Summer jobs – Ontario Junior Forest Ranger

My first real summer job was in the early sixties  as a Junior Forest Ranger. Technically, not quite 17, I was too young for the program, but friends of my recently deceased father pulled some strings to get me in. I'm not sure if this job was meant to distract me from all the changes in my life or just get me out of my mother's hair while she moved us all back up north, but off I went on the train. I went with both enthusiasm and nervousness, since even though I'd often vacationed up north doing woodsy things, and had gone to a “Y” camp, this was still a big change for a city boy and loner.
The camp was north of Thessalon, at McCreight's Dam I think - remember, this was 50 years ago. It was a fairly plain setup too, with just a bunkhouse, a dining hall, and a tool shed, all only a year or so old. In fact, the rooms in the bunkhouse were still just bare stud walls, making it basically one big dorm, filled with twenty four 17 yr old guys. It was a varied group of teens, some brash, some shy, some likely sent because of problems at home. However, working together in the bush, eating together at the one long dining table, and sleeping together in the dorm soon broke down the barriers and discouraged shyness. The final barrier came with one of our first construction jobs, building a new outhouse. We decided to make it open concept, with four seats in a row, big screened windows on three sides and a view of the rest of the camp and of the lake. Not much privacy left as you sat there, reading, chatting with friends, waving to others as they passed by outside.

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Anderson 360 blog comment re Gulf oil spill coverage

I posted the following comment on his CNN blog today, after watching him try to cover the well capping process live, but with little info available to him on what was going on. Little info available from BP, from the Coast Guard, from the White House, even from his own studio.

Comment's waiting on moderation.


I watched - frustrated - last night as Anderson and his guests, faced with very little information on the capping process, speculated on what they were seeing on the screen. Was the cap actually on the well? What was the ROV's  "hand " grabbing? Was it the top of the riser that was sheared off or was that the cap? Why had everyone they called for info already left for the day?

Frustrated because I had been watching both the BP video feed and the CNN live feeds for an hour, and could have added details, as in - yes. the cap went on, there are vent pipes at the top that were open as it was placed on (you could see air and methanol venting through them before), the arm looked like it had tried to close a valve at the top of one of those pipes, and was now just clamped on the pipe, possibly just to anchor the ROV in place for now.

Frustrated because I'm sure someone in the studio had also been watching the feeds and could have given them more information. And could have put together some clips to show the process.

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It's a gas

One good (?) thing about the droop in the economy is cheaper gas at the pump. A lot cheaper, it is 80 cents/litre now, was up to $1.40 not that long ago. Crude prices went from a forecast of over $200 a barrel to a reality of less than $70. It is good that it's cheaper to fill my car, but also means that all those SUV's and trucks that were supposedly being sold as gas guzzlers are on the market again. Not that gas prices have a huge effect on driving habits - we might downsize our car, or park the motor home, but I doubt most are willing to change their habits much. If gas bounces back up 50% to $1.20, I'm not about to buy half as much, or take the bus twice as much. 

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Transforming a community - a makeover show

There are several approaches being used to try to "manage" unwanted graffiti. Many of them are confrontational, and focus on more police, more jails, bans on carrying spray cans or markers, and neighbourhood vigilantes.

I have worked for several years with various groups on a cooperative approach that use graffiti style urban art as a tool to "transform" a community, physically as well as socially.

The initiative will focus on a neglected back alley for example, full of garbage, unwanted tagging, weeds, and broken bottles - an area that tends to attract drunks and drug users, an area that the local residents are afraid to walk through unless it's broad daylight. Residents, owners, and local youth are brought together to work on the project, cleaning up the area, re-priming walls, adding colourful art murals, and even planting a few vines. The immediate results of this collaborative effort are a cleaner area that all can be proud of, and greatly reduced tagging, longer lasting results include stronger social bonds in the community through working together, communicating, and gaining an understanding of the different cultures of each group. In addition, the people using the alley are now residents and the occasional tourist with a camera, or maybe even community group tours.

I've been working on these projects in Toronto with Community CAVE (Communities Advancing Valued Environments), Const. Scott Mills of Crimestoppers, and Janna van Hoof of Style in Progress. In addition, Sketch Orleans, a local youth group here in Ottawa, has been a valuable ally. Each of these have a slightly different approach, complementing each other, so I had been trying to merge these into a "how-to" document to take to communities. Scott Mills suggested I pull this all together into a guide, that he would then forward for inclusion into the Ontario School Resource Officer manual. This manual is used both as a course manual and a reference guide by police forces across Ontario, and is also part of the reference of other groups, such as the RCMP.

We completed this a few months ago, and sent it in for the manual.  I have included a copy of the guide here for interested communities and leaders to use, with some minor tweaks to the original, mainly to add clarity or examples. If you would like I can help guide you through the process, or you can use it on your own. I just ask that you give a credit to me for the guide, and especially that you give me feedback on projects you do with it. Send me comments, suggestions, corrections, concerns, before and after photos of your makeover, links to local articles or your community site, samples of letters and forms you devised. I'll try to incorporate it all into this site and the guide as a reference for all.