Category Archives: Personal Challenges

My year in pages – Part II

Part 2 of my year of the books I’ve read covers July to December.  In this list of books, I have chosen “Trudeau”, “The King’s War”, “A Gentleman in Moscow” and Stephen Harper’s “Right Here Right Now” to be my reading list while I was in Barrie for the federal election for 8 weeks.  While I read the first three as planned, I finally read Harper’s book in December.   I also did not complete the books in the 8 weeks as I planned, but I did read them all just a later than planned.

Here are my July to December books.

Trudeau: The education of a Prime Minister by John Ivison (2019)

This was like rereading the headlines for the past 4 years, but with a view from the right.  As I anticipated it reaffirmed everything I know and feel about Trudeau.  After reading Ivison, it feels like I should be reading Promise and Peril: Justin Trudeau in Power by Aaron Wherry just to see if I come out on the middle of this time in Canadian history.

The King’s War by Peter Conradi and Mark Logue (2019)

The follow-up to The King’s Speech, to which the Oscar winning movie was based. The King’s War follows George VI and Lionel Logue after the war and into peace time.  If you liked the movie, you’ll enjoy this book.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

A great story!  After you have finished it you’ll want to read it again – right away to catch what you missed the first time that lends to the eventual ending.

The making of the October Crisis: Canada’s long nightmare of terrorism at the hands of the FLQ by D’Arcy Jenish (2018)

A couple of years back I read a book about the legacy of French Canadians have and their contributions to what Canada is today.  Beside Legacy” Canada has an history that needs to be told, sometimes it is an ugly history and we should not hide from it.   The making of the October Crisis is a thorough account of the beginnings of the quiet revolution in Quebec to the explosive climax of it in 1970.  Jenish starts us with the 1960’s Quebec, the roots both political and social that lead to the dissatisfaction of Quebecers.

The groups and individuals who fueled the crisis are explored in detail and provides background to where Quebec is today and helps to understand political cycles in there that include the resurgence of the Bloc of Quebecois in the 2019 federal election.

This book is an important book, it’s a book all Canadians should read, but baby boomers will have flashbacks of the events while reading this.  It’s a weird feeling as you may have lived through this era of our history, it will trigger memories. More importantly it triggers the idea that we cannot allow the same conditions to flourish again.

Right Here Right Now by Stephen J. Harper (2018)

If people could past their dislike for former Prime Minister Harper and read this for this is, an account of the collective good conservative policies generate, history will be much kinder to Harper when political adversaries look back at his tenure as PM.  RHRN is Harper not shooting arrows at his adversaries but shooting arrows at the policies they brought forward.

It is written clearly and not so that you need a PHD to understand it.  His look at polices that have national and global impact on the economy, immigration, nationalism and trade are straightforward and make sense.

Harper’s view of Donald Trump is not at all flattering, but he also recognizes that the reasons for the election of Trump goes back years through policies brought in by previous White House administrations.  Trump is merely the person that recognized and capitalized on the anger of the American worker, it doesn’t make him a better President than say Hillary Clinton would have been.  It’s a lesson that should not be overlooked here in Canada.

Many Moons: A Songwriter’s Memoir by Dayna Manning (2019)

My reading steer me to where I lived and what I’ve done.  Manning hails from Stratford Ontario where I spent 5 years working at CJCS-AM.  I thoroughly enjoyed Dayna’s journey as a musician and a songwriter.  I feel that I should be looking to purchase music she’s released, or at least the songs she has profiled here.

As you may have noticed, my reads leaned heavily towards non-fiction last year, something I would like to change in the next 12 months.

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 & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Walrus Talks: Living Better

the WalrusWe recently attended another in a series of “The Walrus Talks” sessions with the theme of “Living Better”.  The sessions are put together by the Walrus Magazine and Concordia University.  On the most recent talk 7 speakers talked about living better from their personal, business, social or scientific perspectives.

Living better was presented though our identity, song, low tech social media, loss, babies and architecture.  Because of the lack of space and to keep the word count down to keep you the reader engaged here are thoughts on the speakers that left the greatest impression on me. Where there was info available I have included some Twitter ID so you might look further into the speakers I have for you.

Our individual Urban Community is recognized as a core to our living better; presented by architect Donald Schmidt, it discussed the science, politics and culture of how we live now.  Exploring Ottawa’s architecture he gave 6 examples of  buildings that bring better living to Ottawa; his list of six included the recent renovations of the National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Train Station, educational institutions uOttawa and Algonquin College, the Science and Tech Museum and the last of the six, but the one with the greatest potential – the new Ottawa Public Library and National Archives building that will rise in Lebreton Flats.

Going straight for the heart, Christa Couture, writer and broadcaster (Twitter ID @christacouture), brought the idea that personal loss can bring a ‘living better’ quality to our lives.  In loss we often think and hope about life getting better, Couture made us think that sometimes life cannot get better, but that life can be different. Different is an alternative to better that sometimes we need to embrace.  Different gives us all a grounded hope, not for better but for different – an alternative to live better.

With enhancements to how we communicate, it was enlightening to hear Nanveet Alang (@navalang) talk about how we can dial back technology. Tech is essential in today’s world but finding the human in technology allows everyone to make decisions that are our decisions, not technology’s or social media’s.  Two options we have to give us the ‘opt in’ decision are the online group chat rooms. The earliest of these group chats was launched in 1983, a very adopter of social media, but the ideas often stayed in the group forums.  In today’s social media, people’s thoughts are too often public, when they should be kept private.  His second roll back in tech communications is the newsletter, they used to be delivered by email.  The newsletter gives us the human reaction od deciding to opt in to receive a newsletter.  Too often, by simply purchasing something we are automatically part of an email group and added to a newsletter distribution – the opt out is something that should part of history. Alang publishes his own newsletter, The Purposeful Object and is available for subscription at buttondown.email/TPO.

Finally, how about a song to celebrate living better? Sean McCann (@seanmccannsings), former member of Great Big Sea described his days post-alcohol through his song “Stronger” – how now being stronger he is living better.  Have a listen: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sean+mccann+youtube+stronger&&view=detail&mid=768E994AC200C8ED1B97768E994AC200C8ED1B97&&FORM=VRDGAR

Of course, we all make decisions on our personal ways for living better, listening to the others provides insight and perspectives how our community and personal experiences play a part in us living better – if we choose to.

NOTE: For more of The Walrus Talks: Living Better, visit their You Tube Channel for all the speakers of this event and other talks, https://www.youtube.com/user/walrustelevision.

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 & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 1

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Blink – Day One – here it is.  Tomorrow is election day. This is my last post before Canadians go and vote.  I started this mini arc of 8 posts back in August on day 53, and here 52 days  I can say we have done all we can do to ensure a win on Monday.

The days have been long and challenging but in the end everyday has been rewarding.  The team of volunteers have been outstanding, I have met and worked with an amazing group of people, most of whom I never knew before I started this back in August – now I call this team of volunteers, friends. As a Campaign Manager I will always want to have more volunteers, however today I am very happy with everyone that has stepped up and played a part in going from day 53 to day day one and to tomorrow, day zero – election day.

Going back on the previous 8 posts I realize that I haven’t mentioned where I have been, mainly because this was a series about the election experience.  Many of you know who I work for, therefore you will have this all figured out.

This past week, has seen long days as the push to be ready for election day for today has been intense.  Today will have our volunteers go out to our supporters with a reminder to vote tomorrow.  50 days of door knocking, phone calls, putting up signs are done.  One last push for tomorrow.

I guess the advantage of me being busy was that I practically ignored Facebook and was never on Twitter.  The most engaged I stayed on Social Media was Instagram, and somedays that for me it was a struggle to not make a comment on some stupid post that was ful of misinformation of the Conservative platform.  It has me even thinking that it’s time to cut ties with Social Media.  The thought of having to fend off silly attacks against my party tells me there are better ways to spend my time.

I have my thoughts on the candidates from the other parties, some were good and there were instances of attacks because my candidate was the “top dog” (as was stated by one of the other candidates) that were over the line and crossed into rude behaviour.  I was frustrated about this more than anything else, but it reminded me that the other candidates will be “how they will be” and that our campaign will be judged by how we reacted to the words and actions of the other candidates, which most times was not to react at all.

There has been much said that this campaign was about more about personalities, in our local campaign it has been about the issues.  The topic of deciding who gets to define the election, the media or the campaigns is for another day, days after this election is done.

That brings this all back to election day, everything that has been done snce day 50 leads to day zero, tomorrow, election day.

As for tomorrow, all I can ask is that you to get out and vote.

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 & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 52

There is nothing like a blank open space into which a campaign office can be designed.

img_20190829_10190627587164478351558283.jpgI have seen some spectactular campaign offices, in 2008 when Brian McGarry, the Conservative Candidate in Ottawa Centre the old School Board offices/school building on Gilmour street served as his HQ.  The whole building was not used, many offices were utilized, but the hidden gem was the auditorium.  The “Aud” could house a few hundred people and had a beautiful stage.  It was used for a local rallys in 2008 and a couple of larger campaign events.  I have never seen any office since have anything like that space.

The campaign office is defined by the space available.  In the Ontario election last year Colleen McCleery had a beautiful home for an office.  It was a 2 story structure with a big basement.  Most activities were restricted to three large rooms on the main floor for sign storage, greeting space and a room for a few people to make phone calls and prepare for election day.  It was as homey and friendly as the campaign atmosphere was.

Each space has it benefits and its challenges.

This year I’ve the oppportunity to open two campaign offices.  Both spaces were leased before I arrived, and a campaign office was created out of each space.  In Orleans, for David Bertschi the campaign took over an old paint store.  When we arrived we found a rainbow of biege, ‘blah’ blue and purple on the walls.  With some paint, blue and white of course, the office was transformed – the fresh colours added energy to the space!

Moving to the new space in Barrie-Innisfil, the office is a ‘shell’ of an office.  Drywall and cynberblock are the décor.  Being stripped of any décor means that there isn’t much that would be damaged. On the plus side though there is plenty of natural light!

Every Campaign Manager has their own touches that they like to see or not see. I don’t like clutter. A campaign office has a limited time of use, clutter derails any effectiveness in the office.  I am also a huge advocate of the campaign calendar on the wall, and I mean ON THE ENTIRE WALL.  It’s a countdown to election day and it is the campaign at a glance – canvass times, meetings, voting days, events, debates and media time are all documented.  The calendar is a sign of accountability for the campaign.    If it’s on the calendar it’s important!

Our campaign office will be as plastic and waste free as possible, we’ll use water jugs and ask everyone to use personal refillable water bottles.  The same will be in place for coffee and tea, we’ll ask everyone to bring a mug or cup.  Just because the office is operational for a short periodof time doesn’t mean we become lazy when it comes to the amount of waste in the office.

The Barrie-Innisfil campaign office is in transition –  a work in progress, with many pieces needed to make it functional for the many that have different tasks to perform.  While  a campaign office is really only a temporary home, it is still a home that needs to be welcoming, functional and efficient.

Sadly, on October 22nd, we just take it all apart and await the next election to do it all again.

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 & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My small green shift

This post is predicated on a great article in the Globe and Mail on Saturday May 11th about plastic and single use plastics in particular.  If you have not read it, I suggest you do.

coffee 1It’s been one week and I have NOT thrown out 18 Starbucks cups in the garbage, one week since Liz and I made the conscience decision to use only a travel coffee mug. It is a small step, one that on the grand scheme of things probably only makes me feel better about my small effort. The first day I walked in to my Starbucks, rather than mobile ordering, the manager gave me a weird look because I had not mobile ordered.  I said I can’t do it anymore, I asked him ‘do you have any idea how many cups I throw out?  He understood.

Does this get me closer to purchasing an electric vehicle?  No.

Does this get me closer to starting to lecture others on what they should do? No

But it is my little bit that I can do know, less garbage and less plastics – it is our single efforts to do a little that will have the greatest impacts.  Like I said, it’s a little for now, it will grow to doing more and to being made aware of where Liz and I can make little changes for a cleaner world.

This one article was an eye opening read.  It’s amazing how much we encourage people to recycle and how much actually GETS recycled. Yes, everyone feels good when the blue box, the black box and the green bin go to the curb.  If we all understood how little good this did, what actions would we be willing to take to make a bigger impact?  It is generally accepted that there is far too much packaging in goods we purchased day to day.  How do we get manufacturers to act on reducing packaging, especially items that are sealed in hard plastics. plastics that may or may not be accepted in our recycle bins.

It costs municipalities millions of dollars to have recycle programs, and the same municipalities may not earn much revenue from these same programs.  Municipalities struggle with cost vs good of a recycle program.  In Ottawa, the city spent $42.5M in 2018 on waste diversion and recycling.  In 2016 the City had revenues of $10.1M for paper and plastics.  However that revenue did not cover the costs of the pick up of the recyclables.  Part of the costs of Ottawa recycling in 2016 were picked up by Ontario’s stewardship program, in 2018 that program provides over $6M to the city.

How much longer can muncipalities afford these programs?  I know we can’t afford NOT to have them.  This should change with the Waste Free Ontario Act passed in 2016 by the Wynne government.  This act puts the onus on the manufactiers and producers shoulders.  They will need to find ways to reduce their packaging and I assume the cost of  packaging.

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As consumers we can demand better and should demand better of the manufacturers and of ourselves. Demand that what we buy has less packaging and demand that we buy products with less packaging.  We need to compare and reward those that make the effort needed.  It’s something I have started to pay attention to.

So for today it comes down to me and my travel coffee mug, less waste and my coffee staying hotter longer – its my small green shift.

 


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 athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Would You Rather?

Would you RatherEver played the game would you rather?

Have you had to pick between two choices knowing the either choice could leave you with battle scars?  If you were to ask me “would you rather be a Candidate or a Campaign Manager” I can at least be thankful that I have done both and can make and informed decision.

So you go ahead ask me, ‘what would it be Rob, Candidate or Campaign Manager?’

As either the campaign manager or the candidate, the results on Election Day matter and they can be devastating if you take into consideration the work that has gone into the campaign.  As a candidate the results are more personal – the candidate puts their heart and soul into the campaign.  The campaign manager sees the wider scope of the election and has a sense of what the results might end up being.  As the campaign manager you are bound to give the most positive take on the internal numbers to the candidate motivating the candidate to continue working doors, the phone calls and encouraging volunteers. In the end, both the candidate and campaign manager take pride in the campaign and the results that come with the results generated.

As a candidate it’s easy to block out other aspects of the campaign – the focus is purely on results and continuing to gun for the win, but don’t ever forget about the volunteers! It makes no sense for either the candidate or campaign manager change their motivation for the campaign from winning to the ‘best result possible’ as the entire team relies on them both for motivation.  Volunteers can smell defeat, I have seen it before where either the candidate or the campaign manager feels that winning is no longer an option.  The volunteers scattered to the wind.  For the most part the volunteers will always defer to the campaign manager to report problems (though volunteers will always want to go to the candidate), provide advice and generally tell the campaign manager how to get a better result.  BUT it should always go to the campaign manager to work with volunteers, welcome them, appreciate them and always show them love.  The candidate should ensure that the one thing they do is THANK the volunteers if they do nothing else.  As a campaign manager I’ve had to douse a few possible fires between volunteers – and all it takes is to listen and let the volunteer tell yousomething they feel is important – those volunteers will always come back.

As a candidate I rarely knew the state of the campaign financials, as a campaign manager that idea flipped over, I knew every aspect of campaign financials.  What was spent, what was needed to be spent, will the campaign spend every dollar in the effort to win, and does the campaign leave the riding association money after Election Day?  Working with the CFO (the money person), the campaign manager knows where every penny is.  As the candidate I was given an overview, especially if money was needed.  In 2018 election fundraising was given a U-Turn when the Wynne Liberals changed the laws so that candidates could notattend a fundraising event for their own campaign.  I hope that the new PC Government will repeal this part of elections financing laws before 2022.

I would’ve liked to talk to more voters as a campaign manager in 2018; I was out for one day.  The door is where you connect with the voter. I found that in 2018 I was in the office more than ever.  The reasons? Meetings with campaign team members, training volunteers, answering phones and replying to emails.  There was no end to the work that often found its way to my home after the campaign office closed, it seemed that for the campaign manager there was no time to canvass.  In hindsight – I needed to make the time, schedule it in –make it work. Definitely, talking to voters was the best part of being a candidate.  For all the ‘bad’ doors, one ‘good’ door made them all go away.

Debates; This one is tough, as the candidate you want to make a good show, get the message out and not have any ‘moments’ that will cause a wrinkle in the campaign.  As the campaign manager I have to say I was right there with the candidate when questions were directed at her.  Did we prep enough?  Why didn’t we prep for this topic?  Will the candidate remember what we talked about?  Have we given enough context to the issue for the answer to be creditable? I think as a candidate you want to do all the debates, but realistically you can’t.  For the 4 hours a debate takes out of a candidate’s schedule, many doors and meaning individual conversations can take place.   In 2014, as a candidate there were two, yep, only two debates and in 2018 there were 10+ debates.  10 debates means more than 40 hours away from doors counting debate prep and the debate themselves, a full work week away from the doors.  When the candidate is in a position of needing to be known, 40 hours away from doors is not practical.  As a campaign manager I took the heat for not attending 6 debates, but as a candidate the debates where opportunities to shine.

Would I rather?  Yes I would – to both!

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

Ancient Wisdom and Knowledge, is it forever lost?

The Wayfinders

 

There is a saying, ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’, it is derived from English poet Alexander Pope’s poem “A Little Learning”.  The earliest known printing of the poem is 1709. For the full poem click here: https://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Pope/a_little_learning.htm.  I think of this after reading the CBC Massey Lectures, a collection of five lectures entitled “The Wayfinders” by Canadian Anthropologist and explorer-in-residence of National Geographic Wade Davis.

I am reminded of this while reading the Wayfinder lectures because Davis seems to acknowledge that the knowledge of the “new world” is at the heart of the demise of many of the earths longest known peoples. The Africans – where the migration of people started and spread across the earth, Australian Aboriginals, the tribes of the rain forests, the Polynesian sea navigators and the First Nations of the Sacred Headwaters of BC and others have been walking this earth ten’s of thousands of years before the Europeans of the new world spread their ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ across lands and waters.

Does, as Davis alludes to, learned knowledge undermine intuitive knowledge?  The knowledge of our souls is like a family history, it can only be learned through the telling of stories and family experiences.  The terms of an oral history and generational transmission of knowledge is used to describe how generations of the earth’s first inhabitants shared knowledge.  Davis provides a great example of learned through intuitive knowledge describing the different experiences of Spanish sailors compared to the navigation of the Polynesians. The Polynesians, told through the life training of a modern day sea navigator, learned about tides, the sea movements under the boats, winds and using the stars without the tools that the new world explorers had at their disposal.  It is a fascinating experience of learning of an old world craft in a modern time.

As much we marvel at the tools and innovation that new knowledge bring, we must acknowledge that there is prejudice that learned knowledge is greater than that which is transmitted generationally.  In the fourth lecture “Sacred Geography” Davis not only talks about the lands of British Columbia, but also how 50,000 years of living by Australian Aboriginals is almost wiped out within a generation because of their only way of living a ‘savage lifestyle’ was noticed by the civil people that arrived in Australia hundreds of generations after some of the Africans walked to Australia.  The newbies in the land considered themselves better.  Through laws and actions of the newcomers, about only 500 Australian Aboriginals now speak in 18 languages; Before the invasion, there were over 270 languages and more than 500 dialects spoken.  Today one language is lost each year.  It is a theme that is visited in greater detail in the book – the newcomers impose new world values over generations of native inhabitants.

There are peoples and ways of life that have existed since the beginning of time that never reach our consciousness unless we purposely put it there.   I’ll end with something from the initial lecture that really left an impression on me that demonstrates the loss of the richness of our world; today there are 7000 languages spoken today around the world.  Half of them are not being taught to children, the effect is that every two weeks a tribal elder dies and takes with them an ancient language.  Since the expansion of the new world over a recent few hundred years, the English language has become the major language spoken. The science and tools of a new world has erased the practice of intuition and a connectedness the earth for movement and sustainable living.

Have we reached an impasse? Is there a hope we can regain some of that connection to the earth? Can we utilize modern innovation and technology to record, save and revive lost and soon to be lost languages? Can we better marry the use of technology and intuition to live on this earth and live more sustainably both personally and commercially?

For tens of thousands of years people migrated, navigated and lived in a natural harmony with each other, animals, vegetation on the earth and its spirits. While we have learned many things and been able to innovate at a speed that in a hundred years can erase what took thousands of years to understand why can’t we look back and connect to each other and the past and become a modern Wayfinder?

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