To work, to work!

the regina mom is checking in to say that she’s in Regina Beach for a month, working as Writer-in-Residence for the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre.  She thinks it’s a great gig!  If you want to follow her meanderings there, check out her other blog.

 

SWG’s Funding From #YQR Almost All Restored

the regina mom has been on retreat with a bunch of writers at her favourite monastery.  Yes, she knows it’s rather odd for a feminist to be hanging out with Catholic monks, but she finds their worship of the Virgin Mother to be very interesting…

 

Anywho, she has learned that the Saskatchewan Writers Guild has been granted special ‘transition funding’ amounting to 90 percent of what the City of Regina had provided before.  (Apparently, there are some readers on Council.)  Regardless what happens in the next go-round of grants, according to trm‘s source, the City of Regina Writing Award will be funded and may even be increased.   It’s been separated out from the ginormous pool of money being shared around amongst a bajillion cultural and social justice groups.

 

Well done, writers!  We can breathe a sigh of relief.  For now.

 

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#YQR axes funding to Literary orgs

It appears to the regina mom that the City of Regina would rather fill that new pie in the sky, outrageously overpriced, not yet built football stadium with ticket-buyers than fund events for writers in the Queen City.  The Vertigo Series, Coteau Books and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild will receive nothing, as it stands. From the member newsletter, eBriefs:

SWG NEWS

City of Regina Slashes Literary Funding

For many years the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild has successfully applied to the City of Regina for about $24,000 annually to assist with literary programming in Regina. This year, our funding request was denied in its entirety.

SWG is one of at least three literary organizations denied funding by the City of Regina grant program. Coteau Books and the Vertigo Reading Series have also been cut. The rationale provided for the cuts is that the SWG application “scored low in the area of community need.” We have been advised that SWG also scored low in the area of “financial need.”

Meanwhile, performance, film and music organizations that run festivals generating ticket sales have received more funding than in previous years.

The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild has a rich history of literary programming in Regina, some of which we have provided for over thirty years. We offer a wide array of free programming to writers and the public, raise literary awareness, raise writers’ profiles, and enrich the lives of hundreds of people, including key identified targets of youth and Aboriginal constituents.

A new application process that groups all disciplines and former community grants into one is partly responsible for the cuts. The literary arts and the community will suffer heavily in Regina this coming year.

As a result of these cuts, beginning August 1st or earlier, the following Guild programs will be affected and/or suspended:

·         City of Regina Writing Award (sponsored by the City for 32 years)

·         Words in the Park (3 years)

·         Writer-in-Residence at a Regina school (10+ years)

·         First Nations Reading series (5+ years)

·         Signature Reading series (15+ years in various editions)

·         Aboriginal Storytelling Month (2 years)

·         Aboriginal History Day/Month (4 Years)

·         Talking Fresh (11 years)

·         Regina Workshops (25+ years)

·         Apprentice Readings (15+ years)

·         Windscript Launch (4 years)

·         Playwrights Reading series (5+ years)

·         Historic Walking Tours (4 years)

Guild staff will be meeting with the City Community Consultant responsible for the grant programs on Tuesday next week to see if there are any options for alternate funding. We will inform you of the results shortly thereafter.

We encourage you to contact Regina City Council to voice your concerns about literary arts being cut from cultural funding, and to raise their awareness that the literary community is strong and viable, and this programming serves an important community need. You may email Regina City Councillors and/or Mayor Michael Fougere at the following link:

http://www.regina.ca/site/contact/contact-your-city-councillor/

trm has already let her Councillor, Shawn Fraser, know about this abomination.  He’s a good guy and has not heard about it but is looking into it.  However, it would be very useful for people “from away” to chime in and let Mayor Fougere know how they feel about the big #YQR #fail!

Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 2

Further to the regina mom‘s Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1 here is part 2, detailing the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford, moderated by Myrna Kostash at the 2013 Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff.

 

trm knew of Kate Braid’s work as a poet, having been introduced to her Georgia O’Keefe poems at the Sage Hill Writing Experience more than a decade ago.  She did not know that Kate Braid was also a nonfiction writer and so listened intently during the presentation about her latest nonfiction work, Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s Worldtrm knows women who work in trades and technologies.  In fact, when she first became active in the women’s movement, she met many women involved in Saskatchewan Women In Trades and Technologies (SaskWITT), women who, like her, were part of the women’s coalition that came about during the end of the Devine years.

 

But back to Braid, who said that memoir writing is not the same as autobiography.  Rather, it tells part of a life.  She said she struggled with finding the stories that mattered and added to it as she went along.  Wisely, she had kept a detailed journal and was able to reference her notes.  Her first draft took more than 25 years to write and was over 1,200 pages!  Eventually, it was carved to a book, thanks to her editor who was able to see the narrative.

 

She said her intent was to be emotionally honest about her experience in the construction trade, about that time in her life, and found that the tense she chose to use, present tense, afforded her the best means of doing so.  The past tense tended to pull her away from the story.  She also said that a memoir’s success depends on the author showing what s/he has learned and referenced Myrna’s opening remarks about memory being like a computer.  “Memory is a backseat driver who wants control,” she said.  Truthtellers, of both emotional and literal truth, she added, are essential to credibility.

 

Her advice, which comes from Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, is what the regina mom tries to do, that is to “write as though no one is ever going to read this.”  Easier said than done, but doable.  Still, Braid knew people would read her book and so she changed some people’s names to protect them.  She asked herself if names were essential to the story and, in instances where they were, she sent out chapters to those named and sought their feedback.  trm is thinking she may well have to do that with her Sask women’s movement essay, presuming it ever gets written, that is.

 

Braid spoke about her fear and how it stopped her from writing over and over again.  At one point she was paralyzed for years and it got even worse after she submitted the manuscript to her publisher!  But once she was able to figure out who she was writing the book for, the tradeswomen who went through what she went through, it was easier.  She decided she was providing a baseline of what it was like to be a woman working in the trades.  She knew the book wanted to be written, knew it had to be written.  She wrote various versions of it — scholarly, lighthearted, for example — and finally got it written.

 

trm can’t help but wonder about the women who, when she worked at the YWCA, were apprenticing in the trades and remodeling various locations in the building.  How many of them faced ridicule and insult once they completed their training?  How many even completed the training?  Certainly, working as part of an all-women crew would be very different from working as the only woman on a construction crew!  And trm bets they’d love to hear Braid read from her book, so she’s going to do what she can to get Kate Braid to Saskatchewan for a reading in the near future.

 

Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1

Further to a previous post about the Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff, the regina mom offers the following notes from Myrna Kostash’s opening words to the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford.

Myrna began the session talking about nonfiction and memory.  “What is a memory?” she asked.  There’s been a lot of work done around memory and she suggested that each time you think about a memory, the memory changes.  “How many iterations of it are there?” she asked.  She compared memory to a computer file that is opened, changed and saved back onto the computer hard-drive, making a case for false memories.

This fits entirely with what trm has been thinking as she works on her Wolverine Creek essay.  Each of her visits to St. Peter’s Abbey, where she fell in love with the creek and began the essay, have morphed into one big long hodgepodge of memory.  She has become entirely reliant on other sources, including the memories of others which, she now understands, can be as unreliable as her own!  So, she’s looking forward to The Art of Memory with Seán Virgo taking place at St. Peter’s College this summer.

Kostash went on to speak about the “anxiety” that society has about nonfiction.  That’s a whole new think for trm! This essay helped her get her head around it and was a useful read when trying to understand something else Kostash said, almost in passing.   “Every journalist knows that what he [sic] does is morally indefensible.”  It’s a disputed quote, but it got trm thinking about another essay she’s trying to write, one about the Saskatchewan women’s movement 1985 to the present.  She has much to say, much to work though, but it feels too much like venting, too much of what a good essay should not be.  But now that she thinks about it it might be the route through to completing that first draft!

So that was the first ten minutes of the session. More to come!

A brief overview of CNFC 2013

the regina mom lives in interesting times.  Sometimes she feels very blessed by that.  At other times, not so much! This is her feel-good post.  She’s finished an amazing residency at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, is working in her new role as Co-chair to bring forth the 2013 version of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival  and is busy with more than a couple writing projects.

And, trm had the great pleasure of attending the Creative NonFiction Collective’s Annual Conference at the amazing Banff Centre this past weekend. *  Not knowing many people in the organization, she’s been a bit nervous about going.  But the confidence the residency delivered and knowing  that writer-friends, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and Myrna Kostash, would be there helped her decide to go.  What a great decision!

At the Meet’n’Greet, she met the aforementioned friends as well as another, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, whom she’d befriended at the Sage Hill Writing Experience more than a decade ago, and laid the foundation to build others over the weekend.  She was very moved by the Member Readings that evening and wished she hadn’t been so tired from her early morning travels to enjoy them more, as well as to participate, herself.

Then, on Saturday morning, the regina mom felt her cylinders beginning to charge first, when Myrna spoke about memory.  “How many iterations of it are there?” she asked and then compared it to a computer file that is opened, altered and closed again, creating a possible false memories.  And then, while Kate Braid spoke about her book,  Journeywoman: Swinging A Hammer In A Man’s World, the energies really hit hard!

It was only the beginning because still to come was Tyler Trafford talking about lies in nonfiction and how they serve to deliver Truth, the plenary on the current status of digital publishing with former Saskatchewanian, Steven Ross Smith, literary agent, Don Sedgwick, and web editor, Allison McNeely, and the Master Class on organizing research, with Lynne Bowen followed by Karen Connelly‘s inspiring keynote address.  the regina mom had not anticipated that address as being one that would get her political attention but when the word “totalitarianism” was followed by an explanation of the Harper government’s attack on Library and Archives Canada, she pulled out her notebook and started paying close attention.

Saturday night’s celebration of the Reader’s Choice Award featured readings from nominated works by the nominators and not the nominees, so that was particularly interesting.  And Sunday morning saw CNFC members gather for their Annual General Meeting to talk about the business of the organization, including a probable website re-do and next year’s 10th Anniversary conference, to be held in Calgary.  the regina mom will see you there!

_____

* more to come

the regina mom has writing news!!!

the regina mom is very happy to report that she’s been selected to serve a one month term as a writer-in-residence!  Check it out!

Save the date! #SWF13

the regina mom is so very excited! As you regulars are aware, she attended the Women’s Forum des Femmes in Ottawa in October and had a fantastic time.  So, she brought the idea home and is happy to invite you to save the date!

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Saskatchewan Women’s Forum 2013

 

If you are interested in women’s rights, in connecting with individuals and organizations who have been working on women’s issues recently and through the decades, and in spending a weekend learning, having fun, and moving a women’s agenda forward in our province, then:

 

Please set aside Friday, January 18 (evening) and Saturday, January 19, 2013!

 

We are a coalition of women and organizations who have come together to plan a Saskatchewan Women’s Forum taking place at the Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon. For too long, we have been having conversations in isolation from each other about the current context that women and women’s organizations find themselves in. So we are creating this opportunity to collectively develop how we can move forward on the issues that we care about.

 

We are currently finalizing our program, which will be centered on women’s stories and respectful of intergenerational, intercultural and diverse experiences. If you are interested in attending, please respond back to us (at michelle.beveridge@oxfam.ca, 306.242.4097)) and we will ensure you receive the program and registration package by mid-December.

 

In the meantime, please save the date! And get in touch with us if you would like to be part of the planning, to volunteer at the forum in any number of capacities, or have other ideas for us.

 

Registration is $50/person. (Please let us know if you are in a situation where you would only be able to attend with a reduced rate, or conversely, if you are able and willing to donate  money to assist in covering a portion of registration for others.)

 

Sincerely,

Michelle Beveridge and Katelyn Jones, Oxfam Canada, Saskatoon

Sue Delanoy, Elizabeth Fry Society, Saskatoon

Diane Fletcher, Vadis Group, Saskatoon

Lori Hanson, U of S, Community Health and Epidemiology, Saskatoon

Laura Hopkins, Saskatoon Women’s Community Coalition

Lori Johb, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, Regina

Audra Krueger, U of S, Centre for the Study of Co-ops, Saskatoon

Darla Leard, Canadian Labour Congress, Saskatoon

Barb Macpherson, YWCA Saskatoon

Adriane Paavo, Prairie Lily Feminist Society, Regina

Priscilla Settee, U of S, Native Studies, Saskatoon

Lenore Swystun and Samantha Mark, Prairie Wild Consulting, Saskatoon

Laura Westman, Saskatoon

Bernadette Wagner, Regina

 

“Fifty Shades of Green”

Earlier this week the regina mom and her friend, Cherie Westmoreland, had a conversation about the prairie grasslands in anticipation of tonight’s talk, Grasslands in Peril, by Candace Savage*.  Cherie said that for her, the grasslands are “a quantity of grief that’s difficult to hold.”  And tonight, after having spent almost two hours listening to Candace’s presentation, “Fifty Shades of Green,” the regina mom has a deeper understanding of that grief.

Candace opened her lecture with a reference to her friend, Lille, who lives on a First Nations reserve south of Maple Creek.  Lille once told her that in order to get to know someone you ought to ask, “Who is your grandmother?” and “Who is your grandfather?”

When we talk about land on the prairies we are talking about the people… When we talk about people on the prairies we are talking about the land… The prairie land and people are part of the same thing.

Candace then offered us stories about her grandparents and the lands they “settled,” some of which, she said, should never have been turned. She cited Vernon Fowke and his assessment of the Dominion Lands Act, that being “a colossal failure of public policy.”

From there, she launched into details about the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), established in 1935, in the midst of the Dirty Thirties, and given five years to address emergency water issues.  In 1937, the Act which established PFRA was amended to allow for the permanent management of lands.  The community pastures program, 85 federal pastures consisting of 2.3 million acres of lands  were set up across the prairie provinces as means to arrest soil drifting on the prairies.

Of these pastures, or public ranches, 60 exist in Saskatchewan.  That’s 1.8 million acres, 2,800 sections of land, an area larger than Prince Edward Island.  The vast majority of this land is ancient land which has never been tilled. It comprises part of the less than 20% of the original grasslands that once existed in North America.

The community pastures were established for management of local economies, i.e. to assist farmers and communities, as well as for conservation management, “to manage a productive, biodiverse rangeland.” The practices in the pastures are state-of-the-art and include considerations for “all the creatures that make a living prairie.”  But with the federal government pulling out its commitment, the living laboratories may be lost.  Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said that the job of PFRA is done, the community pastures have achieved their goal.

Candace Savage disagrees. She noted that for an eight million dollar investment the pasture program created $58 million in benefits to local rural communities, “a darn good deal.”  She also noted that despite all the community pasture program has achieved, the prairie ecosystem is dying all around us — plants, animals and birds special to our piece of the northern grasslands are dying off.  31 endangered and threatened species live on the community pastures.

Citing a national report, The State of Canada’s Birds, which draws on 40 years of research, Candace said that no one knows why these insectivore birds are dying off.  It could be because of climate change or the loss of grassland habitat.  She spoke of the whooping cranes that used to nest at Shallow Lake, near Luseland in RM 351 and RM 350, in what is now a community pasture.  The community wants to bring the cranes back but if the land is sold, “the whooping crane will not be re-introduced to the Luseland/Kerrobert area.”  The community needs the expertise of PFRA to do it.

Candace also noted some positive developments since the federal government’s announcement.  Communities of interest are coming together.  Protect the Prairie began a petition campaign which more than 8,500 individuals from Saskatchewan and beyond have signed. The provincial government has vowed to place conservation easements on the pastures if they are sold. A ranchers/stewards alliance has formed to create a new management team for the pastures in southwestern Saskatchewan.  The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) passed a resolution calling on the province to “retain ownership” of the pasture lands.

Still, it all seems too little to hold the grief.  As Candace concluded, “There is wonderful life all around us, and we are its last best hope.” the regina mom hopes we are up to the task.

Tomorrow, communities of interest are gathering at the Orr Centre, 4400 4th Ave in Regina from 8:30 to 4:30 pm to assess the situation and develop a plan of action. The event will be recorded and placed online. the regina mom will provide that link when it is available.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations also released an excellent backgrounder on the community pasture lands.

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Candace Savage is the best-selling author of Prairie: A Natural History and  the 2012 recipient of the Hilary Weston Writers Trust Prize for Nonfiction for her latest book, A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory in a Prairie Landscape.

With thanks to John Klein for his live-tweeting of the event which helped trm with this post.

Let us send you Ryan’s book!

As the regina mom‘s readers already know, she endorsed Dr. Ryan Meili in his bid for leadership of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.  The idea-sharing, hard work and comaraderie among the folks on the campaign team has instilled in her a renewed sense of commitment to building a better world.  Our creative campaign team came up with this great idea, just in time for holiday gift-giving! the regina mom invites you to be part of this historic time by supporting Ryan’s campaign. Check out the 50/50/7 deal:

Ryan Meili Leadership Campaign

Dear friends:

50 years ago, the Saskatchewan NDP took the bold step of introducing universal healthcare.

50 years ago, the Saskatoon Community Clinic, where Ryan works, was established to provide that care and defend the single-payer, publicly-funded system.

Today, Ryan’s campaign is building on that legacy of big ideas and shared struggle.

And we need your help.

In honour of the 50th anniversary of Medicare, we’re asking 50 people to make a donation of $50 to help us build this movement. And as a gesture of our gratitude, we’ll send you something important in return — read on for details.

We have been very encouraged by the generous support you’ve shown since Ryan launched his bid for the Sask NDP leadership. Your support has given our campaign huge momentum going into the holiday season.

But you know that campaigns cost money, and the bills don’t stop just because the holiday season is approaching. So instead of just asking for another donation, we wanted to offer something meaningful back to you.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare, for the next week we’ll send a signed copy of Ryan’s book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy, to everyone who donates $50 or more in response to this appeal.A Healthy Society book cover

If you’re able to give $100, $150 or $500, you’ll be helping us cover the cost of sending books to people around the province and beyond, while still ensuring that we have the resources we need to run a winning campaign.

To meet upcoming campaign expenses, we need to reach at least 50 donors in the next 7 days. We hope you’ll sign on so we can send you Ryan’s book.

A Healthy Society proposes a new approach to politics, one that can help us put progressive ideas front-and-centre in addressing our shared challenges.

As Former Premier Lorne Calvert has said, “For those who seek the renewal of politics and public health in Canada, Dr. Meili has a vision for both. This work makes an important contribution to progressive dialogue in Canada.”

Lots of people have contacted us to say they want to learn more about Ryan’s vision for a healthy society. His book is the perfect resource for inspiring us all to work together to make it possible.

Help us celebrate the past 50 years, and shape the next 50 years, of progressive innovations in this province.

Please take a moment to make a donation today, either online through our secure server or by calling (306) 361-5755, so we can send you a copy of Ryan’s book.
With hope and gratitude,

Nicole, Jason, Rachel, Gavin, Erica, Dave, and the rest of the Meili campaign team

p.s. Remember: we need to reach at least 50 donors in the next week – please take a moment right now to respond, and then please pass the message on to your networks.

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