Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The ultimate in recycling: the human body.

I have a T-shirt from GreenGo Recycling featuring a stick person with a recycle loop for a head, measuring the valuable metals and elements in the typical human body. Meant as a joke, it reminds me that our bodies really can be recycled to save lives.
Many otherwise healthy people need a new organ to replace a failing one. Organ transplantation is a well-established system, but sadly there are always shortages. You won’t need your organs after death, so please, indicate your donor status on your ID, and make sure your family is aware of your wishes, lest they object if the time comes.
Early this year I wrote of my cousin Sam, tragically killed at 20 in a cycling accident. I mentioned the poor girl whose cleft palate was fixed after Sam noticed it, and the school built in his memory. But I didn’t mention that when he died, his liver, kidneys, pancreas, and corneas were passed on to those in need, and he now lives on in 4 other people. Death is tragic, but if it can save the lives of others, surely that adds some meaning.
Luckily there is much we can do while still alive to recycle our bodies. There was a time when my hair reached my waist, but in the 2004 election, it had to come off. Rather than let it go to waste, I donated it to the Hair Prosthesis Centre. If you feel like cutting back long hair, or are willing to grow for a good cause, please consider donating it. Growing hair just means barber costs to you can mean the world to someone who’s lost their own due to surgery, treatment, or illness.
For years I’ve donated blood, another way you can give now. No more painful than a vaccination, many lives can be helped with each unit of whole blood or platelets. It’s even said that giving blood helps men regulate their iron levels. Canadian Blood Services also administers the One Match program for stem cells and bone marrow. Right now they have a special need for ethnic males aged 17 to 35, but any healthy person 17 to 50 is a potential donor. All it takes is a cheek swab; you’ll only be contacted if an exact match ever comes up.
Even whole bodies can be recycled, in the form of zombies. Burl’s Creek will host its first Run for Your Lives zombie obstacle race on September 22, and there is still room to register for this unique event in support of the American Red Cross. And October 20th will be Barrie’s annual Zombie Walk in support of the Elizabeth Fry Grocery Assistance Program.
Your body: yours to recycle!
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Donate your organs and help others live life"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Co-operation is the key to successful politics

Can Canadian politicians of different parties work together for the common interest? I’m about to find out.
This weekend at the Green Party’s 2012 convention in Sidney, BC, we won’t just hear from our own Member of Parliament, Elizabeth May, and other green-themed presenters. Featured speakers also include sitting Liberal MP (and former leader) St├ęphane Dion, and formerly NDP MP Bruce Hyer. Dion will be there to share his ideas on electoral reform, while Hyer shares his perspective as Parliament’s only current fully independent Member.
I believe it’s unprecedented for one party to feature MPs from two other parties to speak at their national convention. Could this spark a new era of nonpartisan politics, concentrating on what we have in common, rather than what divides?
Interestingly, May won’t be the only elected Green on the stage. Panelists include Green Party parliamentarians and senators from Finland, New Zealand, France, and England. Although May’s election last year was a first for Canada, it is not unusual around the world. Green members are elected to parliaments, and sit in governments, in many countries, including cabinet positions and even serving as premier and prime minister!
Meetings in Sidney will highlight the ongoing international cooperation which is integral to the global Green movement. In my own role on the Canadian Green Party’s shadow cabinet, I have been part of co-writing a joint statement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a treaty currently being negotiated between trading nations around the Pacific Ocean. In consultation with elected Green senators in Australia and New Zealand, I have watched a consensus grow. A joint Australian-Canadian-New Zealand statement will be released soon, perhaps at this weekend’s convention, and we expect the Green Party of the United States to also sign on shortly.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been liaising with the office of Caroline Lucas, leader and first elected Green Party MP in the UK. The Green Party of England & Wales shares values with us, and we are monitoring the progress at Westminster of Lucas’ bills for land tax reform and landlord accreditation.
Meanwhile, back in cottage country, local representatives of the NDP, Liberal, and Green parties of Simcoe North have initiated meetings to see where they can find common cause on shared policy positions.
So if the summer “silly season” of Canadian politics, or the even sillier antics south of the border, make you feel politics must be divisive or combative, you can take heart. Here in Canada, we have some politicians cooperating across party lines and around the world to protect what we hold dear and forge a better future. It’s our mission, and we’ll keep at it even while most sensible Canadians are in summer vacation mode.
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Co-operation integral to global green movement".
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Locaholic: Flying Monkeys adds to the flavour of downtown

Recently I presented the term “locaholic” for those who prefer beverages produced in the local community, especially for pairing with local food. Barrie locaholics are blessed to have Barrie’s long beer-making history continue at the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery.
Rooted right downtown, this outfit launched in 2004, just as the Molson beer plant was closing down, and was originally named after Robert Simpson, Barrie’s first mayor, a successful 19th-century brewer. The craft brewery scene has grown steadily since then, and as it became too crowded with beers named after long-dead men, The Flying Monkeys were released. This new moniker not only attracts more interest, it also better reflects the creative and quirky spirit of their brew line.
Barrie, of course, has a storied beer-making history, stretching back to the 9-Mile Portage and related military establishments. Back then, beer was usually made where it was consumed, instead of being shipped across the country or around the world as is common today. Beer made to ship isn’t like the brews of old; chemical preservatives and additives stray far from the traditional 4-ingredient recipes.
In contrast, craft beers are true to tradition and tend to leave out chemicals or preservatives, but they certainly don’t lack for flavour. Canadian beer always had a good reputation; now with artisan brewers stepping up to the plate, it’s getting even better. And the rise of craft beers means you can once again enjoy the local brew in your local pub – if they’ll stock it. Sadly, it’s often a challenge to find Flying Monkeys in Barrie establishments. You can help change that, by asking for it each time you visit.
Luckily, Flying Monkeys isn’t limited to supplying locals. They recently doubled their production capacity and have reached significant sales across the province, with interest now starting to come from outside Ontario. Meanwhile, their main-street glass-front (and back) production facility linking Dunlop Street with Kempenfelt Bay is a great tourist draw, especially on Fridays.
The Flying Monkeys always try to show respect for our community and our environment. Sensitive to being on the lake, they take care what goes down their drains. They are very efficient in water use, even filtering out and re-using their cleaning chemicals. They are even experimenting with ways to recycle the CO2 produced in fermentation to use for carbonation instead of just venting it as is common practice.
I’ve always enjoyed their flagship Flying Monkeys Amber Ale (formerly Robert Simpson Confederation Ale), and found their preservative-free Antigravity the only light beer worth drinking. For the palate that likes a challenge, they feature several “hoppy” flavours, and I am looking forward to the introduction this month of Stereovision, an American kristall wheat beer. Perhaps you’ll join me in a pint?
Written for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner.
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.