Sunday, September 27, 2009

Booo Hiss

My mother in law has been in the hospital for a few weeks, following a barrage of complications from surgery. My Husband and I have been visiting her, like the rest of the fam. At this time, a patient she shares a room with has been infected with MSRA staph, which means we can't visit her. This form of staph is resistant to pretty much everything, so it's up to the human body to fight it off, with antibiotics usually assisting the body in fending off other bugs which may be attacking at the same time. As it is, my MIL is only able to use 3 types of antibiotics, as she is allergic to all, but can use these with a benadryl drip at the same time. We basically have to just hope that the infection will remain only with the other patient in the room. My family was in town this weekend to visit, and so DH and I haven't had the chance to see her, and now will not be able to until this all blows over. My school week is basically a gong show, and planning for R's wedding is also taking up time... How does Human Ecology relate to this? I guess it's my holistic approach to life. I am feeling stressed but calm. Take things one at a time, and do what I can. I cant change some of this, but I can change how I accept and perceive all these challenges.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Working with my hands. And the green eyed monster

So it's Fashion Week in Edmonton! Don't be surprised if that shocks and flummoxes you. It's not well known. We're a big city, and we are obsessed with festivals, and fashion is no different. Is ours run by a large marketing conglomerate like all the others? No, ours is run by a local who spends her life planning and executing. The execution of the show is... debatable. But it makes for a good time. Find out more here.It's the most affordable fashion week I know of, it costs very little to show a line, and does provide some legitimate press for the designers. As an former volunteer, and as a girl who attended with some besties last night, there are a few things I have learned

1) I would like to show something at some point but only if
a)my work was clean and finished looking
b)my line represented one theme
c)my clothing was representative of an original viewpoint
d)all my models were wearing tights or shorts if in shorter clothing, so the poor audience doesn't get a full monty every 30 seconds

2) The marketing may not target the younger fashion oriented within Edmonton, and instead seems to be about marketing the show towards developing professionals in the industry. This means everyone within the fashion world in Edmonton has heard of it, and few others.

3) The humbler the designer, often the better the clothes in regard to fit and completion.

4) Sometimes smaller low budget affairs lead to entertaining "The O.ffice"-esque moments, which make the entire evening worthwhile.

5) When distributing prizes, don't tell the "chic new york designer" (read: U of A grad who moved to New York and has made some dresses... but not a tonne of commercial success)to call up "a bunch" of girls when you only have a "few" prizes. Hmmm. Akward.

How does this relate to Human Ecology? Well, program planning, marketing, and fashion are all really important to my personal interest in the field. It's the weekend, I know I'm kinda phoning this one in, but it's only Saturday.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bad News Bears

Canadians tend to regard themselves, purely anecdotally as peace loving, nature geeks who are more socially accepting and better educated than our Southern kin, the Americans. When actually reviewing my provinces recent news, I find myself sorely lacking in evidence of such. Most of the news which trickles up to Canada is, let us remind ourselves, anecdotal, or the dregs of the media machines which will talk more about the scandal (read: murderous politicians, drunk reality stars, and sexually confused Evangelists) because of ratings and the almighty dollar. Of course we Canadians aren't going to hear about the good, fair normal people within the States, they don't make news. When speaking with and getting to know many Americans or people of other nations, rarely do I think to myself "gee, hey, I'm obviously better educated."

Recently there has been a tonne of bad press within Canadian borders which boils my gravy... (yes, that is a strange analogy, but I used so many in my last post I feel the need to add at least one to this one.) We just yesterday had a well known politico charged with drug possession and drunk driving. Our governments appears to be operating quietly and sneakily, and has changed many things of late which affect people close to my heart. These are not the issue at hand, but I hate to say it- we do just as much stupid stuff as any other place does, and there's far fewer of us to share the blame.

For instance (and down to business...) This summer, my province was responsible for ending the lives of twelve black bears who had begun regularly eating at a town dump site. Read the full article HERE . The gist? Bears find garbage, bears eat garbage. People shoot bears. Instead of
1) installing bear fence
2) assessing danger
3) tranquilizing and relocating bears
(all of these are ways I have heard of dealing with these animals) instead wildlife officers killed them the day of initial assesment. They did not even bother to review the current situation so that it could be prevented in the future.

Why is this of interest to a human ecology textiles student?
Human Ecology approaches problems with a solution/outcome based attitude. When looking at the choices made, or choices which will be made in the future, one should consider possible outcomes. I understand that these bears may have been in a habituated state, but what brought them to this level of dependence in the first place? Oh. People.

Humanity is imposing upon a lot of this world. We are sprawled out, and cover a lot of territory. Our policy for living here should reflect this. The town in question is dependant on many different levels of government to provide for their needs. Although this landfill may be maintained by municipal funds, it is important they also have access to the necessary assistance to keep humanity's "junk" out of the rest of the worlds relatively natural flow.
One note I find particularly troublesome:
"...Fencing the dump wasn't an option either. "Once bears are habituated to a site, they will break down fences," [Sustainable Resources Development spokesman Dave Ealey] said. "We don't put up bear fences. That's something that municipalities can do if they feel it's becoming a problem."

Well. That answers that. I wonder if the big flashing light of irony was going off in his head as those words left his mouth. Killing 12 bears in one day isn't evidence of a problem. That might be silly. This couldn't be the inevitable end to this issue again several months down the road... That's just... Oh, wait. LOGICAL.

Human Ecologists take classes which yes, help them plan events like weddings, quilt shows, or literature conferences. We also study government and programming policy, to foresee and prevent possible issues. Human Ecology also understands the world as a cooperative system. We impact the world just as much as the world impacts us. As such, all policy developed should reflect that, and not just protect people from the world, but also protect the world from the impact of people. This is why we develop sustainable clothing, family programs, risk at youth events, or become employed by municipal collectives which help promote and refine rural development issues and solutions. Policy is important because it will shape our lives now and down the road.

The travesty of this "policy" is that the township is on it's own recognisance. There was no recommendation made to the town, no changes were made to the way things are working, and the policy was to extinguish the "problem" without even studying it. To be honest, bears were just doing what bears do- eating the easiest food they can find. Maybe it's time to review the idea that the problem is.... hum (wait for it...) anity. At the time, the bears had not endangered anyone, no attacks had been reported, they were simply too used to eating the food we left in bear-sized snack containers (read: garbage bags) out in the open for them. This is not policy, it's entrapment.

The news article above references other work sites- temporary living quarters which house many people which use bear proof garbage containers, to prevent just such a problem. This shows that within this company, safety of inhabitants and responsibility to this site within a wild area had been considered before implementation of this temporary site.
Boggling. My guess is that because the people living there would be under the responsibility of the company while housed there, these companies endeavor to make safety the foremost concern because they will be held accountable by unions, families and co-workers if something bad should happen.

I do understand that perhaps these bears could not be saved. I understand that this rural area may be less familiar with bear issues than the mountain municipalities such as Hinton, Jasper and Banff. I understand that when I visit Jasper and I HOPE to see a bear, I want it to be while I'm safe, and I don't want to be lunch. But I do also understand that this issue was not the bears fault, and it makes me shameful to be Albertan at this time, to know that we aren't protecting our natural resources like wildlife better.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Falling off the Wagon

So it's sort-of the third week of school, and I have been less than stellar at keeping my promise to myself to blog at least once a week. There are several reasons for this, including an unexpected class, and the attempts to concentrate on school as opposed to other things. But even in the midst of this, I am constantly thinking of things I should, could, would blog about if I could. So I think it would be beneficial for me to list all the things I have wanted to blog about, so that I can grab one off the list and just write.

1) Examples of bad policy: Bears in northern Alberta put down because they were dependent on an unfenced landfill for food
2) Review of Human Ecology from a femenist perspective: a "Why and how" discussion of how male dominated society may have impeded the growth of the scientific philosophy.
3) Inclusion and Exclusion: Akward moments in classes or events
4) My workout partner: An exercise in self control
5) Getting things done: My exploration in accomplishing things I need to do.

All right. So. My next order of business. I am trying so hard to be an understanding person, to accomidate others. I don't like people who railroad others, and don't want to be one of those people. I am however quite frustrated when a person refuses to try anything new, or causes themselves undue stress based on a new situation before the situation even occurs.

As it happens, when I do personality tests, when you get to the part about "openness to new experiences" I have almost no opposition to this. I think this was a concious decision based on the gross feelings of failure I endured when I failed a swimming class as a kid because I was terrified of the high diving board. It has caused me to basically review all those experiences out there: crazy, boring, useless, invigorating, harsh, hilarious, whatever I may preconceive them to be, and basically ask: Will this kill me? If the answer is "No" then I pretty much jump in. Do I love public speaking? Not a chance. Will it kill me? No. This explains why I have recently agreed to be the MC at a friends wedding, and have added this to my list of things to prepare for in the next month. (Luckily, I am actually taking a course which basically teaches public speaking and I have plenty of time to prepare, so I am not too worried.) I do however find my particular openness creates a lack of empathy for those who do have fears which I deem irrational and therefore... dumb. It's not that I don't have fear, it's just that I found that the more I allow the fear to manifest, the more likely it is that the fear will actually become the impediment to my success. When you thrust this small unfounded fear aside and plunge through these experiences, even if you don't love it, at least it will be over.

When I was in High School, you only had to take one physical education class to graduate. I took the shortest class. My gym teacher, a sad, older, pretty much verified alcoholic man gave a spiel at the beginning of the term. "This is an art school. This is Gym 10. You probably are taking this class so that your gym career is over, forever. Here's the deal. I know you hate gym. You know you hate gym. We change sports every two weeks. If you like the sport- you get to do it for two weeks. If you hate that sport, you'll only have to do it for two weeks. I don't expect you to be a superstar, I expect you to show up, change clothes, and try. If you do that most of the term, you'll get a decent mark." This is how I approach pretty much everything I am not in love with. Even if I don't anticipate a great time, all I have to do is dig in and finish, and then it will be done. I don't understand how avoidance and fear can really assist anyone in their life advancing. I also have understood from a very early age that you have to work for what you get, so you should always expect to have some icky bits in life in order to really enjoy the good stuff. In the words of The G.irl Next D.oor "The juice is worth the squeeze".

Really, this blog entry isn't about me trying to educate anyone but myself. Can anyone provide some insight on this? Help me see from the other side, so I can understand the fear and in that way be more supportive to people who feel this way, because I honestly don't get it. I have always been a feet first type of girl, I eat the worst part of the meal so I can savour the good parts.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

The fun of creating

So. Today I worked with one of my FAVORITE people on a project that I have been putting on hold for various reasons ALL summer. Me and R, my sewing partner (and guru, because she's WAY better than I am) toiled away in an unused lab at school starting to carve out the fabric flowers for her wedding. This involves a lot of really fun things- tonnes of fabric, beads, glue, hot glue, small gardening sticks, wire, metal beads, all sorts of stuff.

It was incredibly cathartic to work on something which is completely not related to "school". We used an entire day to create things which were for a purely fun purpose.

We only made a few demos, to really cement the style, and then spent the rest of the day doing all the icky work- the cutting and sizing, so I don't have any pictures to show you.

The really fun part was spending time with someone else who has as much passion for creating as I do. While doing all the grunt work, we also talked about fun stuff- how fabulous these things would look, and what my dress will look like (and how I have to make time to sew it in the next month... gulp) and what her dress will look like (still unfinished by her dressmaker when she moved home from her parents house in Vancouver this summer).

Sometimes it's just nice to talk and toil, and feel connected to your part of the world.