Wednesday, 26 October 2011

poetry and prose

I was catching up on episodes of TVO's The Agenda via podcast and listened to one called Obama: Can He or Can't He? about Ron Suskind's new book, Confidence Men and a discussion of his portrait of the current US president.

I lost a lot of Obama-love when Osama bin Laden was killed. I do not want to go into all that here but it seemed to me so very ugly and so very Bush Doctrine that I took down my Obama Christmas tree ornament from its home on my kitchen wall. I used to look at that little ceramic plaque with its picture of Barack Obama when I was feeling kind of blah. It would make me think about all he was facing and all the hard work he had in front of him and would put my blahs into perspective and a little dance back in my step. After the "kill operation" in Pakistan, it just started to creep me out so I put it away.

I started to get a more balanced view listening to the panel discuss the challenges for this president and how his first years in this office compared with those of other presidents.

One point that was made a few times was that President Obama's harshest critics are often those who supported him. Near the end of the discussion Steve Paikin, the show's moderator, asked if the Occupy Wall Street movement was an expression of the left abandoning Obama. It is funny because I was thinking just the opposite at precisely that moment.

I was thinking that what the discussion was pointing to was the flaw in the alpha male leader model of change agency. I was thinking of the quote Adbusters used to start the Occupy Wall Street campaign.
"The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people."

Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University
Barcelona, Spain
I was thinking that Obama invoked the people's mic when he lead those chants of, "Yes we can!" I was thinking that we are all learning - or re-learning - that even if you get exactly the right leader into position, all leaders are limited in their role as change agent by their own learning curves, by systemic barriers to change, and by powerful opposition forces from within government and outside government. Obama's presidency points to exactly what is wrong with the lead-wolf model. I think Obama himself was careful to warn us of this and  often said that the change we wanted could never be accomplished by him alone. He kept his community-organizer hat on through much of the campaign.

I think that the Wall Street Occupiers and all those who are acting in solidarity around the world heard "Yes we can!" and said, "The we is us." They are stepping up to change the conversation and by changing the conversation and standing in solidarity, they are giving their president energy, space and strength to do his part.

The name of this post comes from the Mario Cuomo quote cited in the program, "You campaign in poetry but you govern in prose." Perhaps, what Occupy has to teach us is how to get a little more poetry -- and dance -- into governance.

Friday, 21 October 2011

on a boat (ship) to england



I just got the scanner up and running after a year without it and used these pics from a family holiday in Spain to test it out.

In these pictures we are hanging out with our Mum and Dad in Nerja. It was a small town in those olden days and we spent our days on the beach paddling about and leaving messages on the sand with the smooth white pebbles while our dad made us a bamboo hut to shade us from the sun. There was a river behind our apartment and sometimes we got to explore along the dried up riverbed and watch the farmers taking donkeys laden with sugar cane to market. We spent afternoons on the Balcón de Europa eating teeny, tiny ice creams for una peseta or drinking La Casera. Once I watched a bit of a bull fight on t.v. in the bar but my dad made me leave before the gross bit.

Julie had her birthday here. You can see her at her party on the bottom right. We both got donkeys. Hers was grey a straw hat. Later Grandad gave her a cart to go with the donkey. Mine was white and the most beautiful donkey ever. The big rose was given to Julie by the owner of Pepe Rico (the restaurant - which seems to be there still).

Our other favourite restaurant was El Molina (a good place for a gaggle of Mollinses to hang out) which also seems to be still in operation.

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