Wasted Talent

“Don’t let’s waste waste” – that’s the rather awkward title of an article from the The Economist that just flashed across my Facebook news feed. I skimmed it (Barack Obama is setting up an e-waste task force), but it got me thinking of a waste-oriented conversation in which I participated about a week ago.

It happened in the Railway Club … but that’s neither here nor there.

Moving on…

There I sat with my good friend Bu – who is a Senior Research Manager for the Department of Community and Government Services in Nunavut – and we, along with some other fine folks, were discussing Canada’s North. As a resident of one of Canada’s most Northern communities, Iqaluit, Bu had some inside knowledge and thoughtful opinions about the territory, which suffers from, among other things, an 11.6% unemployment rate.

And this is when – amidst several delicious jugs – I had a semi-eloquent moment: “People talk a lot about how much our world wastes,” I said. “I don’t think that there’s an example of waste more disappointing than the way we waste human talent.”

You see, human beings are the only species on this planet without full employment. All the other ones – from worms to whales to walruses to wallabies – have jobs (or, more accurately, they all have work to be done). This is not a new concept – undoubtedly, the delicious jugs made me seem very wise at the time – but it should be noted that, according to the International Labour Organization, nearly one billion people on this planet are unemployed and countless others find themselves underemployed because of barriers like technology, mental illness, poverty, the price of education, apathy, addiction, fear, and laziness to name a few.

Says co-author of Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawken, “In a world where a billion workers cannot find a decent job or any employment at all, it bears stating the obvious: we cannot by any means – monetarily, governmentally, or charitably – create a sense of value and dignity in people’s lives when we are simultaneously creating a a society that clearly has no need for them.”

Says Godfrey von Bismarck, co-author of The History of Work Series on the Daily Gumboot, “Wow, this gives whole new meaning to getting wasted.”

Jokes and tangents aside, while Canada should be proud of it’s 7.6% unemployment rate in this fragile global market, we still have a long way to go before being a truly inclusive, efficient and productive society. Especially when it comes to the value that we place on work and employment.

After all, a society that wastes so many electronics logically wastes so many people, too. And the price for both kinds of waste is higher than we can afford to pay.

Artists, politicians, and the lost art of letter writing

Last month, our book club* did something a bit different. Instead of the usual book club agenda, comprised of the reading and then discussing of a book (in addition to the not-so-usual quizzes, plays, and trophy bestowals), we wrote and shared letters. The inspiration for this letter writing was none other than Canadian author Yann Martel (of Life of Pi fame), and his book What is Stephen Harper Reading?

For those of you who are unaware of this ambitious endeavor – here’s a brief summary: In March 2007, Yann Martel and 40 other Canadian artists were invited to the House of Commons to celebrate 50 years of the Canada Council for the Arts, our national arts funding agency. Gathered in the visitor’s gallery, the artists waited patiently to be acknowledged for their collective contribution, representing all Canadian artists, to Canadian culture. And brief it was -  an address less than 5 minutes in length followed by a lackluster dusting of applause; a Prime Minister who did not even raise his head from the stack of papers sitting before him. And so begins Mr. Martel’s relentless pursuit: to find out what drives Stephen Harper. What makes him tick? What informs his soul, what type of art does he appreciate, what makes up his cultural self?

Barack Obama's letter to Yann Martel about his Book, Life of Pi. C'mon, Harper!

Biweekly since March 2007, Yann Martel has been writing Stephen Harper letters, with suggestions for books to read. And biweekly since March 2007, there has been no response from Mr. Harper – unless you count a few generic responses from his Communications Officers thanking him for his letter.

Tackling this in book club was a treat. We, of course, discussed Yann Martel at length – what continues to motivate him to write letters? Is this becoming a personal vendetta, or is it a clever, politically-driven, advocacy attempt to increase arts funding? Is it pretentious? We discussed the ideas in the letters – what role does art play in defining our identity as Canadians? Do business schools have a place in Canadian Universities? Should there be a required reading list for our prime ministers?

As interesting as the discussion was, the most  intriguing aspect of the club was the writing of our own letters: the homework assigned to each member was to write a letter to whomever they would like, with a book suggestion, and then share it with the group. Recipients ranged from, well, me, to Stephen Harper to Lindsay Lohan to Yann Martel to Australia. Each member confessed that it was pretty darn hard to write their letter – in this age of text messages and emails, where responses are fairly immediate and the process fairly interactive, having to convey all of your thoughts in one correspondence where responses are not immediate was a tough endeavor.

Our letters will be sent along to Mr. Martel. We’ll wait to see when – or if! – he responds, and how he will react to our activity, our thoughts, our book suggestions. Hopefully, he’ll see how his activities have prompted our small group to become engaged advocating art through the means of a lost art, with the people, ideas, and nations that surround us.

*Do you like books? clubs? Well, you’re in luck! Stay tuned for an up-and-coming section of the Daily Gumboot, where you will be able to read all about the shenanigans of Vancouver’s coolest and least pretentious** bookclub, The Circle of Literary Judgement
**As reported on by The Globe and Mail

LinkedIn Lessons for President Obama

The following text is from Barack Obama’s LinkedIn profile. It’s hilarious in its understatement. Read on. There are some recommendations below.

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools on the planet. Barack Obama is the most powerful person on the planet (next to Lady Gaga, some might argue, but that’s another story for another time).  Somehow, there is a spectacular incongruency between Mr. Obama’s qualifications, experience and – most importantly – his potential and the President’s LinkedIn profile, which is snapshotted in all its underwhelmingness  above.

As a Career Manager at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, I work with graduate students to help them develop skills such as, but not limited to, the following: self-assessing, career exploring, relationship building, job finding, job getting, job keeping, and job-being-awesome-at. LinkedIn is a huge part of their professional toolkit. So, you can imagine just how upset I am at President Obama for setting a downright mediocre example of how to leverage social media to find, secure and expand amazing career opportunities and connections.

“But John, Barack Obama already has a really cool job,” you say. “Why should he care about LinkedIn?”

Because, Rhetorical Questioner, any good career adviser will tell you that you should begin looking for your next job while still in your current one. Developing a reputation, collecting cool career stories, building relationships, and, yes, promoting yourself is a big part of your ongoing, perpetual career development. Barack Obama is a smart man. He should know such things.

Consequently, here are three areas where Mr. Obama can improve his profile:

  1. Where’s the sell, man? “President of the United States” is cool and everything, but don’t you think you’re so much more than that? Oratory skills aside, the President’s community-building experience in Chicago and his “turnaround leadership” is nothing if not impressive. Barack Obama is authentic and a little self-marketing wouldn’t hurt his reputation at all.
  2. Get some recommendations! This feature is one of the best things about LinkedIn. You can collect testimonials from the people you have led, worked for and with whom you have built and sustained vibrant, successful community-based initiatives. Hillary Clinton is a no-brainer to recommend you, sir. I’m sure Stephen Harper would, too. Hu Jintao would be an impressive ‘get’ and, well, if Mr. Obama is really the bridge-builder that everyone hopes he can be then he will find some Republicans to say nice things about him. After all, you don’t have to like people who do good work that doesn’t jive with your interests, but you should respect them for it.
  3. Expand your “specialties” section. The number one fear in North American is not, in spite of what Arizona says, immigrants or terrorism; it’s public speaking. And you’re really, really, really good at it, Mr. Obama. Let’s face it, your post-Presidential career is going to involve a lot of presentations. My advice is to highlight your exceptional oratory skills and, if you haven’t already, emphasize your ability to use PowerPoint (or at least your ability to supply a really outstanding intern who can take slide-changing-cues from you during the presentation). Oh and, um, “charismatic figure who single-handedly revitalized American prestige in the global community” is, for the record, also a pretty cool specialty.

So there it is. Some simple ways that a gentleman who is doing a darn good job can better leverage one of the best professional networking tools on the interscape. Call it a hunch, but I think this Obama kid might go places. And, like all of us, today’s fast-paced, professional landscape calls for an online presence that lives up to his – and our – myriad potentials.

- JCH

Community From Chaos

We take more than we give, consume more than Earth produces.

Too many I’s and not enough teams.

From me-to-we an unovercomeable struggle, it seems.

Confusion breeds ignorance, media is negative, and we’re out of excuses.

A bringer of change.

With myriad range.

The Gumboot’s recipe.

For you all to see.

Creative solutions for community!

So there it is. And here we are. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bit bleak out there. I mean, Obama just brought healthy tyranny to the world’s most important democracy – times are scary. Sure,  “scientists” and “business leaders” and “David Suzuki” will tell you that melting glaciers, rising seas, catastrophic earthquakes, desertification, staggering poverty, and the decline of the honeybee present far more serious reasons for us to fear for – or just plain fear – the future, but some of those ideas are complicated and the words that explain them are hard to spell. Solutions need to be easier!

In the spirit of positivity and community-building, the Daily Gumboot is pleased to provide you, the people, with some fantastic options that you, the people, can consider as we lurch forward. Feel free to apply one, some or all of the options to your life and, most importantly, have fun with it!

Option 1. Embrace Chaos.

THE IDEA: A few weeks ago, I saw Career Development Phenom Jim Bright speak in Vancouver. His theory is Einstein-esque – simple, but nothing simpler – and here it is: there is no linear career path, as where we work has more to do with chaotically interconnected random events – both lucky and tragic – than with education, training, self-assessment, counselling, research, and/or the cultural landscape of our home town (though all these things are important). Our careers – like life – exist in chaos and we need to prepare ourselves for it. Here is the concept explained in video form:

OUR ACTION: Stop trying to plan and control everything, Batman/Kurt. You can’t organize the trillions of random variables – like fuel prices – that make up the enormously complicated fabric of our planet’s community. What we need to do is create both personal and community-based “adaptability toolkits” that allow ourselves and our neighbourhoods to roll with the punches that life throws our way. After all, every neighbourhood needs food-growers/makers, artists, leaders, accountants, builders, designers, fixers, and creators to collaboratively thrive within chaos. So begin preparing your “adaptability toolkit” today!

Option 2. Get to Know Your Business Community.

THE IDEA: Many folks will argue that business got us into this mess. And many folks, myself included, will argue that business can get us out of this mess. Mostly because it has to. Henry Mintzberg’s article, “Rebuilding Companies as Communities” outlines a from-me-to-we solution for the many wrongly-worshipped CEOs out there. “We are social animals who cannot function effectively without a social system that is larger than ourselves,” says Mintsberg. “This is what is meant by ‘community’ – the social glue that binds us together for the greater good.” Mintzberg cites several examples of forward-thinking, people-firsting companies who ‘get it’ – one such organization, federation of Basque super-cooperatives, Mondragon, definitely jives with a les Nordiques as co-operative notion, as told by Gumbooteer Martin Renauld. As it turns out, putting people first is really good for business!

OUR ACTION: All around the world – in business, education or non-profit and with volunteerism, neighbourhoods, families, and politics – the simple, age-old concept of “community” is being re-applied everywhere. So, whether you’re sitting at your work-desk, sipping coffee in your ‘hood, or chatting with your mouth full during family dinner, reflect on this very important question: “how is this activity- this one I’m doing right now – positively contributing to my community?” Because if your idea/action involved a plan to create a superawesome social networking community that specializes in volunteerism and philanthropy, well, Chris Hughes, of Facebook fame and who only 26 years old, stole your idea before you even had one. It’s called Jumo and, like Chris, it’s pretty awesome.

Option 3. Reset Ourselves to Natural Capitalism.

THE IDEA:Termed by entrepreneur and world-changer Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism seeks to solve the dirty, dirty problems being created by our outdated global system that is driven by Industrial Capitalism. Hawken argues that this can be done in four key ways:

  1. Radical Resource Productivity.
  2. Biomimicry.
  3. Service and Flow Economy.
  4. Investing in Natural Capital.

OUR ACTION: Make love to Mother Earth! Dig a hole in the ground. Put a little water in it. And go to town. No, wait, this is an inappropriate use of natural capital and, more importantly, such action has already been taken by Will Ferrell with great success. Anyway, we basically need to incorporate this stuff called “nature” into our economic formula, which currently employs a ridiculous equation that seems to assume our planet’s resources will keep pace with the exponential consumption of industrial capitalism. Be the change, people!

Option 4. Become a Radical Homemaker.

THE IDEA: Wency Leung presented the notion of Radical Homemakers in a recent edition of an up-and-coming print newspaper called the Globe and Mail. Again, a simple idea: give up the rat race and take care of your families and communities by growing local, organic and, more than likely, healthy food.

OUR ACTION: “In pursuit of a more personally fulfilling and ecologically sustainable lifestyle, these so-called ‘radical homemakers’ are relying less on monetary income and are, instead, picking up domestic skills such as vegetable gardening and cooking to help meet their basic needs,” says Leung. Accept the honest fact that a reduction in income does not necessarily equal a drop in your standard of living. If you need a place to start, check out a recent post by Pete’s favourite Correspondent, Katie Burns.

 

Option 5. Piracy.

THE IDEA: Forget the global community. Heck, forget everyone outside of your neighbourhood! This option is all about you and your closest friends/family/shareholders. Sure, people outside your immediate circle might vilify you. But, remember, it’s not about them, it’s about you and your very local community.  Somali pirates aren’t really “Somali pirates”, after all; according to over 70% of Somalians, they’re actually a necessary component of a patch-work coastal defense structure!

OUR ACTION: Find some friends. Secure a boat, truck, web server, and/or multinational corporation. Pillage things from people and places without asking and, if necessary, use force, coercion and, possibly, the Internet to do it. Sure, pirate ships were and are bastions of democracy at it’s truest, but they’re also pretty violent. So, any action taken by us, I hope, is conceptual and only literal if necessary.

Have fun with your consideration of such options. May they inspire us all to create many, many more!

- JCH

Horn and Burtnyk: Kenyans from the Kamba Community!

kenya_ethnic_1974The endorsement of John Horn and Michelle wedding by the US president Barrack Obama – who has Kenyan roots – and the unwavering support the two have received from the Kenyan President got me thinking; What if the two were Kenyans from the Kamba community? Knowing how Africans adhere to unique traditions and customs, Michelle and John would have gone through a totally different process before being allowed to have their wedding in July 2010.

Flashback to the 1940s

We will assume that John and Michelle’s wedding was in July 1944 (My grandfather who is now 90 years old gave me a detailed account of how he got married to my grandmother in 1940s).

After realizing that his son has become a man, Mr. Horn starts shopping for a girl for his  son (young John Horn) by vetting different families in the neighbourhood. This is a fact finding mission which involves checking if the family has history of alcoholism, Curses, Asthma etc.  Depending on facts gathered, Mr. Horn will narrow down to two or three families then visit their homes to find out more about their daughters. Mr. Horn is then impressed by the chemistry between him and the  Burtynks and several visits to the family reveals that Michelle, one of the Burtnyk daughters, has been serving him every time he visits is hard working, respectful and humble. Without wasting time, he will book her for John by tying a thick thread around her wrist.  The thread signifies that Michelle has been booked (engaged) and therefore no one else can marry her at that time except the Elder Horn’s Son. Mr. Horn will then tell John that he has found a good wife for him. The Horns will organize a visit to the Burtynks and start negotiating a dowry price. At this point, John and Michelle are not allowed to question the decision since their parents know them better and will undoubtedly make the best decision for them.

Fast forward to 2009 history

John meets Michelle on campus at Simon Fraser University and they start dating and fall in love. John will then introduce Michelle to his parents as his potential wife. John’s father will then look for an elderly respectable man who will be sent to inform Michelle’s father that John is dating his daughter and they should agree to meet at a later date to introduce both families and negotiate a dowry price . Johns’ father will then request his brothers, friends and preferably a clan elder (Uncle Gary?) to accompany him to Michelle’s family to help in negotiating a dowry price. Michelle’s father will also mobilize his team to meet the Horns.

John and Michelle

John and Michelle - suspicious of each other and the Eurocentric traditions that will bind them in foreverness...

Team Burtnyk will propose how much they are willing to accept as dowry price for their daughter. Now this is the most interesting and tricky part since different families approach it differently. (Lets refer to a dowry negotiation i attended last year!)   The Burtnyks will praise Michelle as a well behaved, hardworking and lively woman who will make a good wife.  It will be agreed that since Michelle had no child prior to meeting John,  the entire Kamba marriage custom will be followed and therefore the standard dowry price will be paid. This includes 12 cows, 48 goats and several sacks of maize and beans and traditional brew called Kaluvu.

But before the negotiations are over, Michelle’s uncle will remind everyone that his “daughter” has been to University pursuing a masters degree, and has a well paying job. He will then ask for a token of compensation and will request that Ksh 0.6 million be included in the dowry price. Horns team will counter that until they agree.

After they have agreed, the Horn Team will produce three goats for theo ( the ultimate sacrifice that signifies

Meet the Horn and Burtnyk Tribes - when united they are called "The Bornks!"

Meet the Horn and Burtnyk Tribes - when united they are called "The Bornks!"

marriage) . John is required by Kamba traditions to slaughter one goat and that blood will then signify that Michelle has officially moved from the Burtynks and has become a member of the Horn family by all Kamba marriage traditions. John has a wife now and can go ahead and organize a wedding the Western way!

Martin Muli

From Akamba tribe!

Powerful People

Courtesy Marvel Comics - Two of the Most Powerful People on Earth: Barack Obama and Spider-man (The Ghost of Abe Lincoln, unfortunately, didn't crack Forbes's Top 100)

Courtesy Marvel Comics - Two of the Most Powerful People on Earth: Barack Obama and Spider-man (The Ghost of Abe Lincoln, unfortunately, didn't crack Forbes's Top 100)

Last week Forbes magazine released its list of “The World’s 67 Most Powerful People.” I know what you’re thinking (because I thought the same thing): why 67 people? Why not 100 or 50? What’s with such a random number? Here’s my theory. Budget cuts. Originally Forbes struck out to list the world’s 100 most powerful people, but a sudden drop in ad revenue forced them to curtail the list and stop it at 67. Do you know why this sucks? It sucks because a factual and comprehensive study from The Recent Findings Institute showed that Daily Gumboot Editor-in-Controversy, Kurt Heinrich, was slated to be listed at number 72. Tough break, Kurt Buddy. We still think you’re terrifically powerful.

Moving on…

You can review the entire list by following this link. Some interesting and “fun facts” about the list include, but are not limited to, the following observations:

  • Barack Obama is, in Forbes Magazine’s opinion, the most powerful person on Earth; this is probably the first time a non-white person has been given this title, which is kinda-sorta reflective of hope and change for a planet that desperately needs it.
  • Women are in short supply on this list, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel coming in at number 15 and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton coming in at number 17. Oprah Winfrey ranks number 45 on the list.
  • Educators, writers and thinkers are scarce to say the least. Luckily, Forbes thought of such a problem – for the record, this isn’t the first time that Forbes outwitted the editorial staff of The Daily Gumboot. Check out their “one in a billion” list to find powerful thinkers, teachers, medical folks, and even Hollywood. The idea of “one in a billion” comes from the fact that the global population will soon reach seven billion people, so it will be important to distinguish the fantastamazing people from the 6,999,999,860 other folks on the planet. I haven’t checked the media category, but I’m pretty sure The Daily Gumboot, Callum Ng and/or Margaret Hanson are on the list. And if we’re not, I challenge the ver foundation of realism  “voting” and Liberal Democratic Logic that made up Forbes’s selection process.
  • Of notable absence is George H.W. Bush. I mean, I know that his son and Puppet Master Dick Cheney have recently joined the ranks of America’s unemployed, but, give me a break – George Bush Sr. might be the single most connected fellow on the planet. His resume is beyond impressive, including stints as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the US Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China, Director of the CIA, Vice President to Ronald Reagan, and President of the United States of America. Throw in a fairly intimate relationship with Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (who is number 9 on Forbes’s list) and some outstanding, non-partisan philanthropic work and, well, in my humble opinion you’ve got a recipe for a pretty powerful person. Renaissance Man Justin Timberlake and the comedic tag-team of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were left off the list, too. Finally, speaking of comedians, I’d like to make a case for Canadian Mark Henry Roswell to be on the list, too. Mr. Roswell is perhaps the biggest foreign influencer in China (RIP Michael Jackson and way to spiral out of control, Tom Cruise), as his comedic persona, Dashan, entertains millions of folks in  a country that yields almost as many “powerful figures” on Forbes’s list as America does. In the opinions of Hu Jintao (number 2), Li Changchun (number 19), Li Ka-shing (number 23),  Lou Jiwei (number 34), and Li Rongrong (number 61), this video might very well be hilarious! And that’s a lot of power for a Canadian to have…

In conclusion, what is power? And why do we think nobody from Vancouver, let alone Merville, BC, graced the list with their presence? According to Forbes, power seems to be measured by political might, business, money, and influence through media. But what do you think? Is power truly global, or can it me more effectively wielded on regional and/or local levels? For example, in the city of Vancouver who is more powerful, Stephen Harper, Gregor Robertson, Russell Peters, Miss 604,  or Gordon Campbell? And, last but not least, how do you wield power in your community?

I gotta say, I’m pretty excited to hear your thoughts on Forbes’s list and how our communities from here to Toronto and back again relate to it.

Have fun with it!

- JCH

From Weekly to Daily Gumboots

“And so with love in their hearts, anxiety in their heads and girding in and around their loins, Vancouver’s coolest and multi/inter-dimensionally-qualified twitbloggers of the interscape take their community building project to the next level. These folks are world changers; and you should use their ideas from everywhere to build community today.”

- Barack Obama, 2009

Okay. So maybe Barack Obama didn’t really endorse the transition of the Weekly to Daily Gumboot. But, hey, embrace the creative world of magical realism, suspend belief and accept the fact that 81.2% of our facts and findings are made up. After all, we embrace it! The trick is figuring out what side of the 19.8% your interpretation of our data, sources and “research” you think is made up. Hey, at least we’re honest about our subjectivity!

gumboot copyMoving on…

Though, we really did get a glowing endorsement about our “employing” Mike Boronowski to backstop a much sexier version of The Gumboot while Kurt Heinrich and I motivate our contributors to provide daily content or suffer the consequences of punishment by catapult. And here it is:

“Kid, just because it comes out every day and because you have your own website – or whatever you just said it was – doesn’t mean it’s not bullshit.”

- My Grandma, Betty, last night on the phone

Well said, Betty. Media consumers need to be mindful of what they take-in. And, hey, there’s a lot of information out there. We here at The Gumboot think it’s important for you, the reader, to know where your information – and our ideas – come from. So, since you might not be 100% familiar with The Gumboot (weekly or daily versions)? Allow me to provide a bit of a synopsis on how we got here:

The Historical Time Line of The Daily Gumboot

5000 BC – Year 0: Egypt and Mesopotamia build communities around beer (a form of currency and central component of many herbal remedies) and either the biggest non-French example of public works projects by employees of the state or, well, slavery.

600 – 1000 AD: Romans combine entrepreneurship, militarism, butter, salt, and ham to create a variety of cheeses and proscuittos that Kurt Heinrich strives to re-create in his kitchen each and every weekend. He also defends himself and his cheese if necessary.

1491 AD: People around the world who aren’t from Europe get this really weird feeling and start to wonder whether or not it’s a good thing that their communities exist in such beautiful places chalked full of delicious natural resources.

1500 – 1650 AD: Shakespeare and some other dudes make writing cool; first blog is published in 1603 to passively-aggressively commemorate/mock King James I’s ascent to the throne.

1650 – 1724 AD: The Golden Age of Piracy provides many ideas and concepts (health, democracy, gender equality, education, environmental stewardship, business, fashion, multi-culturalism) that continue to drive our society today.

1725 AD: University of Glasgow Professor, Francis Hutcheson, creates a mathematical formula for benevolence. The very same formula we here at The Gumboot apply to each and every one of our articles.

1729 AD: Jonathan Swift writes about eating children as an effective way to deal with poor communities and a lot of people take it the wrong way. For the record, people still take it the wrong way.

1812 AD: The British musket-and-cannon their way to a draw with America, yet somehow this “war” is remembered as the one time Canada beat the US at something; our national communities have been dealing with the ramifications ever since.

1848 AD: Soccer (based on supercool Chinese foot-to-ball techniques) as we know it is invented; things get a little ridiculous in all communities but the ones north of Mexico and east/west of everywhere else.

1861: The community of Merville, BC is founded by Sir George “Gumboot” Merville, who, incidentally, got lost with his crew on their way to Cape Horn with a delivery of sheep for the Falkland Islands. Friends of sheep and people who don’t ask questions, they inserted themselves into the landscape quite nicely and built a small, but vibrant, community based on the wild mushrooms that grew in the muddy middle-region of present day Vancouver Island. In the 1920s some re-settled First World War veterans arrived and invented a bit of a different story about Merville. Still, to this day it’s referred to as “the gumboot capital of Canada” for a darn good reason. Somewhere, George is smiling.

1880 – 1987 AD: The fusion of warfare, industry and government makes killing people and destroying things pretty darn efficient. Yet, somehow, the vast majority of people on Earth found time to dance, sing, create, love, give directions to misguided tourists, and not kill each other. In fact, there are a lot of songs, poems and paintings about such things. Technology and human innovation, it turns out, are viciously and beautifully double-edged.

1988 AD: Al Gore collaborates with a Soviet spy named Sputnik, the British Post Office, some nerds at UCLA, and a supercomputer named “Dennis” to invent the Internet. Seriously.

2003 AD: John and Kurt graduate from Bishop’s University with meager writing skills, a penchant for Egyptian beer and a blossoming friendship based on history, pirates and ideas from everywhere. After their proposed Fox sitcom fails spectacularly, they go their separate ways.

2005 AD: The environment – Gaia, I think her name is – demonstrates her/its anger and fury. To quote Paul Hawken on why this might be significant, “When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”

2005 – 2008 AD: Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart coin hilarious phrases like “truthiness” and “twitblogging the interscape,” while Rick Mercer and George Stroumboulopoulos combine razor wit with Canadian humility to lampoon every region of this country from Dildo, Newfoundland to Yak, British Columbia. All master the world of Web 2 before their time (maybe even its time).

December 2008 AD – the present: A descendant of Otto von Bismarck asks John what his family has ever done for the annals of history. John starts on a story of his great, great, great grandmother’s service to soldiers during the Boer War but is quickly interrupted. The question is re-framed and answered and the point is taken. After a few Egyptian beers, a game of soccer and a spirited discussion of whether or not cleeted gumboots would be good for West Coast soccer and/or the First World War, The Weekly Gumboot was born.

So that’s how we arrived at where we are today. Pretty simple. Pretty straightforward. All of it steeped in truthiness and histortical findings. Speaking of honesty, we also have a few values and ideas that define The Daily Gumboot’s mandate:

  • Keep it positive: building communities is hard when we throw stones at each other, or when/if you get hit by them (this metaphor works when it’s not a metaphor, too); focusing on what we have in common as well as finding the humour in our differences is a refreshing change from fear-mongering and finger pointing.
  • Collect ideas from everywhere: everyone and every idea deserves a voice and a venue; so, we strive to find stories about communities from all around the world – ones that are tucked away into the most obscure and unknown and distant places of this planet…like Calgary!
  • Make ideas actionable: it’s one thing to have a good idea, but it’s an entirely different thing to deliver on it; in our Five Ways to Build Community segment – as well as our interviews with community builders from around the world (or the West Coast if our funding falls gumbootsthrough) – we will provide useful tips on what you can do to build community in your, um, community.
  • Be educational edutaining: recent findings show that people learn more when they’re having fun; we hope you have fun with it as you explore our understatedly educational blog.
  • Make it fresh, snappy and sexy: this is where the “publishing witty and provocative ideas every day or almost every day comes in” part comes into play; again, Mike Boronowski gets credit for our new, sexy look.

So there it is. Thanks for taking the time to visit The Daily Gumboot. And, hey, just because we might not post a fresh twitblog each day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop by for a visit each day! Some of my posts might even take you a day or two to consume and digest…

Stay classy. Keep it positive. And, most importantly, have fun with it!

Your pal,

John

Editor-in-Chief