come for your next shift have a smile and have fun when you’re working.”

Boy did have those words helped, I went on to work at that store for 7 seven years and worked in many different positions.  I never forgot to work with a smile. and always made sure I enjoyed working, whatever I was doing.  I’ve had lapses when I let emotion get the better of me and suffered for it, but I’ll never forget the second chance that Mr. Kingston gave me. Because of that I have paid forward second chances to those I thought deserved it.

Small business is not just business, it’s social and the social lessons learned in those first minimum wage jobs we all had. We kill those job opportunities and we also lose those invaluable lessons that build the character of next generation leaders.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net