China Goodhue

August 25, 2015
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My sister had told me about her friend China, whom she'd met many years ago through China's mother. When China was 18 months old a drunk driver crashed into her parent's car. China suffered severe injuries to her brain, resulting in both cognitive and physical impairments. Yet she lives on her own, she cooks for herself, shops, and is an artist. What most impressed me was her spirit, exemplified in her bright fabric art.

Music: "The Good Old Days," by my friend, Toronto and Bahamas based singer/songwriter/musician Jenny Mayhem. You can hear more of Jenny's great songs and purchase individual tracks at: https://jennymayhem.bandcamp.com/

Stress and Mindfulness

May 7, 2015
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I recently met and interviewed Marian Smith, who holds a Masters in counselling psychology from the University of BC.  In addition to her private practice, she teaches seminars in communication and healthy relationships, post-traumatic stress, grief and loss, anger and depression, disordered eating and spirituality.

I first encountered mindful practice as a participant in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshop led by her partner, Brett Peterson. Both Marian and Brett have taken workshops with Jon Kabat-Zinn who founded the idea of using a secular meditative approach, based on sound Buddhist philosophy and practice, for therapeutic application.

In this brief (ten-minute) interview excerpt Marian discusses the usefulness of being present as way to bring attentive awareness to our emotional state(s) and to ground ourselves. 

From mindful-living.ca:
Mindfulness is helpful for therapy as it helps individuals to open to the intensity of emotions we are afraid to

feel. It provides a protective distancing that enables us to create and maintain an observing ego through which we

can confront emotions that were previously avoided because they were unpleasant or overwhelming. Once these emotions

are permitted to surface, they are made conscious and their subversive power begins to lessen.

The practice of mindfulness enhances perception, allowing us to become intimately acquainted with our mental

habits and distortions. It helps us to perceive the distinction between a thought and its related emotion.

[This interview is also available on video at https://vimeo.com/127212471]

No More Victims

February 18, 2015
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This February a young mother posted a video on Facebook asking for help. Her ex-boyfriend had threatened and verbally abused her. After the police were unable to locate him, she went public. She had no idea how quickly the video would result in action, and how many it would reach. I interviewed her ten days after the first video was published.

A new relationship with animals

November 14, 2014
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Do animals have a a right not to be eaten by human beings? Do they have a right not to be used as instrumentalities by humans? If they do have such rights, are these part of a larger constellation of rights such as the right to procreate freely without the interference of human beings? If animals have rights, what is the basis for their possession of rights? Do all or only some animals have rights? Do those animals that have rights all have the same rights, or do different animals have different rights? 

So asks Gary Steiner, the John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, halfway into his book, Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism (Columbia University Press 2013). 

And if we can imagine and create some rights for animals, as proposed by several early Greek philosophers—Pythagoras, Theophrastus; by Rousseau in the 18th century and Darwin in the 19th, and most specifically, in terms of rights, by Australian philosopher Peter Singer in his seminal work Animal Liberation (1975), then where does that leave us, as humans? 

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The courage to speak out for animal rights, for a new moral relationship between species, is explored by Gary Steiner in this interview from June 2013, recorded in Victoria, BC. 

movies and happiness

October 22, 2014
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Leonard Schein grew up in Los Angeles, studied psychology at Stanford, and ended up as Vancouver's independent movie theatre impresario and founder of the Vancouver International Film Festival. How did he make that transition--and why? In 2014, as the 33rd VIFF ended, Schein announced his retirement and his new focus, philanthropy. In this interview, he discusses the connection between psychology, movies, and cancer prevention.

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Looking for work

August 13, 2014
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I met Tova Jamernik at Work BC, an employment counselling centre in Vancouver, when I was unemployed, without benefits, and desperate to find a job, any job, for which I was qualified. Along with an employment counsellor, Tova and other facilitators helped me and others focus our job searching, learn how to best respond in interviews, revise our resumes and keep on track over the long and often dispiriting period between jobs. In this, part 1 of my interview with Tova, she emphasizes the usefulness of the information interview*, where one is seeking information from an individual who works in an organization, industry or career that is attractive to you, without asking them specifically for a job.

* http://www.ryerson.ca/career/students/searchforajob/identifyjobleads/informationinterview/

Update to this story: In March 2014 I found a job, a job I love, working with great people! Some of the skills I learned from Tova and other counsellors helped me in the interviews with managers and supervisors.

Amy Huva: climate change

August 6, 2014
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Amy Huva is an environmental chemist and sports fanatic from Melbourne, Australia.
After two years working for the Australian Federal Government in Canberra, she moved to Vancouver where she works for Climate Access, a global network of climate and clean energy communicators, serving more than 2,000 members in 57 countries. She discusses how each of us is complicit in climate change, and why we need to expand the conversation beyond environmentalism to include all sectors of society.

(music: Lee Rosevere from the Free Music Archive: Sunset, from his album All These Simple Things)

Persistence of Vision: the Documentary Filmmaker

May 16, 2014
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Making documentaries takes stamina, determination, passion, and consumes years of a filmmaker's life.

For over six years (as of 2014) David Vaisbord has been filming one community in Vancouver and its struggle to keep, and then to rebuild, social housing. It was called Little Mountain and it was Canada's first social housing project, built by the federal government, post-WWII to house, initially, servicemen's families. 

And then the federal government divested itself of the neighbourhood, selling it to the provincial government, who in turn would sell the land to a private developer. Who tore it down, displacing hundreds of low-income families from a viable, safe community.

This is David's story of how he got involved with Little Mountain, and how it became more than a documentary film. It became a crusade. (You can also download the mobile Podbean app to your smart phone)

Until June 23, 2014, David is raising funds to complete the documentary. Please consider helping him make a feature film (there are, as he says, some fun and creative perks for various contribution levels) at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/little-mountain-film

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Artist with “a heart of gold”

March 22, 2014
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Siobhan.jpgSiobhan Humston, my friend Derek von Essen texted me, has a "heart of gold, and she's easy to love." It had taken me several weeks to arrange this interview because she keeps moving around from place to place; she was one day away from returning to Mayne Island, which is one of the islands between the Metro Vancouver mainland and Vancouver Island, for a five month stay in a cabin, when we recorded the interview in my apartment. 
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Her current work is a series of mirrored photographs taken during a year-long residency at Harrison Hot Springs, two hours east of Vancouver, where she lived in a former ranger's cabin on the lake. 
Does it take courage to be a full-time artist? I asked her. "I think it would take courage NOT to be an artist," she replied. "But it does take tenacity." 
She's raising funds selling her Totem series of photographs to help with tuition for an MA program, which she's been accepted into for fall 2014, at Falmouth University in Cornwall England. The one year intensive is called Arts and Environment. Read more at http://humstonstudios.wordpress.com/get-smart-campaign/
The music is by Nine-8th Irish: "Wise Maid" available at Free Irish Music.
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Charity

February 28, 2014
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Is giving to charity a courageous act? For some, perhaps. For others, it's a convenient, ethical deduction from their income tax. And for others, it is a lifelong pursuit and passion. Such is the philosophy of John Bromley, the founder and CEO of a unique Canadian foundation, CHIMP, which acts as a "personal charitable foundation" for individuals and small groups. 




He's talked about it on TEDx, and now, in this conversation, John goes into more depth about giving and about why it is courageous to give money to others. 

End music by the Irish group Dobroide, Blues del Gorrion, and sound effects are recorded by Klankbeeld (Netherlands), both on freesound.org.