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All In Hand


Miss Vicky Tue Feb 12, 2008

No, this isn't a post about boomer nostalgia, the anniversary of the Prague Spring, the assassination of Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy or blah blah blah. Nope.

1968 just happens to be the year Miss Vicky entered the world. Yup, I turned 40 last month. Fortunately, I'm in good company, as a couple of dear friends are also hitting the milestone this year. So we have decided to let this be the Year that Shall Not Be Wasted. We're looking after ourselves - physically, emotionally - and we're looking after each other. We're setting new goals and trying new things. Most of all, we've pledged to do at least one FUN thing every month, preferably together.

More on this in a bit... first the obligatory "holy crap I'm 40!" reflection.

Turning 40 has been a lot less traumatic than I thought it might be.... certainly a far cry better than my 30th birthday, when I was between jobs and dealing with a major career shift, single, childless, even petless... not living the life I had been led to believe I should be leading at that age. It was a little rough, I must admit. Flash forward 10 years and so much has changed. I have a heck of a lot to be thankful for - so many sources of pride, satisfaction and joy. I have a great career and a fulfilling volunteer life. I have a house I love in a wonderful neighbourhood. I have an amazing family, a partner I cherish and who cherishes me, and an incredible little boy. I have a lot of supportive friends, people who make me laugh every day. Then there is this blog thing....

I think I've had a little bit of an impact on my community, my city, on public discourse. I've written policy, led nation-wide consultations, done interesting research, organized campaigns, even had opportunities to be a political pundit. I've fought for more causes than I can begin to list, some global and some local (some very, very local).

I haven't always treated myself very well, though. Vacations have usually been tacked on to conferences and work trips. I haven't traveled for the sake of traveling in years. I don't make time to exercise and I don't always eat healthy. So, many of my objectives for the year have to do with addressing this self-neglect.

Enter this small group of 1968 babies (and a few other friends who are along for the ride). The rules of the year are simple. Set new goals. Try new things. Do something fun at least once a month. Do something special on your birthday. Treat yourself.

My birthday was January 10 so I pretty much kicked things off with my celebration. The Webgeek organized a great party at the Urban Element, featuring great music, amazing food from the Wellington Gastropub, Jak's Kitchen and of course the Urban Element, who did a live risotto-tasting. And Beau's, of course. And plenty of friends and family. It was pretty great.

Fabulous 40-year-old number 2 had her day a couple of weeks later and celebrated with an afternoon of capture-the-flag in Strathcona Park, followed by chili, hot chocolate and other festivities. January was capped with the High School Do-Over Party (see pic below). This month we're hitting Spa Nordik and hopefully doing a nighttime ski and fondue in the Gatineaus. Later plans include things like whitewater rafting, a visit to Bonnechere Caverns, dance classes and who knows what else (suggestions are welcome!). The grand finale will be Cuba in December. I'm excited. And a little nervous.

I am still working out my priorities and goals for the year, but I have set one big one - I'm training for a triathlon. Not a full-on tri (that would be a bit much), but a nice, gentle try-a-tri. Maybe the Riverkeeper Triathlon in June, if I'm ready. I'll be blogging more about this in the coming weeks and months. But I figured I'd share my goal with the internets now... maybe you'll help hold me accountable!

Some Valentine's Day Activism

Miss Vicky Mon Feb 11, 2008

The Miss G__ Project is a grassroots organization of young feminists who want to introduce a Women's and Gender Studies Course into the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum. They've been toiling away for a couple of years now, so they've chosen this Valentine's Day as their collective line in the sand, and are calling for people who support the idea to flood the Education Minister with calls expressing that we cannot afford to wait any longer for this important curricular addition. They're calling it "No More Miss Nice G__".

Here's the info from their Facebook event:

**** Calling the Ministry of Education is absolutely not as stressful nor as intimidating as it may sound. In fact, you are a citizen and it is the Ministry's job to listen to you and to take your calls.

Kathleen Wynne's Office: (416) 325-2600 TDD/TTY: 1-800-263-2892


Fax: (416)325-2608
Feedback Form http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/ ... /contact.asp

PREMIER DALTON MCGUINTY: Phone Number (416) 325-1941
Fax Number (416) 325-3745
Feedback Form: https://www.premier.gov.on.ca/ ... /feedback.asp

WHEN: between 9am - 5pm Thursday, February 14 (If that doesn't work for you, anytime is better than never).

WHAT TO EXPECT: This number [(416) 325-2600] will take you directly to Kathleen's office, where her assistant will either pick up, or you will be put through to her assistant's voicemail. You can leave a personal message or voicemail recording for her assistant to pass on to Minister Wynne.

WHAT TO SAY: Identify who you are and where you are from. State that you are leaving a message for the Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne, and express your support for a Women's and Gender Studies course being implemented into the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum. Ask when Minister Wynne will honour her promises and policy-commitments to introduce WGS into the provincial curriculum.

--> Bonus points: Talk about a personal experience that proves to you why addressing this issue is so important and urgent.

WHAT TO REMEMBER: You are fabulous and intelligent, you have an opinion, and your voice needs to be listened to!

Sounds like a great task for Valentine's Day to Miss Vicky!

HCA Action on Parking Meter Plan

Miss Vicky Sat Feb 9, 2008

Here's the latest from the Hintonburg Community Association:

The Hintonburg Community Association needs your help to voice resident opposition to the plan to implement metered parking in our community. Add your voice to the debate by sending a comment to city councillors by Tuesday mid-day.

We've set up a comments page at the web site. Follow the link near the top to write your comment, then send it automatically to each of the councillors. This is an issue that affects more than businesses - residents will be affected as well! It's important right now to let councillors know how you feel about this poorly-planned, short-sighted decision!


This Parking Meter Business

Miss Vicky Fri Feb 8, 2008

Miss Vicky will confess to having some mixed feelings about this parking meter controversy. On the one hand, she feels that drivers do not shoulder enough of the burden of paying for the expensive infrastructure involved in building and maintaining roads - not to mention costs resulting from the pollution they emit, thanks to Ottawans' love affair with their vehicles. She wonders just what is going to wake people up and get them out of their cars, at least some of the time. And one way of encouraging folks to choose other modes of transport is to make driving more expensive.

But. In order for the "stick" of higher rates for parking to have any kind of effect on the amount that people drive, there must be enough carrots to make the shift worthwhile. Like a reliable transit system. Like pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods. Like safe cycling routes that actually take people's cycling habits and needs into account. Like secure bike parking, and workplaces with shower and changing facilities. Sadly, it seems this city is devoting very little thought and even less action to any of these areas.

And of course, council's decision to raise rates and install more metered parking into neighbourhoods like Hintonburg and West Wellington is not motivated by a desire to discourage car use. No, it was a decision made in desperation during the usual last-minute attempts to try and keep municipal tax increases as low as possible - with no consultation, and no real consideration as to the effects on citizens, businesses and neighbourhoods. Sure we've got amazing policies and ideals set out in visionary documents like the 20/20 plan, but the reality is that once these documents are passed, progress moves at a glacial pace in Ottawa, funds and support for innovative solutions are lacking, and the political will to make the necessary changes to ensure Smart Growth is absent among our elected officials and senior management. Council has been hamstrung by serious divisions (and what Miss Vicky considers to be an overly-parochial perspective) for far too long, and those dysfunctional dynamics are unlikely to change without progressive leadership in the Mayor's office.

And we elected the wrong mayor to rescue us from that quagmire. I don't care how much Mayor Larry says he's learning about how cities work, we don't have the kind of time for that, nor has his behaviour to date demonstrated any potential to become the kind of leader this council and this city needs.

So because the decision to hike rates, increase hours and bring metered parking into neighbourhoods was made in haste and for the wrong reasons, it's not surprising that there's an outcry among downtown small business owners, churches and voluntary organizations, community associations and residents. Miss Vicky is particularly fond of this action, in which a downtown resident invites councillors and other interested parties to his neighbourhood for a boots-on-the-ground view of the realities of metered parking in a downtown residential area (if you're interested, meet at 10:30am on Saturday, February 9 at 10:30am on the corner of Waverley and O'Connor).

Particularly absurd is the notion of introducing metered parking to Hintonburg and West Wellington. Here we are, in the midst of a planning process which is supposed to set a long-term vision for our neighbourhood, a pilot project which is to set an example for future processes. Everything is on the table, including transportation, traffic and parking, and the process is far from over. Let's put aside the ridiculous notion that council is going to spend money to install meters or pay and display machines on our mainstreet mere months before it is going to be torn up and completely reconstructed, during which the meters will have to be removed and then reinstalled during the reconstruction process (a process which, by the way, is going to mean substantial short-term pain for our local small businesses, who are prepared to grit their teeth and wait it out and hopefully reap the benefits of a more friendly streetscape). The process by which this decision was made completely contradicts and undermines the notion of the Neighbourhood Planning Initiative or any kind of process which claims to value community input. It's a slap in the collective face of everyone who has worked hard on the task force and invested time in the NPI and CDP process. After all, what's the point of coming up with long-term plans and priorities if our elected representatives are just going to ignore them in favour of short-term and short-sighted decisions?

Wellington Proposals Online

Miss Vicky Fri Feb 1, 2008

So when Miss Vicky went to the open house on Wednesday, she diligently asked whether the panels on display would be available on the Web for residents to peruse at their leisure. It was a lot to take in, especially with the number of people in a small room, and she figured some people would like more time to ponder the designs before responding. She was told that the intention was to get the stuff up on the website as soon as possible, but they couldn't guarantee that it would happen before the end of the consultation period. Let's just say some words were exchanged with city staff and consultants about this, in which Miss Vicky expressed her concerns in a direct (but friendly) manner. The upshot, though, was that the wheels of city bureaucracy turn slowly and the timeliness with which items are added to the website is in the hands of another department - ah, the municipal silos at work. Fair enough (well, not reallyy, but at least the folks Miss Vicky spoke with were as frustrated at this as she was). So Miss Vicky asked if it would be possible to get the info to post here on the blog, and added that she was sure the community associations would be willing to do the same. They were open to this, coordinates were exchanged.... and today Miss Vicky was informed that they would not need to take her up on her offer as the panels are now up on the city's website. So there you go. Another success for gentle pressure.

Let's keep the discussion going! It's been great so far!

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