Steal This Idea!

In keeping with Blake Batson’s call to suggest good ideas for others to pass off as their own (a concept, I should add, that I totally came up with), I give you hrmsmarttrip.ca. You can read more details here.

It’s not a big concept, and it won’t solve the city’s transportation problems. But it also costs next to nothing to set up, next to nothing to run, and it might actually get some people to start sharing rides. That sounds like a winner to me.

(You might also be interested in Erigami’s contribution on suburban densification.)

Radio Topics, May 27th

It’s Tuesday! Adam and I are on air from 7 AM to 9 AM on 93.1fm in Ottawa, www.ckcufm.com for everyone else.
This week, I will talk with Tracy Kasaboski and Kristen Den Hartog, author of The Occupied Garden. I promise*.

So, remember when we were admonishing the Opposition for asking crazy questions about how someone’s relationship might affect national security? Remember when we were told that such questions were the domain of busy bodies? Well, schadenfreude is awesome.

Other topics to be discussed will include:

 We bought $3.4 billion worth of C-17s, but still need to rent planes when we want to send helicopters around the world?

AND 75% are unavailable?

AND our Search and Rescue Planes might not last long enough?
Gatineau Park expanding.

Quebec to grill Hollywood why there isn’t more film dubbing.

Halifax sets up website to help match carpoolers.

Wakefield Train for sale.
We have a transit plan! Again!
* This does not constitute an actual promise.

Radio Topics for May 20th

The first long weekend of summer is over and summer didn’t materialize. Adam and Mike are around at the usual time- 7:00 to 9:00 AM on CKCU- 93.1fm for those in Ottawa, www.ckcufm.com for everyone else. This week Mike will speak with one of Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski about their new book The Occupied Garden, which reconstructs their grandparents lives during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. He’ll also be joined by Mel Hurtig to talk about his new book The Truth About Canada, which challenges the conventional wisdom about the fiscal and social state of our country.
Reasonable Accommodations Committee to report on Thursday and finds that immigrants aren’t this great threat to Quebec identity.

Whats with the west and electing senators? Saskatchewan to hold elect senators.

First land mines and now cluster bombs, what weapon of mass death will they take away next?

Vic Toews being referred to as “your honour?” Possibly coming to a Manitoba court room near you in the future.

Gordon Campbell criticizes the NDP’s 1995 legislation restricting 3rd party spending but now introduces his own.

Ontario to pay for sex changes again.

Canada to get its very on Victoria Cross.

Half animal, half human embryos are cool with the British Parliament.

Radio Topics, May 13

It is not entirely clear to me if there is something inherently unlucky about the days numbered 13, or whether it is something that is limited to Fridays. This Tuesday, we will test that theory out. Adam and I are around at the usual time- 7:00 to 9:00 AM on CKCU- 93.1fm for those in Ottawa, www.ckcufm.com for everyone else. We might also be joined by our occasional prairie correspondent, Ryan Androsoff.

At 8:15, I’ll speak with one of Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski about their new book The Occupied Garden, which reconstructs their grandparents lives during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Arthur Kroeger dies.

Government to advertise immigration changes that haven’t been made yet.

Builders upset with high development fees

Harper announces 20 year plan to beef up Canadian military

Ontario needs labour-friendly and green strategy to avoid becoming a total rustbelt.

But that’s already too late for 1400 more people…

After The Citizen exposes how 5% of gas pumps in Canada are charging Canadians up to $2 more for a regular sized tank, the Minister of Industry promises action.

Dr. James Orbinski on “An Imperfect Offering”

Now, I do a fair number of book interviews for a guy that essentially does radio as a hobby. I won’t lie, there is a certain giddy thrill when you get to casually name drop authors you’ve met and things they’ve told you about their experiences, thoughts, and so forth that don’t get recorded on the interview. Perhaps that changes when you do it more often and it becomes rote, but I hope not: for me, anyway, the novelty makes me pay extra attention to what I’m reading, trying to figure out what it a book is actually saying and to get the author to move past their stock answers.

But, in any case, part way through this interview I realized that I was talking with a guy that has accepted a Nobel Peace prize. Now, I’ve talked to lots of people that have won awards that I consider important, but the Nobel Peace prize is kind of a big deal. You can actually hear my moment of realization part way through the interview, where I garble a question about “humanitarian space.”
But I digress, as this post is verging too far into “gonzo” territory.

Dr. James Orbinski’s book melds a memoir and treatise on the state of modern civil society humanitarianism. A book on either would probably be worth reading: he has, after all, a first hand perspective about some of the more notable Human tragedies of the last quarter century, including the Rwandan genocide, Somalia during its civil war, and as Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo. His involvement with MSF as it sorted out how it was supposed to operate in the vacuum following the Cold War, and what the role of civil society should be therein, would be similarly authoritative. Instead, the former is used to explore the latter. The two parts play off well against each other, as anecdotes alone can often seem hollow and devoid of context, theory and practice can feel detached from the real world. Instead, the former is used to explore the latter, making his point without ever really saying it outright.

And the point? Orbinski focuses on the need to protect “humanitarian space” and makes the case that humanitarian organizations almost by necessity must become political organizations. This is not to say that they must pick sides (indeed staying above the fray of the conflict is emphasized as important), but that it is important that such organizations call a spade a spade and talk openly and publicly about when they face challenges.

“Humanitarian space” is a concept that emerges as the goals and purposes of military or political interests within a country run into conflict with the independence of humanitarian organizations (in the interview, he talks a bit about how this has played out in Iraq, but in the book the theme can be found in pretty much every discussion about his experiences in Africa.) This is again a situation where the personal and the theoretical mesh well: it’s one thing to talk about how civil society is occasionally exploited by governmental actors in the abstract, it’s another to look at how it has affected you or your colleagues ability to do your job and why this led you in a certain direction.

Ultimately, if humanitarian organizations must speak out when they face particular challenges in particular places, it is logically necessary that they speak out publicly about such pressures generally. An Imperfect Offering does just that, accessibly bringing an important (and perhaps overlooked) perspective to the public discussion about conflict and humanitarianism.

(Like this? Listen to more of my book interviews.)

A(n) (upcoming) Day at the Races

Today I spoke with Kate Van Slyck of the Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre about her organization’s upcoming Track Challenge.

Amethyst, as the name implies, is a not-for-profit day-treatment facility for women struggling with addiction. Much like other not-for-profits, raising funds is central to your operations: your success or failure helps to determine what level of service, if any, you can offer in the coming year. CKCU, as an example, dedicates a little more that 2 weeks a year to begging for change on air an annual funding drive, which is historically (and perhaps obviously, given that we still broadcast) been very successful. You might remember my most recent web-based pitch for donations to the Tuesday blend; the real shame is that Adam didn’t record my ascent up Dunton Tower.

But, PBS and TVO aside, CKCU is pretty unique in having an FM soap box on which to solicit funds. Most other organizations turn to special events to raise their cash. In the summer months this leads to ubiquitous charity golf tournaments, where your fee gets you a round of golf and a good feeling. Amethyst is taking a welcome break from the status quo and hosting a track meet. It’s pitched as a corporate event, but I doubt that they’d turn away groups of individuals that don’t happen to work together but want to participate.
This is the first of three interviews originally aired this morning on the proper show. This was part of our ongoing series on Community organizations in Ottawa- you can catch them all here. We first spoke with Kate about Amethyst in December, which went into greater detail about the sorts of programs that they offer.

Radio Topics for May 6th

Its May 6th, recover from your May Day hangovers by listening to Adam and Mike. As always, 7-9am on 93.1fm in Ottawa, www.ckcufm.com for everyone else. We have three interviews lined up this week. at 7:30am Mike will be talking with James Orbinski, former president of Doctors Without Borders and author of the new book An Imperfect Offering. At 8:10 Adam will be speaking with Michael Jenkin, president of the Ottawa South Community Association regarding their AGM to be held this Tuesday night. Finally at 8:30 Mike will be talking with Kate Van Slyck regarding the Amethyst Track Challenge.

An excuse to make very bad dead duck puns…Alberta environment minister refuses independent inquiry in death of over 500 waterfowl.

Proposal to remove the Lord’s Prayer from the Ontario legislature attracts so much furor that it crashes the Ontario Legislature’s website.

Harper government helping access to information by shutting down a key database…huh?

The next Tory election threat… Bill C-10.

Toronto may not be the only city with transit troubles in the future. OC Transpo and the union need the Feds to help keep them at the bargaining table.

Age of consent has risen to 16.

In one of those end of the hour stories, man dressed as ninja is arrested for sneaking into a Vancouver home with a sword.