Christmas is a moment in time when we can all celebrate our relationships, our good fortune and reach out to those not able to do so.
Our nation will include everyone, reconcile our differences from the past, the present and into the future
On behalf of the citizens of Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant’s leaders are engaged in far reaching conversations about the future of their city. Dr. Helen Ng, Professor of Urban Affairs at FDC University led a discussion about the character of cities. She quoted from Peter Hall’s book, Cities in Civilization. (1)
“Cities can be places of stress, conflicts and sometimes misery. Those who find them distasteful or disagreeable – can will – get out of them, to arcadian suburbs and garden cities; and policies should help them do so, if, they want. Cities were and are quite different places, places for people who can stand the heat of the kitchen: places where the adrenalin pumps through the bodies of the people and through the streets on which they walk; messy places, sordid places sometimes, but places nevertheless superbly worth living in, long to be remembered and long to be celebrated”.
None of the city fathers ever imagined such a description for any city, let alone their own Mount Pleasant. Initially discussions were heated, focusing on how anyone could imply that their fair city could attract such a characterization. City leaders rained scorn on words such as stress, misery, heat of the kitchen, messy place and sordid places. Dr. Ng persevered, observing that this forum was not authoring a statement to be issued by the Board of Trade as part their economic development mandate. Rather the intention is to gain full appreciation of the nature of cities and how Mount Pleasant fits into the mosaic. He invited assembled members for their comments.
First up, Stanley Epp, Director of City Planning, voiced his concerns about policies which encourage movement to the suburbs. Mount Pleasant has strategies for increasing inner city density, otherwise an ever widening footprint results, disdainfully referred to as urban sprawl. He allowed that choices are vital to building a city loved by all.
As to places of stress, conflicts and sometimes misery, the Chief of Police, Orest Melanchuk acknowledged such characteristics are part the city’s nature, citing home-grown examples. The recent flood, ethnically inspired disagreements, crime and homelessness are illustrations. He added “Mount Pleasant deals with structural, pressing and spontaneous issues very well and better than most metropolitan centers”.
The Director of Cultural Development, Ms Rosemary Devonshire, firmly believes that cities can be places superbly worth living in, long to be remembered and long to be celebrated. Rosemary sited wonderful reasons for Mount Pleasantites to be revered including arts, recreational, educational and cultural facilities. Many more centers of this nature are on the drawing board.
The City Solicitor, Raymond Cavalier, spoke about messy places and sordid places sometimes. Clearly events of a sordid nature happen. Messes can be a problem as well. Law suits exemplify the extent to which cities and their citizens slip into disarray. He joined Orest Malanchuk, applauding Mount Pleasant’s concentrated efforts, working to resolve messes and reduce the influence of sordid events.
Mayor Sing Pamir agreed that cities are places for people who can stand the heat of the kitchen: places where the adrenalin pumps through the bodies of the people and through the streets on which they walk. The Mayor went on to say every day brings new challenges. Stimulating, provocative, interesting and very difficult issues are part of Mount Pleasant. Civic strength comes from how these are addressed and solved. He added “Citizens of our great city solve problems for the benefit of all”.
Dr. Ng added to the conversation. Cities are happening places, sometimes good, sometimes bad, always challenging, and always interesting. She wants this journey through Mount Pleasant’s montage to be a worthy exercise for learning, planning and discovering what it means for the city to be at the confluence of technology, art and organization.
(1) Hall, Peter: Cities in Civilization, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998
Two thousand and seventeen marks Canada’s One Hundred and Fiftieth Birthday.
As part of the celebration, FDC University at Mount Pleasant’s Faculty of Political Science and Faculty of Communications are asking citizens to write about their personal Canadian experiences. A panel of journalists and political scientists will select five of the best entries for publication on the FDC website and in the Mount Pleasant Observer.
Canada will be seen through multiple lenses as citizens spin personal tales of a diverse, complicated, irksome and awesome land.
Following is one such story.
My personal Canadian journey began about sixty years ago.
By nineteen sixty Montreal was my new home. After completing engineering and business degrees in Ontario and British Columbia, employment in Quebec provided a perfect spectrum of technical, business, cultural and social challenges. My employer was a diversified, multinational company. Corporate headquarters were in New York. Canadian operations were distributed from coast to coast. Head office was in Montreal.
So the stage was set….. everything was new, exciting, and intimidating.
Imagine the forces at play including professional challenges, differing economic, political and social circumstances plus a new perspective on Canada. Working and playing in two languages added to an already full agenda. Such a steep learning curve.
Sometime into my journey, signs of worsening business conditions appeared. Within the conglomerate on both sides of the border, accelerating international competition influenced Canadian and American operations alike. In Quebec antiquated facilities, feudal organizational practices and a branch plant mentality interfered with business success.
Political policies of the day encouraged establishing small Canadian operations. Good for nationalism but not good in the face of changing international landscapes in which size mattered.
Personally my life in Quebec, particularly Montreal, could not have been more fulfilling.
To be sure the well-known French-English divide influenced every nook and cranny. Anglo domination in commercial enterprises aggravated an already difficult environment. Long standing norms were not changing at a pace commensurate with the rest of Canada nor around the world. With the full benefit of hindsight these issues festered, only to erupt several years later as nationalistic fervor took a nasty turn.
Expo 67, as a festival, mesmerized Quebec, Canada and the world. In retrospect the celebration was a diversion away from escalating social, political and economic problems.
We all know what happened next. Altering circumstances accelerated with the emergence of the Parti Quebecois, the FLQ events, the separation referendums, the migration of financial institutions, wealth transfers and citizens with long term roots leaving Quebec. What a dismal era for all. I left as well.
Canadians had little appreciation for the difficulties facing Quebec, and soon to threaten the country’s very existence. Charles de Gaulle ignited decades of turbulence on July 24, 1967 by shouting for all to hear “Vive le Quebec Libre”. This single proclamation was the catalyst for what was to follow Changes were no longer optional. All that remained was their extent and what they were going to be.
Well many happened and continue to do so.
Have a look in this one hundred and fiftieth year since Confederation. Now new buildings, refurbished old ones, street side eateries, parks, new and old, looking fresh and user friendly. Construction cranes dominate the skylines More subtle are the attitudes. Highways and byways over flow as individuals and crowds exude senses of belonging and inclusion. Quoting a friend who accompanied me on this journey “The road has been long. I am heartened that with reconciliation we now have a day when we can say wow I never sthought this was possible”.
My tale is not based on learned research. Sometimes one has to go with observations and feelings, eschewing essays concerning the state of the nation and speculation about the future, good or bad. All the evidence is anecdotal, pointing to a city and province now content in their own skins.
More than anything this has been – and remains a personal journey, moving from concern to alarm to shock to despair to optimism and now to gratification that much has changed for everyone’s benefit.
The Canadian Confederation remains a work in progress—so far so good
After some time away Geraldine files an update from Mount Pleasant. She highlights events from Mount Pleasant’s Groundhog Day Festival. Annually the good citizens congregate to witness the forecasting skills of Mount Pleasant Patricia and to have some fun during the dog days of February. The finale is a dinner at the Convention Center, during which community members are expected to enliven the attendees with anecdotes, quotes, and stories of an uplifting nature.
Conrad Laverty, Chair, Mount Pleasant, Transportation Authority commented about avoiding procrastination saying “If you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning, if you have to eat two frogs, eat the big one first”.
The Chief of Police, Larry Quong took over the mike. He is impressed by a recent provincial edict, extending happy hour from ten PM to two AM, marveling that a government could have that much control over our citizens’ state of mind.
On a rural sojourn, Kevin Doyle, Executive, of the City’s United Way, reported on a road side advertisement — Free Range Chickens. His question, what is a Range Chicken and why are they free?
Kumar Nandakumar, Mount Pleasant Credit Union Finance Manager, took to the podium, talking about a sure sign of inclusion and diversity. He was taken by three ladies walking in a park, resplendent in their traditional clothing. The day was cold. Their hands were encased in the very popular and distinctive Canadian red mitts with white maple leaves festooning the palms.
Rebecca Waldowski is the editor of the Mount Pleasant Observer. She addressed the audience concerning Canada’s capacity to innovate. In particular plaudits go to our country’s inventors of the Wonderbra and addition of a plastic cup to the more traditional jock strap.
From the podium Joyce Featherwell, a Director of the Mount Pleasant Community Foundation, lamented the recent passing of Dave Broadfoot, one of Canada’s premium comedians. Her story of choice– when Sergeant Renfrew, a favorite Broadfoot character, said there was tinkle on his phone; Captain Tinkle was calling from Mountie Headquarters on Ottawa.
Nancy Holmes, FDC University’s Chancellor, advanced this quotation by Dr. Evdokia Anagnostouere, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other is wings”.
Then Celine Langlois, owner of Tours Surs les Bonbon spoke about two often heard expressions. One is “to tell you the truth” and the second “to be perfectly honest”. By inference does this mean that the rest of the time the speaker is not telling the truth or not being perfectly honest?
Then Thad Fagerheim addressed the assembly. Thad is a third generation owner of Fegerheim’s Feed and Seed. Canada’s government officials are now taking an aggressive approach to enforcing Made In Canada labeling regulations, restricting usage to a certain domestic percentage and above before using the label. Thad envisions Canadian Labeling Police inspecting his custom seed packages made up of seeds from around the world. In the same news release he read that Revenue Canada has identified a new income stream by applying copyright regulations to Canadians using the red maple leaf in any fashion.
Geraldine drew the evening to a close. Mount Pleasant Patricia did not see a shadow. Further Patricia is not a groundhog but an equally nocturnal and seldom seen animal living most of a life underground called a Potoroo. This was her inaugural gig as a climatologist. She and family are recent arrivals from Australia.
More and more people are talking nostalgically about vanishing products as new inventions sweep through their lives, replacing older and treasured items. Over coffee and croissants the crowd at Sheila’s Bistro were having such a conversation.
The Chief of Police, Larry Quong, has not seen carbon paper for decades. He used it extensively while preparing multiple copies of police reports. Joyce Featherwell, Executive Director of the Mount Pleasant Community Foundation, does not miss using floor polishers following the development of wax less floors. The City’s Chief Engineer, Bob McKenzie, welcomes the eclipsing of transits and slide rules. Thad Fagerheim, owner of Fagerheim’s Feed and Seed, quit smoking coincidentally with the exodus of the penny match.
In a contrarian mood Kumar Nandakumar, Finance Manager of the Mount Pleasant Credit Union, said that some stuff has demonstrated amazing resiliency for centuries.
Kumar cited an un- disclosed example. This implement’s key to continuing success is innovation. Kumar elaborated; after some four hundred years this unheralded and underappreciated gadget fills our lives with convenience, longevity, and durability. As well as useful it is inexpensive, attractive, readily available, adaptable, easily maintained, user friendly and ubiquitous.
Product design changes have not been trivial. Early on, one in particular rescued the tool from early oblivion by incorporating a new material. Proper packaging insured long term success.
The stage was set for continued improvements. Refinements included incorporating new shapes for ease of use and greater convenience.
A built in correcting mechanism can be included. Very few apparatuses have this quality. The hammer is another, with the driver and the claw in close proximity.
Mass acceptance of the device generated a proliferation of associated products. Inventors have had a field day designing all types of devises which find their way as prizes in Christmas stockings, Christmas crackers and as general purpose swag.
More improvements surfaced. Attractive and varied paints added to the allure. Great progress in materials of construction diversified applications, generated new markets and broadened the customer base. Outlets are available everywhere.
Often a product will be replaced by something with more advanced technology. Not in this case; we all use this magic tool from early childhood and onwards.
Kumar went on to say some ideas, inventions, art, music and literature only improve with age. Condemnation irrespective of age and maturity, often applied, is to ignore real value.
Finally Kumar inquired “Got it yet? How about the humble pencil?
The good citizens of Mount Pleasant gathered for their annual Winter Gala. Beginning nearly one hundred years ago, festivities include winter sports, music, drama and a huge pot luck dinner. To set a cheerful tone for the approaching New Year, the Mount Pleasant Observer sponsors a contest. Participants are to provide quotes, jokes, questions and sayings that lighten the day. Following are some of the entries.
Why do they call red blueberries green?
Have you ever been tempted to take out your credit card from the charge machine even though the instructions are to return to the vendor? How does the machine know who removed it?
How about a financial analyst saying the investor hates uncertainty? Markets exist only because of uncertainty.
Sometimes a label appears on a duvet saying do not remove this label. Have you ever done this anyway? Anything happened to you as a result?
Why does frost form on a windshield when the ambient air temperature is above freezing?
Road signs such as “Hidden Driveway Ahead” are puzzling. If it is hidden how do you know when you have passed it?
When asked how far can you go into the woods, what is the answer? How about half way, then you start coming out.
What is it like to become part of a visible minority? Try turning sixty five. One day you are inclusive and the next you are part of a visible minority yet you are exactly the same person.
If there are no goals scored in a hockey game does that mean there is no score?
In baseball the winning run is the one scored to put you ahead to stay. How is the winning goal in hockey determined?
If you have a group of people, each from a different visible minority, what do you call the group? How about calling them for supper?
Who delivers the message is as important as the message.
If you are inclined to research capital markets go to the Bank Credit Analyst, the Economist and Value Line. As Frank Sinatra said “There is Ella, Mel and me; that is all there is.” (Author’s note; good things happen in threes.)
Is absolutely correct more correct than just correct?
Good goal tending is 100% of the game when you do not have it — Thanks to Harry Neal, not Yogi Berra
William Hearst is quoted as saying, “News is what one person does not want another person reporting about, everything else is advertising”.
Stan Freberg has passed away. His creative ability navigated him though a career in humor, advertising, authoring and music composition including Green Christmas. A favorite was an assignment to brand pit-less prunes. The by-line was first the pits then the wrinkles.
Political science and military intelligence are the pathfinders in the oxymoron world.
Who said “I know less and less about the thing I know the most about”?
Most signs indicating people crossing seem to be men only. Where do ladies cross?
Who said “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”?
Quoting Geraldine. “We are thankful for the blessings of 2015. Hugs , kisses and the best for 2016.
Geraldine is two-thirds of the way through her degree course at FDC University at Mount Pleasant, studying economics and the environment. She has just completed a major study on the history of a pulp and paper mill focusing on long-term impacts. The results were published last week in the Mount Pleasant Observer and a condensed version is provided here.
The pulp and paper mill began as a lumber producer in the early 1900s. Wood and water supplies were extensive and readily available. Capital came from local business people. Throughout the next century the mill diversified and expanded adding high quality pulp and grades of paper products including unbleached kraft and tissue.
Diversification and product-line expansion required a whole new level of technology and sophisticated processes. Capital requirements were considerable as were the recruiting and training of new personnel. Up-to-date applied sciences reduced emission problems that were a plague for many years.
Changes in the industry such as slowing demand, consolidation and the ability to maintain a competitive position have had serious influences on the economics of the facility. Lower employment levels resulted in the predictable negative impact. A community once reliant on the mill suffered from a significant retraction. Presently the good news is the business continues. This is not the situation in many other cases where mills have closed entirely.
The manufacturing plant was the only significant contributor to the economy of the area for more than ten decades and remains a component to this day. There were periods of prosperity, declines, labor dissatisfaction and new directions. Early production methods had significant negative environmental consequences some of which are still clearly evident. Improved technology and capital availability did result in major efficiency increases, cost reduction and effluent elimination.
Geraldine concludes that this template of startup, growth, stability and decline have repeated themselves elsewhere time after time. The pattern has been the only way new industries can develop. There is no possibility every issue can be anticipated and solved ahead of time. The mill has been a vital part of the region’s prosperity. On balance the industry and the mill have provided significant benefits for all the stakeholders.
Observer readers clearly have concerns about Geraldine’s conclusions. Controversy stems from health problems caused by mill effluents, the effect on the watershed and inadequate forestry practice. As well because markets have changed so much, the mill’s operating level is now significantly reduced from earlier periods. This is having a major negative effect on the regional economy. A spate of angry readers blame management for lack of foresight, poor resource stewardship, irresponsible environmental practices and leaving the community with a weakened employer. Added to the mix is dissatisfaction because the various mill owners did not live up commitments made when government programs supported the mill during periods of economic stress.
Geraldine received an A+ mark for her paper. Subsequently Geraldine and her professor agreed to study the experience of this facility and similar ones elsewhere. The objectives are to determine long-term programs which will in the future mitigate against like outcomes. Results of this research will be published in the Observer when available.
Good news from Mount Pleasant: The Education Minister has elevated the Francisco Deluca College to full university status, to be named FDC University at Mount Pleasant.
Further recognition comes with the establishment of The School of Social Enterprise. In support of this initiative the Jennifer and Oswald Holmes Family Foundation is pledging ten million dollars. Ms. Nancy Holmes, a great-granddaughter of the founders, has been named the University’s first Chancellor.
The Mount Pleasant Observer interviewed Ms. Holmes. The following exerts are published in today’s paper.
Observer: Why this gift?
Ms. Holmes: Our family has been part of this community for three generations. We have partnered with many organizations throughout the country, focused on long-term community sustainability. This initiative fits in very well with this mission.
Observer: Is this called giving back in the world of philanthropy?
Ms. Holmes: The “giving back” concept is a poor descriptor. We have always partnered with organizations through good times and not-so-good times. Giving back implies taking in the first place. Rather we are all in this together all the time and collectively able to move the needle.
Observer: Can we talk about the world of not-for-profits and what this expression means?
Ms. Holmes: The meaning of this phrase has never been clear to me. Do you know of any initiatives that thrive based on what they do not do? Rather the emphasis must be on what the organization does do. Do businesses describe themselves as not for losses?
Observer: Good point. Please elaborate.
Ms. Holmes: The involvement of Canada’s businesses, educational institutions, health organizations, governments, legal agencies, and families all influences our lives. Engagement will vary over time depending on an individual’s specific circumstances. At certain periods, the family is primary; other times schools; other times the health services; other times organizations such as our foundation in conjunction with government and the university.
Observer: So where do the so-called not-for-profits fit in?
Ms. Holmes: Why not refer to them as organizations for social enterprise? These organizations fit in everywhere. They exist for many reasons. They may be founded by social entrepreneurs with creative solutions, they may be managed because governments cannot or will not fill a void and so on and so forth. Their funding may be private, government, internally-generated and often a combination of all three. They are a major force in Canada’s dynamic social balance.
Observer: You have not mentioned charities.
Ms. Holmes: Oh how I dislike that word. It implies dependency, a lack of motivation and problems with no solution. These components may be exist in small ways but our family has learned that no one wants to be dependent and unproductive. Self-actualization, personal commitment and support when needed are the keys.
Observer: Your family’s partnerships are exemplary. Thank you for sharing your insights.
Typical of most vibrant communities, Mount Pleasant finds that traffic congestion is more than an annoyance. The good citizens are searching for solutions that will increase convenience and safety while reducing vehicle snarls
Conrad Laverty is a graduate of the Fransisco DeLuca School of Engineering with many years of experience in highway design and is the Chair of the Mount Pleasant Transportation Authority. Other volunteer members include Dr. Eugene Forsythe, The Mount Pleasant Director of Economic and Business Development, Larry Quong, Head of the Police Commission and Kumar Nandakumar, President of the Mount Pleasant Credit Union.
Traffic calming was the main agenda at the Committee’s regular September meeting. Calming measures are designed to lower the negative impact of vehicles by reducing speeds and volumes. Common to this approach are traffic circles, speed bumps, road narrowing and four way stop signs.
The concept is never without controversy. Letters to the editors will always include observations such as bowing to the wishes of an elitists district, adding inconvenience to an already over burdened system, implementation costs, emergency vehicle impairment, and reducing neighborhood access. These opposition groups contend any such measures are expensive, inconvenient and ineffective.
Proponents argue that property values will fall, neighborhoods will deteriorate and safety risks will increase unless traffic is calmed. Areas in which traffic calming becomes an issue are often close to the city centre, mature and prosperous. Citizen groups are well organized, vocal and unified as to the desired outcome. Those in opposition come from varied locales. Organizing a common front is difficult and the benefits are not concentrated. While costs may be substantial they are spread over a wide taxpaying base.
Dr. Eugene Forsythe frequently puts issues such as traffic calming into a broader context. This time he drew attention to the oil pipeline debates now in full swing.
The oil producers supporting the pipeline are well organized, well resourced and think long term.
Groups concerned about environmental issues have less well defined objectives. They differ from one another and are often contradictory as to outcomes. For example is the line a matter of location, a matter of potential environmental harm, a matter of reducing fossil fuel usage or a matter of being dissatisfied with the energy industry as a whole?
Dr. Forsythe concluded that often it is a relatively small but well organized group that will win the debate. The traffic calming advocates have a major advantage because the measures help a relatively small number of residences in a specific area and have the capacity to vote for a single politician such as an alderman. These characteristics are similar to the oil producers who will be well organized, with concentrated political influence.
Not so much the groups carrying an environmental agenda. They are widely dispersed, promote a variety of outcomes, and while they may have considerable political influence, there is limited consolidation.
Dr. Forsythe defined the conundrum as concentrated benefits and diffused costs.
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