West Wing of Wednesday Night #9

Written by  //  November 30, 2008  //  Alexandra T. Greenhill, Arts and culture, Economy, Education, Politics, West Wing (WWWN)  //  Comments Off on West Wing of Wednesday Night #9

It is Thanksgiving time and not just in the US. For me that is what the holidays are truly about – and this December Salon is a particularly wonderful opportunity for us to explore being thankful. Gathering in December, let us ignore the apoca-lit (a new word I discovered effectively describing writing generated by a crisis that tends to focus on predictions of apocalypse i.e. the leading stories in newspapers nowadays). After all, they all predicted six months ago that gas prices had nowhere to go but up. There is also the lovely concept of “the idiocy of crowds” which is probably the only way to explain markets that swing 9% in one direction only to swing 10% in the opposite within days. And the hilarious cartoon of Chapleau at l’Actualité who drew a mudjahedeen running into a cave to see Osama and to throw his arms in despair: “ Wall Street fell, but we didn’t do it!”. But I digress…

As Philip Eden points out in his new book ”Great British Weather Disasters”, two ingredients to turn weather into disaster: a suitably savage meteorological phenomenon, plus a lack of preparation for it.  So let’s turn our attention to successful efforts to prepare for the current downturn and notice the promising elements that will lead to better tomorrows – not the least of which is the new leadership in the US and in Vancouver (and yes, yours truly got duly elected on Nov 15th onto the Vancouver French School Board, defeating the incumbent counselor). From what tensions will new great ideas come? (last time, we never got to the topic of Roger Martin’s “opposable mind”  – or how to exploit the tension between two apparently opposite ideas (an either/or type situation) to create new solutions…   I have been playing with the concept  to surprising results… Bring your opposable dilemmas and let’s see what we can see emerge with the wisdom of our crowd). And of course, a few of you were deeply embedded in the municipal race, so we look forward to hearing you relate your first hand experiences. And to bring it all together – in this consumerist holiday season, I am adding the angle of how does one differentiate pleasure from happiness?? And how can we successfully get away from the gift rat race and within the community recover the true meaning of the season?

On a sad note (for all of you who know how much I love dance shows) Ballet BC announced today it is closing shop. Easy to blame on the downturn of the economy, but really there are quite a few other pre-existing conditions that affected this organization. Some of them related to the organization, some related to external factors. So let’s ponder the question – is Vancouver good to its artistic soul?? We lose upside down public sculptures, can’t fill concert venues, have limited art on the educational curriculum. And there are those who dare say “yes, prime minister”. Have a look at this funny bilingual video produced by some Quebec artists –“The culture in peril”  and the funny and wise-in-its-simplicity TED talk on schools and creativity by Sir Ken Robinson 

Come to think, discuss, be inspired, and exchange ideas and insights, all you of interested, interesting, informed and informative folks in town. Please note that due to general demand I am switching to a later start time – arrival for 7PM and start of the moderated discussion at 7h30 – to end promptly at 9h30.  And above all, please, answer “yeah” or “nay” on whether we can expect you and what topics you want to tackle – this makes the moderator’s life so much better plus guarantees you a seat, for the list of attendees has grown considerably since we started!

 Last but very much not least, I wanted to add how grateful I am to all of you who attend, who write, who add great new people to our mix – THANK you all for making this such a great pleasure!!!

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