My Farewell Story, Perhaps

May 29, 2014

I have decided to pull back from much of my activism, choosing to concentrate energies on my history researches and writings here and elsewhere.

I woke up one morning with a strong recognition of mortality. It was an epiphany regarding the number of years I might still be lucky enough to have left to me, and how I wanted to spend that time.  I will probably write more about this later.

In the meanwhile, this Courier article is about how the local movement continues to move forward beyond me.  I will continue to support them as positively and practically as I can.



Greenspace #4

May 26, 2014

Greenspace 4_small

Click on the image for a better view.


Earlier “Greenspace” studies can be found here and here and here.

Farewell to Patricia Salmond

May 25, 2014

Yesterday afternoon we were privileged to attend a celebration of the life of Patricia Salmond, late owner of the “Urban Empire” store and well-known and well-loved Drive diva.

Salmond memorial

There was a very good turnout of family, friends, and Drive characters to say their farewells.  Thanks to everyone who helped arrange this lovely and loving event.

On the negative side, it was sad to hear that the owner of the building in which “Urban Empire” flourished has essentially locked out Ms. Salmond’s daughters and they have had to abandon the stock of zany goods still in the store.  Shame.


May 24, 2014


“Treeline” (2008), acrylics on canvas, 30″ x 24″

Slumdog Millionaire — At Last!

May 23, 2014

slumdog460When it was first released, I watched all the “Slumdog Millionaire” trailers, saw a number of talk show appearances by Danny Boyle and Dev Patel, thought I had read reviews.  None of this publicity made me want to go see the movie.  It just didn’t seem to be anything that would interest me, even though I have general fascination with India.  So I didn’t see it.

A couple of weeks ago, the ever-loving recorded it on PPV and the other night we sat and watched it.  Wow!  What a tremendously interesting film, and an incredible trip through various strata of Indian society.  It was brilliantly conceived and produced, and the direction allowed the kid actors to shine.  Wonderful.

At last.

Planners in GW: Limited Scale, Limited Imagination

May 22, 2014

Andrew Pask and his Planning team have issued a draft Terms of Reference and associated documents for a limited scale and limited scope style of Citizens’ Assembly for the GW Community Plan.  This is my open letter in response.


Thanks you for putting together these documents. I only wish they could have been created and improved through a much more extensive collaborative process. For reasons that are external to this process, it was only today that I have managed to read the documents. These notes in this open letter are therefore first thoughts as they occur.

I note in the Summary of Citizens’ Assembly Design Choices, p.3, that the idea of co-management (as first raised in GWAC’s letter to Brian Jackson, 10 September 2013) is explicitly rejected, but no reason is given for that decision; just a plain rejection with apparently no appeal.

The rather grudging acceptance of granular-level discussions at the Assembly (Summary, p.4) is read and understood. However, I do not think enough weight is being given to the importance of the sub-areas for peoples’ buy-in to whatever very local changes the Plan ultimately includes.

The Summary at pp 7-9 suggests that a significant majority of participants preferred the number of Assembly members to be less than 60, and that a “minority” supported an open option. That was certainly not the case at the Info Sessions I attended in January, where a clear majority expressed the opinion that an open-sized Assembly was the preferred option. That has also been the consistent option pushed by the Our Community, Our Plan! group.

Broad scale and broad scope were the clear messages coming your way this year. That has been rejected.

The forced nature of the quota-based system of Assembly membership is unfortunate. The proportion of each sub-area’s population that meets a gender and ethnic and age filter AND is available for ten full Saturdays over the summer is disappearingly small. This will give the external impression of diversity but will not in fact be so.   Also, what criteria will be used by Mass LBT to “select” from those – presumably more than 48 — who do meet the various criteria?

Allowing any adult resident of Grandview to be a part of the Assembly is the only way to ensure that genuine diversity is offered without strings.

The refusal to fund even the most basic translation services (Summary, p.10) is unfortunate. While it may be true that 95% of GW’s population can conduct a conversation in English, it is equally true that a far greater percentage would be more comfortable – and therefore engaged – in their own language discussions. The cost for this must be miniscule in the scheme of things.

With regards to the Final Products of the Assembly (Summary, p.12), I support the amended process and final product suggestions as described.

Finally, I am obliged to note the suggested timeline (along, I suspect, with the last 7 months delay) is designed to push the entire process beyond the next municipal election. Given that we have now reached May, I guess that is now inevitable. But regrettable.

Turtle Floating By

May 21, 2014

Turtle Floating By