Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

July 10, 2017

Lessons learned from a Neighbour: The long and honourable heritage of Daryl Currie, U.E.

“Some people say she’s hard to get along with,” Daryl told me one day. “But I know what to do: Ask her about her dog. Then N-o-o-o -o problem,” he says.
It was bits of wisdom like this that my neighbour, Daryl, if you waited for it, taught me through the years. When you bore through the story, a mischievous glint would sparkle in his eye as inevitably he delivered another punchline, but one which often underscored his sense of the duty we have to each other.
Sometimes mistaken for a cop, Daryl’s nickname on the street was the Sheriff. Over the 45 years he lived there, he and his wife June had raised four kids in their small house. Not much fazed him. Because he had organized Community Watch on city blocks all around the neighbourhood, people often tapped on his door, many who spoke almost no English. They relied on his willingness to call apparent mischief-makers to account. Woe those who backed-up our one-way street where children regularly play, but he was just as likely to walk into a situation and calm it with humour and good will.
Daryl was from down east — although there too too he corrected me because eastern Canada is upriver — so perhaps he learned it there. He always had a yarn to spin, making a story out of almost any daily encounter. Today it was about a friend who never picked up the check at lunch, or a long drive across town in traffic, or some city workers patching a pothole. A kid passing by his front porch might be razzed, “You still going to school?! Hmm, you must be pretty stupid.” They’d look shocked for a moment, then laugh and agree. When June was around, invariably an offer of an ice cream cone or some other treat came next. They knew how to connect.
Daryl passed away on Sunday. An aortic aneurism saved him from a drawn-out goodbye.
The night before he died, I was lucky enough that we had a final sit on his porch because I had brought over some home-made pastries. We sat companionably, hailing passing neighbours and watching the evening darken and slow.
August 25, 2013

The Costs of Raising a Child: Bargain, Regular or Luxury

Like the debates over the poverty line, the current debate over the cost of raising a child has caused a stir. (How can you not factor in housing and childcare in these latest calculations? Bargain-shopping, seems to be the reply.)

In a previous job, I was once asked to update the Manitoba Department of Agriculture’s 2004 study on the cost of raising a child. Which child, I asked? The one that went to the local library in the summer because it was free, the one that went to day-camp, or the one that went to overnight-camp? I couldn’t do it.

Kids, it seems, come in bargain, retail and luxury versions. So, following on the concrete examples offered by academics like Peggy MacIntosh for how race affects privilege, here are some contrasts for children. Assign the costs yourself.

Category Bargain Retail Luxury
Housing Apartment Semi-detached in city or House in suburbs Detached downtown (and country escape) or House in country
Sleeping arrangements Bunk beds Double bed King-sized bed
Transport to (high) school Walk Bus pass Drive
School lunch Bread & butter 7 Grain bread & meat / cheese Prepared hot lunch
Tutoring After school (detention) Local university student Professional tutor
Childcare Neighbour / Family / Stay home Childcare centre, preferably licensed Nannies
Summer vacation Visit to family (again) Cottage (again) Europe (again)
Summer camp Community agency with field trips to local park Skills / Interest-based camp (Circus, Science, Video Games, etc.) Overnight “Away” camp, one month plus.
Home computer Anything 5 years old; no printer Personal Computer (shared desktop) Mac Computer (own laptop)
Outside play area Sidewalk Backyard Tennis club
Birthday present New clothes New toys New electronics
Dishwasher Family member Maytag Maid
Laundry Laundromat Kenmore Maid
High school failure Drop-out Alternative high school Prep school
Crooked teeth So? Braces, but only for one sibling Invisible braces
School supply shopping Dollar Store Staples Apple store
Birthday party Home, with games Party Room (bowling, play gym, etc.) Home (with bowling, bouncy castle, pony, clown, etc.)

Lots more examples to think of, no?

read more »

November 15, 2011

102 Things NOT To Do, If You Hate Taxes (Canadian version)

Adapted by Sandra Guerra and Diane Dyson from Stephen D. Foster Jr.

Posted in:

– May 18, 2011

So, you’re a citizen who hates taxes? Please kindly do the following.

  1. Do not use a hospital.
  2. Do not use Canada Pension or Old Age Security.
  3. Do not become a member of the military.
  4. Do not ask the Canadian Forces to help you after a disaster.
  5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
  6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
  7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
  8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
  9. Do not use public restrooms.
  10. Do not send your kids to public schools.
  11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
  12. Do not live in areas with clean air.
  13. Do not use a rehabilitation centre after your operation.
  14. Do not visit National/Provincial Parks or Conservation Areas.
  15. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
  16. Do not eat FDA inspected processed food.
  17. Do not eat any Canadian food Inspection Agency or Health Canada inspected meat or produce.
  18. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
  19. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
  20. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
  21. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
  22. Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.
  23. Do not use food banks when you can’t feed your children.
  24. Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.
  25. Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.
  26. Do not apply for any student loans.
  27. Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal research dollars or provincially funded university research facility.
  28. Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.
  29. Do not watch the weather provided by Environment Canada.
  30. Do not listen to severe weather warnings from Environment Canada.
  31. Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.
  32. Do not apply for affordable housing.
  33. Do not swim in clean waters.
  34. Do not allow your child to eat school snacks, lunches or breakfasts.
  35. Do not ask to implement the Federal Emergency Response Management System (FERMS) when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.
  36. Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion (or a snow storm).
  37. Do not watch television
  38. Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.
  39. Do not use the internet.
  40. Do not use any Health Canada FDA regulated medication or health products.
  41. Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.
  42. Do not apply to win a government contract.
  43. Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.
  44. Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons and toxins by Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety.
  45. Do not save your money in a bank that is CDIC insured.
  46. Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.
  47. Do not use Department of National Defence Education Allowance to go to school.
  48. Do not apply for unemployment benefits.
  49. Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Natural Resources Canada.
  50. Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance.
  51. Do not live in homes that are built to code.
  52. Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.
  53. Do not ask for help from the RCMP, CSIS, ETF, the bomb squad or the Provincial Police.
  54. Do not apply for any government job whatsoever.
  55. Do not use public libraries.
  56. Do not use Canada Post.
  57. Do not visit the National Archives.
  58. Do not use any form of home care.
  59. Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.
  60. Do not apply for loans from any bank that is CDIC insured.
  61. Do not ask the government for a grant or to help you clean up after a natural disaster.
  62. Do not ask Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.
  63. Do not take walks in National Forests.
  64. Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your business.
  65. Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.
  66. Do not seek prescription care when you age.
  67. Do not use OHIP/medicare.
  68. Do not use any form of income supports, worker’s compensation or disability payments.
  69. Do not use electricity generated by Niagara Falls.
  70. Do not use electricity or any service provided by the any of the Power Plants.
  71. Do not ask the government to rebuild levees when they break.
  72. Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes.
  73. Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.
  74. Do not visit museums or historic landmarks.
  75. Do not visit fisheries.
  76. Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.
  77. Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.
  78. Do not camp in provincial or national parks.
  79. Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.
  80. Do not use public transportation/transit.
  81. Do not drink water from your tap.
  82. Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own.
  83. Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.
  84. Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.
  85. Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.
  86. Do not seek help from the Canadian Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.
  87. Do not apply for a passport to travel outside Canada.
  88. Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.
  89. Do not adopt a child.
  90. Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or provincial safety regulators.
  91. Do not use any resource that was discovered by the Geological Survey of Canada.
  92. Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.
  93. Do not move your parents into a nursing home.
  94. Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the local or provincial government.
  95. Do not use money printed by the Royal Canadian Mint.
  96. Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.
  97. Do not attend a university.
  98. Do not see any doctor that is licensed.
  99. Do not expect that all drivers are licensed to drive.
  100. Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the Public Health Agency of Canada, reach your house.
  101. Do not work for any company that is required to pay its workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.
  102. Do not expect to be able to vote on election days.

The fact is, we pay for the lifestyle we expect. Without taxes, our lifestyles would be totally different and much harder. Canada would be a third world country. The less we pay, the less we get in return. So next time you object to paying taxes or fight to abolish taxes for corporations and the wealthy, keep this quote in mind…

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

March 27, 2011

Next Web 2.0 generation of Belonging Community

Welcome to the renewed version of Belonging Community. You’ll see a few differences and a number of improvements.

When I started this blog, I made one of those rookie mistakes – its name didn’t match its URL. So after more than two years, it seemed time to correct that and time for an overall refresh. By now, the early generation template I was using was also seeming dated.

So Belonging Community has a new home on the web and new look. The two column format allows for easier scanning of recent posts. Menus at the top of the page allow you to pick your favourite topics and negotiate your way through the site more easily. Posts are also easier to share through other social media channels.

Twitter has also exploded onto the scene since I began this blog. So a lot of my in situ reporting at city events have been Tweeted, rather than blogged. In a bid to keep current, Wordpress has recently made it easier to upload blog posts through e-mail. So, along with the usual longer posts, this will enable shorter, newsier  (and more frequent!) updates.

I hope you continue to enjoy the reinvigoration as much as I do!

October 4, 2009

Overheard at the SPT Symposium

Late arrivers had to sit along the steps in the auditorium at New College/U of T. Ed Broadbent led off Social Planning Toronto‘s Building the Future We Want symposium. Chief economist at the TD Bank Don Drummond sat in the second row, his session and chance to answer was up next. Potential candidate for mayor of Toronto Glen Murray was scheduled to finish at the end of the day.

It was the place to be. Registration had had to be cut off. Organizers were also wise enough to schedule long breaks so that registrants could network. {Shameless ad inserted here: If you haven’t become a member of the newly re-branded SPT, you should.}

I couldn’t stay for long, but even the few morning hours I attended yielded some great quotable quotes. Here’s two:

  • “Everybody’s talking about community hubs within their own silos.”
  • “David Frum is my favourite Canadian export.” (okay, Broadbent said this in his speech.)

What did you hear?

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