In the begin­ning of Sep­tem­ber I post­ed a note about the youth pho­to ini­tia­tive that I’ll be run­ning in con­junc­tion with the Cal­gary board of edu­ca­tion and the Boys and Girls Club of Cal­gary..

The first few weeks have gone very well, and we’ve man­aged to select approx­i­mate­ly ten stu­dents to com­plete the for-cred­it pro­gram. Dur­ing the last class we dis­cussed some of the cur­rent events that stu­dents felt strong­ly about, and in the end the group agreed to focus on the com­mu­ni­ty of Bow­ness here in Cal­gary, which is an incred­i­bly diverse and (dare I say) unique com­mu­ni­ty. Giv­en said diver­si­ty, this will prove to be an inter­est­ing project as time goes on!

With the help of Jim at The Cam­era Store, we sent requests to sev­er­al cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers to spon­sor the pro­gram with equip­ment.   Unfor­tu­nate­ly the requests were not met favor­ably and as a result the school will have to pur­chase the cam­eras out­right.  I’d real­ly like to give a plug to The Cam­era Store and par­tic­u­lar­ly Jim for being so sup­port­ive of Boys and Girls Club pro­grams. They’ve helped on a few projects already and their com­mit­ment to help­ing the com­mu­ni­ty should not go unno­ticed!

I’ve sent the stu­dents out with the fol­low­ing home­work and next week (if all goes accord­ing to plan) we should begin to actu­al­ly work with cam­eras..

  • (Cur­rent Events) Bring in 2 arti­cles (or pieces of writ­ing)
    • Be pre­pared to talk about what they mean to you.
  • (Observation)Find two out­side objects and vis­it them on at least four occa­sions in one day: Morn­ing, Mid-Day, Evening (sun­set), Night
  • Record your obser­va­tions
    • Shad­ows
    • Colours
    • Tex­ture
    • Con­trast

Now I’ll have to get myself out to do some home­work too; I must admit, it’s kin­da fun to be back in school! :)

I’ve had rea­son to pon­der prop­er­ty own­er­ship and the break­down of the tra­di­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty late­ly and fig­ured I’d share a few of my thoughts with you.

Sev­er­al weeks ago, per­sons unknown rifled through my car overnight and took it upon them­selves to relieve me of an iPod that was tucked in to the cen­tre con­sole.  While it is rea­son­ably clear that I must have left my vehi­cle unlocked, I feel a great sense of dis­ap­point­ment that I should even need to lock my doors in front of my own house.. Real­ly, is noth­ing sacred any longer?

Yes­ter­day I looked in to my back yard to find a well dressed man pick­ing the apples from one of the two trees grow­ing against the inside fence.  I was shocked at his brazen­ness and went out to speak with him.  I’m cer­tain he was caught as off-guard as I was, and when I polite­ly enquired as to whether I could be of assis­tance to him he told me point-blank that he’d just stopped by to gath­er fruit.  I remind­ed him that it was cus­tom­ary to ask before (tres­pass­ing and) tak­ing someone’s fruit, and that had he done so he would have been wel­come to it.

He tried to explain that he thought the house was unoc­cu­pied (I’ve been here full-time since Novem­ber and owned the place for two years), and that he knew the lady that used to live here (three or more years ago) so I found the argu­ment a bit weak.  I’ve vehi­cles parked both in front of the house and out back as well.  The lights are on at night, and I’m usu­al­ly around dur­ing the day so real­ly there’s no excuse to think the house is vacant.. or is there?

Property and entitlement

We live in such a con­sumer state that the quest for ever-more stuff in our lives is becom­ing an all-con­sum­ing pas­sion for peo­ple and these two sep­a­rate hap­pen­ings have giv­en me cause to reflect on the nature of prop­er­ty and what it all real­ly means.

I pride myself on being gen­er­ous and pret­ty relaxed about my own prop­er­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly the abun­dance of fruit in the yard.   In fact, sev­er­al peo­ple have open invi­ta­tions to pick fruit through­out the sum­mer just because they’ve expressed inter­est. I’ve giv­en pop­pies and plant cut­tings to sev­er­al peo­ple because they asked. It pleas­es me to share and to be fair I have far more than I can use any­way. I’ve even an arrange­ment with Charles, the man that col­lects bot­tles in this area to set my recy­cles away for him.  He asked, and I was hap­py to oblige.

What irks me though, is that peo­ple feel a sense of enti­tle­ment to the prop­er­ty of oth­ers; we’re drawn to the shinier-fanci­er-pret­ti­er stuff that oth­er peo­ple have and we’ve been con­di­tioned to desire it almost at-all-cost..  Why do we for­get man­ners in the face acqui­si­tion? Why is this still desire still accept­able?

Fur­ther, what does it say about me to claim own­er­ship of some­thing that I’ve done noth­ing to cre­ate and lit­tle to main­tain (after all, trees are pret­ty self suf­fi­cient)?   Am I just part of the prob­lem?

Rekindling the real community

This brings us to the real bee in my bon­net, which takes shape in an incred­i­ble lack of com­mu­ni­ty here in my own neigh­bour­hood (and I’ll sug­gest, in all of Cal­gary). I’ve lived in my house for two years, and know sev­er­al of my neigh­bours through pleas­antries exchanged over the hedge but I couldn’t even tell you a whole lot more than first names and whether they’ve got a dog. Of the ten hous­es that sur­round my own, four are vacant and two want noth­ing to do with the out­side world.

If I want­ed to bor­row the prover­bial cup of sug­ar I’d be forced to knock on four or five doors before any­one actu­al­ly answered, there’s real­ly nobody I can share tools with, nor ask for assis­tance with a home project. This may be part­ly because the neigh­bour­hood is estab­lished, and full of retirees, or may just be an excuse on my part.  I don’t know which end of that state­ment is true because I have not made the slight­est attempt to find out.

Through this dis­con­nec­tion we breed igno­rance of what is going on around us, and per­pet­u­ate it in our­selves. Had I neigh­bours that knew the score, would it have been more like­ly that my stuff wasn’t get­ting pinched? Pos­si­bly. We can’t know until we find out though..

My chal­lenge next week is to start meet­ing the neigh­bours that I’ve neglect­ed to date, and I chal­lenge you, dear read­er, to do the same!