The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Between Two Worlds

Posted on January 31, 2018

In a modern hurried-up world, they rank as some of the least understood or acknowledged forces for policy, diplomacy, human justice or humanitarianism.  There are less than 200 of them in a world of billions and inevitably become the face of their country. I’m speaking of ambassadors.  They are everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  They aren’t the celebrity type, appointed by UNICEF or other vast organizations because of their profile.  Instead, most have gone through years of foreign service training that includes a background in foreign aid, conflict management, military functioning, and communications. In Canada’s case, our international reputation owes much to the high quality of diplomatic acumen in key regions of the globe, especially during the formative years of the 1940s,…

Public Places Shape Civil Society

Posted on January 31, 2018

He called it “the Third Place,” and though most haven’t heard of it, the name has remained an intriguing part of the vision many community activists have for our quality of life. Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, in his book Celebrating the Third Place (2000), tried to imagine what our communities would look like without all the coffee shops, bars, stores, parks, streets, celebrations, gardens and neighbourhood stores that serve as casual intersections where citizens cross paths. His conclusion? They simply wouldn’t function as effective living spaces. Oldenburg identified “third places” as those locations where the public meets between the “first place” (home) and the “second place” (work). They have existed in every community for centuries, though some observers worry that, with ever-expanding suburbia, third…

No Time For Easy Tears

Posted on January 9, 2018

My wife and I leave in a few days to lead a humanitarian team into South Sudan (casscanada.ca).  A trek we make every year at this time, this coming visit is occurring during a time of dramatic challenge in South Sudan specifically, and Africa in general. In various African nations, youth are increasingly coming onside for democracy.  Foreign Policy magazine cites examples from numerous nations where younger generations are making their desire for a better life a premise for change. “Their optimism has been buoyed in part by the rise of an aggressively independent media, the maturing of institutions such as the judiciary, and by the explosion of nongovernmental organizations fighting to hold governments accountable despite increasingly restrictive conditions … Never in Africa’s independent…

A December Like No Other

Posted on January 6, 2018

Signs that Christmas 2017 were going to be different began in September when we had three remarkable exploratory meetings. CBC Radio London confirmed for us that they wished to organize a “Sounds of the Season” for December as a way of generating community support for the London Food Bank as well as exploring the issue of poverty in the city. Business Cares – a city-wide initiative that has been running for over years and brings London businesses together in a coordinated effort to raise funds and food for the London Food Bank – held preparation meetings, appointed a working committee, and began working out how the hectic holiday season would look when it came to donation time. The London Food Bank was invited to…

2018’s Greatest Danger to Democracy

Posted on January 4, 2018

Ugh. We get into the same bind every year. New Years is a time of resolutions and some of them inevitably deal with our hopes for a better society, cleaner environment, a functional equality between the genders, and our desire for meaningful work, to name just a few. And then we look back a few months later and realize we didn’t make it. Somehow the rigors of life got between us and our aspirations. If we’re not careful, 2018 could end up looking a lot like last year. For democracy to truly work, it will take more than just wishing it to be so – we must become essential parts to its overall performance. But that’s just the problem: society seems to go on…

  

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