Archive for May, 2015

Remembering Our Dear Friend Mike

May 25, 2015

Mike C was one of the best people I have ever had the privilege to meet

It is with a very heavy heart that we learned about the passing of our long time friend and volunteer Mike C. Profiled on our blog the qualities we described then continued to apply until the last time we saw him this past January when his battle with cancer forced him to take some time off.

He was always a caring, and generous person and made many lasting friends here.  Through his struggles with cancer he never lost his incredibly positive attitude.  He was always full of encouragement and support for those around him, and the many people he helped directly by assembling their food hampers.

His absence will be felt in many profound ways, but the qualities that he demonstrated are an example to all of us, and will inspire us as we carry on the work of helping others that he took such joy in doing.

A visitation will be held tomorrow, Tuesday May 26, as detailed here.

If you knew Mike please leave a comment below and join us in celebrating his life.

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What Inspires Community Builders like Linda K?

May 20, 2015

Today I’m happy to share a short profile of Linda K, the soft spoken community builder who I first met running the Live and Learn Program.  She is now an integral part of the Sunnydale Community Centre. Thanks to our BSW student Lindsay, who sat down with Linda and had the following to share with us.

Where do you work and what do you do?

“I work at the Sunnydale Community Centre in North Waterloo. It is a wonderfully warm and welcoming community which is home to many individuals and families living on a low income, including many new Canadians from varied cultural backgrounds. I work in partnership with residents and community partners to help identify and provide services and programs that meet community needs.” (more…)

Shut Up and Take My Money, part three! (Or, why cash transfers aren’t a silver bullet for food banks)

May 13, 2015

I spent the first two parts of this series with a bit of existential navel-gazing about food banks: should we close them down and give people money instead? Wouldn’t that be more efficient, and less paternalistic? So far, my answer is an emphatic maybe. On the one hand, people can make their own food choices with cash, and a complicated and intrusive bureaucracy would disappear.  On the other hand, that same infrastructure allows us to turn small donations into large amounts of food assistance.

In Debt to China

Cash rules everything around us

This post is part three of three, and that being so, it is time to reveal my bold answers to previously intractable problems.

It is wrongheaded to hold up cash transfers as the solution. Celebrating wealth because it gives us more choice and appears to increase our freedom has only ever worked for a few, at a great cost to many; and, ultimately, makes it more difficult to imagine new ways of living together and caring for each other.

Give a woman a fish, and she eats for a day. Teach a woman to fish, we are told, and she can feed herself forever. Give a man a can of tuna, and he eats for a day. Give a man some cash, and he decides.

I’ve so far been considering which is better, but why must these be the only options? What if her boat has a hole in it? What if her ancestors polluted and overfished all the rivers? Why are all these people fishing by themselves, for themselves? The questions we ask, and how we ask them, limits the range of possible answers and how we imagine alternatives–or not. (more…)

Shut Up and Take My Money, part two! (Or, why cash transfers aren’t a silver bullet for food banks)

May 6, 2015

Should we scrap food banks and instead give people money? In the first part of this series I outlined–with the help of a couple recent articles–why we should just give money. Food banks are disrespectful, and paternalistic. At the very least, people should be able to choose what they put in their own bodies, right? Food banks are also inefficient, requiring so many trucks and warehouses and volunteers. Giving money instead of food is a good idea, but, Debbie Downer here, I think it’s still more complicated, and that we can still do better. In what follows I complicate the two criticisms of food banking: paternalism and inefficiency.

Food banks and charities are paternalistic?

First off, what’s wrong with paternalism? Paternalism means I substitute my judgement for yours, because I claim to know better. In some cases, we accept or welcome other people’s authority in this way. When I’m sick, I choose to go to the doctor, and I happily give up my decision making to her.

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However, part of what makes my life worth living is the feeling that I have more or less determined it for myself, or at least had a major say in most major decisions that affect me. Part of what it means to respect another human is to respect their ability to make decisions for themselves, and part of what it means to grow up is to ‘be allowed’ to make those decisions for yourself. This is true despite the fact that true ‘self-determination’ is a myth: we are social animals born into environments not of our choosing, constrained by the circumstances and histories that produced us. (more…)