Tag Archives: Windsor Star

Windsor Star reject

Okay, this is something I wrote for the Star.
I wrote it last week in the hopes that it would bring to light the group FedUp! They’re Windsor’s Community Gardening Network.
They had a WICKED veggie chili cook-off at the Windsor Workers Action Centre this Thursday that went by. The chili was so dynamic and different! Espresso veggie chili, raw (uncooked) veggie chili, blonde-with-mangoes veggie chili, and other wonderful tasting chili was showcased.
AND Jhoan won a raffle prize! Here’s a picture of her victory sticker! So awesome! These things, as posters, are selling for $500 right now.
photo-37

Here’s the story that was late for the Monday paper. I just didn’t think to write it early enough, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.

FedUp!
By Tom Lucier

I have almost no idea where my food comes from. If I said that 75 years ago, people would think I was insane. Today, most people are clueless of not only what they put in their mouths, but where it was grown.

FedUp! Windsor’s Community Gardening Network is on the opposite end of this knowledge spectrum. They are part of a locavore movement, bringing together local food growers, gardeners, and those concerned about food-health.

According to co-creator of FedUp!, Maya Ruggles, the group has four mandates, “To strengthen the local food system…to start gardens collectively and democratically…to reclaim the urban landscape (to start gardens)…and to re-skill people in all the things going into local food production and consumption.”

This enormous uphill project is remarkably appealing because it looks to remind Windsor-folk of just how verdant this area’s land can be. I was scratching my head as to why I have to buy a tomato from California (4800 kilometers away) when Heinz, located in the tomato capital of Canada (Leamington) is exactly 48 kilometers away from my front door.

FedUp! seeks to ratify these incongruent arrangements in several ways. But the group is young, and small. “Right now it’s totally volunteer run,” said Ruggles. FedUp! is two and a half years old, operating on a very small budget while donations, especially from OPIRG (Windsor’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group) have been instrumental in keeping the group afloat.

FedUp! is most concerned about getting members, who can sit on committees. Volunteers are needed on an event-to-event basis, which will have a higher demand in this new year as they begin hosting more and more events

Currently, the group hosts movie nights, potlucks, creates gardens for places including the Citizens Environment Alliance, Ecohouse, and Iris House, and hosts workshops on composting, urban foraging, and cook-off competitions.

Currently, there’s a mapping project on the horizon which aims to, “map out un-harvested sources of food…fruit trees that aren’t harvested, or edible bushes,” said Ruggles. They hope to map un-harvested edibles on public and private land.
Ruggles added, “The next step would be to coordinate people…to actually do the harvesting and distribute the food, or use it in some way.”

The mapping project, which would be immense, could also help network gardeners and locavores. Another positive spin-off, according to Ruggles, would be, “connecting people that garden who don’t have land with people who do have land that don’t garden it.”

Judging by my gardening woes, my wife and I will both be paying more attention to this group’s happenings. We’re similarly fed up with getting food from places we’ve never visited when we’re sitting on underused, underappreciated, concrete-covered land when the food that could sustain us is waiting to be grown in our own backyards.

Advertisements

Green Shift in Detroit?

picture-5I listen to Detroit Today (on WDET 101.9FM) most mornings. It’s right in my wheelhouse between my writing hour and my Phog band-booking hour.
Today, from the time I turned on the stereo, Quinn Klinefelter was interviewing Rick Bowers. The City of Detroit has created its first office of Energy and Sustainability. Rick Bowers is the new chief of that project.

I was audibly laughing in my living room (even being stuffed-up) because they were talking about bringing green collar jobs to Detroit, and how incredibly attractive the City of Detroit is to people wanting to make these changes. I laughed because their conversation consisted of precisely the bits I was able to cram into my little Windsor Star article the other day.

And for some reason, I doubt that Quinn Klinefelter will get the responses I got on the Windsor Star website such as:

We need to abolish the WTO and NAFTA. Then we can start a green industry. The way China keeps its regulations illegally low compared to us makes it so all manufacturing goes there. E-waste goes there, so why wouldn’t “green collar” jobs? We are overlooking the structural problems in our country and think that environmentalism will solve it all when it has nothing to do with it. The bankers control everything with their fractional reserve banking.

or

To Tom: Manufacturing will never stay here because labor can be done cheaper in China. What we need is to setup recycling plants here to recycle e-waste, but right now that stuff goes to China. We have to take care of the financial structural imbalances (China’s keeping their currency/labor/enviro laws lower than ours) before we dream of setting up a green industry. Wake up Tom. We do not buy your humanist agenda to depopulate the city of Windsor thru scaling down.

or

Global warming is a fraud. Tens of thousands of scientists signed the oregon declaration to prove it. The earth goes thru cold and hot spells and this is normal. Water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, but you know why they chose carbon? Because you breathe it! Eventually they will tax life itself if we get a carbon tax. Don’t be an extremist, please.

or

The green concept is based on putting the economy first, like to building a park to save it (instead of just letting it be.) By that (foolish) definition, that won’t work after the “big 3” leave. Ironically though, the air will be cleaner, and the poor will still be poor.

I mean, these comments are completely welcomed, as they get conversations started, but I have an extremely hard time getting into the mind-space of these people. I mean, when you hear about people wanting to bring green collar jobs to Windsor or Detroit, how can you think of China? Green industry jobs (installing solar panels, cleaning up toxic spills, landscaping/urban gardening, organic farmers, tidal/wind/solar energy farm technicians, etc.) are grassroots in design. Green thought is local thought. If a green energy push is made, China is the last place people are looking to go IF (big if) they have an infrastructure and a willing local government to implement these kinds of objectives.

Sure they make TONS of solar panels in China. No one here has made enough of a push to lure in these companies. Bitterfeld Germany certainly has, and look at them!

I think people find an issue they have a feeling about, and then they try to connect any given topic or story to their agenda, and then they harp on it at every chance. They have a pre-formed view of anything “green” and when they see it pop up, they go into their mantra about NAFTA, China, or what-have-you. You can’t please everyone, I get it, but to go off on a tangent about the WTO and NAFTA, when what I’ve written is clearly about is self-sustainability using local people to create LOCAL solutions…People are so funny!

I thought it was funny that this discussion was happening on WDET, which for some Star readers, might be a “more legitimate source” than some kid on The Scene page. I just wish that more Windsorites were dialed-in to this movement, which is not as hidden and unknown as it once was in the past. What can I do to make this clearer? Deliver the New York Times to every house in the city for free for a week so they can see how many of these positive changes are happening…written by the most reputable news source I can think of?
Who knows?

To hear more about this idea of greening the crappier parts of the country…the hurting urban spaces…see Majora Carter’s TED Talk here

But beware naysayers!!! There are NEW IDEAS on this website! Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!
By the way, this is one of the best websites I have ever visited.

Windsor Star runs Majora Carter article.

I woke up on Monday morning to an e-mail from Jhoan.
There was a link to a website.
She said, “There’s a big photo of you with your story,” or something like that.
And I thought, “What story?”

You see, I wrote something for The Windsor Star a while ago, around the time I wrote my blog post about Majora Carter (Sustainable South Bronx).

When it didn’t run in the paper within a month of my sending it to the editor, I thought it was rejected.
In actuality, it was being held for a proper day.
It was brought back into the sun on this past Monday, possibly because since I wrote the article (about the green collar job creation in the South Bronx and the constant loss of blue collar jobs locally) it has more immediate relevance.

It was just a very nice surprise to see this baby in the paper, and not lost.

If you want to see the article, here it is.
It was a great feeling, and I thought I’d share it.

The Mainstream

picture-1I really can’t tell you how much I love getting pieces in The Windsor Star.

The daily paper here takes a TON of heat about its content, yet I have been given a lot of freedom for the odd Monday article I give to them. I cannot complain with the great berth of space they give me when choosing topics.

I’ve written about my disdain for TV, my father’s illness, my unusually high disrespect for Ultimate Fighting, and my personal quest to travel by bike instead of a car. I write about the things that intersect with my life and drive me nuts until I write about them.

Today, I had a piece in The Scene section (as usual) about charity around the holidays, and competitive-giving between my siblings and I. My wife came up with the brilliant idea to see who can buy the most non-perishable food items and toiletries with $25 before tax. The winning family gets $30 to spend on themselves (winds their money back). You see, my family is quite competitive. And you can get through to them by challenging them…in fact, it is THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to get through to them. Haha…

So, one of the things that’s been plaguing me with my freelance column in The Star is content. You see, I am not allowed to write about anything in the music realm. Yes, my job that allows me to connect to all things in “The Scene” is what prohibits me from writing about music, the business, etc. because it is (truly) a conflict of interest. And I agree that it is a conflict, possibly allowing me to have a voice over some of the other people involved in music. So, when I’m no longer at Phog, I can think back to the way it worked, and vent.

Until then, I am looking for people/places/and activities worth writing about that DON’T occur inside the walls of my business. Which is so funny, because I try to innovate and create things that are newsworthy, and because I choose to hold these events within the walls of my business, I struggle as a writer.

So, this is a call to you, reading, to suggest to me ANY story you think should be expressed in that section of the paper on Mondays. I feel that I can be a great conduit to Windsorites about the world (expression, art, community, co-operation, activity) living under their world (Devonshire Mall, Starbucks, TV, SUV). If you can think of anything worth contributing…something that will capture those “undecided” folks or “independents” (like independent voters who are on the fence about whether to be a part of the first world or the evolving world).

Looking forward to some suggestions!!!

Here’s the link to the story I wrote in the paper today: http://tinyurl.com/9d5xqb

And here’s a little bit of a late addition from my friend Rino. He described his approach to Christmas, with two young children, trying to show them what “Christmas is all about”.

just wanted to share a similar idea that we did in our family over the holidays. having two young kids it’s hard to convey to them the true spirit of xmas while balancing the excitement of santa and receiving gifts. this year my mother in law had asked that we forgo her gift because of the tough times etc. we decided, my wife and her 3 brothers’ families, to spend that money on kids toys for donations. We took the kids shopping and they chose the toys and then they delivered them to the fire hall where they were getting collected. it’s a hands on approach to show them the value of gifts for people less fortunate. great to see that your article is being used to showcase such ideas. nice.
ttyl

Thanks for this message Rino.


Me-dia, and why Gus Morin fascinates me.

photo-12photo-13The images above are crude computer-camera photos of a postcard.

But they’re so much more than just a postcard. With a nod to the printer, Jen Kimmerly of Standard Printing, these postcards are so sharp looking, it reminds me of the scene in American Psycho when the executives (including the psycho – Christian Bale) get together and start comparing business cards. They notice the variations of white (ha!) and the ribbing of the paper…the tooth of the fibre. And the psycho can’t stand to see a card other than his looking so exquisite.

When I see something that Jen is printing for Gus Morin, I get like that. I want to run away instead of seeing something so good that I am not engaging in myself.

This postcard is Gus’ way of saying, “Broken City.”

The problem I face when trying to explain something Gus has done is misrepresentation because he is usually thinking on so many levels, and so many steps ahead of me (and everyone else) that it is often better to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

You see, Gus was in Phog the other night, and we were discussing the media, and how unreliable it can be due to advertisers wishes and influence. I always make clear that my piddly existence supplying the Windsor Star with freelance stuff has been very nonrestrictive, yet I see an inexcusable amount of omissions of REAL news from various papers, magazines, and TV news every day.

Gus, ahead of the curve, calls bullshit when he sees it. He actually screams it ,whether in person or on paper. His postcard says a lot more than you might think at first. He’s clearly saying that the old is out. The car companies have had their run. Tires = zero. Windsor is sick, and the money we bathed in because of the auto industry is drying up, going away, and so will we if we don’t sharpen up.

These postcards are Gus’ blog. He sits and pens them out to media outlets, people of “importance” and “circumstance” at a rate of one-per-twenty-minutes. This connection with the paper, the pen, his thoughts, is a special ritual. He loves it. He knows that in the digital age, he is connecting with “media releases” (postcards) that NO ONE ELSE is taking the time to write, let alone design. Gus is also a visual poet, and a collage-maniac. The design on these postcards, I can assure, took a lot of thought and time to make.

So he writes, and he writes, and he mails, and he mails. He knows the Canadian mail system back to front, and he’s a big fan of the US Postal system because of the money saved by sending his postcards FROM the US to the US, saving many, many dollars (including border tolls) by refraining from sending them in Canada. His messages are important, and eloquent, and when it comes to budgeting for your passion, I am full force in favour of him taking his dollar to the US if it makes the difference between Gus getting the message out or not getting it out.

So he decided to read a sample of the postcard he had written to the media. It was brilliant, as usual, and I practically needed a thesaurus to understand what he was saying, but in it’s essence, he was crying out for help, for reform, for a paradigm shift in the media to wake up and cover the death of a city.

The failure of the Big 3 is a sore spot with Gus, but not for the reasons many would think. So, he makes it very clear in his postcards.

picture-2

It is his own media. Me-dia. It is his editorialized news story (no different from any packaged news story, with a slant, and a clear viewpoint. He has reclaimed the mail in the name of justice in the way a radio-hopeful, desperate to express themselves, uses a pirate signal to project.

Gus, no stranger to oppression and struggle, is an artist and writer. His voice is a beacon of reason, and often times an outrageous anarchistic breath of fresh air. What I mean by that is…at least he cares enough to say something outrageous (to my senses) in order to convey his disdain for the way things are being mismanaged. He is every bit a Broken City Lab of his own. He just does it all offline, which in a way is awesome and very Gus-like…but I wonder what he could illicit in people being online in a big way. Who am I kidding? If he’s given this thought, he knows the best avenue for his his mind and talents. As a quick sidebar…Gus once set out to send 1000 postcards to many people, from his huge list, as an art project, an outreach, a correspondence, and who knows what else? Like I said, I fear I will misrepresent this unique genius. He got about 800 of them sent, which is UNREAL!!! 800 postcards in one year!? Ha! I couldn’t do 800 blog posts in a year if I was being paid!

Back to his note. His postcards. They’re all different. Even when he has a common campaign like this, asking the media to shed light on something that needs to change, his individual letters are composed like a new letter each and every time! And he doesn’t send five of these things…he sends 50, or 60, or 100! I don’t know if I could do that for my convictions. I can’t say that I’d find the time to write that much for a cause, if I had to HAND WRITE IT EVERY TIME!

Let this be an instigator to bubble something up inside of you…to bring an idea to the fore, to see light of day, because it means too  much to you to squander…no matter how much work it takes to manifest.

In finishing, I just wanted to show you what passion looks like. It looks like a postcard with red ink, a nice tooth, and focused (democracy-defining) writings and pleadings…and a stamp.

Big Walk Results

We walked on November 9th…I think.

That’s almost a month ago.

I can still feel the tweaks of that event in my bones. Muscles actually.

The group began on time, with a few stragglers. I expected this, as this event was conceived of and organized by the artists who regularly wake up at noon. To have people ready to move at 8pm was a stretch at BEST.

When we did get going, we had about 15 people, and that number adjusted when we were joined along the way by new faces. At times, we had approximately 25 people walking, talking, making new acquaintances, and exploring.

I didn’t realize that I would be cracking the whip as much as I did, corralling the walkers, infusing them with concern for our schedule. We kept a furious pace (it seemed) and it never wavered. The few breaks we got were greatly appreciated and NEEDED. However, every time we stopped, the joints would seize and the feet would pulsate.

The group was dynamic, helpful, eager, knowledgeable, and I was honoured to lead such a determined bunch.

People did drop out of the walk at different times due to previous engagements, parties, gigs, or due to soreness and fatigue. Each person can feel incredibly proud of the ground they covered, though, because they did something they hadn’t really done before. Ground level exploration and discussion. History and modernity in a mixed-media experience, changing from block to block.

My friend Dan Misener came from Toronto and got to walk for almost 8 hours before leaving for a party in Kingsville. I barely got to say a word to him. Not good. But this is the way these events climb up and bite you. You may think it’ll be a well-oiled machine, flowing perfectly with little intervention, but in reality, you are faced with group separation, spacing, time constraints, people’s needs for washrooms and food…it is not a social event for the group leader in the same way it is for the participants.

I will recount more of the Big Walk in coming posts, but this is something to say that we did it. It was a HUGE success, and I am thankful for everyone who made it happen (Big Table) from organizing, to participating, to allowing us into a building/business for a quick investigation or snack.

Enjoy a little video of the early part of the walk.

Again, I will update this blog with more posts along with an accompanying video or two.
So many great moments, and it would be endless (unreadable) to write in one post.

As you can see/hear in the video…I am already out of breath from walking about 3 blocks. The pace we kept for the entire darned thing! Jen Kimmerly gives us some history about a mob house, as she was frequent in doing, because she has spent SO much time walking in this city. She shared countless anecdotes and information bits about the things we were seeing. She was truly indispensable in this event.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1474062&dest=-1]

Windsor Star covers Big Walk, on the FRONT PAGE!

Photo taken by Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star

Photo taken by Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star

Well, it’s pretty nuts, but the Windsor Star covered this story (because Don McArthur does his job well, reading blogs, and looking for stories where great journalists look for stories, and he found out about Big Walk and liked it), and it made it onto the front page, under the fold.

I did not expect this.

However, if you are at all interested in reading the positive, very well-written article, go here:

http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/story.html?id=a977e94e-6b0f-48e3-87d2-359a0d96dc03

Even crazier, is that the lawyer in the picture that I’m talking to…he’s a guy who I have been a fan of but not even known it. I mean, I knew I was a fan of his, but I did not know who he was.

He runs these amazing architecture walks in Detroit. Yes, a lawyer from Windsor runs architecture walks in Detroit. His name is Dave Ziriada, and he runs Preservation Wayne walks in downtown Detroit! I have wanted to go on these tours in the past, and have been unable due to scheduling…but here this guy is, knocking on the front window of the bar when I show up for the different photos used in the web and print  editions of today’s paper.

Someone in his office had heard myself and Stephen Hargreaves on CBC Radio’s The Early Shift, with Tony Doucette earlier in that same day.  So, he told Ziriada that the guy running Big Walk owns Phog Lounge. Guess what? He works in the building across the street!

I know! It’s kooky! I was shocked, and practically acted like a fan-boy over these walks he conducts in Detroit.

So “Big Thanks” goes out to Tony Doucette, who is always great to mix it up with, and to Don McArthur who has always been helpful and encouraging when it comes to my pursuing a life of journalism.