West Wing Wednesday Night #13

Written by  //  April 8, 2009  //  Alexandra T. Greenhill, West Wing (WWWN)  //  Comments Off on West Wing Wednesday Night #13


In addition to items circulated or that come up, one of Barbara Arneil’s colleagues, Campbell Sharman, who was the Associate Research Director of the Citizens Assembly is willing to come and speak to our group about STV (he needs only 5 min thus I think he may well win the 20$ that is still on the table! and we may (finally!) understand how to vote on May 12th ) – and THANK YOU Barbara for arranging this!!!

I also forgot to say (maybe because it goes without saying) that politics will be on the menu du jour – from our own provincial elections to international – Obama-watch and G20 (and Shauna, you are on!) – to the federal liberal convention coming to Vancouver May 1-3.

We so look forwards to seeing you again and to having a bit of fun with the first year anniversary – sweet memories of much fun that was had! Alexandra

April 1
We are indeed about to celebrate getting over the hump of a full year of monthly Wednesday West salon gatherings!!! A year ago April 2nd, a gathering of ten held the first of what they then hoped would be many. That wish has been fulfilled and our friendly web has attracted so many fabulous participants who contributed so many knowledgeable and insightful comments, I now feel not just a year older but also delightfully many years wiser …

It has been indeed a year full of developments, not the least of which have been the free-fall of the free market, the election of a black US president, the failed coup d’etat federally that saw the exit of Dion and closer to home, some reversals of fortune in Vancouver city hall. For students of history, this is just a tiny bleep, but the panic out there seems to indicate history is not on people’s minds. What to do next is. From the personal (“To spend or not to spend? Will I still have a job in a month?”) to the communal (“How can we resolve issues now that there is even less money? What will happen to the arts? to research? to charity?”), things are getting re-examined in a completely different lens from the ones used this time last year.

Certain certainties still exist – albeit not reassuring. This is tax season after all and as they say: two things are certain… The personal income tax concept is also celebrating an anniversary of sort – introduced in 1917 as a temporary measure to fund the 1st world war effort, it is still alive and well 92 years later. In fact this year marks the 60th annivesary of it becoming a permanent plague, sorry, feature as Jan 1st 1949 the War Tax Act was transformed into the Income Tax Act. An interesting article recently opined that the only reason governements are interested in doing bailouts is because they stand to lose out on too much corporate tax revenue (and spend too much on EI).

Interestingly, the myth of the Chinese word for crisis as made up of two components signifying danger and opportunity (debunked by many including Dr. Victor H. Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania) survives as it articulates a powerful metaphor we actually need, that was not part of our symbolic library from the folk tales, children’s rhymes, Greek mythology or Brothers Grimm. So we are back to Thomas Homer-Dixon’s “The upside of down” … and the evidence is out there that many of the good things that have happened were indeed born in times of past crises.

The one thing that this recent crisis highlighted for me is that we are still at odds with the notion of constant change as a constant that is not only factual but is also desirable. Our core competency in the 21st century has got to be the capacity to thrive on rapid massive change. So where is our individual and societal adaptiveness, flexibility and responsiveness?  Where is the notion of having fun and enjoying the journey? One of my US friends has a 16 year-old daughter who on US election night, came up with Obamanos!” , the third person plural imperative of “obamar” – Obama’s name as a spanish verb, that she translated as “to express or inspire exultant hope.”  To me, it would rather mean “going hopefully forward together”, but her point is well made. It’s a new age that is ripe for new constructs and my plea is that instead of reacting with fear, we try to put on a more positive mindset that may discover opportunities, where all we saw was risks.

And last but not least: there is still a 20$ on the table for anyone able to explain the risks and opportunities related to the STV (single transferable vote) proposal in a succinct way that the gathering deems intelligible. So far, many worthy pretenders have failed the task, but we do not hold that against them as there are double odds against them: the task itself is hard to accomplish and the audience has high standards. But let that not discourage other attempts as we do need to make up our minds on how to vote on this come May 12th!!!

So, don’t stay home – come to think, discuss, be inspired, and exchange ideas and insights, all you of interested, interesting, informed and informative folks in town. See the Description of the Wednesday night concept and other important logistical details (click on “About us” at the top menu).

Above all, please, RSVP quickly as we are only one week away. Do let me know if you are thinking of inviting a new participant as seating is getting tighter. A “yeah” or “nay” on whether we can expect you and what topics you want to tackle makes the moderator’s life so much better plus guarantees you a seat, for the list of attendees has indeed grown considerably since we started!

And it need not but will be said again – we remain grateful for the wonderful idea that a loving brilliant couple started in Montreal over 25 years ago, which inspired us to seed an offspring in (rainy) Vancouver – kudos to you, Diana and David Nicholson – wish you could be here with us next week!  AND WE WISH SO TOO!

Best regards to all,

Alexandra & James

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