Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to be Special is so Mundane...

(Note: I changed the title after I'd posted. Sorry for any confusion).

So, in order to try and make good on this "something special" idea, I started looking at volunteer opportunities in my area. This is surprisingly easy to do on-line. There are all sorts of sites, and a few excellent ones, which list opportunities available in the city. There's also a helpful questionnaire posted here and there to help figure out what you would like to do.

One of the first questions is this:

If you had all the time and money in the world, what problem would you solve? What would you change or create?

Hmmm. Let's see.

1) I would try and change the current crazy industrial food system we have here in North America. Of course, no one could live in this particular city anymore as we haven't locally grown food--all the agricultural land has been swallowed (and what's left continues to be swallowed) by urban sprawl. (What is grown here in our ridiculously short season is done in greenhouses--but what do I know? In our effort to keep our gas consumption low, we have only one vehicle. The Farmer's Market here is only open on Saturday's--so I'd need to get up at 5 am and take the hubby to work so we could get there. What about public transit? or bicycles, you say? Um. See below.)

Of course, that means our back yards are perfect places to grow veggies and what not. How do we prepare to store our bounty for the winter? Who knows? Who cares? Do we really want to give up oranges from Florida and apples from New Zealand for raspberries and blueberries? (Does it become unethical to freeze them for winter use?) Do I simply get that blasted garden going next year or do I do something more? How do I even begin to find people with the same concerns?

2) Urban Sprawl. Yes. I live in a city notable for many things, but chiefly: there are eight people per square mile here. We probably have, by necessity, the most inefficient public transportation system in North America. There's just over one half of a million people here. You can imagine how spread out we are--and I live close to downtown. Except that there is the largest urban greenspace in North America between me and it, too, a river valley with steep sides.

Urban sprawl leads to great inefficiencies--think about all the water pipes laid out to each house on lots 50 feet wide, the gas pipes, the sewer lines. I don't think I can even begin to talk about the automobile without going into a choking fit.

3) Alternate fuel energy technologies. I'd happily volunteer to put a windmill on my house. Can I even do that? I don't think we'd need to worry about the prairie chickens.

4) And here's something I would change if I could. It has more to do with values concerning citizenship and nationalism than global survival and so doesn't feel quite so, ahem, important, but I am rather concerned there is no decent Canadian History book for children out there.

I have no idea what the schools do, nor do I really care. I've been reading opinions about Canadian History--what it is and isn't, how it should be taught, how, frankly, it just isn't. We aren't even talking about how to teach it yet. Nasty, complicted business--yet I just want to do something about making Canadian History accessible to little folks. Does that mean I should hole up and write it (how?) or should I go volunteer at our local "historical reenactment" site--which, frankly, could be fun.

Of course, none of these show up as "opportunities" on those web sites.
But I want to do something.

1 comment :

drwende said...

Volunteer for the local historical reenactment site for the interaction. Half of what the other volunteers say about history will annoy you, but you'll hone your sense of what works with children other than your own.

THEN hole up and write the Canadian history course, but work the vegetable garden while you're at it, so you exercise both mind and body.

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