c9: (Contrails)
Yesterday, a complete stranger offered me some coffee.

I was in an apartment building half-filled with people who don't speak the same language as me, half-filled with non-citizens, and about 98%-filled with people who care way more about the World Cup than why some downtown white boy is knocking on their door.

This complete stranger doesn't speak English. She was pretty old, and I'm betting she's not a Canadian citizen (yet?), and so when I knocked on her door she couldn't help with electing my friend to council, and she couldn't even understand why my friend would make a good councillor. So I said thank you and moved to the next door.

But she stayed in her doorway, and asked if we wanted a drink. When's the last time you offered a drink to someone who knocked on your front door?


My friend Idil Burale is running for City Council in Toronto. She's super awesome, well-informed, rational, friendly, smart, and would be a wonderful asset to her neighbours and the city as a whole. If I had to pick just one new person to make a councillor, it would totally be her. (sorry Luke, Peter, Keegan, Lekan, JP, Alejandra, Saeed, Alex, Dan... just if I had to pick only one!)

I went canvassing with Idil and some other volunteers yesterday. It was amazing.


Matt Elliott keeps track of council votes, and calculates who votes with Rob Ford most. That used to be a thing we worried about, even though today our Mayor is more of a media celebrity than a vote winner. But here's the thing: even recently, some important votes have been close.

Here is a list of significant items that passed by just one vote:
2011.CD1.9	Don't condemn fed govt cuts to immigration agencies
2011.EX3.4	Cut $75,000 from the Tenant Defence Fund
2011.MM8.6	Kill the Fort York Pedestrian/Cycling Bridge
2011.MM10.9	Reject two provincially-funded public health nurses
2011.EX10.1	Consider eliminating the Hardship Fund
2011.EX13.2	Start charging charities & churches for waste collection
2013.ST11.1	Keep Adam Vaughan off the Executive Committee
2013.EX36.18	Don't exempt charities from paying waste collection fees
2013.EX37.3	Don't allow council vote separately on a general property tax increase 
		and a Scarborough subway extension levy

I list these because the current councillor for ward 1 supported every item listed above. And those decisions affected residents across the whole city.


I've never canvassed before. I've never done anything for a candidate. Other than vote, and ranting online about bad candidates, I haven't done much else. I've never joined a political party, because I disagree with too many things in every party I encounter (and truth be told I'm not good at toeing a line unless I really believe it already). I was drawn to municipal politics because of the lack of political parties, which meant I could focus on one issue but not have to consider everything else a specific councillor might support. One inch at a time seems to make sense for me.

I always assumed volunteering for a political candidate would be really hard to do. Or maybe boring. Or maybe too political, when I value being (in my mind) independent and non-partisan. Plus I've never known any personally until this year.

I've had a really busy year (sold our house, bought a new house, started the adoption process with my husband, got promoted at work, traveled to Thailand, plus other things I've forgotten already). So it's been easy to be too busy to help out. Oh, I'll retweet things that seem important, but that's not a way to effect change, it's just a way to participate in a very small circle of more-affluent, more-privileged, more-downtown friends. Slacktivism is the term some people use - pretending to have an impact because it makes us feel better.

But finally I realized that if Idil didn't win, and all I did was sit in East York posting encouragement on Twitter, I would be really unimpressed at myself. I can't spend way too much time at work and at home complaining about bad decisions by city council, but really do nothing beyond complain - that's a Rob Ford tactic! He rants and moans and complains but doesn't offer any solutions. I can't let myself do essentially the same thing. I'm lucky in that I have a pretty progressive and rational councillor, but council votes affect everyone.

So yesterday I hopped on the TTC for 90 minutes to get to the top-left-corner of Toronto. I met up with Idil and five other volunteers, and we set off into a few apartment buildings to talk about Idil and her ideas.

It was a revelation, because it was fun!

It was really nice people who care about their community, talking to other really nice residents who never get asked their opinion and love their community too! In just 30 seconds I would mention a few things Idil wants to improve in that area like transit, housing, child care, community centres, fixing potholes, and residents would not slam the door. Not yell. Not ignore. They would smile. They would engage. They would frequently agree to VOTE for her.


It was like being on a different planet.

Canvassing was fun, interesting, and it was a tangible way to have an impact on my community. I can't wait to get back to Etobicoke North to do it again, and you should come with me. The more people the less time it takes (or the greater impact we have!), and the more cool people we all get to meet.


In 2000, the current ward 1 councillor lost by 97 votes.

In 2003, the current ward 1 councillor lost by 882 votes.

In 2006, the current ward 1 councillor did not run.

In 2010, the current ward 1 councillor won by 509 votes.

Yesterday, I personally knocked on 90 doors.

What I'm saying is you can make a difference.

So come on, let's go.

Seriously, message me - I'll take you along and you'll have a buddy!
c9: (Default)
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[livejournal.com profile] fiver00 got me on here, I think. Or maybe it was [livejournal.com profile] bartok first. I get them confused -- they share a sunny disposition, a love of dial-up internet, and probably several genetic sequences.

Man, I've been on here a billion years. I mean, not as long as [livejournal.com profile] fiver00, but still. :)


Apr. 26th, 2008 11:19 am
c9: (streetcar)
Last night I flew from Calgary to Toronto, arriving slightly late at 11:20pm.

At 11:25pm I boarded the express bus from the airport to the subway.

Halfway to the subway the driver announced they were going on strike.

In fifteen minutes.

He told us we would make the last subway going east.

We didn't.

Hundreds of people stranded on the edge of western Toronto. Not many cabs.

*That* could have been an interesting night.

A few friends decided that I better be rescued, so they zoomed out and did so. Yay for rescues! I would have been OK to walk, but man I would have been tired.

For your reference: the potential route.

Today we have no transit. Toronto is eerily quiet.
c9: (Escalator)
  • Ripping CDs into iTunes is taking forever. Man! I'm glad I finally have my various bits of technology arranged in a reasonable way to make it worth doing, but 300+ CDs is a big project. And no, I'm not ripping to 320kbps .ogg or anything, just boring 160 MP3. So far I don't care enough about fidelity I guess.
  • Seriously, WTF is with duvet covers? Are we not meant to have duvet and cover fit together and stay that way?!
  • A good friend had a crappy week last week, and I hope he's doing OK.
  • We have a new tree in our front yard! It's like 5 feet high, so hopefully it will do better than the little 1 foot high one that didn't survive the winter.
  • So much travel for work these days. Ottawa on Monday (one night), Saint John (!) on the following Monday (two nights), then Calgary the day after I get back for one night, then Vancouver the Tuesday after that for one night... eeek! Mississauga for a week in May, Edmonton for a week in June. I'm still enjoying it, mostly because I know it will all settle down soon and I'll look like a cost-centre to the company again until the fall.
  • Now that I'm teaching again I'm remembering the things that drove me batty about teaching... the loss of control and the disconnect from the rest of the company will be weird. I've gotten used to knowing everyone and having answers to every question, but now we've got lots of new faces around the office and I have no idea who they are.
  • I'm going to see Puppetry of the Penis on Saturday. I only know a tiny bit about it (the obvious bit I guess).
  • I'm running out of things to say, and the gas and water bills are staring at me. Make them stop staring.
c9: (Global Warming)
Just watched The Day After Tomorrow -- cute. Insanely impossible etc etc blah blah blah, but still exciting. Popcorn.

Also, my laptop's wireless has stopped connecting to my parents' router. ARGH! I have tried just about everything possible in this two-computer household to fix it, but everything else seems to be working perfectly, just not my (work) laptop. Frustrating. Luckily work bought the super-extended coverage, so guess who's getting a desk-side visit from Dell next week?

We're visiting my parents in Wasaga Beach tonight. The air here is pretty clean, and I think it triggers our sleep muscles a bit. We always end up very tired and in bed early here -- this is the latest we've ever been up here! Of course, it might also be related to the huge amounts of food we always eat here. *shrug*

Tomorrow it's back to the big city (North America's fifth-largest, I learned yesterday!) for shopping and hanging out with Bryce and Daryl. Sunday it's brunch then a BBQ. Monday, back to the grind.

Real life is too busy.


May. 9th, 2007 07:49 am
c9: (Towel)
I've just realized that I have no friends. That's needlessly melodramatic, and of course that's not what I mean. But I used to have very close friends who I could (and would) tell everything to, and we'd discuss things into the wee hours. I've realized that I don't have any of those types of friends anymore.

I have plenty of friends -- we're making new friends all the time in Toronto, which is fun. But even the old friends I'm reconnecting with are people who I don't have much history with, so I don't feel close to them yet in that "baring your soul" kind of way.

And my very close friends from the past I know I could easily reconnect with again given the opportunity, it's just that our lives have taken us far apart and the connection has been reduced to little updates and occasional visits, rather than having all the time in the world like we did in university or in high school.

I'm just venting really. I'm not in any way suggesting that any of my friends has not behaved the way they should have.

I just miss it. My parents once told me that as we age, we spend the entire time disconnecting from friends rather than staying connected. That is to say, I'll end up with a much smaller circle of friends than I have now. Kinda depressing. What about all my work on Facebook? -- I have 198 friends, for crissakes. Of course, when you have someone on your friends list and you can't answer the "How do you know _____?" question, that probably says something about the depth of connection.

I don't remember where, but I read once about kids replacing friends in your brain and your life. Except we don't have kids, just cats, and they're not the best conversationalists.
c9: (Eris & Dysnomia)
I remember the first night we went to LuLu's show. It was a cold, damp Thursday and we had heard we should head out to our favourite bar at the time, Club Vortex. There was this talent show thing that was a fun time. Several friends were there, and this would come to be the most reliable way to find friends to hang out with on any given Thursday.

First, some slight trouble with the microphone switch. "Hello?" (tap tap) "Hello?" (tap tap tap) "HelloooOOOHMYGOD HELLOOOOO!!!"

Five Minutes of Fame with LuLu LaRude had only been going for two weeks so far, and was already hitting its stride. Anyone could sign up to perform whatever they wanted, however they wanted, for their so-called "five minutes of fame." Now in a Halifax gay bar four years ago, "talent show" = "drag show". (Which is fine, said the author, envisioning letters to the editor from the amazingly talented and not at all intense Halifax crowd). But somehow this show was different. LuLu and her erstwhile foil and (ahem) straight man Sandy gathered performers of all stripes and forms. The first show, if I recall correctly, had two drag queens, along with a folk-singing guitarist, a country-rock blaring regional sensation, and a physical comedy sketch to boot.

After each five minutes -- which when truth be told ranged from 49 seconds to 6-7 minutes on occasion -- the judges would chime in. Judges were gathered from the crowd, and their role was not only to provide some scores but also to comment, Idol-style, on the performer's work. Catty, bitchy, flirty, confused -- and that was all just the first one! The judges also provided fodder for LuLu to express her opinion on the performer’s work – or on her suspicion of who was sleeping with whom that night.

Anyone who ever attended Five Minutes of Fame knows that the first marks were for (yell this part out loud) "TECHNICAL MERIT!"

The second set of marks was for Autistic Impression. That's not a typo. LuLu even had a little hand-seizure and funny face to go with it. Politically correct she was not. In later weeks, then months, then years of watching Five Minutes of Fame, probably one of my favourite sights was the looks on the new audience members' faces when they heard that for the first time.

Based on the scores from the first round, three performers would be invited to the second round. They could perform another number, which some actually had to frantically pick out, so convinced were they that wouldn't get that far. LuLu always had encouragement for new performers and people that were breaking out of their shell, but for her, words of encouragement might be something like, "did you see that shoelace she calls a dress?! God love 'er!"

Not that LuLu herself couldn't find the most stunning outfits to sparkle in. Her favoured way to describe an outfit included the likelihood of a button firing off it and blinding someone in the audience.

We always sat well back just in case.

I moved away from Halifax over two years ago, but Five Minutes of Fame is the one thing I couldn't miss if my visit included a Thursday. It changed locations, upped the prize money, LuLu even tried to quit last summer -- she loved the dramatic events. She left in a blaze of love from her friends and family too.

LuLu's alter ego Chuck Gillis died after a long illness February 8th, 2007. An audience regular said it best: "What a bright light in our lives, even those of us who only saw it in glimpses."

LuLu's final blog entry finished off as follows: "I will be back soon, till then much love and thanks for the Love, dont know what i would do with yu". Located at www.lulularude.com, the entry quickly became a place to leave your respects for Chuck and his husband Billy.

How we'll remember her best: "Wig out!"
c9: (Drumbone)
My friend Joel ([livejournal.com profile] iambic_cub) is a master of the perfect generalization:

Folk music has always been around. That's because Hippies have always been around, and Folk Music = Hippies. Canada needs to crack down on pot. Otherwise all the hippies are going to move to Canada, and because of Canadian content regulations, we'll be stuck listening to Folk music. The Juno awards will be nothing more than 20 different subcategories of Folk music. As a result, Canadians will somehow discover a way to care even less about the Junos.

August 2015

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