Looking up, looking down, looking all around

ImageImage

Where is the grass greener?

I honestly don’t care. It’s pretty green right here. Green enough for me.

Springtime – yes. Fresh air and all kinds of life stirring and popping and growing and just – yes. Yes. Yes!

I’m gonna go outside this weekend. Get my toes in the grass. Get my fill of fresh air. Get some sun on my skin.

Mm hmm.

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Q+A with Madonna Doucette

Oh, Madonna.

I like to call her my “evil twin”.

(I got that term from Elsie Larson’s online class “Blog Love”, which is all about developing your blog to make it the very best it can be. In the course, one of Elsie’s tips in terms of promoting yourself is to find your evil twin – or, another blogger who is a lot like you, but slightly different, and then promote each other. I thought, “Well, who the heck is that going to be? There isn’t anyone really doing what I’m doing.” Then a few days later Madonna Doucette marched into my life – she emailed me to introduce herself, or something – and I’ve loved her ever since.)

Like me, Madonna is a Cape Breton writer, striking out on a new venture to promote how awesome Cape Breton is. Her twist? The LGBTQ community.

Madonna is the editor of Coastal Braid, an online magazine that publishes once a month. “Coastal Braid was the lovechild borne from the idea that creativity and activism could combine to be both fulfilling and life-changing. The spirit of this publication is to be uplifting and unifying,” writes Madonna on the website.

This Saturday, May 12th, Madonna will be a speaker at the tenth annual International Day Against Homophobia in Sydney. It’s from 2-4 pm at the Wentworth Park band shell, and there will be entertainment, guest speakers, a rally walk, and a hot dog boil. You can find out more at the Facebook Event page here! I’m hoping to have the time to get out there myself, so perhaps I’ll get to meet some of you there!

Ms. Doucette took some time from her busy schedule to answer a Q+A for this blog. I know once you read her answers, you’ll love my evil twin as much as I do.

1. What’s your age? (Or age range – I say I’m a “twentysomething”, or you can say whatever you’re comfortable with.)

37

2. CB born and raised? Or transplant? (Plus whatever biographical details you feel like giving).

Born and raised in New Waterford, graduated Sydney Academy in 1992 from French Immersion. I am an out lesbian, raising my three teenage sons Breton, Gabriel and Rowan in the bustling metropolis of Sydney.

3. “What are you up to these days?”

I am currently working on an online magazine for the LGBTQ community of Cape Breton, available at www.coastalbraid.com. I have very strong feelings about equality and social justice. I want to make a difference in the lives of people who are living in the closet and afraid to be themselves. I want to educate those who are afraid of the unknown and bridge the gap that exists between people for no other reason than ignorance. I want to help build a gay community here in Cape Breton that encourages people to live, love and raise their families while feeling supported by both members of the queer community and our allies.

4. Top three favourite local foods? (Could be a vegetable, a menu item at a local restaurant, however you choose to interpret it!)

Hmmmmm…. food! Well, I guess ice cream isn’t specifically a local food so I’ll skip that answer. But I’ll have to pick more than three!

So I’ll start with my mom’s meat pie. It’s so delicious and completely reminds me of my family growing up.

Fiddle Heads in the spring time with fresh butter melted on top – OMG so good!!!

My dad’s blueberry and strawberry wine. Never to be tasted again.

Hotdogs roasted on a fire made from driftwood.

Sole, pan fried with lemon.

A cup of tea that someone else makes and serves me… this may my absolute favourite one.

5. What is a typical “day in the life” for you?

Well, my life has never been very typical! It starts at 7:30 AM getting my kids up from bed (that’s easier said then done) and out to school. I spend a lot of time with my keyboard writing and a lot of time cooking food for people. If I’m lucky, I’ll spend some time with my boys watching Dr Who or telling stories to each other. If I’m really lucky, I’ll see my friends and play board games or go out dancing.

6. What was your career background before you launched “Coastal Braid”? What were the inspirations and driving forces behind creating the magazine?

I have over 10 years in Call Centres – mostly as management. It’s a job that fed my family, paid my mortgage, and allowed me to meet some incredible people over the years, but that ate away at my soul.

Whenever I felt sorry for myself working at a call centre, I’d think of my dad who worked in the pits and reminded myself that a cushy office job isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, it does take an emotional toll on your spirit and I found myself having to get out of that industry.

Before that, I have nearly 10 years in various arts admin jobs. From Celtic Colours to Dangerous Dreamers to Festival on the Bay, I squeaked out a living from the arts. But that type of work is very time consuming for a single mom and I made the choice that while raising my boys, the shows would have to go on without me. Both of these careers provided me with lasting friendships and experiences that have served me well over the years. I am jack of all trades, master of none.

I started the magazine because I love words and I love people. I love the idea of story telling. I sincerely believe that everyone’s story is interesting and inspiring as long as it’s honest. I think that people isolate themselves and forget to reach out to others when they need help. So I decided that perhaps I could help connect people though words. The rest, as they say is history.

7. Do you think you’ll stay in CB down the road, or have you thought about moving?

I am a true Cape Breton girl. I chose to live here because I believe it’s the best place in the world. Some day, when my boys are grown and flown the nest, I may do some travelling for extended periods of time but I will always return to the island. I feel so blessed for being born here.

8. Swimming – ocean or river?

Is there anything more glorious that ocean swimming at sunset on an August evening? I love the rhythm of the waves as the sand slides beneath my feet. I love finding treasures in the water and along our beaches. I love riding a wave into the shore and having it crash over me, causing me to tumble ass-over-kettle like a 5 year old. Sand dollars, sea urchins, star fish and crab catching…. the ocean fills my heart and renews my mind.

9. What are your favourite things to do, when you go out with friends or for entertainment?

I always get a kick out of people who say there’s never anything to do here in Cape Breton! We LOVE campfires. We will go and build a fire and stay at a beach for three or four hours, laughing and singing songs with each other. We will go out dancing – who cares who else is there or where we are dancing! As long as the music is good and you’re with your friends, we have a great time every time we go out.

I also love having people over for meals. I may not always have enough chairs, my dishes don’t match and there’s always a slightly crazy energy to my house but it’s ALWAYS a good time with awesome food and great people.

I love the variety of personalities that my sons have been exposed to over the years. They are now the most accepting, non-judgemental people I know because of that experience. We’ll sit around all night drinking pots of tea, playing board games and loving life.

10. What excites you about where you live? (This could be community stuff, or it could be stuff you love about the natural world, or whatever!)

Whew – that’s a big question!!!! Where do I start?

First of all – I’m in love with our landscape. I feel like Gooseberry Cove, Margaree’s Big Brook, St Ann’s Bay and Sydney’s beautiful cathedral tree-d streets are inspiring.

I love our people. We are traditional and forward-thinking at the same time. We are gifted artists capable of creativity that would rival that of any other place in the world. We are kind, generous and loving.

We have FANTASTIC summer festivals, amazing musical performances and impressive restaurants. I love our history and I love our future.

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Back to work, then off to Banff.

This is where I work, Baddeck Marine. I was laid off for the winter, but then they hired me back for the summer. I started this week. I work in the store – technically I’m the “store manager”, but I am the only store employee, so I manage… myself.

I can be pretty hard to deal with sometimes, though, so I guess the title is justified. Ha.

Anyway, I’ve been pretty busy, repainting the store floor, which we’ve done in sections – hauling and moving all the stuff from one section over into another, then painting it, then waiting a day for it to dry. Then moving the stuff around some more, etc. All of this while the regular store activity goes on, like people coming in looking for stuff. It’s a little chaotic! But, it’s all coming together.

It’s good to be back to work. Tiring, yes. And, I don’t have as much freedom (time-wise) as I did when I was on EI, but… the trade-off is that working, and having a job to go to, is definitely good for the psyche.

Next week I’m heading to Banff for a couple of days! This is why: I’m one of the directors of the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. (You might have heard, or maybe not, that we released to the press and the public the names of the writers who’ll be part of our 2012 festival, and one of those writers is one of my personal heroes, Kate Beaton! It was so hard not to share that secret for the past couple of months. But now I can shout it from the rooftops!)

Anyway, next week in Banff, people representing all sorts of different literary festivals across Canada are meeting up to talk about, well, literary festivals. On the agenda: fun, interesting topics like how to get funding, and what sorts of partnerships we can form with each other. I’m a total networking nerd, so I’m really looking forward to this.

The festival I’m part of is run by five volunteer board members who sit around the kitchen table of two of the members for our meetings. Not exactly glamourous! The other four had their own reasons for not wanting to go, and I very much DID want to go (hello! it’s Banff! And a plane ticket paid for by Canada Council funding!), so it all worked out.

It’s kind of funny to me that a few weeks ago I was in Toronto and now I’m off to Banff, because I really don’t see myself as a “jetsetter”. In fact, there have several-year-long blocks of my life where I didn’t take a plane anywhere, and a big part of me hates flying, mostly because of the pollution.

But, on the other hand, I do love to travel and see new places. And I do love the challenge of packing well, even though I usually completely OVERpack. And I get a real thrill out of takeoff and landing – it really is amazing every time!

Oh yeah, and, I even bought myself a suitcase! No more of this annoying having-to-borrow-my-boyfriend’s-suitcase thing. Or of using my backpack from the days when I travelled to Australia and New Zealand. Now I’ve really arrived, haha. My own little four-wheeled suitcase!

And when I’m not working, these days, I’m at home rocking the cotton leggings and oversized hoodie, yeah. And eating delicious stir-fries for dinner. Yay for bok choy and carrots!

Font notes: if you are a font nerd like me, you will want to know that the font I used to spell “lately.” up above there, is called Pee Pants and I heard about it here. You can download it for free here. (Don’t fonts just have the strangest names?)

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Locals vs. Come-From-Aways

The lupins are starting to come up. And we’ve had rain.

On an island where being “from here” holds a lot of value – because those from here are really proud of Cape Breton, and of being Cape Bretoners – it makes sense that an opposite category, that of being “from away”, would exist.

But are these categories useful? Or do they actually harm our communities?

I think they do serve a purpose, but that we have to be careful how much value we place on “where you’re from”.

My own parents are from “away”. My Dad was born in Ohio and lived in New York before moving to BC. He met Cape Bretoners out west who told him the most beautiful place in Canada was on the opposite coast to the one he was on. So he came east and bought land in Baddeck Bay.

Mum was born in Quebec City and went out West to work and find some adventure. She met my Dad and came back East with him.

Both of them have lived here ever since, about thirty years.

Are they Cape Bretoners?

Even on a grey day, there’s something special about new leaves.

They had two kids, one born in BC (me) and one born in the Annapolis Valley (my brother). Both kids were raised pretty much exclusively on Cape Breton Island since infancy.

Are we Cape Bretoners?

Dandelion leaves are edible. Have you ever tried some?

It’s a complicated issue. There’s this cultural myth that says Cape Bretoners – well, all folks from the Atlantic Provinces, really – are over-the-top hospitable people, that they’ll make you feel ‘right at home’. And our tourism industry depends on this myth to keep people coming here.

But at the same time, if our culture is all we really have (and on this island where pretty much all major industry is gone, that is the case), then we’re going to hold that culture close to our chests and dole out membership very carefully. Not just everyone who crosses the causeway and hangs out here for a while gets to be a Cape Bretoner.

(I say ‘we’ even though I feel that I have one foot in both camps, that of the locals and that of the CFAs.)

So what the heck does it mean to be a Cape Bretoner? Who decides who does and doesn’t belong? Do these distinctions matter, especially for our future?

I’d really love to know what you think about this. Comment away, and it’s OK if you want to post anonymously – I realize this can be a touchy subject, especially in small communities.

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Inspiration every day

Inspiration is not just the currency of rich or old people, of tourists staring out over Cape Breton’s look-offs, or of academia. It is real. It belongs to everyone, even those on welfare or EI, even those surrounded by concrete and fences, or living in poor, seasonally-active areas.

Inspiration gets you in the gut. It gets me to pull out my camera, more and more every day, to snap shots. Of what? Of nothing much important. But just, oh, everything.

I read blogs for inspiration. Usually after I read a blog post by one of these three, I’m itching to whip off my own post. I have them in the favorites toolbar in my browser:

  • Elise Blaha. This lady is consistently awesome. I think that’s what we look for in a good blog – consistency, and awesomeness. (And that’s what I aim for around here.) She rocks blog design, she rocks photos, and she hits a good balance of personal and business. Colorful, too!
  • A Beautiful Mess. This lady is a blogging superstar. She gets somewhere like 500,000 views a day (for comparison, I get like a hundred.) But, it takes consistency and awesomeness to keep me coming back daily, and she’s got it. After reading this blog, I always feel inspired to just take on a random project, and feel like no matter how it turned out, it would be awesome. She’s got that perfect mix of hip and down-to-earth.
  • Kal Barteski/LoveLife. This lady is a painter in Winnipeg. She’s spunky and isn’t afraid to say unpopular things. She fights for her own creative life. I love that.

Music also inspires me. Currently I’m rocking out dance music. Like, super pop-y dance music like David Guetta and Rihanna. Not every club track does it for me, but this sort of music really keeps me going. You can dance to it as you haul boxes up and down and in and out of cars and houses, or as you clean, and clean, and clean.

Photos from the top: My boyfriend’s new house!! (Yay, so exciting!) My brother’s refurbished, free bike (thanks Brooke and Kate!). The wharf in Baddeck. The best cafe in Baddeck (in my humble opinion) – the fact that they’re open year-round (hint hint other cafes!) goes a long way towards being my favorite. Fries and chicken burgers – easy Friday night food for us. Fridge magnets and found weird paper-mache heads – some of the fun of moving in to a new place!

What inspires you?

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Q+A with Natalie Fraser

Natalie, still smiling at the end of her first half marathon in 2011.

Natalie Fraser is 29 years old, originally from Sydney, and now living in Ottawa. She’s training for her first marathon and trying to fundraise $5000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, motivated by her friend’s son Liam who was diagnosed with Leukemia last year. She is blogging about her training at Nataliedoes42k, where you can read about what it’s like to train for a marathon, and where you can also donate money to help her out.

The marathon is on October 14th, 2012.

1. What’s your age? (Or age range – sometimes I say I’m a “twentysomething”, or you can say whatever you’re comfortable with.)

I just turned 29!

2. CB born and raised? Or transplant? (Plus whatever biographical details you feel like giving like education background, employment background, hobbies, family, etc).

I was born in Cape Breton, and lived in Sydney my whole life. My dad’s family is from Ashby and my mom’s the Pier. I went to StFX for undergrad, took a year off to travel, then moved to Ottawa for my Masters program, got a job, met some great friends, fell in love with the city and stayed.

3. “What are you up to these days?” I.e. what do you do for a living, what are you working on, are you a student, in the workforce, etc?

I’ve done a million things since I came to Ottawa – worked on Parliament Hill, worked in the private sector, did some consulting work, but eventually found my way to policy work in the government.

Natalie and Charlene, the woman she guides and trains.

I also do volunteer work – twice a week I run with a fully blind lady and I am training her for her first 10k!

4. Tell us about the “Nataliedoes42k” project. What’s it like to take on this project?

I like to keep my hands full and my free time occupied with interesting things that keep me busy. The last two years had me traveling monthly for my job, and since that has let up, it was time for me to take on a new project to keep me busy for 2012.

A marathon has always been on my bucket list, but while I was traveling I found it hard to get in the hours of running every week to get up in distance. In January, I was moping around the house wondering what to do with my free time this year (no big projects, no work travel), and I realized … this would be the year of my first marathon! I wanted to tie it into something important to me, and I thought of my friend’s son (Liam) who was diagnosed with Leukemia last year.

So, I decided to join Team in Training, which gives you coaching and support while you train for your race and you fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. I am committed to fundraising $4200 and hope to beat that and reach $5000. I will be running for Liam the day of my race.

I am both excited and scared for the challenge of the running and the fundraising. I’ve done a half marathon before, but a full marathon (42.2kms) is in a league of its own. It is both mentally and physically challenging, considering the commitment and the life changes to get up to the distance. Besides that the fundraising is a whole other challenge in itself!

A lot of people have done amazing things for me in my life, both big and small. I feel like we all have to give back to our community while we can, and pay it forward, because you really never know when you’ll need help. I hope to make my friend Christine, her son, and her whole family proud, and I hope to inspire other people to take on what they love and do something to help others.

5. What are the things you do whenever you come back to CB, that are “musts”?

So many! First, a few days of family visits, walking my parent’s dog and seeing friends. I have to eat Paul’s pizza burgers, Kenny’s pizza and have a Schooner. I need to see the ocean and walk along Charlotte St. and the boardwalk. We have a group of Cape Breton friends here in Ottawa, so bringing back Paul’s pizza burgers, Schooner, Glen Breton and Dave’s hot sauce (you can’t get any of these in Ontario!) is an important part of any trip home.

Natalie and her “better half,” Brett.

6. What is a typical “day in the life” for you?

Life is pretty great and simple! I get up at 6am and laze around the house, listen to the radio and read the news during breakfast. I walk to work around 7:30, which is always a highlight of my day. Grab a coffee, get up to date on emails and begin the day!

My job involves dealing with the regions and port communities, so I spend a lot of the day on the phone working with stakeholders, which I love. I have got to work with people in all corners of the country and some international partners, which is fulfilling, exciting and a great learning experience.

I walk home again from work and usually spend the first half an hour home decompressing and sharing the day’s events with my better half, also a Cape Bretoner. Then it is time for a run or yoga, eating, watching a movie and early to bed (9pm). There are also so many cool things happening here all the time; recently I went at 11:30 pm to the National Art Gallery for a 24 hour showing of “The Clock” and the room was filled on a work night!

The whole canal/Parliament area is so beautiful and the beauty of it hasn’t gotten old to me yet, so some nights include just walking downtown and trying out new restaurants.

7. When you’re traveling and you chat with people about CB, what is their reaction or response?

I’ve definitely met people that have no idea where Cape Breton is! It always surprises me. Everyone else tells me they LOVE the island, that they think Maritimers are so nice, they ask if I can play the fiddle (no), or they tell me they hope to go there someday.

8. Do you see yourself ever living in Cape Breton again? If you do want to live here again, pretend for a minute that you have a magic wand and could change anything about the island to make it so that you would be able to live here. What would those changes be?

It is hard to say right now. I would love to be closer to my parents as they get older and see my niece and nephew grow up. Cape Breton is calm, peaceful and beautiful. However, the reason most of my friends have left the island is the shortage of jobs in our fields.

Some changes that would need to happen… definitely more young people involved in municipal and provincial politics to modernize the political beliefs and priorities. I would like to see more cultural diversity – restaurants, museums and community groups that diversify what is available on the island.

For now, I am focused on doing what I can to be involved and contribute to Cape Breton, in any way I can. I’ll continue supporting local artists, musicians, businesses and people doing awesome things in Cape Breton (like “Dream Big Cape Breton”!).

9. Swimming – ocean or river?

Without a doubt – ocean! I miss it in the summer when its 45 degrees in Ottawa and there is no swimming water in sight.

10. What are some neat, community-oriented things that you have seen in your travels, that you think young people living in Cape Breton should know about, and could possibly implement here?

I worked next door to a small NGO called “Youth Health Organization” that used all forms of the arts to teach and educate young people about sexual health, healthy living and making positive choices.

A friend of mine started his own business and grows vegetables in people’s backyards all over the city. You can buy veggies that he grows and get them delivered to your house!

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“Ideas Powered by Passion” – Why Rural Matters

It starts by writing.

This is me in the Toronto Airport last week. It was the day before I was to give a short speech as part of “Ideas Powered by Passion”, in Sydney, and before the flight I was jotting down ideas for my talk. Later, on the plane, I wrote a first draft of a speech. Then I let it sit – didn’t look at it again – for another while.

The next day (yes, the day of – I was cutting it close with this one!), I practiced my speech by speaking it into a digital recorder. Then I listened back to it and decided what to keep, what to toss.

For the Youth Social Enterprise Bootcamp speech, I typed the speech out and then printed it in a large font so I could read it easily at the podium. But, I didn’t love that – I felt a bit stilted and less natural, reading it, even though I can interpret it pretty well and still come off as a relaxed speaker.

So this time I tried making just a double-sided sheet of main points, to kind of guide me as I gave the talk, but I found it didn’t work 100% either. I think what helped the most was the practice, really. I definitely forgot a couple of points once I was actually up there, at the podium, but because I had practiced the speech a bunch of times, I could kind of rely on my memory to help me overcome the nerves.

Anyway, there should be video of my speech, as well as of the keynote speaker, Kate Oland, up in the next couple of weeks. That will be interesting – and also kind of weird – to watch myself giving a talk. I wonder what I’ll learn from it!

***

The event was “Ideas Powered by Passion,” which is sponsored and run by New Dawn Enterprises. It is a monthly talk series held in the Cape Breton Center for Craft and Design, on Charlotte Street in Sydney, and it is FREE to the public.

I asked event coordinator Nicole Cammaert a few questions.

What is exciting, for you, about being the coordinator of this event?

IDEAS feels so fresh, welcome and timely.

There exists a tangible excitement in the air about the changes that are afoot in this community, and IDEAS embodies that enthusiasm. It is said that, “if you don’t like what’ being said, change the conversation.” And that’s just what IDEAS is about.

The notions and stories that are so thoughtfully and passionately shared are together courageous, thought-provoking, and deeply genuine. IDEAS gives me great hope for this community as it brings together the dreamers and the doers, who are most often found in the same being. The space IDEAS creates allows for both those voices to be heard and honoured, while sparking a wildfire of deep conversation moving toward a bright and new future.

A wonderful momentum is being generated as IDEAS continues its third season. It is my hope that the organic nature of this series continues to evolve a deeply relevant and inspiring experience, while being an agent for change as people find ways to connect and build relationships over issues and ideas that matter on the human, ecological and global levels.

One of the amazing outcomes of IDEAS is that we’re privy to see the paradigm shift happening in our community where a new style of leadership is being born and fostered; one where relationship building, collaboration, and creativity are at the heart of the change. It’s a true privilege to be involved in such a momentous and meaningful change, not to mention tremendously exciting!

How many more IDEAS sessions are there this year? What are the plans for the future?

We have two IDEAS: Powered by Passion talks remaining in this season.

On May 23rd, Order of Canada recipient, Dr. Teresa MacNeil will be sharing her thoughts on how we “can be in charge of our own house”. She’ll explore why it’s vital that we reflect on the past in order to shift into a bright future. Teresa will help illustrate how some of the cultural, economic, social, and political influences keep us from being in charge of our own house. She says, “learning and experience are liberating factors”. Joining Dr. MacNeil is Laura Schneider, CBU Art Gallery Curator, who will be speaking about an upcoming exhibition that invites people to explore their concepts of Cape Breton through the question, “The cup is half…”. Harp player and teacher, Jenny Tingley will share her unique talent playing both traditional, and not-so-traditional tunes on the Celtic Harp.

Our final IDEAS talk of the season on June 13th will be an extra special evening as we focus entirely on voices from our youth. Four young people ranging in age from 14-25 will share their passions and perspectives, and what matters most to them in these changing times. We’ll also hear from from incredible young music talent! It’s sure to be a night to remember!

Paul Cranford provided the musical interlude.

A feisty toddler in the front row kicked up his heels to the fiddle tunes. So cute! He nearly stole the whole show!

Then Kate Oland took the podium. Her talk was insightful, intelligent, and oh-so-relevant. Like I mentioned, the video will be up soon, but to tide you over I asked her a couple of questions about her talk.

In a nutshell, why do rural spaces matter?

From a biological perspective, biodiversity is valuable because it provides a wealth of genetic information, adaptive behaviors, and coping strategies to ensure that life will survive through change and time.

Ethnodiversity is a similar concept – the idea that human survival through change and time is ensured by having a wealth of cultural modes and lifeways. Rural spaces matter because the cultures of rural spaces provide us with a survival insurance policy on many levels.

On the pragmatic level, sustainable rural spaces have the potential to improve our food security – our access to affordable, nutritious food grown with the minimum of environmental impact.

On a philosophical level, rural cultures (and rural thinkers) are best placed to evolve a more viable compact with natural systems, and are among the few in our society whose direct relationship to nature affects their perspective.

Those who are working to forge a new way of living with and in the countryside, and who are trying to work with nature instead of against it to grow food and provide energy, may become increasingly important as fossil fuel costs increase and industrial-scale agriculture becomes unworkable.

What is a “monk agriculturalist”?

A monk agriculturalist is a term I made up to describe people who work with the land to grow food for philosophical, ethical, or ideological reasons, more so than for purely economic reasons.

It’s a catch-all term that covers the many small organic farmers, diligent gardeners, Permaculturalists, homesteaders, back-to-the-landers, etc. who have taken on the task of experimenting – both with the nuts and bolts of farming, and with humanity’s relationship to the natural world.

The term also captures, for me, the common sense of isolation felt by these people – an isolation that may be geographical, intellectual, and social, as they are often misunderstood by the surrounding culture or at odds with a profit-driven society. While monk agriculturalists often strive to make a living from the land, they are often driven as much by the desire to grow as people, to grow community, to express respect for the natural world, or similar motives. The word “agribusiness” would be antithetical to the term “monk agriculturalist.”

After the talk, some of us adjourned to a nearby pub (Governer’s) for some drinks and more chatting. I met some great new folks here that night!

Then, around midnight, some of us were incredibly hungry, and drove around the city looking for somewhere serving food late at night. The only place we could find was this spot in Whitney Pier where we gorged on delicious, greasy, cheap pizza! The irony of eating this kind of food immediately after a talk about local food was not lost on us. But, neither was the tastiness of the donair burgers and the pep and cheese pizza.

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