Category Archives: Activism

Teaching Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat occupies a curious position in Canadian letters. He is a kind of Ernest Hemingway of the north, but in the academic world of English study, he is never dressed well enough to be invited to the party. Some … Continue reading

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Always a Working Light Bulb

No one who has lived in the west and has observed the rampant consumerism and waste will be surprised by yet another example of still functioning goods thrown away, but when people learn about the light bulbs, many are still … Continue reading

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Racist Rob and Corrupt Politicians

I’d only been teaching a few years when I had a student who was so racist that I was forced to confront several of his statements in class. As anyone knows who has dealt with such behaviour, this demands a … Continue reading

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Found Sentences: The Environmental Movement and Going Back to Green

When Cousin Nick wanted to make a documentary about me he wasn’t that impressed when he interviewed my friend Mento Wong. Mento was a biker friend of mine who’d spent his life railing against conformity and worked as an operator … Continue reading

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Hatred of Muslims and the Latest Red Scare

I had the pleasure of growing up in North America when the reigning hatred was of communists, although most people didn’t know what a communist was and—because of weak historical understanding—only vaguely associated them with the Soviet Union. Because I … Continue reading

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A Response to the Signs

When a sign about the exploitation of children went up in my neighbourhood, I thought little about it, partly because it didn’t look professional enough to have come from the desk of an official service. Instead, it had more in … Continue reading

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The Saltpeter Mines of Northern Atacama, Chile

Saltpeter, or nitrate, was a major export of Chile until artificial production began in Germany in the thirties. Then, like much of the world staggering as a result of the global depression, Chile suffered from the loss of nearly fifty … Continue reading

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Consumer Misery in Steve Cutts’ “Happiness”

The terrible truth that Steve Cutts reveals in his short animated film “Happiness” is that consumerism entices but does not lead to happiness. His rats are surrounded by consumer messages that promise that they—even the main rat character—will be happy … Continue reading

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Wishcycling

As soon as I heard the word, and its definition, in a documentary about the New York waste stream, I knew, rather sheepishly, that I had been guilty of wishcycling. Many times I can remember standing over a recycling bin … Continue reading

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Growing up in the Modern Depression

Each generation visits its sins on the next, just as children will grow up to have their teeth set on edge by grapes if their parents have learned to be sour. Since the great depression, two more generations have struggled … Continue reading

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