Monday, May 18, 2009

Explanations of my choices for FFWD’s Best of Calgary survey

I’ve had questions about some of my recommendations for the FFWD Best of Calgary 2009 survey. So, here are some explanations:

Best New Trend: More street festivals

There has been some negativity in this city — instigated by right-wing politicians on City Council — around using major streets for anything other than cars. Street festivals bring people together and highlight alternatives for our communities. They also diversify our approaches to city living.

Worst new trend: Bush regime visits

That there are people in this city who happily pay war criminals to come give speeches here — particularly when the Bush regime did a lot to suppress free speech in their own country and around the world — is appalling.

Best kept Calgary secret: All the progressive activism

You wouldn’t know it from the corporate media or the stereotypes about this city but, Calgary is actually a hotbed of progressive activism. It just tends to come in the form of tiny projects, events and groups who don’t get much attention.

Scariest Intersection: The federal and provincial Conservatives

The provincial Conservatives are bad enough for social justice and the environment. When the Conservatives are also in power federally — it’s an outright disaster.

Best place to tie the knot: Gay bar

Even for “straight” couples, celebrating diversity and the human rights of everyone is a great foundation for a marriage, in my books.

Best places to snag Stampede Breakfast: Sunrise Community Link

The only stampede breakfast I’ve ever been to where I could actually get a decent breakfast (since I don’t eat meat, eggs or sugar). Sunrise puts on (or is part of?) an international-flavoured Stampede Breakfast in Forest Lawn that has a wide variety of dishes from all sorts of different cultures. Yum!

Best Local Charity: The Women’s Centre

The Women’s Centre of Calgary meshes the charitable response to immediate needs with supporting efforts for social change to address root causes. An empowering and inspiring organization.

Calgary’s claim to shame: NIMBYism

“Not In My Back Yard” is so often the response to most efforts to make a positive difference in this city. Whether it’s addressing poverty and homelessness, crime, the environment or whatever — so many individuals and neighbourhoods fight against sharing in our collective responsibility to take care of each other.

Best use of local tax dollars: Public Library

There cannot be democracy without libraries. The libraries serve as a connecting point for all manner of ideas and communities in our city. An amazing and powerful institution that is worth every cent and more.

Worst use of local tax dollars: Water fluoridation

So, let me get this straight. We are paying for reprocessed industrial effluent to be disposed of in our water supply. This is ostensibly for a supposed health benefit for a small portion of the population who could readily receive that treatment through other means. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the fluoride ends up in people who don’t need or want it, in our soil and in our water systems (rivers, aquifers, etc.). Oh, and there can be negative health effects from exposure to fluoride (such as “dental fluorosis”). Even if fluoride were actually good for kids teeth (a point which remains a matter of controversy), this is a very wasteful and inefficient way to deliver it.

Most embarrassing Calgarian: Ric McIver

I don’t object to right-wing, corporatist, perspectives being represented in government (in balance with all the other perspectives). This is supposed to be a democracy, after all. But McIver has taken to grand-standing and making very misleading and deceptive statements in what seems to be a concerted effort to try to falsely discredit and belittle people he apparently sees as opponents. This is vicious politics and would have no place in a genuine democracy.

Most dedicated activist: Genevieve Balogun

I explained why I hope Genevieve wins this category in a previous post.

Sexiest Man: Grant Neufeld

I also explained this one in that previous post but, to reiterate, this is an opportunity to encourage activism by identifying being an activist with being sexy :-)

Sexiest Woman: Druh Farrell

Druh has been targeted by a deceptive and misleading campaign to discredit her in the eyes of the public. It’s part of a right-wing agenda to crush any progressive voices on our city council. This vote is a small opportunity to try to counter that.

Best Bike Shop: Good-Life Community Bikes

Co-operatively run by folks who are advocating for bike culture in our city. Good-Life has provided space for community and activist efforts beyond just bicycling. They have also been very supportive of the critical mass bike rides.

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3 comments:

jfmanzo said...

Bush is going to Toronto too. What's the word for Schadenfreude but when somebody who judges you harshly for something does the same thing that they criticised you for?

My worst new trend was white supremacist parades.

Love your blog!

Grant Neufeld said...

I think the word you’re looking for is “hypocritical” ;-)

Yeah, the white supremacists would also easily fit in “Calgary’s claim to shame” and “Most embarrassing Calgarian”.

Thing is, we don’t need to convince the vast majority of people that the white supremacists are awful; but a lot of Calgarians still support the Bush regime, NIMBYism and Ric McIver. That’s why I made those my recommendations. I’m all about the advocacy.

jfmanzo said...

I see your points, yes.

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