Saturday, September 19, 2015

Take Back the Night

It's half past midnight and I should be sleeping... gotta go to work in 8 hours. Guess I'm a bit wound up from attending tonight's Take Back the Night march.

Or I should say marches.  There were four marches from four directions convening at Barb Scott Park.  It was pretty tame, kinda lame, compared to last year's police escort through downtown streets.  The sun wasn't even down yet at 7:30 when we left Memorial Park. So, it was more like a Take Back the Early Evening march.

Actually, we left from the corner across the street from Memorial Park.  Beakerhead had their Trip Down the Rabbit Hole art installation at Memorial Park, so the TBTN organizers decided it would be inappropriate for people to meet there for the rally.  At Memorial Park last night I saw people snorting coke with kids around.  Tonight there were homeless sprawled on the lawns with their heavily loaded shopping carts.  A dozen or so people with protest signs hardly seems threatening.  The organizers seem too timid about upsetting City Hall.

It was the speakers that made the evening.  Especially riveting was the niece of Jacqueline “Jackie” Crazybull. Jackie was killed in a random stabbing on 17th Avenue SW several years ago. No one has been charged with her murder.

I've been following First Nation issues for years now. Having native friends when I was a kid is probably what makes me interested. Plus there's colonial guilt. My great grandparents bought land that was First Nation land.

Ashley Callingbull, the first native woman and the first Canadian to ever win the Mrs. Universe pageant, posts on her Facebook page that "it's really terrifying to be a First Nations woman in this country."  She lives near Calgary on the Tsuu T'ina reserve.

That is why rally's like Take Back the Night, as meek as Calgary's seems to be, are needed. These women's stories need to be told.  Are there any politicians with stones enough to listen and follow through?


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bears, books and fountains

And more fun.

Today people were catching the last bits of summer heat (the temperature was in the upper 20s).  A very good day on the street for shooting bears, fountains, reflections, and people reading.   

These were shot from a window of the bus taking me to Memorial Park.

The Honens Festival & Piano Competition held a free Storytellers concert in Memorial Park. Kids of all sizes paraded their bear friends around the park. Then they settled in to listen to the story Paddington Bear's First Concert as told by Jonathan Love, from the Heebee-jeebees, and played by Pavel Koleshnikov.  

I have to confess that I was mostly there for the teddy bears. I have never read Paddington Bear. Or even seen his films. I grew up with Winnie the Pooh. Paddington is now on my "To Read" list.  Pavel's piano playing, which match the action in the story, was delightful.

I found a tiny bit of shade and listened to some of the second concert, which were piano pieces composed by Beethoven and Mendelson. Afterwards I walked home, taking my time of course. Today seemed to be a good day to read outside, because I found a couple of guys to add to my People: Reading series. 

Reading during the last warm days of Fall is like grasping the last pages of a book you can't put down. 


Pride 2015

Now for some fun!

Last Sunday was the Pride Parade and Festival celebrating Calgary Pride's 25 Anniversary. 

This, the biggest Calgary Pride yet, was the 5th year that I've photographed this celebration of freedom to love. While the weather was often threatening  (it had been raining for two days previously), it did not stop hundreds of people from lining up with their lawn chairs along the expanded 9th Avenue Route. 

This year Pride had a big corporate sponsor (Alberta Treasury Branch), tons of company entries in the parade, and, with the Federal election happening in October, a huge contingency of politicians.  

I settled myself beneath the +15 that runs across 9th Avenue between Centre and 1st SW.  It made for some interesting pre-parade shots of the people around me.  

After the parade I spent some time at the super muddy (think nearly Woodstock) Shaw Millennium Park. 

The enthusiasm was there, but the weather was cold and threatening to rain.  Again.  The presenters were wise in that the usual performers (Argentina, etc.) were replaced by DJs that kept everyone dancing.  Still, there were the usual speeches including: Nenshi, channeling his inner rock star; three openly gay NDP MLAs; and Brian Burke, flames President and Pride Parade Grand Marshall, with two uncomfortable looking hockey players.

The mantra "you can't expect a rainbow without rain" was repeated several times. I think it's what kept the rain away, actually. 


Syrian Refugee Rally

Prompted by the photo of a dead 3 year old boy washed up on a Turkish beach, a small group of protesters met at the steps of City Hall on Friday (September 4th) to rally support for Syrian refugees.

The situation in Syria has been coming to a head for the past 5 years and the Canadian government has done very little to help thousands of people caught in a war between Syria's dictator leader and ISIS.  With an election coming in October, Harper is feeling pressure to do something to help bring more refugees into Canada now.

News reports are becoming increasingly insane. Hungary is putting up fences to try to keep refugees out of Europe, as if they were doing Europe a favor.  A Hungarian news videographer was caught on camera tripping and kicking people as they ran past her.  Meanwhile, like an atonement for WWII, Germany is welcoming refugees with open arms.  Then there is Greece, swamped by people trying to get to Europe in flimsy rubber rafts.

Many have died trying, including Alan Kurdi, his older brother, and mother. Alan Kurdi was the little boy in the photo.  The YouTube news video of the police officer carefully picking him off the beach wrenched my heart. Later the world learned that they had family living in Vancouver that were trying to get them into Canada.  The family even had their MP hand deliver a letter to Chris Alexander, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, months ago.
Alan's photo, taken by Turkish photojournalist Nilüfer Demir, has sparked world wide demands for governments in Europe and Canada and the Middle East to do more to help people fleeing conflict situations. It was a powerful photo.  NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair compared it to iconic photos like Nick Ut's crying Vietnam War girl running naked in the middle of a road or Kevin Carter's photo of a vulture sitting next to the emaciated body of a small child.



Forest fire haze

Cough, cough, sneeze, cough, whe-e-e-ze.

Towards the end of August, southern Alberta was hit with smoke from massive forest fires in British Columbia and northern Washington.  

Air quality warnings were issued, suggesting people not do anything active outside.  Even though a spider caught in the measuring device shot the reading off the chart -- we still had air quality worse than in places in India and China.  

On the way to work I saw an Asian lady dress in pink taking photos of the haze with her tablet.  I imagined she was posting to Instagram and sending notes to people in China - "Your air is better than here."

A fire ban was issued, as well, the purpose was to not make the air any worse than it was.  It didn't stop my neighbor down the street from firing up their bar-b-que and using it like a paper shredder, though. 

Still recovering from the multi-plague that hit me in May, breathing was an adventure. Still, silly me, went out on one of the worst air quality days to take photos.