From Dirt to Delicious in Caledon

Originally written for Just Sayin’ Caledon

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The Albion Hills Conservation lands are one of Caledon’s green jewels. Most know the area for its camping, swimming, bike and hike trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing. But it also houses two Outdoor Education Centres, one run by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the other by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

However, what some will remember fondly and others never knew existed, was the dairy farm tucked away in the north west corner of the property. The cows, and their manure pile overlooking the Humber River watershed are now gone, replaced by the Albion Hills Community Farm (AHCF). That is where a group of Caledon children, camping at Albion Hills Conservation Area, came to connect with their local food.

The children’s camp program is called “Dirt to Delicious” or D2D as it is affectionately known by Barb Imrie, a lifelong outdoor educator and the driving force behind the creation of the community farm. Barb, together with Amy Darrell, camp director, and Karen Hutchinson, Director at the AHCF, coordinated the children’s visits to the Farm.

There is nothing more rewarding than to see the look of wonder on children’s faces when they are connecting with their natural world. And there is nothing more basic to life than the food we eat. When a child plants a seed, watches it grow, harvests the crop, saves the seeds for next year and then prepares the meal, the cycle of learning is complete. That is where Dirt to Delicious makes such a great impact.

Assisted by Hayley Cunneyworth, the Farm’s talented summer student from Queen’s University, her brother Jackson in his final year at King Secondary School, and Steve McElroy, outdoor education specialist with TDSB and TRCA, the children weeded, planted and got their hands in the dirt. Steve, our Bee Man, took them to the apiary where they donned full beekeeper suits and went to see the hives. They smoked the hives, took out the trays of combs, and marveled at the cycle of life these tiny honeybees create.

Then they came to meet our first flock of backyard hens. Karen refers to me as the “Chicken Whisperer” and my role was to take the children into the run and meet my “Golden Girls” up close and personal. The children were in awe. “They are so beautiful, and so soft,” said one young girl as she stroked the chicken gently from head to tail feathers. Two eager volunteers collected the eggs. Another child just scooped up one of the hens and held it on her hip. The hen was absolutely calm.

“You are very good with animals,” I marveled.

“My friend has chickens. I love them,” she answered with a smile.

And there you have it. Children in contact with the natural cycles of life are healthy, happy children. They know from where their food comes, how it grows, how to plan for the next season. They know from where their honey comes, and can be amazed by the secret life of honeybees. They can raise their own food, collect their own eggs, and learn a responsibility for life that only farming and animal husbandry can bring.

From Dirt to Delicious plants the seeds. It takes a caring community to grow the children.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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A Tale of Two Amazons

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

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Sometimes I feel as if I am living in two separate Towns. I get that impression from the way the news is editorialized in the Caledon Enterprise and the way the news is reported in the Caledon Citizen. For example, let us look at the way that the news about the Town of Caledon getting Amazon to come to our community was reported in our two local newspapers. First, here is the W5 straight news story for those who missed it.

“WHO – Amazon; WHAT – new 1 million square foot fulfillment centre; WHEN -announced July 2018, built by the end of 2019; WHERE – Caledon Ontario; WHY -Town of Caledon officials negotiated a successful non disclosure agreement with Amazon.” Plain and simple.

However, when we look at the way it was headlined in our two newspapers, carefully note the difference. The Citizen reported: “Amazon to build massive centre in Caledon” whereas The Enterprise headlined in capitals NEWS OF AMAZON WAREHOUSE A SHOCK TO 2 COUNCILLORS.

The Citizen article, written by Editor Scott Taylor, spends time on the first page outlining the W5 of the story, correctly identifying the facility as a “fulfillment centre”, and highlights the 800 full time jobs coming to Caledon. He further reports on the praise that the Amazon Director of Operations in Canada, Glenn Sommerville. gave to the incredible workforce here. What is there not to like about “full time jobs with great pay and benefits to support the local economy.” Scott goes on to include a positive quote from Mayor Thompson, and a “great news” quote from Jim Wilson, our new Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. If you read the Citizen article you are left with the impression that this is very positive news for the Town of Caledon.

Then there is Matthew Strader’s article in the Enterprise. The first thing you notice is that the centre is incorrectly identified as a “warehouse” and instead of a benefit to Caledon (all of Caledon) it is a SHOCK to two councillors. In the first paragraph, Strader writes about “others” expressing “shock and anger” on social media, claiming that they were “left out of the loop” on this announcement. He then raises the specter of the “freight village” sure to raise the hackles of the “we haven’t got over the Canadian Tire Distribution Centre crowd.” He goes on to give space to his two most reported councillors, Barb Shaughnessy and Annette Groves who expressed their surprise online. Shaughnessy claims she “knew nothing … zero” and again raises the specter of the “freight village” and a “warehouse”. “Freight village” is mentioned four times on the front page portion of this article, with nary a mention of anything positive.

Even when you go to page 4 to continue the article, the freight village theme continues with more reference to the councillors’ online anger. Only at the end of the article is it revealed that zoning on Coleraine “permits this type of development” Strader also reports on an asphalt plant application for Coleraine, before finally mentioning that the Town will receive over $3 million in development charges and $500,000 annually in taxes. Finally some good news.

In the Enterprise report, the W5 is WHO – Groves and Shaughnessy; WHAT – shock and anger; WHEN – July 2018; WHERE – Town of Caledon; WHY – the councillors know zero. One newspaper reports on the good news for the Town and spreads a positive message, one newspaper reports on the bad news and attempts to create a crisis.

When I was beginning my career in journalism, I asked a mentor at the Star why they didn’t report more good news stories. His response was, “Skid, it’s not our job to report every safe landing at Pearson International. It doesn’t sell newspapers.” Sensational headlines grab readers with their shock and awe – Murder, Rape, Conflict, Crisis!

Me, I’m happy to settle for 800 full time, good paying jobs with benefits in my community.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

*Note: In speaking with Robyn Wilkinson, the Editor of the Enterprise, she indicated that they had published another article on the Amazon announcement. When I read that article, I found it to be a clean, clear news account of the story.

Which begs the question: Why was it necessary for Matthew Strader to write the second  “shock” story and give more undeserved air time to two of the most divisive and misinformed politicians in Caledon?

  • photo from shutterstock.com
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Hothouse Earth

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

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Imagine being on an idyllic northern trek, recreating past clear lakes and verdant forests. The only downside is that your highly trained guide keeps warning you that wolves may be tracking your party. Everyone is a little nervous but continues merrily on their way.

Suddenly, that unmistakable howl is heard in the distance, and the expedition stops to plan their defense. Some are very worried, but others really don’t believe in wolves. The group carries on, divided over their concern about the possibility of becoming prey.

Then one morning, on the distant shore, you spot the pack and they are closing swiftly. The wolves are in sight and you are not ready …

***

Report from the National Academy of Sciences, August 6, 2018:

There will be Uninhabitable Places on Earth

“The world is at risk of entering “hothouse” conditions where global average temperatures will be 4-5 C higher even if emissions reduction targets under a global climate deal are met, scientists say in a new study.

The report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes amid a heatwave that has pushed temperatures above 40 C in Europe this summer, causing drought and wildfires, including blazes in Greece in July that killed 91 people. Around 200 countries agreed in 2015 to limit temperature rise to “well below” 2 C above pre-industrial levels, a threshold believed to be a tipping point for the climate.

However, it is not clear whether the world’s climate can be safely “parked” near 2 C above pre-industrial levels or whether this might trigger other processes which drive further warming even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases, the research said. Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1 C above the pre-industrial period and rising at 0.17 C each decade.

Scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the University of Copenhagen, Australian National University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said it is likely that if a critical threshold is crossed, several tipping points will lead to abrupt change.

Such processes include permafrost thaw; the loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor; weaker land and ocean carbon sinks; the loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

“These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth towards another,” said Johan Rockström​, co-author of the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “It may be very difficult or impossible to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if ‘Hothouse Earth’ becomes the reality,” he said.

Johan Rockström​, co-author of the report Maximizing the chances of avoiding such a hothouse state requires more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report said. For example, improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground are needed. Commenting on the research, some experts said uncontrolled warming is still uncertain but not implausible.

“In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight,” said Phil Williamson, climate researcher at the University of East Anglia.”

Yes, the wolves are definitely in sight, and our leaders in Ontario and the United States are pre-paleolithic troglodytes when it comes to understanding accelerating climate change … and wolves. Promoting a buck a beer and wearing a red baseball cap, they’ll just keep going full speed into the future looking in the rear view mirror.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

* Source: Thomson Reuters, August 6, 2018

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The Colour Purple

Originally Published 2018/05/26

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There is a rumour in Caledon that stores are running out of purple paint. This would be unusual if it were not for the upcoming Ontario elections. Certain candidates, not wishing to be associated with the orange, green and red of the left of centre, or the new blue of the far right of centre, have chosen the colour purple as their compromise.

So what exactly does the colour purple symbolize? Traditionally purple is associated with royalty. luxury, power and ambition. A light lilac purple evokes an aura of feminine energy and mystery whereas deep purple indicates gloom, sadness and frustration. If you have too little purple you get powerlessness, negativity and apathy. But if you get too much purple you are surrounded by irritability, impatience, moodiness and arrogance. Clearly, purple is a colour that evokes many subliminal responses in people and can deliver a mixed and confusing message.

However, when used by political candidates, the message is clear. We, the comfortable electorate, will have no real idea on which side of the fence or the political spectrum he or she stands. Their purple is a perplexing conundrum and lacks clarity and transparency. It is a purple wool being pulled down over our eyes.

To make it absolutely clear how insidious this subliminal advertising is, consider these definitions from Jennifer Bourn writing for the Bourn Creative in January 2011: “The term ‘purple prose’ is used in reference to large exaggerations, lies, and highly imaginative writings. The expression ‘purple speech’ is used to describe profanity and bad language. The saying ‘purple haze’ refers to confusion or euphoria which may be drug-induced.”

During this upcoming election cycle, if you see candidates advertising in purple you should be aware of the subliminal advertising involved. Consider that Hank’s wife Marie in the hit series Breaking Bad always wore the colour purple, a misleading attempt to delude herself and others into thinking she was royalty. When they write brochures in “purple prose” and speak in “purple speech” they may be in a “purple haze” and want you to be just as confused when you vote.

I haven’t seen anything purple on the lawns or roadsides yet as this provincial election heats up, but there is a municipal election coming, so keep up your guard. We don’t need any purple reign in Caledon. Long live the red, orange, green and Bill Davis blue.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Purple Wool over Caledon’s Eyes

Editorial by Skid Crease

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Recently I received brochures in the mail brightly printed in the colour purple with smiling photogenic candidates on the covers. I will refer my readers to a previous blog outlining the dangers of being seduced by the colour purple.

The words written inside were a marketing manager’s dream. Words like honesty, integrity, open-minded, and collaborative are inspirational and something we should desire in all our political candidates. However inspirational words require matching actions in order to ring true.

So, if the Integrity Commissioner has found you guilty of violating the municipal code of conduct, fined you and required you to retrain; if you have had to apologize to Peel Region for a racial slur delivered at on Ontario Heritage Board meeting; if you have chosen not to sanction gender biased racial slurs delivered in a colleague’s emails; if you have attempted to interfere with the freedom of the press; if you have angered your constituents with misleading information; if you have sided with development interests over the wishes of your Town … well, you might get people doubting the veracity of your election campaign brochures.

However, in this age of Doug Ford and Donald Trump, fake news goes a long way. People might just look at the pretty pictures and not look beneath the glitter to find out it’s really fool’s gold.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

 

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