Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Buyer Beware...

Writing buddy seemed to be enthusiastic about some new website called "Global Ideas Bank" that has ideas for changing the world etc.

As soon as I saw the first line "The Global Ideas Bank is an online system of posting 'ideas' for the world (they seem to be social) that are rated. They're looking for some submissions from blogs some day soon.", my hackles went up.

Then it was sort of confirmed when further down, he said this:-

This idea is interesting because it's a proposed solution for 'at risk' families to try and help them get back on their feet:

'With the help of private organizations who serve the public's at risk population, a marriage of families, two or three at each privately owned home, can be a wonderful pathway of support.'

My rating... eh, sounds a bit pie in the sky, but it stuck out at me enough to open it.

I know what the reaction would be if I show this to the old hands I know in Toronto, and I tried posting some thoughts to his blog. His blogging system's comments is getting spammed something fierce, and it's not behaving... the subject's something that felt I can bring up here, so this is what I basically sent off to him in an email:-

While there may be some 'cool' ideas floating about on that website, showing this to people who have been active in the community for years (would)generally elicit a response of 'pop' activism, the idea behind that where people go, "We need to do something about the world! Yeah!" and go off trying to do things based on their assumptions, rather than going and doing research, getting in it up to their elbows even (because there are organisations that espouse belief systems and do nothing more than what is referred to as 'armchair activism'... more on that later), and- this is important- be willing to have their original presumptions either totally deconstructed or sent in a different direction altogether.

(Case in point:- While I was at the Evergreen Centre for Youth, there was a woman who was being interviewed. She wanted to help because she wanted to teach the at-risk and street youth about God and teach them about family, and a couple of other misguided notions. The centre's nurse interviewing her- a straight-talking woman who rides a motorcycle and regularly sports her leather jacket, and a old vet- told her that you do not volunteer here to teach the children about God (Evergreen's overseen by at least one church), or anything: these kids have been through things that you cannot imagine unless you've been through the same thing, and, as she said, "they teach you." The woman did not end up getting accepted; never saw the woman again.)

Just as you've heard horror stories where people, in the search for the cheapest, shiniest thing they can find, sign up with some domain registry and/or hosting service, only to find that they cannot move or switch later on because the companies hold their domain names, and end up losing them, one should exercise caution with things like this on the internet.

" 'With the help of private organizations who serve the public's at risk population, a marriage of families, two or three at each privately owned home, , can be a wonderful pathway of support.'

My rating... eh, sounds a bit pie in the sky, but it stuck out at me enough to open it. "

My response to that is, "Why rely on private organisations? Why not address systematic problems? Why not go out and push for affordable, public housing?" I'm involved in a few organisations, some action-based, some not, that are working for this here in Toronto.

A lack of exercising wisdom in this sort of thing would run you the risk of getting tangled up in organisations like the local International Socialists here in Toronto, that preach against 'top-down' hierarchies and elitism, but their own internal infrastructure and culture is precisely this. They're universally reviled. Any association with them, and you're kept at a ten-foot-pole distance, and would not be able to interact with other true, local activist organisations; and the one thing that you learn is that you cannot affect change on your own. There must be solidarity, and you *must* interact.

Otherwise you run the risk of becoming nothing more than the modern incarnation of Missionaries going out to the rest of the world to enlighten them, and save them from their pagan religions... where people go, "Oh, they documented cultures while systematically destroying them!"

So, yeah. Word to the wise.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Golden Cockroach Awards Ceremony today

Come one, come all, to the Golden Cockroach Awards!

Today at 40 Tyndall Ave., at 4p.m. near the Canadian National Exhibition, major intersection closest is King and Dufferin.

The Parkdale Liberty's all over the event, and they've don an editorial on it, and MOJO radio 680 AM's had a live interview. There's been a call from City TV as well.


Also happening: Golden Weasel (Parkdale Liberty's had a cartoon making fun of Miller)

Refreshments, etc.

I won't be able to attend since I'm in NY.

Hope all goes well!

The link

Sunday, October 17, 2004

What is happening in Parkdale?


down here in Venezuela, I am starving for news from Parkdale.
What`s happening in the neighbourhood these days?

What`s the news?

I was wondering if someone from PAC could start posting regular news articles
to keep us folks in the rest of the world up to date with local issues.

The news doesn`t have to be long and indepth. I just want to know what has
been happening in the neighbourhood and how things are doing for people in
West Lodge for example and other buildings who have solicited help from the local councillor.

Has any progress been made?


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Building Social Infrastructure in Venezuela

Hi Parkdale People,

it`s been awhile since I`ve written and I just wanted to let you
know that I am still in Venezuela documenting the social programs
this government has begun. That is, the government of President
Hugo Chavez.

I have looked into the housing program, and I am now investigating the Guaicaipuro mission, a social program for indigenous Venezuelans. It is amazing to learn that native people here on the whole support Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. Our native breathren here not only support their president but identify with him as well. Chavez often refers to his own African and indigenous ancestry.

Travelling through the oil state of Zulia, it is appalling to see how much poverty accumulated throughout this oil rich country. To witness the vast scale of poverty is to look at the reality of Venezuela created by decades of monopolization of the country`s resources in the hands of a few.

It is this poverty that led to the Bolivarian revolution. And these conditions were
created by those who ruled Venezuela without concern for the vast majority of people
in this country. Is it any surprise that Chavez and his Bolivarian revolution swept in?
Conditions were ripe for revolution as Marxists would say. It isn`t Chavez who created these conditions of poverty.

So now Chavez is creating a social infrastructure for Venezuela. This is includes healthcare, education, housing, employment programs, food security, rights for indigenous people and the building of massive infrastructure like subways in the major cities and a train system across the country as well as a state telecommunications systems that includes low cost cell phones and internet communication centres free of charge for the general population.

Chavez is setting up everything we have in Canada in terms of social programs and more.
And remember he is doing this by using the oil income of this country that was once in the hands of a tiny oil elite.

If Venezuela can begin a "housing revolution" and invest in subway lines, why can`t Canada?

Your friendly neighbourhood Robin