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All In Hand

Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.

Miss Vicky hits top ten!

Miss Vicky Sat Apr 30, 2005

Well, the contest is over. The best Ottawa Blog, according to Alex Munter, is Lana Stewart's Place and Thyme. I tend to agree. Her blog is excellent. So's her photography.

But Miss Vicky did make the top 10! And there was a nice nod to the Webgeek's design as well. So thanks, Alex!


Occupy Oliver's!

Miss Vicky Sat Apr 30, 2005

Ok, so I haven't had a good piece of vitriol for a while. There just hasn't been an issue that's gotten under my skin enough.

Thank goodness for Richard Van Loon, the soon-to-retire president of Carleton University. My blood is boiling today, thanks to his blatant disregard for the role of student government in the cultural life of a university.

It's no secret that Miss Vicky was a student activist/advocate in a former life. I mean, she was a (post-secondary) student for well over a decade, after all! But student life has changed tremendously since her undergrad days - because universities have changed.

To Get Involved: savestudentspace@gmail.comHere's what's up at Carleton: as I type this student activists are occupying space at Carleton university. Now, the student association leases space in the Unicentre for approximately 600,000 a year. 600,000!!!!!! Recently the student association received an eviction notice for three key spaces: Oliver's Pub, a primary source of CUSA revenue, the International Students Centre and Baker's Lounge.

Now, Baker's Lounge is not much to look at. Really, it's little more than a throughway. But it's the one gathering place students have. The Student Association holds major events and rallies there, as well as meetings. Clubs will set up to recruit members and raise money. It's all good.

Except to the Carleton admin, I guess. They want to renovate the Unicentre and have big plans for the space - some sort of "galleria".... sounds similar, yes, but this space would not be run by students for students.

Other spaces on the chopping block: the International Students Centre and Oliver's. The centre provides much-needed services for students from other countries, to help them with the transition to life at Carleton and in Ottawa. Oliver's is a major source of revenue for CUSA. Profits help them do the other stuff they need to do, like fund student clubs and run their services. The University's plan is to cut the space available for Oliver's in half. They want the space for a new bookstore.

Now the Admin has made public statements about how the space would be replaced, blah blah blah. According to CUSA, this is not really the case. The new plans for the centre do not include a vision where students control space and services, so they can build community, celebrate diversity and support each other. The plans have been developed without meaningful consultation with the students' association.

CUSA has tried to work with Admin on this - it's not that they don't recognize the place needs renovation (anyone who's been in the Unicentre can see that). But for 600k a year, don't they deserve a seat at the table, and a hand in developing the plans?

So CUSA has tried to negotiate, then they tried to get the university to participate in a mediation. No go. Then last week they found out demolition had been scheduled, so they had a resort to the last tool at their disposal to buy time while they pursue legal action: occupy the space.

They even went to the Board of Governors meeting with a proposal that they felt could resolve the situation. But, thanks to the intervention of the University's President, the Board refused to allow CUSA to address them. Wouldn't even entertain the proposal.

I won't get into the shenanigans that have been going on there since the occupations began - the various attempts at intimidation, harassment, the fire marshal inspections, and so on. I'll just tell you what happened on Thursday night/Friday morning, when the police showed up and dragged seven students off Oliver's patio and arrested them for trespassing. Apparently the university had transferred ownership to the demolition company!

Anyway, they're still occupying the inside of Oliver's, the International Students' Centre and Baker's Lounge. Chances that the University will step up their actions against them are looking pretty likely at this point.

CUSA could really use some community support. Miss Vicky's suggestion? Head down to Oliver's for a beer. The pub is open and it would be a real boost for the students. In fact, two busloads of university faculty from across the country are heading there at lunchtime today, as their national association is meeting in Ottawa this weekend. Feel free to join us, or head down at your leisure.

Because this isn't just about how big the pub is going to be in the new building. It's about what's happened to universities in the last couple of decades. They've transformed from public institutions of higher learning to commercialized knowledge factories. Students are little more than sources of revenue to administrators, who are not academics as much as would-be CEOs, obsessed with fundraising and prestige and corporate alliances and so on.

The increasing corporatization of postsecondary institutions is a direct result of the massive underfunding of the system. The biggest blow? Paul Martin's 1995 restructuring of transfer payments to provinces (which were accompanied by massive cuts). Provinces simply passed the cuts along to the institution, and added a few of their own.

I could go on. But I'll spare you. Just go to Oliver's for a beer, k?

Wherefore art thou, dear stubby?

The Webgeek Fri Apr 29, 2005

So this is a "Dear Miss(ter) Webgeek" actually, since someone has written to me for advice specifically, So I figure I should reply...

Dear Webgeek

I am aghast. My love returned from the Beer Store with our favourite beer. Thanks to your bringing it to innumerable potlucks, we just can't get enough Waterloo Dark. But ALAS! The 12 pack contained LONG NECK BOTTLES! No more endearing stubbies which I've bocome so attached to.

Help us webgeek! You're our only hope!

Now, my sphere of influence usually remains confined to things virtual, so I'm not sure what kind of powers our reader thinks I have, but I'll see what I can do. It's no secret that I do enjoy a well made micro-brew from time to time (to time to time to... you get the idea) and Waterloo Dark is one of my personal favourites. I was actually quite excited when Brick Breweries decided to release their beers in the stubbie bottle -- a fact they still announce on their website's main page. This was a move that caused quite the legal battle; which is why I find it odd that they're now switching back to "regular" longnecks.

Now, I do realize that a lot of this was purely for marketing purposes. It was intended to hook into the nostalgia and nationalism we as Canadians feel for our beer. But, as a bottle design, it also just makes sense. Its short stature, slightly wider base and equal volume to the now common longneck makes for more stability when stacking them in cases and takes up less space in store rooms and trucks. Also, they last longer.

"Small but strong, the stubby could be washed and reused an average of 20 times. By comparison, the modern longneck can only be reused an average of 16 times."
(CBC Archives - May 30, 1983)

So, I've written Brick to see what up with the regression to longnecks -- hopefully we'll get the low down soon -- but in the meantime, may I suggest you get your stubby fix from the Heritage Brewing Company. They're a local Ottawa micro brew with two great beers -- Premium Lager and Traditional Dark -- available exclusively in stubby bottles; they even have the old-school pry off caps (or crowns) requiring the use of a church key. How cool is that?

Quick update: how to help Salus residents!

Miss Vicky Thu Apr 28, 2005

A quick note to follow up on the Salus fire....
You can donate online through the Salus website here.
Also Canada Trust/TD Bank has opened an account and is accepting donations.
I called about other types of donated items and was told that clothes could be brought to the Salvation Army.


Pigging out for a good cause

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 27, 2005

A Taste For Life
Short notice, but tonight Ottawa restaurants are donating 25% of dinner bills to support local HIV/AIDS programs

Two local organizations will receive the money:

Bruce House provides housing, compassionate care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS. A great organization, definitely worth supporting.

The Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation is "a financial resource available to organizations dedicated to AIDS education, prevention, direct or support services, primary care and/or the expansion/ enhancement of existing AIDS services".

A lot of Miss Vicky's favourite restaurants are participating, including several in our fine neighbourhood. Unfortunately, Juniper and Absinthe are all booked up.... but the Newport, Siam Kitchen, Amber Garden, Thyme and Again and others are still available.

Oh, and downtown restaurants are participating, too :)

So go heard, grab your squeeze and treat them to a nice dinner....for a good cause!


Salus tragedy

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 27, 2005

Yesterday afternoon an apartment building on Gladstone was destroyed by fire. Run by the Ottawa Salus Corporation, it was a home for people with mental illnesses. Many of the residents had been homeless, and now they're homeless again.

One person is in hospital with minor smoke inhalation injuries, but thankfully no one else is hurt. The building is only three years old, built with support from various levels of government. It's the kind of supportive housing initiative our community needs, providing not just a home for a vulnerable group but resources to help its residents live independently.

This is the fourth major fire downtown in just a few weeks. Anyone else worried?

Watch this space for information about how you can support the residents.

Upcoming Community Events

Miss Vicky Tue Apr 26, 2005

I don't have a calendar function on my site (not yet, anyway), but I wanted to alert folks to some fun, interesting and edifying community events. Feel free to use the comment function to add suggestions of your own.

April 28 to May 7: Mayworks. Ottawa's annual festival of working people and the arts. Lots of events to check out!

April 28: Organizing meeting for the Ottawa Social Forum, 20 James St (back entrance), 7-9pm.

May 7: Plant exchange at the Parkdale Market 10-2

May 8: ArtsPark. Hintonburg's community arts festival. Parkdale Park (just west of the Market on Armstrong).

May 14 Hintonburg Community Association's annual cleanup event. Meet at 10am at the Hintonburg Community Centre.

June 4 Hintonburg Community Day 10am onward at the Hintonburg Community Centre

June 10 and 11: WestFest. A FREE cultural event featuring a great lineup of musicians, artists, writers and other fantastic folk. Just head down to Richmond Road in Westboro (between Tweedsmuir and Roosevelt).


Aliens have taken over the Citizen

Miss Vicky Tue Apr 26, 2005

I know I had a bad night's sleep last night, but have I woken up in an alternate universe? I scanned the Citizen headlines this morning and noticed the following editorial in the City section: "Mix the jobs with the homes"

Now, it won't come as a huge surprise to readers that Miss Vicky does not often agree with the fine folks in the editorial department of our local paper. Hence my confusion at their suggestion that suburban sprawl has "wreaked havoc on North Americans' budgets, work-life balance and communities".

I even agree with some of their proposed solutions. Especially the one about box-store complexes posing as "town centres". Gave me a giggle, I must admit. That nervous "this place is creepy" giggle I get whenever I go to the movies out in Kanata.

I'd add a few more solutions, though. We need affordable housing in central neighbourhoods - not just high-priced condos marketed for hipster urban thirtysomething professionals. We need incentives for smaller businesses and services in neighbourhoods so we don't have to rely so heavily on big boxes, no matter where they're located. We need to stop talking about closing schools downtown. We need to create public spaces to bring people together, and support community-building initiatives.


Spring Cleanup

Miss Vicky Mon Apr 25, 2005

Well, the purging of the crap in the basement continues. Put out 4 boxes of paper recycling and an old couch today. Was kind of hoping that someone would claim the couch, but alas... it's off to the landfill. It needed a lot of work, anyway (which explains why it lived in the basement for the last couple of years).

The next phase in the big spring cleanup/shacking up process is the Garage Sale (mark your calendars, folks - it's May 15).

Yes, the garage sale. Where your clutter becomes someone else's. It's all part of the great circle of life, isn't it? I must admit, I am looking forward to it. I've been carting around a lot of extra stuff for several years now (mostly out of guilt, nostalgia or other such good intention), and it will be great to send some of it off to a good home.

And speaking of spring cleanups, I kind of missed the boat on Earth Day. I had good intentions of posting something to mark the occasion but got distracted by Webgeek's birthday. I did truck down to Sparks Street to visit the Sierra Club's annual event. It seemed a bit dominated by automobiles (Virtucar, bio-diesel, Smart car), but it did attract a good crowd.

Ah well, every day should be Earth Day, shouldn't it?

So here's a plug for another initiative: the City of Ottawa's annual Spring Cleaning the Capital campaign. You get a bunch of neighbours together, pick a public space in your area, a date, and get to work! You can even get supplies.

The Hintonburg Community Association's cleanup is scheduled for May 14. But Miss Vicky is contemplating sponsoring her own event. Any ideas for Kitchissippi spaces that need some TLC? Want to join in? Let me know: missvicky@offhand.ca


What rain?

Miss Vicky Sun Apr 24, 2005

Well, we're back from the MS walk... a little soggy, but feeling pretty darned good about the day. This was our first experience with the Supercities Walk for MS, and it was quite impressive. A lot of people braved the rain and headed to St. Paul's University to register early this morning. People walked for friends, parents, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, kids .... There were dogs, bikes, wheelchairs, wagons, strollers and scooters. Spirits were high despite the soggy sneakers.

We followed the canal down Echo drive, across the Pretoria bridge, and all the way to Bank Street (where some thoughtful organizers had set up the Johnny-on-the-spot and water/cookie station). We had some good walking karma today - a huge gust of wind and rain hit just as we reached the bridge, so we had some shelter for the worst bit of the morning. Once it started to ease up, we crossed the bridge and followed Echo Drive back toward St. Paul's.

Winston enjoyed the hot dogs at the end.

Team Jo-Jo raised a total of $845 for MS. Thanks to everyone who pledged online and in person! Miss Vicky even came home with a nifty red rain jacket (it sure came in handy today). Unfortunately, we had to leave the boas behind today (they don't do well in blustery weather). Winston wore the event t-shirt... he was pretty good afer he realized he couldn't herd several thousand people. Although he did try.


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