An old white man awakes to his privilege – and its power for good

I’ve become much more prone to analyze daily social situations on the grounds of age, ethnicity and gender

An old white man awakes to his privilege – and its power for goodBeing older (I’m 67 and increasingly told this is old), white and male is being pointed out more and more these days. In less than glowing terms. While Donald Trump is arguably the global archetype of the boomer personae I’m describing, the phrase “old white man” is getting more deliberate usage in different parts of…

Nation to nation at the Calgary Stampede

So long, Indian Village. Welcome, Elbow River Camp. The Stampede spirit shines through to embrace reconciliation

Nation to nation at the Calgary StampedeAs a member of a family who never missed a Calgary Stampede in 30 years of Calgary residency, I was made incredibly happy by Facebook pal George Brookman’s recent post. His announcement was simple, and direct: “A wonderful representative of the Indigenous people, Cieran Starlight will be the last ‘Indian Princess’ to represent the ‘Indian…

The heavy footprint of climate change can be seen everywhere

I've been alive to observations and anecdotes of climate change for years. I now have hundreds of them stored in my memory

The heavy footprint of climate change can be seen everywhereImagine drilling into the accumulated layers of ice on Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada at 5,959 metres in Yukon’s Saint Elias Mountains, to extract ice-cores for scientific study. Dr. Gerald Holdsworth, expeditionary climber and climate scientist at the University of Calgary’s Arctic Institute of North America had been doing it for years when…

Out of the roiling heat of Montreal, into the heart of artistic genius

And a full dose of air-conditioned museum comfort certainly doesn't hurt the appreciation of Picasso

Out of the roiling heat of Montreal, into the heart of artistic geniusLast week, thousands of Montrealers began to experience what I expect will gradually become a new phenomenon in global art gallery visitation – viewing art to get out of the heat. The heat wave (CBC news referred to it as “a heat event”) really descended on the city on the previous weekend, with Saturday’s temperatures…

Championing the human spirit in dispiriting times

The human spirit has evolved over several hundred thousand years and will survive Trump's crude behaviour

Championing the human spirit in dispiriting timesMore and more, Newton’s third law makes sense in my volunteer life: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For many of us, these are dispiriting times. Trade wars, trashing of environmental regulations, insulting of long-term allies, and validation of racist and crude behaviours emanating from our American neighbours aren’t the norm…

Keeping a father and son tradition afloat

Putting the Frankie back in the water signals the coming of summer adventures. But first we must perform the ritual launch dance

Keeping a father and son tradition afloatThe day we put the Frankie back in the water and moor her at the community marina is a day of ritual celebration at our house. The day symbolizes a return to some of our family’s favourite activities – cruising in the local waters of the Salish Sea, fishing for wild salmon, and swimming in…

Fake tough: Donald Trump’s tantrum over Canada

How do we cope with a bully? We stand united, with balance and nuance, and a boxer's certainty in our responses

Fake tough: Donald Trump’s tantrum over CanadaOver the last year, we’ve watched and listened as the new American president demonstrated his rules of combat. Donald Trump is quick to anger and engage, but doesn’t like to fight in an open forum. He prefers after-the-fact actions, which mostly involve his basic vocabulary and most often find form on Twitter. Twitter is the…

Revisiting Gwaii Haanas, a hallowed and reborn place

Forty years ago, it was a deserted ground, tinged in sadness. Today, the region is enriched with spirit and purpose

Revisiting Gwaii Haanas, a hallowed and reborn placeForty years ago, in 1978, my wife and I agreed to cap our first year of marriage with an adventure. We decided to follow in the paddle-strokes of good friends who had just kayaked to what was then called the South Moresby archipelago of the Queen Charlotte Islands. We chose the first two weeks of…

Powell River celebrates its progressive roots

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to be performed at PRISMA. In 1913, the ballet unleashed a mad torrent of modernity on the members of Parisienne high society

Powell River celebrates its progressive rootsOn the May 29, 1913, the Paris premiere of The Rite of Spring took place at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. The Russian ballet’s choreographer was Vaslav Nijinsky and the symphony’s composer was Igor Stravinsky. Together that night, almost exactly 105 years ago, they unleashed a mad torrent of modernity on the members of Parisienne high…

The great pipeline debate has degenerated

We need a way to drill down to the science and legality related to Trans Mountain. We need to replace cacophony with compromise

The great pipeline debate has degeneratedThe last few months have illustrated how we now argue in public in Canada and the picture is not encouraging. I’m referring to what many think of as the great pipeline debate: the pros and cons of the Kinder Morgan diluted bitumen Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from the Alberta oilsands to tidewater in Vancouver. We…

The pipeline to the future doesn’t carry the jobs of the past

The ruckus over the Kinder Morgan project is a good reminder that the economic conditions we once enjoyed are on the way out

The pipeline to the future doesn’t carry the jobs of the pastWhile the opinion writers and politicians are venting about expanding the Kinder Morgan pipeline for diluted bitumen to the West Coast, it might help to consider some history. We didn’t arrive at this shout-fest without making diverse tracks from previous experiences, and most of us are old enough to think back over a few previous…

A town-to-town hike along the Ligurian Sea

Cinque Terra offers astonishing vistas of beauty and a rigorous test of your hiking fitness

A town-to-town hike along the Ligurian SeaWhen I was first asked about going to Cinque Terra, I didn’t have a clue where it was. “Northern Italy – on the west coast, north of Pisa,” I was told. “Not quite on the French border. At the top of the boot!” I consulted my iPhone Google atlas and read some travel essays. What…

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architecture

London’s National Gallery exhibit offers rare glimpses into the artist’s examination of the play of light on human structures

Discovering Monet’s lifelong fascination with architectureOne of the great things about being a retired museum and art gallery CEO is that you know most of the basic tricks of the trade. For instance, you can get a very quick gauge of an exhibition’s successes and high points by talking with the gallery security staff. So as soon as we had…

Spring surprises at Skelhp: red tide and Cuddles

Fir pollen on the water (perhaps), black bears on the prowl. All part of a spring visit to Skelhp

Spring surprises at Skelhp: red tide and CuddlesI recently made the trip up the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver to Skelhp under sunny skies with spring projects in mind. It’s still a month before the vegetable garden needs to be seeded, but it’s time to rake in some fireplace ash and turn the soil in the rows. The raspberry canes need pruning, and…

Why authoritarian populists are destined to fail

A review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Why authoritarian populists are destined to failMy son gave me Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress after he had heard him speak on a podcast about his 10th bestseller in 53 years of life as a public intellectual and Harvard professor of cognitive psychology. The gift is part of an ongoing effort to expand…