misslynx: (Aidan & me - w/ dandelion)
This weekend, there's a "Pedestrian Celebration" happening on St. Clair from Vaughan to Winona, called Feet on the Street. They've closed that section of the street off to car traffic, kind of like the Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market, except that it included part of today as well as most of the day tomorrow.

I wandered around a bit today and it was pretty cool - not a mob scene like Salsa on St. Clair or anything like that, but a fair number of people out walking (and biking, rollerblading, etc.) on the street, particularly families with kids. Most of the restaurants in the area had put tables out on the sidewalk like a sort of extended patio, and they were nearly all full, so the event seemed to be doing a lot of good for them. And a lot of stores were having sidewalk sales. Here and there were random tables with various things out on them to encourage people to have fun - everything from Scrabble games to kids' hockey and badminton equipment, skip ropes, coloured chalk for drawing on the street (which neighourhood kids had already put to good use by the time I came by. There was also a giant chessboard in one place (about 10' square, with pieces a foot and a half high or so), which seemed to be really popular.

For the most part it did seem a bit quiet and subdued compared to most street-festival type things, but there was definitely more noise and energy happening toward the western end of the strip, where the concentration of Latin American restaurants is higher. Some cultures know how to party on the street better than others, I guess. There was a very lively drum session going on outside a Peruvian restaurant. The Hungarians were also right into it, with the Hungarian community centre near Winona having some kind of folk festival of its own going on, with food tents outside and live music.

Even in the quieter parts, though, it was really nice. Having so many people out on the street, walking dogs, kids riding trikes or playing ball, etc. really made for a lot of community feeling. As far as I know, this is a one-off event, but I would love it if it became a monthly thing like the Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington.

Anyway, it continues tomorrow, from 9am to 8pm, and I'd definitely encourage people to come check it out, even if you don't live in the area. I will be probably be making the rounds with the Lynxcub for at least part of tomorrow afternoon. Who wants to come out and join us?
misslynx: (Default)
Some people seem to be under the impression that shopping at farmers' markets is expensive. Really, that depends a whole lot on what you buy. In my experience, buying things like cheese, smoked fish, preserves or other prepared foods can indeed add up pretty quickly, but buying just your basic fresh produce is usually very affordable - in fact, often cheaper than shopping at grocery stores, plus it's local, mostly organic, and very fresh.

By way of an example, let me share with you the results of today's shopping trip. I went with $10 and change in my purse, and here is what I came back with:
  • One bag of mixed salad greens

  • One 1-pound basket of tomatillos

  • 2 ears of corn on the cob

  • 3 very large Ida Red apples

  • 3 Red Delicious apples

  • 1 pear

  • 9 small black plums

  • 4 yellow tomatoes (not the yellow cherry tomatoes I got before, but full-size ones of the same colour)

  • 1 large red plum tomato

  • 1 large Portuguese hot pepper
All local and fresh (the woman at the stand where I got the apples said they had been picked that morning), mostly organic. Pretty good haul for $10, don't you think?

I may have gone a little overboard on the fruit, but I've been craving it lately, so I'm happy with what I got. Though if I'd had a little more money I would have liked to have gotten one of the big stalks of brussel sprouts that another stand had. I'd never seen brussel sprouts in their natural form before. Also, more corn (it got cheaper the more you bought) -- that was the last thing I bought, so I just got what I could with what I had left.

One of the best things this time was that one stand had most of their produce (everything but the squashes and leeks) available on a fill-your-own-bag basis -- you picked either a $3 bag or a $5 bag, and could then stuff it to your heart's content with whatever combination of things you wanted. About 3/4 of the stuff above was in a $5 bag.

Aside from the freshness and affordability, a few other things I really like about shopping at farmers' markets:
  • You're dealing with the people who actually grow what you're eating, so you can ask them questions about it if you want. For example, the woman at the fill-your-own bag place was happy to explain to people that while her farm & orchard were not certified organic, they made every effort to get as close to it as possible, and to tell you exactly which things were grown completely naturally and which were "low-spray", and if you wanted to know, exactly what bugs etc. they'd had problems with that had necessitated spraying the pears and one kind of apples, etc.

  • Getting to see and try some interesting varieties of veggies I've never had before, and to see some of the ones I was familiar with in closer to the form they actually grow in, like the stalks of brussel sprouts I mentioned above, and an artichoke with a big purple flower growing out of the top.

  • Getting in touch with the rhythm of the seasons, by basing my diet around what's actually in season right now where I live, instead of having pretty much every kind of fruit and vegetable from all over the world available year-round like at supermarkets, but having most of them taste like cardboard for the 11 months out of the year that they're not actually in season.

  • Most of the farmers are very generous -- when you pick up a pre-filled box or basket of something, like with my tomatillos today, they'll often add a few more to it just to make sure it's really, really full. With the fill-your-own-bag stand, they don't care how full you stuff it -- if you can manage to hold it up by the handles and stuff is not actually falling out, it's all good. And they're usually happy to let you taste stuff before buying.

  • They tend to become community gathering places, so that shopping feels like an event rather than just an errand. People there usually tend to be friendly, and often hang out snacking, chatting, etc. after they've done their shopping. And there's usually some kind of entertainment happening -- buskers playing, or the puppet theatre at the Dufferin Grove market, etc. It makes grocery shopping something fun to look forward to, instead of just a chore to get over with.
All in all, the more I shop there, the harder it is to imagine ever going back to shopping at supermarkets, other than for the few things I can't get at the market. And I am so glad that my local market is moving to an indoor space in November and going year-round. I don't know exactly what's going to be available in the winter -- I guess mainly things that store well, like root veggies and apples and what not, plus maybe some greenhouse-grown items, and preserves and stuff. But I'm looking forward to finding out.
misslynx: (needs must)
I can has 36 hour day plz?

Or just stop time for a week or so while I get caught up. That would do it too...

Maybe more like a month.
misslynx: (With Kiska (on couch))
Wow.

I just spent the weekend and then some (to be specific: Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings plus Saturday and Sunday daytimes) at the Radical Business Intensive, a really amazing business and marketing seminar for green or otherwise socially conscious business people.

My brain is now all explodey from being so full of information, plus I have a 600+ page workbook in a mega binder to keep me busy for the rest of my life the next several months, and an audio CD full of more stuff, and a whole bunch of perks from other seminar participants -- there was a lot of focus on building community and we were all encouraged to donate stuff to go into little loot bags we got at the end.

If you run any kind of business, and are at all a progressive/non-corporate/generally cool person, you really, really, really need to jump any opportunity you may ever have to go to this event or to hear Tad Hargrave speak in pretty much any other context for that matter. Or just check out his website and download the "Way of Radical Business" e-book. Caveat: the site is kind of a design nightmare and looks like a generic, cheesy marketing site, but he's a lot cooler than that. And does not in person look anywhere near as dorky as he does in the photo on the site. Seriously, he made anarchist jokes and wore a Utilikilt. Not your average marketing guru.

Did I mention that the seminar was pay what you can? Apparently he'll be coming to Toronto again in the fall, and does this in various other cities from time to time also. Massively recommended.
misslynx: (With Kiska (on couch))
There is something particularly enjoyable about putting the finishing touches on a new class on pagan epistemology and critical thinking, while listening to Nightwish at as high a volume as I can manage without disturbing the baby.

Smelling like many delicious spices courtesy of BPAL's Plunder scent makes it even better.

And having [livejournal.com profile] optimystik bring me food while I'm working so that I can eat before I have to head out to teach is better still.
misslynx: (In tree)
Sent to me by a friend:
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is an annual event aimed at increasing awareness of the ecological importance/ sensitivities of shorelines across the country as well as physically removing debris that can kill wildlife. More info: http://www.vanaqua.org/cleanup/

Whether you can make it out to the event below or not, I encourage you to search out the events map on the website above and join a group in your area OR simply tidy up a bit of shoreline (ocean, lake, river, creek, whatever) in your area. This is the second larges clean up of almost 90 participating countries in the world. Last year, the cleanup removed 84,708 kg of shoreline litter from 966 sites across Canada. Items removed have included BBQ's (14 in 06), Celine Dion CDs, an entire living room set, a gun barrel, an evidence bag with items in it, and a toilet seat nailed to a lawn chair.
I checked out the site and this thing is huge - there are dozens of cleanups going on in Toronto alone, and many more across the country. Most of them are this weekend. Some required advance registration and are now closed but many are open to drop-in participants.

The one I am going to is this Sunday at noon at David Balfour Park, the ravine park at Yonge & St. Clair. Anyone local who would like to join me is most welcome to. [livejournal.com profile] kettunainen would like to, but Aidan's still a bit too little to accompany us on something like this. Not sure yet if [livejournal.com profile] optimystik will as he's at work right now.

If that particular one doesn't work for you, or if there's another lake/river/stream cleanup going on in an area closer to your heart, or if you're elsewhere in Canada, please do check out the site and find something in your area. I think this is an amazing event and would really like to encourage people to get involved.
misslynx: (iBook)
A discussion earlier tonight helped crystallize something I'd been thinking about on and off for a while - about one of the ways that the choice of words used to express something can have a lot of subtle impacts, and sometimes expose certain underlying assumptions.

Very often, when people are speaking to or about someone who has a different lifestyle or belief system than they do, the word "need" seems to creep in there in a way that I find interesting:

Examples:
  • Atheist to spiritual person: "But why do you need to believe in X?" or "I don't need to believe in X."

  • Monogamous person to polyamorous person: "Why do you need to have more than one partner? Why can't one be enough?"

  • Vanilla person speaking about kink: "I don't understand why some people need to mix pleasure and pain."

  • Pagan kvetching about other pagans: "Why do so many pagans feel the need to [insert disapproved-of behaviour here: wear occult jewelry, use Craft names, wear robes in ritual, incorporate mediaeval/renaissance elements into their everyday clothing, etc.]?" (actually, that sums up about half the posts in [livejournal.com profile] nonfluffypagans...)
Or occasionally it's "have to" instead of "need to". There's an assumption here that I think needs (so to speak) to be addressed: that if someone for some reason chooses to do, think or believe something that you don't, that it can't really be a free choice -- they must somehow feel that they have to do this. And by implication, that means there's something wrong with them.

A need is a lack -- something missing in a person. A weakness. Think of your mental image of a "needy" person -- chances are that the qualities that come to mind are weak, pitiful, high-maintenance, a pain to be around. If someone else needs a particular thing and you don't, the implication is that you are stronger, more together, more complete than they area. They have a lack that needs to be filled, a shortage that must be compensated for -- you are above all that. You don't "need" what they do. So implicitly, using that terminology positions the speaker as better or stronger than the person they're speaking to or about.

In addition, it removes agency from the "needy" person -- if their difference is something they need to or have to do or believe, then they aren't really making a free choice. The matter in questions ceases to be something where an intelligent adult could consider all possible options and choose freely -- it's something people either feel compelled to do or they don't. Which of course also means that the choices of the person speaking are also not simply choices, and thus not open to question or challenge -- they become the default, the way things automatically are if you don't "have to" or "feel the need to" do otherwise.

Here's something interesting to try: the next time you find yourself thinking or saying something like the above examples, try reframing them, substituting something like more neutral like "choose", "prefer", "like" or "enjoy". See how different things sound when you credit the other person with the ability to make a choice or express a preference.

Or take a step further and try something like "be open to" -- "Why are some people open to the possibility of multiple partners/the existence of divinity/etc.?" sounds a lot different than "Why do some people need multiple partners/etc." It inverts the power dynamic inherent in need-speak and positions the person being spoken of as having more choices, more options. Which is not exactly neutral, but can be an interesting way of challenging your own perspective and trying to put yourself in another person's shoes.

The specific topic under discussion tonight that sparked me thinking about this again was the atheism vs. spirituality example, but I've run into the same dynamic in all the other contexts listed above and then some. Sometimes, if I'm feeling obstinate, I'll respond to the "Why do you need to X?" with simply "I don't" and let them puzzle it out. Other times I'll say something more like "I don't need to -- I choose to. There's a difference."

Of course, this will probably all sound like just semantic nit-picking to many, but I find that communication tends to happen more easily and clearly when we think about the words we use and what baggage they bring with them. Language is rarely value-free.
misslynx: (Default)
Thing One: Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] cleasai!

Thing Two: In response to discussion at 9ICB, I have created a new community, for bisexuals who are coming to bisexuality from previously identifying as gay, lesbian, trans or something else "out of the ordinary", as opposed to from a straight identity, and are thus basically coming out a second time after having already done a bunch of questioning and self-analysis the first time around, and dealing with issues of sexual fluidity, relationships with the queer community/ies, etc.

Presenting... [livejournal.com profile] kinseysurfers! (As in, surfing up and down the Kinsey scale. OK the name is a little silly, but hopefully it will be useful.)

Thing Three: The very best thing about going through a period of being crazy busy and getting very little sleep is waking up the morning after it's all over, after sleeping for about ten hours, and realizing that you don't have to get up if you don't want to, and can just lie in bed and play with the cats or cuddle the dog or go back to sleep or whatever, because there is no alarm going off and no workshops or weddings to get to, and you are actually feeling well-rested for the first time in several days.

Why?

Nov. 13th, 2001 04:14 pm
misslynx: (Default)
I am having one of those days where I just don't understand the human race, or at least the portions of it I most frequently come in contact with. It just seems like there's been a huge string of conflicts and blow-ups lately among people I know, and so many of them just seem unnecessary.

It seems like whenever a conflict or disagreement comes up, people's first reaction is to adopt a defensive stance and lash out at the other person in retaliation, instead of trying to communicate and see if or how the conflict might be able to be resolved. No, I'm not naive enough to think that every human conflict would be easily resolved if people would just make an effort - sometimes people genuinely are malicious and hurtful to each other on purpose. But with so many of the blow-ups I've seen lately, it seems as though the people on both sides are both good people, and it just didn't need to happen.

One thought I've been playing with lately is whether many members of "alternative" communities of various sorts, like the pagan/goth/punk/BDSM/queer/activist/etc. sorts I've been hanging out with in various combinations for most of my adult life, are carrying around a huge reservoir of pain and anger from the ways in which they've been marginalized, rejected or abused by the rest of society. I mean, let's face it - with regard to the goth scene in particular, since that's where I've been noticing it most lately, people are not generally attracted to that kind of "dark" aesthetic if they've had completely happy, uneventful lives. The majority of people I know in the scene have backgrounds involving abuse, addiction, dysfunctional families, depression, eatng disorders, and other unpleasantness. And the same goes for people in many of the other alternative communities I've been part of.

And the thing is, society is a whole isn't something we can easily access in order to direct that anger where it really belongs, and often, neither are the people who've hurt us in the past, be it family or ex-lovers or whoever. So instead we end up taking it out on the people we can access - each other. Small conflicts that might have been able to be sorted out with a little understanding end up blowing up into huge conflagrations, because the people involved have mostly been hurt so many times in different ways in the past that they react to any new danger by instinctively lashing out at it, by saying (even if unconsciously) "I'm not going to ever let anyone hurt me again!" - so they try to hurt the other first, in a sort of pre-emptive strike. Which makes the other person, who likely has just as much accumulated pain and anger, more determined to hit back harder, so that then they have to strike again, and so on...

And I don't really know what the solution is. It's damn difficult to trust when you've been hurt so many times, or to try to give people the benefit of the doubt when so often they haven't merited it. In a way it's much easier to always assume the worst of everyone so that you won't be disappointed if it happens. It's not like any of us can just suddenly say "Right then, from now on I'm going to always assume everyone has good intentions and that all conflicts can be worked out peacefully," because old habits die hard, and besides, not everyone does have good intentions, and not all conflicts can be resolved peacefully.

But I think it is possible, if we work at it, to try to at least be open to the possibility that not every time when someone hurts someone else is motivated by malice - that misunderstandings and miscommunication are responsible for at least as many difficulties as active hostility, if not more. And that even when people do try to hurt each other, they may be unconsciously acting out past pain in a way that they barely have any control over. I don't want to come off sounding like the Buddha or something, but I think it is possible to try and have compassion for everyone, even people you're in conflict with, and to at least make the effort to try to understand where they're coming from. Not easy, but possible. And very much worth doing.

Pride Day

Jun. 25th, 2001 01:26 pm
misslynx: (Default)
Well, we managed to pull together our little pagan contingent, although "little" is definitely the operative word here! There were only eight of us. But we still had fun.

The biggest surprise was that Richard, the high priest of the Wiccan Church of Canada, showed up -- in lime-green-and-black cycling shorts and a flowered T-shirt at that, I'm not sure I could have envisioned him wearing that particular combination of clothing if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes! :-) He's not gay, but he seemed to have a great time. We were right behind the float of HOLA, the gay Latino group, so they were blasting really loud Latin dance music, and Richard was dancing all over the place. I'm not sure I've ever even seen him dance before, and I've known him for 20 years!

So definitely, a good time was had by all, although one of my friends who'd wanted to be in our contingent got there late and couldn't get through the crowds to get to us, so we didn't hook up with her until after the parade.

Afterwards we wandered around to all the community groups' booths -- my favourite was the Bisexual Women of Toronto/Toronto Bisexual Network booth, where a woman was selling cat-shaped shortbread cookies by calling out "Cheap pussy! Only a dollar! If you've never tried pussy before, now's the time!" :-) I also got a "Bi Pride" fake tattoo put on me there, which, as I told my friend Darl who was working there selling stickers and T-shirts, was a historic moment because I'd been kind of resistant to letting myself be labelled as bi before, and now I was quite literally getting labelled! Unfortunately it got all messed up when I reapplied my sunscreen...

And speaking of sunscreen! As much as a I generally like my pale complexion (goth points and all that), it's a real bitch on occasions like this. I made sure before I left the house that I slathered myself everywhere with SPF 45 sunblock and also wore a hat that shaded my face, chest and shoulders a bit. And after the parade when we were up checking out the booths, the gay and lesbian doctors association had free sunscreen (SPF 30), so I put on more there, much to the amusement of my friends, who think I'm ridiculously paranoid about sunlight. I put the second coat of sunscreen on everywhere except my face and chest (I was wearing a fairly low-cut bustier), because I figured the hat shaded them enough.

Wrong! My face didn't get burned, probably because I was wearing makeup as well as the hat, but when I got home last night and got undressed, my entire cleavage area as exposed by the bustier was a lovely shade of fuschia. It's faded a little now, but is still quite noticeably pink. Which is especially silly-looking given there's still a lot of silver glitter all over it too... So now I know: hat or no hat, SPF 45 is not enough for cave fish like me! I knew I could burn through SPF 30, but apparently that's not all. Next year I bring an extra bottle with me, and reapply every couple of hours.

Oh well. It was still a good day.

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