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A Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publication 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, On. N2L 3C5 519 884 0710 ext. 2738 519 883 0873 (fax) blueprint@wlusp.com Editor In Chief Mark Ciesluk Managing Editor Emily Slofstra Copy Editor Erin Epp Distribution Manager Jacob Pries Contributors Zinta Avens Auzins, Graham Arthur Engel, Erin Epp, Jen Evans, Richard Garvey, Alex Hundert, Sasha Koegler, Courtney Lavigne, Janice Lee, Adam Lewis, TJ Naven, Jacob Pries, Lauren Smee, Joshua Smyth, Amanda Solmes, Maeve Strathy WLUSP Administration President Greg Sacks VP Advertising Angela Foster VP Brantford Holly Gibson Chair, BOD Bryn Ossington Vice Chair, BOD Janice Lee Directors Brendan Mcgill, Luay Salmon, Chris Copp, Dennis Watson

Community A lot has been said about “community” over the years, and in your hands you hold the collected thoughts of some of the members of my local community on this perennially popular topic. Perhaps its’ enduring popularity as a point of discussion stems from an obvious source - the fact that each and every one of us is who we are today because of the communities we have encountered along the way. “Who we are” is often measured by what we do, and what we do - and think, feel, say, or express otherwise - may be seen as a matter of personal choice, but in a very real way the options we find available for us to choose from are provided in the vocabulary of, and defined through the frameworks of, our communities. To think of this truth as a limitation on our range of choice would be a serious mistake, for it is this irreversible and necessary linkage to the communities of our particular time and place which provides us with the unimaginable richness of opportunities that we enjoy. We literally would not be able to conceive of or recognise many of the complex and fascinating facets of our existence if it were not for the ideas and interests shared with us by and through our communities. I think that we should view this powerful and inevitable natural connection to those who share our spaces and our activities as not only an unbelievably fortunate gift, but also an unimaginably inspiring question: if communities craft people, and people craft communities, and people through their communities shape the world of human experience, then what sort of world would you like to find yourself sharing with others? Or, what sort of others would you like to share that world with? As cliché as it may sound, the power to change the world today truly is within everyone’s hands. The best and only way to cause lasting change is through sharing ideals and values with others into the future through our communal bonds, and the power to shape these communities is shared equally by all of us. The simple act of extending a hand in friendship has the power to make your local community a more welcoming place for someone new, and through so doing you will have made it a more welcoming place for those who have lived there all along. The road runs both ways.

This world is ours to explore, and communities have sprung up wherever we have gone. Find those who share your spirit and you will build a world that reflects that spirit. The possibilities are endless, and the year has just begun. Welcome to our community.

- Mark Ciesluk, Editor-in-Chief

Photo Credits Cover: Jacob Pries w/ Emily Slofstra & Sydney Helland Back Cover: Emily Slofstra mark ciesluk, jacob pries, Emily Slofstra, Joshua smyth

Please send letters to mciesluk@blueprintmagazine.ca


Essays

Graham Arthur Engel is Startin’ a Cult! Scandalous secrets revealed on 7 Erin Epp questions local food on 3 Jen Evans wonders how we can help one another on 9 Alejandro Hunderto warns of pirates in our midst on 15 Courtney Lavigne searches province-wide for community on 8 Janice Lee is hit by a car on 6 Adam Lewis is fronting the revolution all over the damn place TJ Naven & Maeve Strathy speak from the heart about life and Laurier on 4 Lauren Smee’s message to music students has been forwarded to 5 Joshua Smyth offers sage advice for all ages on 14 Amanda Solmes brings you a message from our friends at the CEC on 13

Fiction

Sasha Koegler offers a Definition of Community on 10

Poetry

Zinta Avens Auzins Jacob Pries Richard Garvey touch ink to page on 16


ESSAYS

3

Are You Going to Eat That? Christmas dinner, Sunday potlucks, birthday brunch, summer barbecues…it seems that all the important events in my life are surrounded by food. This seemed especially important growing up in a Mennonite community. Every special church event was either a potluck or a picnic, so as a kid I came to associate community and friends with meals. Although I might not consider myself to be religious anymore, I’ve retained the belief that food and community are tightly linked, and I find myself missing the days when I could bring a dish to the church potluck and reconnect with others over a shared meal. In my own experience, the more connected I am to food the more connected I become to those around me. When I grow, cook, and share food, these activities become communal; consuming becomes a social process that connects people to each other, and eating becomes more than physical sustenance. When people shop at the Farmer’s Market, they support Waterloo’s community of local farms and food businesses. When they volunteer with Food not Bombs, they make visible those in our community who are, all too often, invisible. When they garden with Urban Harvester, they interact with community members outside Laurier. It happens so often that people get food from the grocery store without knowing where it came from or what practices they’re supporting by buying it. Something so integral to our existence has become packaged and filled with ingredients I didn’t even know existed. Of course, I’m guilty of succumbing to the whole eat on the run bit; I’ve grabbed a granola bar and coffee to go on many occasions when I was tired and short of time. What does it mean, though, for our communities when we don’t eat together, and when we don’t support local growers? Buying locally grown food does wonders not only for our immediate communities, but for the world. If we buy locally we know who we’re getting our food from. We know they’re paying their workers fair wages, and we’re investing in our local economy. Another big plus is that we’re helping the environment by not buying food that was shipped hundreds of miles to reach our dinner table.

But is buying locally really the answer? The above was the original article I wrote, before debating the issue with me father, who called me arrogant. He said that by buying locally, I was supporting the artificial economy we’ve created by subsidizing our farmers. He said that it was arrogant of me to take international farmers out of the equation, and if we all bought locally, they wouldn’t be able to support their families. He said that the international level of food production had risen- farmers that produce for export in South America have far higher environmental and quality standards than those who produce for domestic use, because they have to compete in a global market. Maybe the answer to building better communities lies in globalization. Maybe if we operated under an economy of true free trade, without unfair subsidies, the amount of people living in poverty would drop. Wow… never thought I’d hear myself say that. I’m not going to say that I have any answers; maybe we should buy locally, and maybe we should support free trade. Maybe in an ideal world, free trade and fair trade are synonymous, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet. I still love my local produce; I love going to the market and supporting local farmers. I’ve just come to realize that maybe the answer to the world’s problems isn’t as simple as buying locally. I guess what I’ve been trying to get at in this article is that food matters, not only on a physical level, but on a local and international one. What we put into our mouths affects everything, and therefore it’s something that merits some thought. It’s true that eating well is about being healthy, but it’s also about choosing what sort of communities we want to build, and how we want to relate to them. So whether you buy fair trade coffee, local carrots, or burgers from McDonald’s, think about where your food came from, because whoever grew it, picked it, or shipped it is now a member of your community at large.

“Community cannot long feed on itself, it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond: their unknown and undiscovered sisters and brothers.” - Howard Thurman

- Erin Epp


4

ESSAYS

Be You. Be Proud. When I was in high school I was loud and proud, here and queer, out and about… you get the idea. I went to bars and clubs in the Gay Village in Toronto, I had other queer friends, and I even went to a Gay Youth Group. I knew who I was, my family and friends knew who I was, and I loved myself. All was well. In September 2005 I came to Laurier and I didn’t know a soul. It was like going back into the closet again. I kept a low profile, told very few people I was gay, and I wasn’t active in Laurier or Waterloo’s queer community at all. It was hard. I felt like a part of myself was missing. By October 2006 I was in my second year at Laurier. I knew my way around campus, I knew who my friends were, and I was ready to get some queerness back into my life. So I went to a Thursday night discussion at the Rainbow Centre (RC) during “Coming Out Week” (one of the RC’s 4 annual campaigns) and felt welcome right away. I made new friends, learned new things, and felt… at home. That’s all it took; a little courage, effort, and there I was – out and proud all over again. What is the Rainbow Centre? The WLU Rainbow Centre is a safe, fun and supportive space where everyone at Laurier and in the broader community is welcome, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We advocate for and provide awareness about the LGBTQ community, while acting as a social outlet and resource centre.

I walked onto this campus in September of 2003, a bit terrified, really excited and completely confused, having just moved across the country to attend a university I didn’t know too much about and being your typical confused 19 year old. I’d love to be able to say that everything was perfect; that I was finally surrounded by so many people just like me. Yeah, not so much. But, maybe I’m not like everyone else? Well, that’s certainly true. I am a trans person, so I walked into Laurier female

While at the RC I’ve become an activist, I’ve been educated (and educated myself) on a variety of topics, I’ve made numerous new friends, I’ve been exposed to the greater queer community in Kitchener-Waterloo, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and I’ve participated in four incredible campaigns: Coming Out Week, Trans Awareness Week, Support Love, and Oath of Silence. So when you’re ready, we’re here when you need us. Check us out at www.mylaurier.ca/rainbow or stop by Room 104 in MacDonald House!

- Maeve Strathy

Fight to Create!

identified (sort of) and I’m leaving happily male (sort of). Since I don’t want to get too far into Trans 101, allow me a shameless plug for my pride and joy – the WLU Rainbow Centre. Check it out, seriously. Laurier has changed a lot since 2003, and I’ll bet you want to know what that took - many dedicated people with a lot of passion who were willing to work on very little sleep. Was it worth it? Absolutely. When you find something is missing on this campus, fight to create it.

When you want to find your community, check out all the clubs that are at the back of the concourse. Meet the people holding the megaphones, the ones who never take their nose out of books you’ve never heard of, and anyone else who look like they might have something interesting to say. This will probably take your entire experience at Laurier. And, don’t forget to go to class. That’s pretty important too, usually.

“May we have unity - without uniformity.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

- T.J. Naven


ESSAYS

5

FWD: ATTN: MUSIC STUDENTS For a music student the words “community” and “music” have both a strong affinity and a palpable tension. The affinity is in the ideal of music as a universal language, the unity between people who connect through music, and the power of music to heal. The tension exists between artistic vision and money, perceived elitism and popular appeal, moments of catharsis and hours of drudgery. In our communities this tension shows up in the minimal funding of public school music programs, the decline of classical music on public radio, and in the financial struggles of symphony orchestras, including our own K-W Symphony which nearly bit the dust last year. This tension’s presence on our campus was proven this year in a Cord article examining the gulf between the music faculty and the rest of the Laurier community. The article identified a key issue on campus and in doing so took the first step in bridging the gap, but there is much more to be discussed. When first year music majors arrive at Laurier we come with high hopes of finally being free to spend our days making music with others who share our passion. But then in music history we are assigned long readings on ancient music nobody has ever heard. In our lessons we find we must overhaul our technique. And somewhere between the constant critique and the hours alone in a practice room many of us forget why we are here. Because the demands of the music program - which are not greater than any other program, only different - keep us in one building all day most music majors feel isolated and alienated. We try to justify our tunnel vision by reminding ourselves of the power of our music to connect people. We choose not to notice we only know and only share our music with other music students. With

this lifestyle beginning in our universities it is no wonder classical music is widely seen as an elitist club. If this paradigm begins in our universities we can begin to change it in our universities. After two years of this lifestyle I was unhappy and unhealthy, and my music-making reflected this. In third year I returned as a music major but with some changes. I began to reach out to my community in small ways. I started with some non-music electives and before I knew it I was actively engaged with the Laurier and K-W communities in a number of ways. What I found in my explorations was a dynamic school and city full of opportunities. I found a community of people who share my diverse interests. I found soulful, skilled musicians who are not music majors. I found curiosity about the program and enthusiasm about our concerts. I also found great friends. As for my own music, I admit I do not practice as much as I used to, but the quality of my practice has improved. I have more energy and less tension and thus my work is more productive and more fun. Most importantly, I know why I am here. In my engagement with the greater community I have found context and purpose for my music. Theoretically we could always be working harder, so it is easy to become single-minded in our pursuits. By leading varied lives, however, we can enrich our music, our community, and ourselves. We know that a community needs musicians. Let’s not forget that musicians also need community.

- Lauren Smee

A Diary of Community: A Manifesto in Four Parts 1. Community: Ideas of common interest, fellowship, cohesion, unity, cooperation, the list could simply go on. But do the above words really describe the feeling of community and what community really is? I think not. Community is something more than can be easily defined by words. It is a feeling, a responsibility and a support network that makes us who we are. It connects our daily lives to those of others and allows for bonds of unity and commonality. This is the community of which I am talking about. But there is another type of community seemingly in opposition to these simple ideas…

“I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.” - Virgil Thomson


6

ESSAYS

The Community Bi-Cycle of Trust My bike had a brief and heroic fight with a car. I was on it. I fell. I broke a bone, hit the pavement pretty hard, but other than that was safe and quite alive. I rode an ambulance to the emergency room, and while waiting there was rather inspired by the experience. The next bit is what I wrote down in my notebook while waiting in the hospital for care, and my friends to arrive. “At St. Mary’s hospital emergency in triage. I got hit by an effing car on my bike. Shit balls. No helmet – idiot. Always the time I consciously risk it and decide not to be safe and something happens. Such is life! My road burns are hurting something terrible. Leg is swelling. But I’m fine! No torso or head injury at all. Lucky Janice. Extremely lucky. I feel bad for the driver who hit me, it was totally my fault. I stopped traffic! Was lying down in the middle of the street on the hot asphalt. I’ve always wanted to stop traffic by doing that at rush hour. Cross one off the list! I felt like I was sun tanning or something. The people who stopped and helped me were so kind. They called the ambulance, told me not to move, first aid kit, one guy started directing traffic, and I was totally conscious the whole time, chillin. Only when I heard my bike was done did I get upset and teary-eyed. I am grateful I did not die. That would not have been good. Phil, my paramedic was

such a nice guy. Completely different from the mean woman I encountered last time the ambulance was called. Phil told me he is also a firefighter and works out at the Laurier AC because Laurier lets the regional firefighters use our facilities for free. Nice. So I got bandages for my road burns. They look pretty B.A. I’m working the mummy look. Man, this is incredible. I got hit, and from then on everything was taken care of by people I don’t know. It was a given, no question, call the ambulance, somebody direct traffic, don’t let her move, block the sun, give her shade, give her water, what’s your name, where do you live, when’s your birthday, with me cracking jokes while lying on the ground. At the hospital, trying to let them know I appreciate everything they are doing for me. Feeling very privileged. Phil wheeled my sweet wheelchair (smooth ride!) to triage, and then I without hesitation, without registering the fact, put all my trust into the staff that I would be taken care of. Of course I would wait. Day of service baby! What a system of trust, what a community.” Reflecting on the whole experience, I am so glad that community exists. Community exists between people who know each other, and even between people who don’t. These are two communities and they are interdependent. Sometimes you

will be without one, so you need the other. It’s a “bi”-cycle. Get it? Two wheels that need each other for balance and work at the same time when you engage in it by pedaling and…uh, this metaphor worked better in my head. Anyway! Community springs up where you don’t even realize it exists. Strangers took care of me until my friends arrived. They took me to the hospital, they bandaged my wounds, they gave me an amazing warmed blanket (St. Mary’s has a blanket warmer, everyone should want one), they wheeled me deftly down the halls of the hospital on a clean bed, they shook my hand, they did it all in four hours. Wow. Let’s be explicit in declaring that universal healthcare is an absolute treasure to be protected! Somehow the system we’ve created worked for me that day. The system was set up so that we are looking out for each other, trusting that others will help. That’s community. And once the cast comes off… I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride it where I like

- Janice Lee

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” - Cesar Chavez


ESSAYS

7

Graham’s Startin’ a Cult! I’ve always wanted a community to call my own, and to save the world; fuck your couch!” In the long term starting a religious order seems to me the best way to though, it’ll be great. The Cult of Best Practice will be do it. They’d never leave me! They’d love me and respect a community of individuals actively dedicated to creatme and we’d have so much fun! But religious order seems ing the best community possible. Different ‘sects’ will inappropriate; I’m the farthest thing from a God. Hell, go out and try to live in ways that are original and seek sometimes when I’m rooting around on the ground, it’s to accomplish social goals (i.e. universal education for hard to make out that I’m a Man… all, communal property sharing, different education Okay, so, my community will be a secular cult. A Cult programs for youth). In this way, we’ll seek out the of Best Practice? We’ll find the BEST PRACTICES! Man, best ideas and work towards *Please Note: As the use of the word ‘man’ it’s all falling into place!* establishing a better world for might possibly be construed as privileging the If this were the way things all (who join my cult)! Anyone male gender, our cult can advocate the use were to go, then I wouldn’t can join; hell, franchise it out! of another word, such as ‘person’. See, we’re need God-like status! EveryStart your own version, but just one working towards comworking towards BEST PRACTICES already… remember where you got the mon goals with an attitude of idea – ME! altruism will deliver unto us a But how will we know who’s part of our community? happier and more progressive world. We’ll keep in touch I always thought it was cool in movies when people ex- via the internets, discuss what’s been working and what posed their secret tattoo to demonstrate that they, too, hasn’t, and transfer that knowledge everywhere! We’ll were part of the ‘Order’. So, officially, we’re getting tat- have a website! All in secret! A secret website! It’ll be so toos! We’ll start next week! much fun! Just remember, before you start sharing, make What will this cult do for you? Well, in the short sure you ask for the tattoo. term, probably nothing more than deliver a sense of belonging and privilege that you can use to justify your- Graham Arthur Engel self over others in private. “He He…Well, we’re going

2. There is another idea of community, the concept of perhaps the “Waterloo Community” or the “Laurier Community”. These are two very different ideas of community. These seem to employ a strict geographical and political entity as a basis of definition. There is not seemingly the same idea of cohesion and cooperation. The community may band together on certain issues and circumstances, but the overall day-to-day interactions are very much that of forced greetings and a feeling of obligation to interact. This is not something that is located only within this very area, but is a truth about society as it seems. We live lives that involve many daily interactions and exchanges, but they are often simply that. There is no further basis of interaction; no feeling, no thought, no consideration required. Perhaps this is the result of the system of commodity in which we live. We have perhaps commodified our daily interactions, something that must be done to get to a particular end, whether such end is simply purchasing groceries or dealing with our banking. Even with people we may see often, there is often an exchange akin to saying “hello” or “what’s up” usually followed by a “see you later”. There is a lacking of substance in such exchanges. Not because we don’t care (though we may not on occasion) but perhaps because we are too busy to stop and chat. The hustle and bustle of daily life creates such tensions in our lives that to move slowly and pace ourselves is deemed to be behind and to be inefficient in a system that demands efficiency and obedience. It seems to do otherwise is to break away, and that is simply what must be done…

“Our Prophet was a radical too - he fought against the injustices of his community and challenged the feudal order of his society, so they called him a radical. So what? We should be proud of that!” - Abu Bakar Bashir


8

ESSAYS

Searches for Community Community. It’s one of those things that I always seem to be looking for; to be a part of something bigger than myself, to be an integral member of a group of people. To truly feel that, “Yeah, this is where I belong.” It’s one of those things that I always seem to be looking for, but also one of those things that I never quite find. Growing up, I moved around...a lot. Before I had turned eight, I had already lived in six different ‘communities’ and had attended four different schools. I was, as I refer to myself, a mining brat. Throughout these different moves, I never had the opportunity to attach myself to anything for too long. Never had that chance to feel as though those places or those people had any real sort of meaning in my life. Even after my family had finally settled into a permanent home, in Elliot Lake, Ontario, I still didn’t feel as though I was an important member of any ‘community.’ I had the amazing ability of playing the invisible kid – and yes, I do realize how ‘emo’ that sounds. All I’m saying is that I never went out of my way to be involved; I was fine with being on the sidelines. Once I hit high school, it was much of the same. Although I did start becoming more involved in my school once it was time to leave, I never felt as though Elliot Lake Secondary School was a community in which I had really played an important part. I’m not so sure it played an important part in my life either. Elliot Lake was where I grew up, but it didn’t really feel like my ‘community.’ So, along came university, my opportunity to truly shine; my chance to feel the welcoming arms of a community that I had longed for. Wilfrid Laurier University....oh, WLU, how you both came through and fell through on this promise to me. The brochures showed happy, smiling, friendly faces of actual Laurier students! Surely that could be me, too. Little did I know that university promises no one an automatic community; you don’t just show up with your

big nervous grin and get accepted into a group of friends who were waiting for you all along. You’re going to have to work to find where you belong. And, even after all that fighting, you still might not know where you actually should be. I soon found out that I did possess some small, Northern girl qualities that I had so fervently denied growing up. I had no idea what Lulu Lemon was, or why the hell girls were toting around bowling bags with T&A written all over them. This does stand for Tits and Ass, no? I still don’t entirely understand the popped collar phenomenon. So, in a sea of people who all seemed sold on the same community that I didn’t quite fit into, where was I supposed to go? I thought that I had found my answer in an activism circle. I thought that, “Yeah, this is where I belong.” With people who cared about the present state of ‘our’ community, of this nation, of the world. People who not only cared about the present but who passionately fought for a better future. I wanted the same things. So, I got involved. I protested, rallied, cheered, workshopped, and discussed with the best of them. I thought that this was my new community. I had finally found a place where I could be accepted as my true self. I didn’t have to hide. But, I still found myself hiding. The goofy and sometimes absolutely ridiculous Courtney was nowhere to be found. I was self-conscious. What did everyone really think about me? Was I just some young, naive phony? Was I just some overzealous idealistic kiss ass? Was I trying to force a community onto myself, was I trying to force myself into a community? I started questioning my spot in the Laurier world. No matter which extreme I tried to be a part of, it seemed that I wasn’t really a true member of either. So, where does this leave me now? I’m working at a mine. Yes, a mine. I’m a carpenter for the summer. Is this my community? Perhaps.

“I am a part of all that I have met.” - Alfred Tennyson


ESSAYS I think I’ve finally realized that my community is a mixture of it all; Elliot Lake,my old high school, even WLU - I am a member of the campus community in many capacities; I’m writing for Blueprint, I’m a Shinerama Booster, I’ve done stuff through the Leadership Centre, I’ve been a member of Student Services. And, yes, in some capacity I still think I belong to the activist community.

9

People need to spend less time trying to figure out where they belong. You cannot force an identity on yourself; just let life happen. Be involved. Eventually, you won’t think about where you belong, because you’ll be there without even knowing it.

- Courtney Lavigne

I’ve come to realize that being a member of one community does not mean that I have to disregard the others. I shouldn’t stress about whether or not I belong as a member to any one community. I’m just me. I go where I see fit. I am a member of many communities, and I like to think that I do belong to them all, in different ways.

Love, Listening, & Service How can we give each other enough space to experience the array of emotions and thoughts, the motivations and honest intentions that arise within an individual, while at the same time being close enough to support those who have fallen or are ceaselessly struggling with an inability to reach out to those around them?

We often, very often allow our own predisposed ideas about the world, ourselves and others, to stand in the way of awknowledging where another actually IS. If we ourselves have no previous context in which to understand what somebody is going through, how could we possibly support them? With love With listening With service

I once had a teacher explain to me the difference between help and service. Help is assuming someone needs your assistance, that they are at a lack of power to complete that which the universe is asking of them. Service on the other hand is understanding and trusting that each person has the capability to complete the tasks the universe bestows upon them, that they are exactly where they should be, and that we as humbled servants of a greater good may offer that which we have in that service, purely because we have it and in the name of all living beings. To me this is how an ideal community would interact, not from the assumption of “helping one another” but from a place of putting ourselves in service to the greater good of us all. Understanding the concept of 'All is One' is vital to our ability to give selflessley.

To truly feel the desire to give freely is a gift, for it comes through liberation from the idea of our well being being seperate from that of any other. So there is no reason to berate oneself for a lack of desire to give freely, for we are still just tied up in the feeling of being seperate and therfore needing to look out for ourselves first. We suffer already in this space, may we be gentle with this understanding and learn to trust further. My wellbeing is tied up in yours; may we be of service to the greater good through each other.

- Jen Evans

“The love of our neighbour in all its’ fullness simply means being able to say, “What are you going through?” - Simone Weil


10

FICTION

A Definition of Community I’m watching as the carnival pulls into town and begins to set up. It’s 3:02 am and the city is asleep. Alone and contemplative under a cloudless sky, I inhale the night’s brisk air. The damp earth beneath me, the shimmering stars above; the juxtaposition of the tellurian world with the infinity of all that exists provides me with perspective. “How many,” I solemnly ponder, “How many people see the world the way I do?” It’s a consideration that usually finds me alone under the night sky. Only this setting invokes within me an awareness of my insignificance on a galactic scale while simultaneously allowing sublime beauty and considerable relevance to be manifested by the tiniest of the earth’s creatures. Two gently clashing perspectives, one man. But surely not the only man to see the world in this way. There is a collision of metal on metal somewhere in the darkness below me. By now a whole slew of caravans have arrived and I can make out what look like tent poles being erected a short ways from the base of the hill on which I rest. A micro-society is here establishing itself; a community that brings not only physical structures but also unique values and perspectives, a distinct way of living and understanding the world. I can discern no individuals through the darkness; I perceive only the familiar hum of productive human interaction. A funny thing it is, I ponder to myself, that while we all presently share a similar cognitive awareness of our immediate surroundings, we should grant such different meanings to the features which make up what is ultimately the same and only world. The quotidian concerns of the carnival folk are relevant to their survival and sustenance; the carnival is their livelihood, it is how they endure… And yet the significance of their endeavors can be diluted near to nothingness within the vastness of the cosmos. Despair is what one finds when one needlessly paints the ultimate truth in sheer blackness. What a gift it is to see our true place in eternity and still find intense meaning in every human gesture. There is a sudden and unfamiliar roar down at the base of the hill as a generator is engaged and a set of elevated floodlights, suddenly illuminated, obscures the early morning sky. Robbed of one of the foundations of my perspectival contemplations, I wander down into what

has quickly grown into a mobile town booming with activity. As I cross the threshold of carnival constructions I stop, startled by the strangeness of my own shadow, an awareness of a whole new contextual structuring of the world easing itself upon me. For 24 hours the carnival folk will erect their world within the world, for 144 hours they will feed their beasts, perform their antics, maintain their structures, pocket their profits and then dismantle their mobile world, only to travel and repeat the process over again. What is relevant to them is so different from what is relevant to me. Whether they care for literature, for philosophy, for art, I know not. Regardless, their lifestyles are not conducive to such intellectual luxuries; labor and liquor take priority and emphasize the significance of practical concerns within their lives. With my shadow as my companion, I venture onwards into their unfamiliar land, passing by men with callused hands and sweat dripping from their brows as they haul structures foreign to my eyes and laugh amongst themselves as they labor. Not 60 feet from where I stand, not half an hour prior to this moment, I lay on my back in the dewy grass, meditatively transcending the contextual parameters that give common meaning to so much of social existence. I believe there is a community of individuals like myself, separated by geography but linked by our atypical attributions of meaning to the phenomena that make up the entirety of our world. What is a community if not a unity of individuals who attribute the same kind of meaning to the same things, a group who contextualize of certain features of existence in the same way? The existentialists, the business men, the musicians, the carnival folk of the world; each group shares some common set of parameters which govern their attribution of meaning within a particular context. Each sees a somewhat different world than the others because what is relevant to one community is not relevant in the same way, if at all, to another. And here I stand amidst the carnival folk as they toil in the synthetic illumination of their floodlights, astounded that though we both live in the same physical world, what my world means to me is ever so different than what theirs means to them.

“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.” - William James

- Sasha Koegler


ESSAYS

11

3. We must reinvent the idea of community. Knowing people and their work, not only the products that they supply. That would be a start. I have personally found a group of people whom which I count as my dear friends. They are the kind of community which I have been seeking for some years now. This is a group that genuinely cares for each other and all that people within the group do. There is a feeling of safety, support and unity within such a group. It is the support network that maintains a connection to each other. It is in this group that I feel most at home; that the people there are like me, that we are on the same page, that we are like minded, that we understand the group dynamics, that we seek to create change and that we seek to foster something positive in all that we do. Those are the feelings I get from my community. Even though members may not be as intimately associated with each other in the same way or on the same level, there is always room in which to grow and foster renewed relationships. This is what allows for the strengthening of community. Building our social relations into something that is much more than required, building social relations into a support network, into a safe place. Building something much more than forced daily interaction. That is what a community has become for me and those I care about most. Community is a feeling of safety in support in everything one does. It allows the space for honest criticism and assistance for individuals and ideas to grow within a group. It is fluid. It bonds, expands and entwines organically. It is a space to create change and help others do the same. It is one of the greatest forms of resistance to all the destruction, oppression and hostility that the world possesses. To overcome is to band together, in all forms, as all people, as all ideas, as all that we are…

“Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those whom you are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one. People learn as they teach.” - Seneca


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ADVERTISEMENT 13

Laurier Loves the Ceck Here at Laurier, many have realized the importance of community and its effects on the environment. Over the years, many of our students have been realizing the need to come together within their different interest areas to focus on environmental action and awareness. If you’re interested in getting involved, the opportunities are almost endless. Our most recent addition, the WLU Farm Market, shows us the importance of buying local, organically grown food. Laurier’s Campus Greens inform us of the environmental impact our political voice can make when we support a party with an environmentally conscious mandate. The Geography and Environmental Students’ Association isn’t exclusive to students in the GES Department, as it strives to educate others about geography and the environment. Anti-War at Laurier (AW@L) does non-violent direct action at the intersection of war and environmental destruction. Social Inc. is an SBE club that raises awareness of how acquiring socially responsible practises within businesses can make a positive impact on society. Laurier’s EcoHawks are a club within the student’s union that draws awareness about the general importance of choosing to act in an environmentally friendly matter. Finally, the Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG) has given many individuals and groups the resources and contacts they need to become agents of social change. Over the years each group has accomplished a fair share, growing slowly and taking small steps towards building a more environmentally sustainable campus. Alone we have done fairly well, but we have come to realize that together we can do so much more. With this in mind, the winter semester of 2008 lead to the formation of the Campus Environmental Coalition (CEC). The leaders of each of these groups, as well as a number of passionate students at large, have begun to meet regularly to maintain communication with each other as well as with the rest of campus. The CEC is working together to encourage the actions of our current members, maintain ongoing dialogue with University administration, and direct newcomers towards existing groups that best fit their needs and interests. We have realized that

we are all effective in different areas, and by collaborating we increase our overall effectiveness in targeting the WLU community. Every single contribution adds another piece to the larger puzzle that we are all working so hard to complete. Individual projects can give you a feeling of importance and well-earned recognition as you work hard to succeed, yet this sense of struggle can be lessened, or even eliminated if you can find the courage to ask for help and be willing to give it in return. It is true that there are many challenges to overcome when working with others, but with time, this is the only way to reap the biggest rewards. The same can be said for our actions with the environment. The natural world has given us all of the resources we need to survive, yet never before have we been so blind to this bounty. We have been living with these plants, this sun, this water, and this entire Earth for centuries, and they too are part of the community that we must remember to respect, use, and give back to. Feeling this neglect for too long, just as a human would, the Earth is finally speaking up and asking us to reconnect. We have been seeing the effects of our selfishness for years with our rapidly growing list of endangered and extinct species; it is evident that we can’t keep paving over wildlife habitats, clear-cutting forests, and polluting to the point that our Arctic is disappearing. Never before have we been impacted with a greater lesson about the need for community. The only way to smooth the effects of this climate crisis is by working together. We’ve taken a first step by uniting our clubs under the CEC umbrella. Now we’d like to go beyond that by connecting with the greater Laurier community. We are offering our commitment to teaching and aiding the growth of awareness on these issues, and we’d like to ask that everyone at Laurier play their part in helping not just our university, but our global community to overcome the environmental hardships that we have caused.

- Amanda Solmes for the CEC

“Do it now. It is not safe to leave a generous feeling to the cooling influence of the world.” - Thomas Guthrie


14

ESSAYS

Keep Looking

It is wise to be skeptical of the term “community,” especially at Laurier. Too often, “community-building” translates into the squashing and forming of individuality into some sort of bland and bound groupthink. It doesn’t particularly matter where this happens – it could be while yelling color-coded chants during O-week or while signing onto a cause just for the sake of being involved in something. We are exhorted to become a part of the university community, and become a part of it we should. For four, or five, or seven years, WLU is the locus of our lives. We must ask ourselves, though, what this sense of community is built on, and thus, what kind of communities we are creating. Too often, university gets a free pass from the right sort of introspection. Four years have many times taught me that the sort of community that even the most high-minded student will often find shares little with the ivory-tower ideal of respect for diversity and dissention. Instead, we find the sort of bond that comes on the first page of the human recipe book: take a couple thousand students, insecure and away from home, add some group activities, a dash of booze, and stir. This is a recipe for community, to be sure, but only community of the first order. First-order communities are those that form by circumstance – perhaps you and I believe in the same things, perhaps we share a cause or an enjoyment of getting rowdy in a funny hat. These communities are by no means bad; meeting people based on common interests is a damn sight better than by the

accident of a high school seating plan. Many of my best friends have been made this way, and I don’t regret a moment of it. The key, though, is to recognize that this is only a step along the road to a much deeper community. Political philosophers like to toss around the idea of “communities of shared values” as something to owe allegiance to. You and I might believe in a package of ideas about human rights, for example, or about football. This, though, seems to me a tenuous bond at best; I’m no longer comfortable judging people ideologically. If we are to have communities of shared values, they must be much more basic – based not on what people think, or what they do, but how they do it. That is the strongest bond I’ve yet found with the people around me; a deep respect for how they engage with the world around them, looking at their means rather than their ends. These are communities of intention, not action. Of course, these two communities can (and should) overlap. The critical point is not to rest on our laurels when we find ourselves among st the like-minded. If we look outward, both outside of our philosophical comfort zone and (especially) outside the few city blocks that too often define the boundaries of our social universe, our four years go far from wasted.

- Joshua Smyth

4. Community is what we make it. Community is our beauty and our combined resource, free from the shackles of hard definitions and simplifications of conformity. It is something for us, but more so for everyone else. We build, create, improve, adapt and grow our community into what is truly ours. We need no authority to dictate it to us. We will use it to create change and support the ones that matter most to us. We will use it to resist. “To live in fear of changing, is to not live at all.”

- Adam Lewis

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” - Socrates


ESSAYS

15

Here Be Pirates There is a story that I have been told that has guided much of my thinking and actions over the past few years. It is a true story. It is a story about our history, about us. It goes something like this. In the 17th century, not long after Europeans had first arrived in what was to them a “new world”, an agreement was made between a group of early Settlers and the Iroquois Nations. The treaty was recorded in the Iroquois way, as a Wampum Belt, rather than in the European fashion of words on paper. The agreement, known as the Two Row Wampum, shows two purple lines on a field of white. The design represents two peoples travelling down a river, each in their own vessel, on their own course. They share the river, and they do not disrupt or interfere with the other’s course, or do anything on their own that disrupts the river and the other who travels on it. One vessel carries the Indigenous people and their way of life. The other carries the rest of us; settlers and our way of life. As I have been told this story, at first, the treaty was held in good faith, and in many parts of the territory, settler and Indigenous communities lived their own lives, with varying degrees of interconnection and relative non-interference. But there came a time when other settlers decided that they wanted the land that the Iroquois peoples possessed and a long process of systematic exploitation and cultural destruction began. As the Wampum shell beads necessary to make new belts were taken away from the people by the soldiers of the settler’s government, the people lost their ability to record history in their own way, and the stories of settlers became the dominant telling of history as they whitewashed the destruction of Indigenous nations and stole their lands. It was as if pirates had gained taken control of the settler’s ship - our ship. They travelled around in our vessel plundering, pillaging and raping. The pirates had all the decent folk—which as human beings, most settlers naturally are—too scared to resist. Others amongst the settlers had been bought off with the scraps from the pirates’ table; all so easily convinced that these scaven-

gers are the natural leaders of settler society and that all the massive violence perpetrated is the natural order of things—so natural that they barely notice that it is violence at all. These pirates are also genius propagandists and well skilled in the arts of mind control and coercion. And they attack and mercilessly rob the vessel of the Indigenous people at every chance they get. And that is the story; fucking pirates at the helm. And it is a true story—every word of it. It is even truer than that too. In the city of Waterloo, we live on land that is the property of Six Nations of the Grand River, part of the Iroquois Confederacy. Part of their territory currently spans six miles on either side of the Grand River from source to finish (otherwise know as the Haldimand Tract). Waterloo, Kitchener and Brantford are all on Six Nations land. And as major urban industrial development is planned for KW and Brantford, and as suburban sprawl and/or industry threaten almost everywhere else—as settlers, we are letting the pirates use our vessel as their warship. As an individual settler, it seems like each of us is helpless. The pirates are scary and they are dangerous and they are organized. The pirates are a gang and they run the ship through the use of their gang tactics: violence and intimidation. But that doesn’t matter; its our fucking ship and nothing we can say or do alleviates our collective responsibility to uphold our end of the Two Row treaty; to conduct our communities in ways that do not interfere with the abilities of Indigenous Peoples to live in their own communities unencumbered and undisturbed by the consequences of our decisions. It requires massive checks on environmental destruction from development, pollution from industry, government interference and police repression. It means a fundamental change in the way we conceive of settler communities on this continent. It means waking up to the fact that our obligations to this place are those of settlers, and that this means something for how we understand our communities and our roles in them.

- Alejandro Hunderto

“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.” - Marianne Williamson


16

POETRY

B.Odorant Zinta Avens Auzins It was my first day as an intern on an organic farm. My younger brother had already been working there for a few months. Several interns had started working two or three weeks before I did. I was with two of the other interns, and somehow the discussion turned to natural body care products. Which turned into the use of body care products in general. I said, “Of course you must have noticed that my brother doesn’t use deodorant.” They had, but Kathryn added: “And Ben, and Chris, and Andrew don’t wear deodorant either.” Which prompted Serene to say: “I’m not wearing any.” And Kathryn said she wasn’t either. “Neither am I!” I exclaimed. So we all became one big stinky family. Except I never noticed the smell.

Building a Community Checklist Jacob Pries

Community is the revolution That will constructively and Creatively build and maintain A just and harmonious world. For such a community to flower I feel there must be: Respect Love Service A Radical Choir Action Richard Garvey Inclusivity Creativity Friends, like melodies Honesty each one moving me, Gratitude inspiring me, inviting me Inspiration into friendship, like harmonies Play pleasing to the ear Energy with twice the strength, calling out Wisdom a community, like a choir Skill sharing radical laughter Holistic education simple songs, freedom' Peace Justice Solidarity Empowerment Dialogue... what do you think needs to be included in a healthy community? And what are the concrete ways we can work together to make this happen?

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


LSPIRG presents...

Free for all fi rst year stud ents! O-Week Regis tration not n ecessary!

COMPLEMENTARY O-WEEK

Engage in Social Change! September 1 to 7, 2008 Workshops Speakers Conversation Cafés Seed planting Live music Working Group Fair ... and more!

l-s-pirg [el-es-purg] (ěl-ěs-pûrg) abbr. Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group; a student funded, student-oriented organization that provides opportunities for its members* to be agents of social change. * If you are an undergraduate student at Laurier, you are a member! For more information on Complementary O-Week or LSPIRG: http://www.lspirg.ca info@lspirg.ca Facebook: Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group


Profile for Blueprint Magazine

The Community Issue  

Volume 8 Issue 1 Summer 2008

The Community Issue  

Volume 8 Issue 1 Summer 2008

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