Interested in Frye, author of The Great Code? Ever heard of Morris, the English arts and crafts radical of the late 19th century? William Morris was a multi-disciplinary designer, poet, social activist, translator of ancient Icelandic sagas, and a central member of the Pre-Raphaelites. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828 – 9 April 1882) was perhaps the most famous of those, and Morris’s wife was the model for the heroine in many of Rosetti’s gorgeous medieval scenes. Read more
Here are some articles and essays about subjects close to my heart. Scroll down — you’ll find video links and articles about globalization, Jane Jacobs, craft beer, ecology and imagination, health and human rights, street kids, Oliver Sacks, virtue and vice, green business, art therapy, Thoreau, war, drugs, sex and money…
Inspired by the Ideas that Matter conference celebrating Jane Jacobs in 1997, this essay is an effort to place her work within the continuing debate about how globalization works, and where we go from here. Read more
It may surprise you to know that in the mid-19th century, every town in Ontario had a brewery and a tavern or two. During the 18th century, British soldiers in Canada were entitled to six pints of beer a day, and it was often quite strong beer, as much as 12% alcohol by volume! In The Canadian Settler’s Guide, the19th-century Canadian writer Catharine Parr Traill wrote that beer was the best beverage to provide “some cooling and strengthening…much required by men who have to work out in the heat of the sun.”
Mill Street Brewpub in the old Distillery District
During the ten years that I worked with Street Kids International, I met a lot of cool, big hearted people working in the field around the world. This is a portrait of one of the best: Rogelio Padilla.
Photos of Oliver Sacks by Angela Radulescu
Oliver Sacks is simply a delightful writer, and this essay partakes of that pleasure. Oaxaca Journal crackles with botanical and ecological information framed for its meaning, not merely presented as scientific factoids. Science, it has been remarked, has no meaning. It is up to wise scientists to frame the facts meaningfully, as Sacks does.
This is a short essay about Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal, published in National Geographic Directions (Washington, 2002).
The title, ‘pull the baby out of the fire’, comes from an 18th century English satirist named Mandeville. In The Fable of the Bees, Mandeville explains the nature of Virtue and Vice with a story. The story goes like this.
Four of wisest people who have shared the planet with us agreed to be interviewed by film maker Nancy Ryley for a book. Two of the subjects, Ross and Marion Woodman, are also friends of mine and both appear in my 1981 film about Jack Chambers. My first published book review was in praise of Marion’s first book, The Owl Was a Baker’s Daughter (Obesity, Anorexia and the Repressed Feminine).
“In times like these,” says Thomas Berry, “…we need people who realize that we are shaping a new order of things.”
Green filters, certification, screening criteria, eye of the green needle—how do you know if you’re ‘green’ enough?
I am interested in the transformative power of theatre and ritual. “At its deepest level this is what theatre is about, the ability to frame and control, to transform the raw into the cooked, to deal with the most problematic (violent, dangerous, sexual taboo) human interactions.” (Schechner)
This essay deals with ways to focus on the strengths and gifts of communities, and especially children, in war and other adversity. It comes out of the many years that I worked in the field of child health and rights.
The Karate Kids AIDS education project was famous in development circles, because it defied the conventional wisdom with its explicit sexual information for children, including the f- word. It was also famous because it went on to be translated into about 30 languages, and the video was distributed at street level all over the world. Produced in 1990, it is still in use today. I was a co-producer and Managing Director of the project, which included language versions, as well as editing and publishing books and comics with partners in many countries.
Illustration by Bernice Schwartz
‘le plus ça change…’
Not much has changed for the prospects of street children worldwide since I wrote this research paper in the late 90s for CIDA and Street Kids International. The work remains rewarding, and the need is increasing (check out the new book, Arrival City).
This paper deconstructs some of the common images and assumptions that cloud the subject. “Pity would be no more/ If we did not make somebody poor.” —William Blake.
After I left Médecins Sans Frontières in 2002, it took me some time to sort out my thoughts and feelings about that extraordinary organization. This work, the major paper for my Masters degree at U of T, provided me with the needed catharsis. I was invited to publish an abridged version in Disasters Journal (UK), a leading publication in the international relief field, but other work drew my attention away from these issues.
What if greater transparency and consistency of words and deeds leads to greater effectiveness, or at least greater moral authority in difficult situations?