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By Linda Rogers, July/August 2012

Founding member Fran Thoburn represents Raging Grannies everywhere on the eve of their 25th anniversary.

“Where does the trickster gene come from?” I ask my subject. Eighty-years young, the woman who has had two knee replacements locks her bike in front of Green Cuisine before she answers, as we sit down for tea at a bench in Market Square. 

Except for one aberrant moment when her mother voted for FDR and the New Deal, causing a paternal meltdown, Fran Thoburn reports that her Cleveland, Ohio, antecedents were upper middle-class Republicans, neither dust-eaters nor dust-disturbers.

“As a kid growing up on my grandmother’s 12 acres along Lake Erie, my happiest times were running across her huge lawns with my dogs, climbing trees, early morning raids on her raspberry bushes, playing hide and seek in her barn—all beyond the reach of my parents. Being free has always been important for me.”

By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, July/August 2012

Figuring out what to eat these days is getting darn complicated.

As the song goes, it’s summertime and the living is easy. Except at our house at dinner time, when everyone comes to the table with a different notion of what constitutes a healthy, tasty meal. There was a time I could select from a wide range of everyday entrée recipes, add a few veggies, a salad, a pot of rice or some presentation of potatoes, and everyone was happy. Or at least happy enough to eat what was offered, even if it wasn’t the expressed favourite. That distinction, for the kids, went to Friday night’s chicken nuggets and homemade oven fries. For their dad, a health professional with a lifelong passion for practising what he teaches, it was any fresh seafood surrounded by heaps of vegetables.

By Amanda Farrell Low, July/August 2012

Two Shakespearean comedies set in the 1920s and ’30s are staged in a Garry Oak meadow.

In some ways, it feels like the Victoria Shakespeare Society is coming full circle. Not only does this year’s Shakespeare in the Summer festival denote a decade of the current incarnation of the VSS putting on shows, but it also marks artistic director Michael Glover’s return to a role reminiscent of the one he took when first acting with the VSS in 2004. Back then, he played Don Adriano de Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost; this year, he’ll be performing as Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing.

“I got to play the fool and I get to play the fool again this year,” he quips. “It’s full circle for the fools.”

Posted by David Broadland, July 30, 2012

Three independent researchers are praising the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia (OIPC) for today's announcement that it is launching a review into the use of Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) in the province.

See OIPC release here:

For the past year, the researchers have been using access to informationlaws to investigate BC police ALPR programs, and have shared their findings through articles, presentations, and blogs."The Commissioner's decision to investigate and issue a public report is an important validation of the concerns we've been raising," said freelance journalist Rob Wipond. "Authorities have frequently represented the ALPR program to the public as having been 'reviewed and approved' by Canada’s privacy commissioners, but that's not true."

By Briony Penn, July/August 2012

The magic canoe is getting bigger as artists, journalists and others join the battle against oil tankers in coastal waters.

When local writer Arno Kopecky returned to Canada in 2011 after an assignment covering the Garcia regime in Peru, he had a bad case of déjà vu, or, as they say in Peru, yo visto. He had been documenting the impacts of mining, oil and timber extraction on the indigenous people during then-President Alan Garcia’s reign for his new book, The Devil’s Curve. Prime Minister Harper’s rhetoric on tar sands and pipelines was sounding awfully familiar. Says Kopecky, “I heard Garcia spouting all this stuff down in Peru about locals and foreign radicals standing in the way of progress. But then to come home to hear exactly the same thing coming out of our leaders’ mouths here…well I thought it only happened in banana republics.” 

By Christine Clark, July/August 2012

His questing intellect and impressive creative skills are on display in two shows this summer.

Many years ago, in the early ’90s when I first saw Duncan Regehr’s work (this was the Poetic Imagery Series at Winchester Gallery at their old location near the Oak Bay Junction), I was a very young painter and was completely enthralled by the seemingly impossible glow he achieved in his paintings. It seemed as though he had somehow installed a soft night light, or perhaps a star, beneath the skin of each jewel-like colour. Truly magical, the colours and the very texture of the work were so varied and rich, the stories told on each canvas were so spiritually and intellectually profound, that I had the impression, standing in the presence of his work, that he must be someone in possession of a great and mystical power.

By Aaren Madden, July/August 2012

CBC’s Gregor Craigie sees Victoria as a city of activists.

The Big Apple; Motor City; City of Lights; Cowtown. A place can be conjured in a phrase, but it’s never as simple as all that. We all have our own spheres of reference that feed our perceptions of home—or any place for that matter—so there are as many ways of engaging with a place as there are people who live there, who visit, or who contemplate it from afar. 

By Gene Miller, June 2012

Put all the politicians, bureaucrats and engaged citizens in a big pot and turn up the heat until everyone screams “Density!”

From my eastern windows dawn landed like the Apocalypse a couple of Fridays ago: a tortured sun fighting its way through volcanic black stormheads churning below a leaden sky that flattened the landscape from horizon to horizon, north to south.

“The end of Fairfield and pricey Gonzales?” I wondered. “Maybe there really is a wrathful Higher Power. But why Cook Street Village? Why? Why? Why?”

God works in mysterious ways.

I consulted my well-thumbed Bible For Dummies. And there it was, a portent, a message. The text in Renovations 4:17-3 read: 

By Marilyn McCrimmon, June 2012

Dr Ken Williams, now 96 and a former high rigger, credits lessons learned from logging with guiding his work in medicine.

Social responsibility and personal accountability are the values that Dr Ken Williams passionately believes in and lives by. Ken’s extensive educational credentials coupled with his vast experience, first as a logger in BC’s forests, and then as a physician and finally as an international medical administrator, inform his strongly held opinions. Ken is not afraid to say what he thinks, and in fact, until he retired, health care organizations around the world would hire him to do just that.

By Simon Nattrass, June 2012

Victoria is a great place. But who can afford to live here?

When Robin, 62, moved here in 1991, away from the noise and chaos of Vancouver, his rent was $410 per month for a small bachelor suite. For a few years his rent was stable, but in 2004, things quickly began to change when a letter arrived announcing an 8 percent increase—the first in a series of yearly increases. Since then, Robin’s rent has climbed 35 percent to rest at $555 per month.

For Robin, the first round of rent increases meant coming out of retirement and finding a full-time job just to make ends meet. Since then, a heart attack has forced him to shorten his work week. As a result, the next significant increase will leave him with little option other than moving out of the city or onto the street. 

By Amy Reiswig, June 2012

Madeline Sonik moves gracefully from the small and intimate to the celestial.

Since ancient times, there has been a connection between poetry and prophecy. Poets were seen as accessing something beyond themselves and the mundane mortal world and acted as a channel or conduit for words beautiful, wise and oracular. It seems fitting then that Madeline Sonik’s new book of poems, The Book of Changes (Inanna, April 2012), is both named and styled after what some consider the oldest extant book of divination: the I Ching.

By Amy Reiswig, June 2012

When we get very sick, Dr. Brian Berry and his hematopathologist colleagues provide the behind-the-scene search for the cause.

Lifeblood. It’s a term used as a metaphor for importance: trust is the lifeblood of a relationship; free speech is the lifeblood of democracy; cooperation is the lifeblood of community. Someone for whom such a designation is truly apt in terms of our local community is hematopathologist Dr. Brian Berry, MD.

Hematopathology is a branch of diagnostic medicine in which blood is analyzed for disease. Those vials that get slapped with a bar code and sent who knows where when you’re having tests done at the Royal Jubilee Hospital or, in about half the cases, at LifeLabs—end up in Dr Berry’s lab.

By Trudy Duivenvoorden Mitic, June 2012

How someone who dreaded running, learned to love it.

There’s nothing quite as empowering as the experience of having triumphed over something you never thought you’d be able to do. Such was my euphoria a month ago when I crossed the finish line of the Times Colonist 10K run, feeling tired but strong and probably grinning from ear to ear.

I’ve never thought of myself as a runner, not even in the days when I was an ill-trained member of my high school’s ragtag track team. I never liked the burn in my legs, the weight of exhaustion on my lungs, the nauseating thickness in my throat—all of which I took to be signs of my body’s demand to cease and desist. Over the years I easily brushed off many invitations to take up running, including those from a daughter for whom flying on her feet has long been a powerful elixir.  

By Aaren Madden, June 2012

BC and Canada are at a dangerous crossroads with the Enbridge pipeline plan, says Victoria MP Denise Savoie.

As an avid kayaker, NDP MP for Victoria Denise Savoie has glided over many of the scenic waters of the West Coast. But never before or since has she encountered the scene awaiting her in Prince William Sound, Alaska: “You’re paddling along the coast and it looks pristine from the water, but as you take your kayak to the beach, you begin to see rock faces that are still completely covered in gummed-up substance,” she says of her experience there in 1999.

By Briony Penn, June 2012

How environmental protection in Canada went the way of the dodo.

Last month, my 16-year-old son’s class was flown to Ottawa, housed, fed, lectured to and trotted around the capital’s institutions and memorials devoted to war for a full week—courtesy of Stephen Harper’s government. According to David Pugliese, a veteran defense policy journalist, this youth indoctrination program is just a taste of what is to come. 

And, as the defense “booster” budget explodes, the environmental budget implodes. It appears they are inextricably linked by the Harper agenda.

By Leslie Campbell, June 2012

This organization can take a small amount of your money and turn it into a stronger local economy.

Small business has always taken guts (if I do say so myself). But in recent decades, with the rise of the global economy and consumers turning to huge corporations and chains for everything from books to food and clothing, it’s even trickier for entrepreneurs to make a living—or to simply get into the game. Coming up with the cash for rent, equipment, marketing, and wages before revenues start flowing, derails many a potential business in its infancy. 

Certainly not everyone has family that can afford to help. And banks, while they may grovel for other corporate business, seem to have developed ironclad formulas that rule out loans of any size for any new business. Struggling single parents or those with student loans or, heaven forbid, a prison record, know enough to not even ask their banks for help.

By Craig Spence, June 2012

An unsolicited offer to buy City-owned land has highlighted the absence of guiding policies for land disposal in Victoria.

Perhaps the most important piece of real estate for the City of Victoria to identify as it considers policy around the sale of City-owned lands is the office at Number One Centennial Square where the whole process of land disposition and acquisition is supposed to be managed.

There’s a lot of interest in locating that sanctum after it was announced April 30 that the City would consider an offer by the Ralmax Group to purchase four parcels on Harbour Road (see map on page 20), just north of the Johnson Street Bridge. The land in question is currently home to several Ralmax-owned companies, including Point Hope Maritime, United Engineering, Island Plate and Steel, and Harjim Industries, as well as several other non-Ralmax businesses.

By Christine Clark, June 2012

Emilio Portal creates a temporary memorial to commemorate the Lekwungen people.

The first time I met Emilio Portal, he had been accepted to create an installation at a gallery space I was then coordinating. In the beginning, his plan was to create a little shelter out of bamboo and other discarded items and to live in this hut for the entire length of the show, which was a month long. Interestingly, his ideas evolved the more time he spent feeling out the space and eventually, by the time his scheduled month had arrived, his installation became a performance during which he played a cajon (a box drum) in the night “To Honour the Spirit of this Forest,” as he called the piece. 

By amy Reiswig, May 2012

The downside of medical screening tests is examined in Alan Cassels’ latest book.

You want to save your life, right? And if someone—particularly someone in our much-esteemed medical field—told you that you could do so simply by taking a test, well hallelujah for modern medicine! Or maybe not. While he’s not promising to save your life, as Alan Cassels notes in his latest book Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease (Greystone, April 2012), asking questions about screening tests, rather than blindly having them, can be a much healthier path. 

By Craig Spence, May 2012

The horrors of the residential school system come perilously close to genocide.

An individual apology might seem woefully inadequate in the face of gut-wrenching statements being gathered from “survivors” of Canada’s residential school system by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which met for two days at the Victoria Conference Centre in April.

But getting non-aboriginal Canadians to acknowledge the truth and apologize for it is one of the commission’s objectives. Giving survivors a chance to unburden themselves by telling their truth is another. 

So here’s my first step: As a Canadian, British Columbian and Victorian, I apologize to people of aboriginal decent for the horrendous damage inflicted on them by the residential school system, and for the institutionalized racism that characterized my nation’s historic policy of assimilation.