Primarily a writing exercise, this dream journal-inspired blog is a quiet introspective sojourn into the process that we traverse in going from private dream to public art. I see our dreaming as an internalized mythmaking. As I philosophize and expressively exhibit dreams, both private and public, I encourage and delight in creative language as a way to practice experiential metaphors through a “public dreaming." Writing Theory: Creative Dream Fiction

Monday, 30 September 2013

Source of New Media: Resonant Lives Harmonize in the West

“What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.” Henry David Thoreau

Where is our all-inclusive local media source, one that is not generic, yet doesn't cater to only one group, one that embraces local lore, custom and myth, one that encourages people who live the story, who are located downtown or in the community, whose lives are on the pulse of the daily, local narrative? They are to tell their story, to emphasize selected statements said by their own voice, and to speak from experience, because good media should begin with experience and end with experience. Good media should not begin with inexperience and end with inexperience. Good local media should reunite with social cause, and ultimately, incite action.

The introduction, history, structure and funding of The Media Co-op is explicitly written out in, Know Your Co-op, a nineteen page document prepared by journalist Dawn Paley in 2007 and self-published by The Dominion editorial collective. What began in 2003 as a newspaper, The Dominion (still circulating nationally), was reincorporated as a multi-stakeholder cooperative in 2007, now known as The Media Co-op.

“The multi-stakeholder is a situation in which you have more than one class of membership within the cooperative and they collaborate together to meet the needs of the different classes of membership,” Peter Hough, Fund Manager of Tenacity Works Fund at the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation told the Calgary Working Group of The Media Co-op. “In a retail store it would be trying to produce good working conditions for the employees but also trying to produce good service and fair prices for the consumer members. And then all of them would share in any surpluses.”

In 2009, the first local of The Media Co-op formed into the Halifax Media Co-op. In the next three years, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal formed locals (in that order). “Each local has an editorial collective that meets face-to-face to discuss stories and coverage in their cities and surrounding areas,” wrote Dawn Paley, in Know Your Co-op. “The new model has required the creation of a web platform where contributors can upload news, videos, audio and photos, as well as interact through comments, working groups and discussions.”

Cooperative and local media is a process of decentralization, essentially giving media back to its rightful source: the people. In this way, the oft-repeated slogan, “Own Your Media” is The Media Co-op mantra. With stories such as the 2004 Haiti coup d’étatand the Vancouver Olympics, The Media Co-op and its locals transcend corporate media coverage, connect with untapped readership in the Canadian public and have worked with larger media organizations internationally, such as Democracy Now!

Yet, as typical to news media, the bad news is ever-present. As reiterated in Know Your Co-op, Montreal Media Co-op founder Dru Oja Jay, bore the bad news that The Media Co-op could not accept new locals in the 2010 article, How to start a local of The Media Co-op. Due to the overwhelming commitment and the underwhelming budget, The Media Co-op instead encouraged incipient Working Groups. The Calgary Working Group was opened under the direction of Jay in 2010 with top-notch international reportage on the challenges to a national election in Manila, Philippines.

Since then, the Calgary Working Group has received over 120 members with contributions on topics ranging from the G20 Summit to The Alberta League Encouraging Storytelling (TALES), to Environmental Justice, to Café Koi to Young and Future Generations Day. Articles, podcasts, photo essays, editorials and blogs are among the many mediums of cooperative journalism local to Calgary. After a new (and very active) Calgary Working Group contributor corresponded with Jay earlier this year, the momentum shifted. Dialogue on starting a new local of The Media Co-op reopened.

The potential for the Calgary Working Group to become the Calgary Media Co-op is a vision that has since been shared in the local community, and the support is gaining. The Calgary Working Group started meeting with this objective in May of 2013. Besides forming a basis of unity, and establishing an editorial collective, the Calgary Working Group requires sustained and significant contribution in order to shift gears into the full-fledged Calgary Media Co-op.

The initiative is mutually coordinated with The Media Co-op, where all posts contributed to the Calgary Working Group (and in the future the Calgary Media Co-op) will appear as published on The Media Co-op nationally-syndicated, online news source. Stories written by a local, such as the Montreal Media Co-op, also appear as such when published in The Dominion. The Calgary Media Co-op is a vision for local cooperative media, in advocating for the publication of local stories, connecting them to a national community of journalists, activists, communities and leaders.

The basis of unity and editorial collective has been organized successfully since May with core organizational capacity developed with Daniel Rodriguez, a graduate of SAIT Journalism and Melissa Manzone, who holds an M.A. in Journalism from Kingston University (U.K.). Our basis of unity establishes a rational, concerted response to the inadequate agenda of dominant media to address and give voice to local concerns, perspectives and narratives. The unity is also founded on a deep appreciation for journalism as a public base of knowledge where cooperative values are formed, maintained and encouraged.

The editorial collective organizes a weekly program of contribution. Each piece submitted to the collective will be edited by at least two other core or guest editors. Three pieces a week are to be contributed by one regular contributor and two guest contributors. The publication schedule will be organized according to three themes – Uncovered, Alternative and Editorial.

On Monday, the focus will be on misinformation in the dominant news sources. Simply, we ask, “What is the popular news not covering?” The same issue published in dominant newspapers will be assessed and critiqued with regard to the uncovered angles, perspectives and stories. Not only will contributors critique, their articles and/or multimedia pieces will address and give agency to the unvoiced, and unknown, in our community.

On Wednesday, pieces will map alternative press locally, in Calgary, and Alberta. For example, we ask, “What is being voiced by independent media sources, non-English newspapers, podcasts and blogs?”

On Friday, the editorial collective will publish editorials spotlighting special voices from within the community. This new initiative of the Calgary Working Group aspires to convene with the entire political spectrum, including all identities of class, religion, gender, and ethnicity into a refreshingly local forum to reenergize debate, understanding and willpower in the community.

The Calgary Working Group still has a long way to go until the proposed momentum is established, and finally, there is a new local chapter of The Media Co-op in Calgary. According to the latest draft of New Local Policy (pending issue by The Dominion editorial collective), the Calgary Working Group remains in Phase 0 of 5 successive stages until a full-fledged Local can open in Calgary.

First and foremost, what this means is that the Calgary Working Group may not use The Media Co-op name to raise money. All funds currently fostered through the voluntary leadership of media activists involved in developing the Calgary Working Group are nominally channeled through, an independent media and podcast source for Calgary-based voices. At Phase 0, the Calgary Working Group may not refer to itself as the Calgary Media Co-op. At this initial stage, administrators at the Calgary Working Group helping with site content do not have editor access through working group admin privileges.

Currently, the Calgary Working Group is developing from a working group (Phase 0) to a website working group (Phase 1). In the first stage of the working group’s becoming a local new content is posted weekly, collective membership is stable and meets regularly; collective processes, membership criteria and operating principles are formed; editorial policies are adopted; formal agreement is made with The Media Co-op basis of unity; and lastly, the collective (Calgary Working Group) agrees not to use The Media Co-op name to raise money nor refer to themselves as the Calgary Media Co-op.

At this transition, the working group applies to The Media Co-op Board of Directors (in this case, through Dru Oja Jay). Leaders from this Calgary Working Group initiative are currently organizing a conference call with Dru and The Media Co-op Board of Directors. [To get involved, please contact us via the Calgary Working Group coordinator, Matt Hanson (]


In the context of modern literary history, Hungarian-American Jewish newspaperman Joseph Pulitzer set the quality standard for publishing at the turn of the century. Pulitzer, best known for the eponymous award for not only journalism, but also photography, literature, history, poetry, music and drama is attributed with the quote: “The newspaper that is true to its highest mission will concern itself with the things that ought to happen tomorrow, or next month, or next year, and will seek to make what ought to be come to pass.”

Good media begins with the very real ground-level experience of people who are the subject of good stories. The middle ground is where people read and learn. Finally, good media ends when the lives of the people voicing their story are changed as often as the people who learn that story. Good media compels and instills action.

Mediocre or god-awful media begins with inexperience, namely the daily political rhetoric, hearsay, or at best a secondary source. Next, its core value is the repetitive sound of a cash register receiving a dollar and some change for a paper. For the tremendous act of reading is enough for some literati, however news media should be a call to extroversion and community.

Oftentimes, media consumerism ends with apathy, inaction and at best a satiated boredom, and at worst, accepting that life merely boils down to hearsay. More subtly, office-enclosed research on secondary sources so conveniently bolsters today's social (and unsocial) media frenzy; a frenzy that can overwhelm experience into the dull silence of an unprovoked voice in an abyss of unquestioned answers, facts, statistics, records.
"It's as if newspapers have broken their bargain with democracy in turning away from editorial excellence and towards profit, marketing and cost-cutting...fewer of us can turn to our papers and see what we all have in common, or what our common stake might be if we participate in our democracy." (Yesterday’s News, John Miller)
The glossy overdub display of empty space is often filled with meaningless advertisements, meant to convince people that their lives are as empty and meaningless as an unfulfilled consumer niche, such as the newspaper; slowly becoming a dying, trivialized miscellany for the intellectual exploits of the few.

The media less and less provokes action because it never quite does anything for anyone, yet still somehow exists because of the inkling that it could. If only media behaved as it once did before politicized buyouts and delegitimizing advertisements, when a paper was a conduit of experience through which new learning passed to connect, share and welcome all voices to truly and transparently voice an urgent cause to act!

Dominant news sources less and less provoke action, and more and more reveal mere dangers. Is our fear-based culture a result of the classist leadership in dominant sources of media and information in the public sphere, where stories are always politicized according to the dominant agenda? As a result the rhetoric dissuades change, i.e. delegitimizes alternative perspectives. The narrowing national and public debates are also a resultant of the unremitting and domesticized war on [domestic] terror and its repercussions within the consumer identity crisis of the West.

Local media often promotes reliable, ongoing coverage, because people are interested in the longstanding nature of their community. Merely because a story is told does not mean the story itself is over. Ongoing coverage on a topic that immediately concerns people, on which they have daily experience as a default to their local lives, provides opportunities for readers to learn more, gain news perspectives, contact key leaders on the issue, and most importantly, become involved in currents of change.

Dominant papers don't often voice underprivileged perspectives because they are the least marketable consumers. Instinctually, good journalism bolsters weak areas of coverage, not simply profit margins. As Pete Hamill wrote in News Is A Verb, “True accomplishment is marginal to the recognition factor. There is seldom any attention paid to scientists, poets, educators, or archaeologists.” Traditionally, papers lead communities toward mutual solutions and shared vales. Consumer marketing instills myopia and is, finally, beside the point, and decidedly antithetical to providing true information.

The advent of community, as opposed to commercial, journalism can teach citizens of a democracy (and more, a democratically inclined world) how challenging it is to create consensus. Journalists are practitioners of democracy. Their work necessitates service and humility. Community journalism cultivates voluntarism, and promotes education, vision and friendship. An unknowing public spawns a culture of denial, impotence and misinformation. The more a society realizes its source of community, the more its people are independent, thoughtful and generous.


Hamill, Pete. News Is A Verb: Journalism at the End of the Twentieth Century. The Ballantine Publishing Group. New York. 1998. Page 80.

Miller, John. Yesterday’s News: Why Canada’s Daily Newspapers Are Failing Us. Fernwood Publishing. Halifax. 1998. Pages 15-16.

Kennedy, Dan. The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age. University of Massachusetts Press. Amherst & Boston. 2013.

Paley, Dawn. Know Your Co-op. The Media Co-op: Canada. 2011.

Jay, Dru Oja. How to start a new local of the Media Co-op. The Media Co-op: Canada. 2010.

The article above, Community, Not Commercial, Journalism, was written and published exclusively for The Media Co-op on September 27, 2013. 
I cross a deep green field. The sky, overcast, rains on a dark earth. Dusk spells weary and wayward bands of lonesome greed. The marijuana burns. I, cold in dank clothing, trail beyond the grey horizon. Smoothly, with a gliding wind, I escape across the open shield. My mind breathes awake. 

Pluie de mai. Pays basque by Darío de Regoyos y Valdés
Cautious, I walk slow. The friend waits, cold, faceless. I unwrap a fabric, revealing the value of our exchange. Sweetgrass fills the air. Moved, life graces. Forlorn and ungraspable, we stretch out to reach the fleeting air. Police siren. The air becomes a noxious haze of suspicion. I fly. 

Le carabinier by Jules Gachet
The sweetgrass confiscated. Our lives are in our hands. I look up. Abyss. Black. Open. Dead light fades. Escarpment of the human gargoyle decaying, and erased from the map of heaven. Sharp and hard, the light petrifies, crystallizes and vibrates of the endless spectrum. 

The Eve of the Deluge by John Martin
Galaxies enervate spines, nerves, veins and nodes of wonder; cosmic laughter at the sound of a split gong. Through, I, again, look up. Cobalt azure. Blinding, solar, pure and naked, sky. Cloud obscures. Rain, a memory. Summer passes in the afterglow noon. 
First time in Vancouver, my love and I stayed with our dear friend Buckman Coe. I left early, leaving her to an extraordinary night with rich music and great friendship, and leaving, on my way back home, I played Buckman's first CD on my headphones. The first track, "Give Up The Fright", began "If you must go overseas / If that's where you feel that you ought to be." 

And tears streamed. I shook with the fear of love as I watched my one exit from the bus station and into the west coast cityscape. It was the first step on my way to Cairo, and further and further away from her. "Don't know if it was wishful thinking on her part / For now, this little rogue has got my heart," ends the song, a wishful lament to the ambiguity of human relationship, the lyrics struck so many chords with perfect accuracy. 

Years later, our dear friend's second CD, By The Mountain's Feet, opened with Not So Farfetched, a brilliant rhythmic melody to the course and rush of love - and again, the lyrics spoke with impeccable insight as we schemed our return west, to our Pacific lust of belonging - "This is how the story of you and I begins / And it's not so farfetched..." 

To the resounding continuity of love in our hearts. We grow to return. 

Multimedia Video on Jewish-Chinese Intercultural Music

Jewish and Chinese. The pot boils. Visiting the coast, we accompany a friend staying in the home of Lan Tung and Jonathan Bernard, whose special hospitality warms with musical instruments of a deep and resonant heritage. Their contemporary fusion music of world union reconciles the magic of our hearts with an unspoken quality of communal love - an uncanny similarity to our own strength of heart, soul and mind in the music of our coastal upbringing. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Writing: The Child of Art and Music

"My grandfather Dolmic dreamed that three coffins floated through the door of his brother's house. So, he rode to the next village to investigate, and found his brother, his sister-in-law and their servant girl dead of cholera. The baby, still alive, was sucking at its mother's breast. He built three coffins and arranged the burial, and returned home with the child in his arms. And they say dreams don't come true." Ukrainian Grandmother, Wood Mountain Poems

On May 3 of 2012, Copenhagen welcomed the largest sustainable fashion conference yet seen in the contemporary world. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are buzzwords in the consumer industry, and are integrated more and more into every sector of the economy. What was once merely one percent of the fashion industry in 2007 – when estimated global sales of the sustainable fashion market were at three billion dollars – would increase exponentially, culminating in the 2012 Copenhagen Fashion Summit with the investment of over one thousand key industry stakeholders. 

One of the largest industries, fashion product lines contribute to the spread of over eight thousand chemicals and twenty five percent of the world’s pesticides into the natural environment. Not only that, most of the environmental impact is made after the consumer has purchased the materials. Yet, sustainable fashion is one growing eco-trend that is challenging the largely unsustainable fashion market by employing alternative textiles with less carbon footprint. 

Organic cotton is effectively transforming one of the most commonly grown crops, and so in doing, is spearheading the eco-fashion movement. Other cellulose materials include hemp and bamboo. Materials, however, are only part of the eco-equation. Renewability and source factor, as does labor conditions. The idea is to create what Rossella Ravagli, Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility Manager at Gucci, proposed during the 2012 Copenhagen Fashion summit, as a “good compromise between style, quality and new material.”   

Arguably, bamboo fiber is especially capable of meeting the demands of the new eco-fashion market. With an absorptive quality that captures greenhouse gases, bamboo grows in abundance without irrigation or pesticides. As the fastest growing woody plant in the world, bamboo holds a unique place in the fast-paced consumer market. Although, there is controversy regarding bamboo’s claim to fame in the eco-fashion market, as the process required to turn bamboo into wearable fiber, also known as Rayon, is marred with chemical-intensive labor. Yet, relatively speaking, bamboo as a source material for clothing is a more sustainable option than most. 

Yet another alternative textile, hemp, is potentially more eco-friendly than bamboo. Also easily grown, hemp clothing is often a composite of other organic materials. With such diverse uses as building materials, paper, jewelry, and fuel, hemp is largely responsible for complementing the greater trend of sustainable fashion with style. Hemp clothing is often designed with respect to traditional eco-fashion trends, opening interest in ethnic-inspired lines.     

This piece of commercial writing on eco-fashion was originally written for a client in China, and is also published as a blog on The Media Co-op

dusk fall
full equinox
hell's door
lonely crossroads
still bells
way back
world tree

The week began with the resonant mergence of harmonic mastery still ringing in my ears. A meeting with contemporary legend, Amir Amiri opened my mind to the brilliant challenge of a distant sound's arrival. The shores of my thought curled and folded in a slow tide as I acquired the bittersweet taste of a traditional music's refinement into the beautiful wholeness of world.

The quick hum of the Persian santur danced behind my eyes with the lifted personification of an artist's temptation to unite with the all-breathing life of unity. Yet, nostalgic and principled, remained steadfastly earth-bound to the homely traditions of mother, father, and self. At once, another meeting with the unbound truth stared me in the face through the transfixing metallic song of the HandPan under the voice of LIRON MAN

After Man's show, Puertas, at the Calgary International Flamenco Festival, I then met the opening musicians, one of whom, Tamar Llana is featured in the video below. She sings next to her mother, Judith Cohen - an ethnomusicologist with a special focus on Sephardic music - playing the frame drum. The joyous union of ancestry, tradition, and contemporaneity through music led to a revelation of harmony as the voice of continuity, belonging and meaning.

Monday, 16 September 2013

For the Love of Humanity: An Essay on the Ecological Auschwitz of Canada

Dostoevsky's notes for chapter 5 of The Brothers Karamazov
"You see, I so love humanity that—would you believe it?—I often dream of forsaking all that I have...I close my eyes and think and dream, and at that moment I feel full of strength to overcome all obstacles." Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“It's a scandal,” environmental activist Tzeporah Berman shouted to an encamped crowd at Indian Beach the night before the Healing Walk. Imagine, each and every CEO to all the employees of the oil and gas industry, blatantly raping their mother and profiting obscenely in the act. The Tar Sands scandal has gone viral. The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline “is probably the most controversial project in the history of British Colombia other than perhaps Claquoyot Sound logging operations,” said Ben West, Forest Ethics Tar Sands Campaign Director, at a Project Ploughshares event in Calgary on April 27.
It’s been the #1 talked about news story in British Colombia now for two years running. In fact there is a study that was done that shows all the next five stories, in terms of coverage, if you combined all the coverage, still did not get as much coverage as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline in the last two years.
The entire world is a voyeur to the most heinous crime of physical abuse on Earth today. “All fights, all battles for the planet are important, but some are more important than others. And there is no battle on the face of the Earth more important than what’s going on here in Alberta,” Bill McKibben, climate change scientist and founder of, said for the outdoor press conference immediately prior to the beginning of the Healing Walk. “There are three or four places on planet Earth where there is enough carbon below the soil, that if it gets dug up and burned, then there is no chance that we’ll ever stabilize this planet’s climate, and this is one of them.”

Yet, since 1967, when the first commercial project began to exploit the Athabasca Tar Sands, the crime intensifies to the benefit of a society corrupted by cheap oil across Canada, and around the world. “From the seven pipeline spills in the last five weeks, we know that oil corrodes, and what we’re just beginning to learn is that it’s not just corroding our pipelines,” Berman asserted. “Oil in Canada is corroding our democracy.”

The 4th Annual Healing Walk, attended by about five hundred demonstrators, sent a clear message: local people matter, have voice and are strongly represented across the country and the world. While international activism often necessitates globalization and fossil fuels to wage peace on the Tar Sands, the First Nations in and around Fort McMurray, the Athabasca Chipewyan and Dene peoples, are leading humankind by simply walking, in prayer to the Four Directions. Because of ancient wisdom and the spirit of traditional ceremony and community, industrial traffic slowed to a near halt as far as the eye could see on July 6 around the 14km Syncrude Tailings Loop.

“When I went into that town of Fort McMurray, you know what it reminds me of, it reminds me of going into the town that’s the ecological equivalent of Auschwitz,” Anishinaabe author Winona LaDuke proclaimed during her keynote speech the night before the Healing Walk.
“The town that’s sitting right next to Auschwitz and saying, ‘Hey, we’re good here, you can get a $35 steak, you can get an $18 hamburger and it’s okay.’ There’s something just psychotically wrong with all that.”
LaDuke’s Auschwitz comparison, especially in the light of modern consumer culture, is significant. Another outspoken critic of power politics, Hannah Arendt, had once led a scandal, transforming international dialogue on the perpetrations of Auschwitz into a parable of modern life. Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil” speaks to the mass consumerism that fuels the current destruction of the planet. Status quo consumer society encourages technology and energy overconsumption. One tier of society justifies through intellectual analysis regarding energy, society and the environment, while most are overwhelmed by the unreasonable complicity of leadership.

Therefore, most people remain ignorant of the fact that their immediate, daily actions cause the very atrocities committed against marginalized people and the environment. Espoused in 1961 during the Eichmann Trial, the philosophy behind Arendt’s “banality of evil” teaches how everyday people perpetrate the greatest crimes of humanity, often more so than their leaders. The idea is slowly gaining acceptance among genocide scholars, such as in Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Worse Than War.

“If you breathe air and you drink water, this is about you,” Crystal Lameman, Treaty 6 activist of Beaver Lake Cree Nation, declared at the beginning of the Healing Walk at Crane Lake Park. If the great-grandchildren of Canada look back on the current generation, will they see the current society as people of today see Nazi Germany? As the Jews were liquidated for business purposes, so the Earth and its First Peoples are being bought and sold, and killed in the process, for the liquidation of bitumen tar into petroleum gasoline. Every day, Canadians are told that progress must continue and economic growth must never regress for any sake outside of myopic anthropocentricism and politicized Canadian values.

“On the eve of the NEB hearings for the Enbridge pipeline, when our National Minister of Natural Resources put an open letter to Canadians [in the Globe and Mail], calling anyone who opposed these pipelines a terrorist,” Berman reminded demonstrators camped only fifteen minutes away from Fort McMurray. “Essentially saying that if you express concerns then you are acting against Canada’s national interests, that you are an enemy.” When environmentalists and Aboriginal peoples who oppose pipeline development are deemed terrorists, political-economic rhetoric in Canada begins to look more like that of the Department of National Defence.

Dissuading public debate is typically fascist. The undemocratic nature of the petro-state further supports the colonial Eurocentric project of civilization, where marginalized minorities, such as Indigenous peoples, are meant to suffer the growing pains of modernization. Indeed, modern progress is often underhandedly defined by the achievements of warfare and genocide against marginal ways of life.

The Canadian infrastructure, as with much of the world, is dependent on the continued suffering, and the scandalous crimes, of the continued power imbalances from the colonial past. “We’ve got to feed these people that consume a third of the world’s resources. That requires pretty much constant intervention into other peoples’ territories, whether they’re Dene, Anishnaabe, Cree, or whether they’re in Venezuela,” LaDuke said with a voice of experience and reason at the Healing Walk. “Constant intervention into other peoples’ territories to keep up this level of entitlement.”

Today, there is global complicity in the status quo, in the consumers and beneficiaries of non-renewable energy resources, and its concomitant intergovernmental policies. If Canada survives into the future as a memorable entity, people may look back on the country as yet committers of yet a deeper atrocity, against Earth, and as with a genocidal inclination towards the entire human race.

Will others follow in the example of the First Nations of the Athabasca river basin, whose warnings resound with deep socio-ecological truth? Will Healing Walks spring from the people across the Earth, so that in the name and significance of Mother, the destruction stops and healing starts? Are people around the world willing to stop the destruction and walk for the healing of the Earth, to find a path that slows the destructive course of industry (business) as usual and that offers, not one direction alone, but Four Directions, whole and undivided? When will people begin to pray through movement, action, and participation?

Around the same time that unparalleled innovations in alternative energy came to the fore, there was a great leap in Western consciousness of natural philosophy. Contemporary science is providing the world with unprecedented advances in material technology and innovation. “The last two years, we have seen more advances in clean energy, in renewable energy and technology, than the last twenty years,” said Berman, at the close of her keynote speech at the Healing Walk conference at Indian Beach. “The last two years were the first two years in human history where new investment in electricity generation for renewable energy, for wind, for solar exceeded new investment for electricity in oil, coal, and nuclear combined!” Nonetheless, today there is a greater vacuum of innovation, and that is within the human mind. The current struggle for life on Earth is within each and every human being bridging the great rift between modern life and ancient wisdom.

“I think what has to happen is a change in understanding. It’s not a matter of power, or of muscle or of energy,” the late philosopher Alan Watts said in the documentary, Zen.

It’s a matter of the way in which we understand and feel our own existence, not as strangers in a hostile universe, but as integral parts of that universe, as fruits of the universe, in the same way as an apple is a fruit of a tree we are a fruit of this galaxy, we belong to it, we are something it’s doing, but we don’t feel that.
Similarly, in the name of modern physics, the same basic knowledge that allows for the expansion of physical technology offers renewed integrations between ancient wisdom and modern life. The same way of applied thinking – that might destroy life on Earth when derived from philosophies of conquering nature and ethno-cultural assimilation – would also affirm interconnectedness with all forms of life.

Yet, petro-state fascism muzzles scientific inquiry that affirms rootedness, while ensnaring science with political ideology. “The internationally recognized journal of Nature this year, in an editorial, said ‘It’s time for Canada to set their scientists free,’” Berman, author of This Crazy Time, said at the Healing Walk. Science, as a truly inventive field of human inquiry, would logically presuppose the very undoing of its concurrent technological manifestations.

“The natural environment is treated as if it consisted of separate parts to be exploited by different interest groups. The fragmented view is further extended to society which is split into different nations, races, religions and political groups,” physicist and international best-selling author Fritjof Capra wrote in The Tao of Physics.
The belief that all these fragments – in ourselves, in our environment, and in our society – are really separate can be seen as the essential reason for the present series of social, ecological, and cultural crises. It has alienated us from nature and our fellow human beings. It has brought a grossly unjust distribution of natural resources creating economic and political disorder, an ever-rising wave of violence, both spontaneous and institutionalized, and an ugly, polluted environment in which life has often become physically and mentally unhealthy.
Life is without meaning, not because it is despairing, but because it requires no other meaning than itself. Life itself is significant. Life is self-renewing. Modern human life is more and more devoid of a connection to the sources of life, and so, the mind, and its encouraged symbolic outputs, estranges daily existence from the nature of life. Proactive language (e.g. solutions-oriented media), as with the most advanced scientific thinking, gives voice and agency to ways of life that are self-sufficient, yet still recognize the interdependent nature of life.

The First and Original Peoples of Turtle Island, Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, continue to share the fundamental philosophical similarities with the ecological consciousness of wise, ancient cultures from bygone eras and faraway lands. Understandings that had once triggered a revival of interest in the practical philosophies of interdependence and rootedness are not only springing from Western science itself, but are being voiced by the First Peoples of the Land with greater potency. “Science is important but only if it’s governed and held in check by wisdom, and that wisdom that people have been ignoring for hundreds of years on this continent is finally reasserting itself at exactly the moment when it is most needed,” Bill McKibben said to close his speech only moments before the Healing Walk began.

Bad news is good news. Spotlight triggers response, and, at the end of the day, people think as they please, or, more accurately, as is pleasing. Regardless of what it is called, Oil Sands, or Tar Sands, industry gets the lip service. “I don’t want to squander my energy entirely on being reactive, on being reactive to their craziness. Be clear on where we are going,” LaDuke stressed with grounded intensity. “It’s our choice upon which path to embark. One miikanan [path] is well worn but it’s scorched. The other path, they say, is not well worn but it’s green, and it’s our choice. It’s our choice. That’s what our people said about 800-900 years ago.” The ancient wisdom of the Anishinaabe prophecy for the time of the Seventh Fire shared by Winona LaDuke at the 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk offers all a path, or miikana, to a future that is fresh and green, and very simply, to a future.

Beyond pro- and anti-, beyond reaction and action, there is a beginning; a place, from where all people would begin life renewed. That beginning is the elephant in the room; it is every last man, woman and child. In the name of Mother Earth, the Original Peoples along the Athabasca River, and every Healing Walker: All my relations.

This piece is featured in the current print edition of Dialogue Magazine

(If you would like to have a FREE copy of the issue wherein this piece is printed, please notify the magazine or the author)

Also, read my Spotlight piece, "Tales from the tar sands" in the current September/October print issue of This Magazine in an online exclusive at The Media Co-op.  
blessed horn
entranced night
korean shades
light buddha
sun hat
The album "Evocations: district.Columbia" is an experimental narrative sound art exploration into the text of the collection, "district.Columbia" releasing the first single, "New America" to incite the forthcoming album on the inaugural day of Aboriginal Awareness Week in Canada is auspicious and serendipitous in its symbolic import as an album whose narrations were triggered by an inner voice of resistance while in Washington D.C. where I began to dedicate myself to the literary vocation in light of my own personal development in the commission of truth - as in the social justice of 9/11 and Truth and Reconciliation truth commissions - to address political and historical-religious misinformation.

My creative work is in keeping with a lifelong demonstration to voice silenced histories, in honour and recognition of the atrocities committed against first peoples of the land, whose history, while older and more enduring, while land-based and unfathomably rich, is snuffed out by the dominant settler narratives of media and education that continue to ride the oppressive waves of war, colonization and assimilation in the ongoing struggle for american freedom that continues to this day. "Evocations: district.Columbia" is a sounding directly from the heart, unmediated by the delusional independence of exclusive american identity, for an end to the war on freedom

Inspired by the pre-colonial and pre-revolutionist metaphor for America, “Columbia,” a Goddess of Freedom, as an archetypal myth, once proudly personifying poetic optimism through feminine form. Through these writings, I personify the process of mythmaking as a dedication to compassionate awe and voiced protest in the historic confrontation with self and nation. The name Columbia was immortalized immediately before the Revolutionary War in 1775 by Phillis Wheatley, the first African American woman to publish her writing, in her poem, “His Excellency, General Washington.”

Written primarily based on a visit to Washington D.C., this collection is a vocal reclamation. These chronicles present a visitor returning to his home country, where visitation is defined by traversing an international land border. I represent my struggle to reclaim and recognize my unique voice. In these pages, I confront the realization that I am, in certain respects, an inheritor of the American way of life. Regardless, the inheritance is fraught with the psychological complexities of exile.

In this reclamation, I throw off vestigial principles of experience. I attempt to revision a new way of being through the living temperance of the written word, and specifically, my own practice of stream-of-consciousness writing. Such revision includes confronting a natural process of self-awareness, whereby self-expression revolutionizes into an identity with nature as a self-perpetuating source of renewal and life.

Spontaneous word creation, or improvisational writing, is a natural activity of the human mind. There is a power within that endless fount, that when regularly tapped as a spiritual practice, unleashes one’s surroundings with an ever-renewing energy. Such a practice motivates one personally, to interact with one’s immediate environment in dynamic ways. The reason for this effect is because in this practice, which actualizes into a way of being, the present moment becomes central. When the present is cherished with just significance, the mundane begins to breathe with new life.

The practice of improvised writing, in this sense, outlines a processional transformation in throwing off sterile notions of self and environment. district.Columbia begins by defining autonomous interactions between self and environment (as to parallel notions of the “New World” for pre-colonial Europeans and pre-revolutionist Americans) and ends with a declarative pronouncement; to create an openness to uninhibited spontaneity in personal creativity and a diverse awareness in social activity in our public spaces (as to parallel the current fomentation of creative social activity blurring the lines of public and personal art).

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Woman Behind The Dream: Chopin and the Timeless Tuning

“Because perhaps to my misery, I already have my perfect one whom I have without saying a word, served faithfully for a year now. Of whom I dream and in whose memory the adagio of my concerto has been written.” Chopin, The Women Behind the Music

In the memory of such early genius as Chopin, our cultural continuity glorifies bygone eras with a creative resurgence only known to Western opulence. And looking out from the window of one's own, the sparks of desire light. At first, softly, the Earth burns. Then, the air plumes in a haze of smoke. The bonfire of magic absolves the moon of its light, and the stars become mere smoky display. Inside, and from underneath, the imagination fires the kindling of co-unity with the mind.
And in such as a bout of unspent night, where slumber is deep and each morning fresh, I woke into dream. The longing test of emotive fire, the blinding seed of passion instilled. To work, and to find solace in worldly accomplishment deceived! The wakeful night spun an inglorious frost, a loosened hold on the sunless firmament. 

The Night with the Genii of Study and Love by Pedro Américo
A summit revealed the greatest of depths as the wounded sky bled rain and ice, brewing over the darkening clouds. We traversed impossible concave stone, sharp as a split mirror, the ice moved our flesh towards the brink. In a vivid flash, I saw memory itself, bear unto the apex of Earth. The stars crowned the lonely top as we gazed into our battered arms with hands of ice and stone. 

Storm in the Mountains by Albert Bierstadt
From the greatest of heights, the shadow of a man fell to die. Scattered in the colourless flush of snow, the piercing rock dashed all hope. Still, with chests full of heart, we climbed on and to the frozen prison. Alone, I emptied my eyes and climbed the last step. The day sped past in a hearse, as a vision of unity stung my heart with its sole truth: alone with the Alone. 
To close the album, "Evocations: district.Columbia" the track, "Untrained Timeless Tuning" consists of improvisations on piano (keyboard) and xaphoon (bamboo sax). The age-old American sound of piano and woodwind hearkens to the unique sonic fusion that is completely unique and characteristic of the country. Especially in the use of a certain type of improvisation, the classic sounds evince an internal discovery of not only the human soul, but the soul of the land known to Americans as home.

In such a time as today, when war after war knocks at our doorstep, we can be reminded of the cultural heritage that more prominently identifies us as a unified people: music, the one common language of humanity. So, the sound is masked with electronic innovation into the 21st century, where the piano sound is a controller, and the woodwind is a recent invention. The first xaphoon was made only forty years ago on the island of Hawaii.

Further, the title, "Untrained Timeless Tuning" speaks to that harmony that is basic to all regardless of class, education, ethnicity or religious identification. There is a way to shared harmony, and it emerges through a music untrained by the classism and privilege of modern higher education. Whether speech, or instrumentation, the music that is untrained, while in tune with the essence of human life as pain, raw and blunt, is the very timelessness that high art seeks to capture. That timelessness is bred in every interaction and exchange whether within or between us always.

When we speak of Re-Writing our STORY, as in the chapbook wherein this piece is written, this very realization is the voice that carries our experience to such wonderful stretches of the imagination; present and transformational. So, the traditional keyboard and woodwind sound is transformed into an electronic movement of triumph in contemporary sound creativity.  

The following six-poem chapbook, Re-Writing our STORY, is the final series of works from the district.Columbia collection. The pieces reflect the penultimate phase of true revolution as a spiritual transformation of one's narrative. That is, one re-imagines their perspective through a revolutionary act of storytelling. This kind of storytelling reflects personal truths, daily experiences and common points of view with regard to the larger narratives and mythologies that consume unknowing minds through belief, propaganda and pride. The feature piece, Untrained Timeless Tuning, was published with Poydras Review in August of 2012.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The Art of Nonintervention: Rumi on Syria and Virtual Exhibit

"Last night I had such a wonderful dream. That today, I feel great and satisfied. You said, 'Go, for you are the king!' True and may I be merry and glad! I am drunk without cupbearer and wine! I am King Ghobad without throne and crown!" Rumi, Masnavi

Last night, I performed music for an Afghani community celebration of the legacy of Rumi. It was a clear night. The sun melted over the horizon an incandescent vermillion azure, and a mountain silhouette graced the starlit west. I accompanied  a dear friend, who plays the Persian santur, with 
wind and percussion instruments. The audience was cheerful at hearing our unique musical expression of global community, and our hosts delighted. 

One young woman at the event, born in Canada, proclaimed, "I am from Afghanistan." As the Afghani and Persian language commingled in a unity of mind and understanding, the political discussion turned to musical appreciation. Music is the one common language, they agreed, Persian and Afghani, who speak a common language, are not divided by the bounds of modern nationalism, war and custom, because they share culture, language and music.  

Yet, even in Canada, where a military imperialism curses the blood-stained earth of Afghanistan, the people of that country remain proud and honour the sacred unity of their cultural heritage beyond national boundaries, and into the language of unity, peace and wonder. So, as one proponent of Sufism, Rumi and Peace said in Canada to close the June 6, 2012 podcast on World Democracy Discussion speaking in reference to the Iran-Israel Nuclear Crisis: 
"Rumi was sitting was sitting with his students in his academy and one of his students ran to him and said, 'Rumi, two wise men are fighting, come and do something.' Rumi didn't react. The second student came and said, 'Rumi, two wise men are fighting, they are beating each other, come and do something.' The person soon asked, 'You don't care?' And Rumi answered that if they were wise, they wouldn't fight.'"

URGENT: Citizen Response to Syria
Letter to Alberta Members of Parliament

Dear Alberta Members of Parliament,

I am a citizen of Alberta for over five years. I arrived as a resident of Calgary directly from Cairo, Egypt, where I was a student at the American University of Cairo (2007-2008), and then University of Calgary (2008-2010).

Please recognize my plea to all Members of Parliament not to support military intervention in Syria.

In 2010, I returned to Cairo, Egypt and the Middle East through the Consortium for Peace Studies at the University of Calgary. The Consortium was formed in response to Canada's response to the Iraq War of 2003, which Canada did notparticipate in. What has changed in Canada during these ten years?

It is a well-known fact that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) invests in war manufacturing. In effect, the Canadian Federal Government is complicit in war crimes through the investment of such weapons manufacturing as cluster bombs and nuclear arms, in spite of such international agreements as the Global Landmines Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Due to the fact that our tax and revenue system is inextricably tied to the arms industry, every Canadian is complicit. Why are we furthering our complicity in the deaths of 100,000 and the forced exile of over 2 million Syrians?

Why is the Canadian government demonstrating support for the U.S., who used chemical weapons in Fallujah during the invasion of Iraq, and now purports to protect Syrians and the global community from the very same belligerence?

As Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says, "we are of one mind" in promoting America's call for an international coalition to intervene in Syria. Prime Minister Stephen Harper warns of the risks involved in not intervening. As a citizen of America and a permanent resident of Canada, I am embarrassed to be from a part of the world that seeks to undermine international order for the sake of economic investment.

Please regard my concern and stand with the British Parliament in denouncing all support for the mounting American military intervention in Syria.


Matt Hanson




General Interest

This letter was also posted on The Media Co-op



Alberta is not only the economic engine of Canada, it provides the lifeblood of economic energy for much of the world. Globally, Alberta's oil industry is the third largest in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The U.S. is the largest consumer of Alberta oil. When war is at our doorstep, it is economic investment in energy resources that prop up the debate in the minds of politicians who influence the direction of billions of dollars on a daily basis. Whether from the U.S. or Canada, or elsewhere around the world, we need to remind the Alberta government that their actions, whether to wage war on the Earth (industry) or its people (war), are wrong and obsolete, and must be diverted in providing the means to renewability in energy resources and sustainability in human resources.
northern nights
pastel horizon
Persian-Afghan Rumi
rooted wings
watery spectrums

Education is the lifeblood of our culture. Contemporary miseducation conjures cultural remnants still felt, yet which are now practically nonexistent. As the government slashes the limb of theatre and jazz from the roots of culture - our education - it is the artists, and more accurately, artists' collaborations, that resurrect obsolete forms of creativity. Our art reshapes and polishes the dusty, antique lenses through which other forms of learning, knowledge and truth are remembered and reinvigorated.

This virtual exhibit is interactive, kinetic, visual, aural, and potentially recycles the space and redefines it through an exploration into its space as connected with viewers/participants. The conduit of such activity is the exhibit.

There are three essential aspects to the virtual exhibit before you.

Firstly, the original digital artwork, Mountain Reflection on Cyclical Wordplay is displayed. Below, a listening station plays the album, Compilation Vi An under Mountain Reflection on Cyclical Wordplay.

After listening in and seeing, become the seer of music by using a calligraphy brush and red ink (or creative equivalent) on blank space. Find blank space around you, the unused, neglected, under-appreciated, unassuming areas straddling the bars of existence and nonexistence. Such a space could bet the utilization of your present surroundings, depending on the configurations. However, at the very least, do not draw a blank.  As a participant/viewer, engage with the calligraphy brush and red ink, the acoustic harmonies and naturalistic/vintage aesthetic of the artwork meld to produce an inner ambiance of memory, culture, history, tradition and nature.

Secondly, the original digital artwork, Present Sound, Silent Space is displayed. Through another listening station and a black pen (or creative equivalent) are to be employed. Below, the listening station plays the album, Endangered under Present Sound, Silent Space. As a participant/viewer, engage with the black pen (or creative equivalent).

The melodious electronica beats merge with the technological fragmentation represented in the artwork, instilling a cold, metallic atmosphere of aspiration, impermanence, destruction, chaos defined by 90 degree angles. Virtual attendants to the exhibit are welcome to draw and write on the empty space while listening through the station(s) and using the appropriate material(s) made available.

The visual artworks within the recorded music re-contextualized in this virtual space represent the creativity of local, independent artists as reintroduced a lost branch of independent self-education. The implications draw from a wealth of meaning in relation to institutionalizing (and budget-cutting) culture and education as the final straw in forgetting our even more archaized, unconventional cultural and educational backgrounds.