Have You Met Liz? —the Importance of Meeting Your Candidates

I haven’t been to a political rally before.  I went to the NDP rally just to see what they were like, and because I had met Liz Hanson.

Meeting a candidate makes a difference.  Perhaps you, candidate, wonder what all that door knocking is for—or you, a citizen, are annoyed by all the door knocking that happens around an election.  You both wonder why anyone really does it.  Don’t all the commercials, all the posters, all the op-ed pieces help you know a candidate?  Doesn’t it make you likely to know how to vote?  Nope.  (Ok, sometimes it has to.  Not every person can meet the Presidential or Prime Minsterial candidate.  I voted for Obama from what I read, what I saw on TV, watching him at rallies, in speeches, at town halls.)

Meeting someone changes our minds.  Most of us cannot be changed purely by intellectual discovery—some a-ha moment that gives us the clarity to change our minds about an issue.  Most of us recall an event—a moment that has another person in it—that made us feel the way we do about that person, about their race, issue, belief, etc.

Encounters.  We change because of encounters.

Liz Hanson, NDP candidate, was canvassing somewhere between 7th and Strickland—and I was housesitting for a friend.  She knocked on my door and told me who she was and what she was doing.  I politely told her that I was an immigrant and therefore not allowed to vote in the election.  Seriously, I’m not proud of that:  immigrants should be involved in politics, in understanding and learning about their new country, even if they currently don’t have a vote.  But, frankly, I probably felt a little indignant about the irony of being canvassed when I don’t have a vote—I probably thought that she would just go away if I showed my political impotence.

I mean, really.  Why would she spend her time on an immigrant without a vote?  She couldn’t reap any immediate benefit from spending time with me.

Continue reading

My Year of Canadian Reading: what stories are you made of?

As I’m approaching an inevitable embrace of Canada (oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!) I’m aware that I have very little knowledge of Canadian literature.  A poor citizen is one who does not know his country’s stories. It is how we speak to one another–a cultural physiography and language that connects Canadians together.  How can I become a citizen without learning this cultural language?  Sure I could take a class, I suppose, from a Canadian university online, do some papers, etc.  But I thought a more creative way would be for Yukoners to suggest Canadian books that meant something to them–then it would be more personal.

So I went on CBC with Dave White and we came up with a plan for book suggestions–a reading list of sorts–so that I could become more literate about Canada.  We are getting great results, but please call in to Dave and suggest more books.  I’d like to build a canon, of sorts, of Yukon-suggested Canadian literature.  Right now I’m looking mostly for fiction, poetry and drama—but I have decided that a few creative nonfiction pieces are a must, a Pierre Berton, a Farley Mowat, even a Kevin Chong (go, KC!).  I built a blog to read and discuss this literature.  It’s called “A Year of Canadian Reading” and you can follow the link to see what I’m reading, what I’m up to, and what I thought about books you suggested.  Follow along if you like.  Read them with me.  I want to get an idea about Canada from its literature.  I want to understand you through your stories.  I think when we understand a culture through its stories, we are more able to speak to and hear from its citizens, and as citizens we’re more able to understand each other.

I don’t have any intention of stopping reading after the Year is over—but an actual year is a start.  I’ve read some Canadian Literature.  I came in with knowing only three authors: Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.  But I’m aiming for the depth and breadth of Canadian Literature, even the heart of our warm, warm country.

Let me know if you want to play.  Follow these links if you want to:  SUGGEST A BOOK FOR ME, or find out WHAT I’M GOING TO READ.

Solidarity in Purple: Supporting Gay Teens After Spirit Day

Heather Kennedy, or moria on Flickr, used under Creative Commons LicenseAs millions are wearing purple today, Wednesday, I found myself trying to imagine what this might mean to a closeted man or woman.  Walking down the street are all the people who would support you coming out. 

When I was struggling with coming out–I didn’t know who might be supportive and who wouldn’t.  I grew up in a culture that would designate a day, “If you wear Purple on Fridays, you’re gay.”  So it was a color to avoid–for fear of being outcast.  Today, it is THE color–not to show you are weird or different, or even “in” or “cool”–but to help others come out, and know that it’s safe.by ciccioetneo on Flickr, creative commons license  That you support and love them and are waiting for the day when they feel comfortable, and pushing for the day when there is no more bullying about anything. 

So in the Spirit of Spirit Day, let’s keep the purple flowing–as long as we can, in concerted efforts.  Let’s celebrate the color purple.  (All of these photos were found on Flickr and are part of the Creative Commons distribution license.) 

Purple has a long history of being associated with royalty, kings, priests, and even with Christ.  Lydia, famous for her purple cloths, was one of the first leaders of bible studies in the early Christian era.  Purple is a rare color in nature–but when it happens, you notice. 

kevindooley on Flickr, used under Creative Commons LicenseRight now, the climate for gay people is getting better.  However, there are still large pockets where gay and lesbian people are not affirmed for who they are, and what they bring to their communities, and society in general.  We’ve built up a long tradition of pushing men and women back for their sexual orientation, and it’s entrenched in our churches, our military, our governments, our city councils, and it finds its way into schools where kids–who can’t hide a prejudice–act on it.  We punish the kids, but they learn it from the adults. 

So, go out there and get your purple on.   Show your kids that you stand in solidarity with those who are in the LGBT community, and that you want to assure them that not only smittenkittenorig on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Licensedoes it get better, but we–every day–are making it better for them.  Slipping on a hat or a shirt or some purple shoes is the simplest start. 

Binary Ape, from Flickr, Creative Commons License What are the next steps–the day after Spirit Day, the week after Spirit Day?  The next steps may be harder, but we can do those too. 

Get a group of you to wear purple in your churches.  Ask to speak from the podium announcing something, address everyone, but specifically those gay people who may be present in your congregations–out or not–and tell them that they have someone in your church (or a group of you wearing purple) that they can count on to be supportive no matter what your church’s theology might say.  Your purple shows them that you support them right now.  

Get a group of people to wear purple and show up during a city council meeting and ask to speak in honor of gay teens. 

As a gay man, I would look for any, any sign that someone might be friendly, supportive, and understanding– the weight of our secret–our fear that being different makes us less than–is

Purple Heart by the US Army, on Flickr, used under Creative Commons License

 sometimes a lot, especially when we come from communities where there is active discrimination towards gay people.  This can take many forms:  a theology which doesn’t treat gay and lesbian people as equals in the church, a simple understanding that something “gay” is wrong or weird, or a belief that being a gay man is somehow not masculine enough. 

Our military values each soldier, but currently doesn’t value the gay ones if they say they are gay.  The soldier at the right here is receiving a purple heart–and that’s why I have him in the post.  We value what we give Purple to: kings, deities, soldiers, priests–purple is considered one of the rarest colors, hard to create, and therefore highly prized. 

by aussiegall on Flickr, used with Creative Commons licenseWhen we wear purple today–we say, “We highly prize gay teens.  We value you.  We know you have something worth giving and sharing with us.  We value what you have to say and the point of view you have.  You are loved and appreciated.  We want to see what you’ll become.  Our country is changing.  Our governments are changing.  Our churches are changing.   And it starts today.  It starts with me.”

When Both the US and Canadian National Anthems Mean a Lot, You Sing Them Both With Your Hand On Your Heart

I’m really proud to have been asked to sing the national anthems of the US and Canada at the Yukon Quest Banquet held in Whitehorse, this past February, 2010.  As an immigrant to Canada, it meant the world to sing both anthems–they have a special meaning for me.  

It was a race from the US to Canada that we were there to celebrate this year.  So I could relate.  

I also like how much the Canadians like to sing along when we start “O Canada”.  

Tesseracts 14 Submitters: Not to Worry

Eager to hear any news about Tesseracts 14?  

New Update:  The Table of Contents has been finalized and will, I hear, be revealed soon.  Brett and John are sending out emails right now.  That will take some time as I’m sure there were lots of submitters for this anthology.  But everyone should know everything in, at least, about a day or two, I’d guess.  Good luck everyone!  

_____________________________________

Everything below this is old news: dated January 9 2010.  

Brian Hades has posted this on the Tess 14 webpage:

WE ARE A BIT BEHIND 

With December holidays and more snow than one ever needs clogging up the works, we are about two weeks behind schedule. Please have patience as we catch up during the month of January. Thanks. – Brian Hades, publisher

This supersedes my other reports from SFC listserv.  Thanks Marcelle for those original tips.  I know folks were worried theirs were lost in the mail.  The snow has a way of swiping mail sometimes. Godspeed to the editors, and to us– good luck on your next projects–several deadlines approaching.  As for Tess 14, good luck to everyone!  Now back to snowfall, dogwalks and deadlines.

Deadline Nov 30 for Tesseracts 14: Canadian Sci-fi and Fantasy Stories

from Woodleywonderworks on FlickrA reminder to all those thinking about submitting your short fiction (limit 7500 words) to Tesseracts 14, the latest in the series of anthologies featuring Canadian science fiction and fantasy.  It doesn’t have to be about Canada, or about the north.  Basically they are anthologies of Canadian writing.  (Okay, and a few stray Americans or other Nationalities who have immigrated to the fair shores of Canada)

Personally, Brian Hades, publisher of this series, would love to see greater representation of Canada in the anthology.  So, the Yukon needs to put out!  Haha.  Seriously, if you have fiction that strays just outside the everyday reality, consider submitting to Tesseracts 14.  Let’s wow Brian with Yukon writers!

More information at my previous post here:  Tesseracts 14 Open for Submissions

Jon Stewart on Canadian Politics

Jon Stewart sees beautiful PLOT  up here in Canada –Yes, kids, Canadian Politics can be unpredictable! fun! full of intrigue!!  I’m learning more about Canada in this political showdown than ever before.  And if you watch Stewart, you’ll learn a bit about what his audience knows about Canada.  Apparently they don’t understand the whole GG Connection thing either!