Seattle Layover

We managed quite a lot on our layover on the flight from Sacramento to home. I flew into Seattle and had time to see mom, Janice, and Luke (who happened to be in town for business – bonus). Ron and I attended a concert, too. Then it was up early for the final two legs of the trip.

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Final Lent Reflection

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. On Ash Wednesday I wrote about plans to write throughout Lent, especially on liberation learning, and I said I’d cut back on social media. While I managed to stay away from social media I did not write much this season. Why?

Too much, and not ready. Meaning I had too much to think about and I’m not ready to share – at least not here. But the exercise worked in terms of getting to thinking. Lots of thinking, about me. Not about liberation learning, but about teaching and learning as it relates to what I do. I am exploring limits, contradictions, and uncertainties (doubts).

So what will I share? Human relationships are not just, but are just. Human beings are not compassionate, but are compassionate. Public education is transformative and respectful, but it not is not. Life is meaningful but life is alos meaningless. Limits, contradictions, uncertainties (doubts).

I want to focus on doubts. When I was a labour organizer I felt certain about what I did. Now I don’t. Back then, I helped empower workers through narrative and relationship. I identified opportunities for a change of condition – including wages.

In this job I found a deficit (in certain power relations between workers and their  boss) that could be balanced, and I worked with people to change the balance  of power in the relationship at work. This resulted in higher wages and better working conditions. I believed that the process was centred on liberation, in thought and action.

Through critical thinking and intentional action, people could work together and make the world a better place. I believed that this was “just” – it was justified because it was the right, morally so, thing to do. I also believed that the work of organizing was sacred, as is all work, and that we did more than raise wages. We demonstrated dignity.

In my old job, I spent (almost) all of my time thinking about how to change the balance of power between workers and their bosses, or the institution that they worked for. This was both stressful and immensely satisfying.

I didn’t realize how satisfying it was until I quit doing it. Almost every conversation had a purpose and was with someone who was interested in what we, I, were taking about. Things were urgent and had to be done. My work style was built on objectives that were hard to meet and impossible for others to ignore. I enjoyed the challenge, the attention, the sense of doing right, and the power of it all.

But as with anything there were tradeoffs, and these went beyond “stress”. The work took me out of the moment and brought me into to conflict, most meaningfully into conflict with those whose pay and conditions would improve because of the work I did.

I mostly ignored this part of what I did, not in terms of not paying attention but in terms of not accepting. I told people what I did, but I did not ask permission. And even if I had asked permission, few could imagine what I had in mind. Every step and every outcome, to the day, was planned long in advance. When I stopped not paying attention I quit, rather than resolve.

But did I? Did I quit? Yes and no. I am a public school teacher now, working as part of another system that changes lives through education and empowerment. Unlike my work as an organizer, now I work in a system that is big, noticed, publicly accountable, and transparent in its intent. But like my work before, the public school system changes people in ways that you can only understand when looking back. Teaching is bound by ethics, ethics that I prefer to those of labour organizing (which was as much politics as education), but these ethics operate within a bundle contradictions.

What is teaching? Empowering students and communities through education, at its best. Oppressing students through compulsory indoctrination into a system that goes against the student as a human member of their community, at its worst. How’s this for a contradiction: Consent as continuum, ranging from recognized by the state as an individual right; the recognized and exercised right of the parent to raise their child; implicitly exercised by the student herself in the form of compliance; to explicitly exercised consent of the student who wants and understands the value of education, but does not understand until the process has run its course.

I feel less certain about everything. I imagine that this is a good sign. I hope that I am finally resolving, or responding, to the question of respect as response. I fought labour campaigns through narrative. I’d like to teach through dialogue. But I have so much to figure out first. We do. And that is, absent everything I am withholding from this blog, what I thought about this Lent.

To be continued…in good time.

Visit to San Francisco

Not too many photos from today’s “Day in the City” but here’s one as the train left along the Bay, heading back to Davis:

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Lent Update

Lent happens during spring. Both are times of renewal. I haven’t had the time to write (or, more honesty, not the focus to write), but Lent has been on mind. I stopped drinking coffee, an unplanned departure for the season. This has cleared up my thinking, given me time to feel a bit more, and allowed me to consider why I am here, what I am doing, who I am, and how to be. And today I started to write. Not here. But out of my head and into the world – locked on a screen but freed nonetheless.

Movie Night

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Lent

I am still not ready to join a church in my new home. I am not entirely sure why, but I will continue to wait and reflect on this. This leaves me with the same strong desire to continue traditions – even without a church community within which to carry them out. (Perhaps once I have practices in place, I will feel ready to join with others.)

The season of Lent is special for me. As a child (and young adult) I took the sacrificial and reflective tradition of the season seriously and I especially like to draw on these memories in this stage of my life. I want to be reminded. I also want to do, not just reflect. But herein lies a tension, since meaningful sacrifice is essentially impossible given my circumstances; I would need to disrupt to truly sacrifice and that’s not what I am doing at this stage in my life. But I can refuse, symbolically, and I can do more. Usually, during Lent, I fast and reflect on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during the season. I also give up something that’s not a sacrifice, but a good reminder. And I add something that makes a difference.

So here is my plan: It was good to be intentional around home ceremony during Advent (light candle, readings, etc.). I will do this every night starting this Wednesday, and I’ll post reflections on my blog to hold myself to this and to have something to look back on. I’ll continue with fasting on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. What to “give up”? Social media after 5 PM and on weekends. And what to add? Giving a serious go at writing about liberation learning with a community of writers. (During Advent I researched some blog networks of the sort, and I think I will go the next step and write four reflections. And it’s time to focus: Liberation learning is what I am writing about for the season. Let’s see how that goes, but for now it’s time to focus.)

Rainbow

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Pop Culture Night

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Building a House Concept

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One of the reasons why I wanted to become a public school teacher and move to northern BC was so we could buy or, better, build our dream house. We don’t know if Haida Gwaii will be our permanent home (not until there is a continuing contract in a reasonable amount of time will we know this), but we’re pretty certain that it will be in northern BC (or, less likely, in the Yukon). Top spots are: Here (Haida Gwaii, Tlell seems most favoured), Terrace, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Kitimat, and (then) Whitehorse.

But even though the location is still open, we’re ready to start planning the timing, the house itself, and the budgeting. (We’ve had a year to see if northern and rural living works for us, and we love it. So now the fun part begins!)

For me (and Ron seems fine to go along for the ride on this with me) a dream house is small but has plenty of spaces for both occupants to be alone and quiet (or noisy without bothering the other). Here’s what I want for my dream house:

  1. A forest around it
  2. An office for each of the two of us
  3. A bathtub
  4. A pantry with room for 1 year’s overstock groceries (and a freezer)
  5. The fridge in a separate room with a door to keep the sound out
  6. A dining room
  7. A living room
  8. A guest room
  9. A wood stove
  10. Two floors
  11. A hallway
  12. Large windows
  13. Patio/porch
  14. Cute

Too often homes are either small and open concept, big and open concept, or really big and open concept (but big enough to have places to be alone, at least). The only one of these kinds that would remotely fit my dream is the really big kind of house, which I don’t like because it seems like a waste of money and too much space.

Worse, houses with enough spaces come with all sorts of fancy things, since they are so big and I guess need stuff to fill all the bigness. Given this, my dream house has had a bit of a problem. How can it have the number of spaces (7 rooms) and the level of separateness (two main zones) that I want, without being simply big? Here’s what I think will work:

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The key to this is having two small places. One (the house) is a small house. Small rooms. The rooms are perfectly sized, but there are not enough for the full criteria to be met (2 are missing). But add a cabin and…you get the two wanted rooms with great sound separation, with one office in the cabin and the other in the house (for all but 320 added sf). And there’s the plan.

But where to put it?

The second big consideration is building here in Haida Gwaii. The constant advice I get is to check over and inspect, not to expect things to be to code, and to expect complications. The other advice is to use wood stove for heating and to make mould prevention a priority. (There’s tons more advice, as well. But those two sets of advice are the most repeated so far.)

One constructive idea that several people have said that works is to get a pre-fab house kit. All the parts come in at once and everything is sourced to code. Three people have made a point of this as one viable option. I like the idea.

So I went house-dream-concept shopping this week and found one supplier whose designs I like (haven’t done much research on the quality yet, just the designs). Here are the two buildings that I like (the above drawings are based on these):

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But when to get it?

We’ve settled on the concept of a small house + a cabin and building using a kit. We have a plan for timing and criteria for location, plus a plan for budgeting. Next is to keep researching and to simply wait (until I know where I will be teaching). Exciting…and a bit fun!

We have mapped out the wait time. This doesn’t depend on where I end up getting a continuing teaching job, since we will be waiting either here or there. There are two buffers in our plan:

  1. Buffer to find out if there will be an opening in the #1 preferred school district (Haida Gwaii)
  2. Buffer to either move and start over, or time find out if enrolment/funding is stable enough for longterm plans

During both buffer phases we can do all of the preparing, so there is not really a delay. Just a wait.

Highlights of 42

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  • The ferry right up the coast and my birthday (last year) on the ferry
  • Living at the Richardson Ranch (with my mom) and in Lawnhill
  • Teaching at Tahayghen and Sk’aadgaa Naay and starting a new career as a public school teacher
  • Having my mom come up to teach me so much about teaching
  • Presenting at the Early Learning Forum
  • Moving to Queen Charlotte (and reuniting with Ron)
  • Being part of Camp Moresby and the Laagaanaay at Tahayghen (two of the best examples of educational processes that I have seen in practice)
  • Working with Toby and Stu in outdoor education
  • Getting a new truck
  • Going to Dublin, Galway, and London with my mom
  • Seeing Aunt Mary and Uncle Alan in northern England
  • The boat trip to Kiusta and the tour of the village
  • Going to Arizona for Uncle John’s funeral
  • Visits from my dad and step mom, mom, and mother in law
  • Game and movie nights with Ron (and book club) and starting to make new friends and acquaintances in our new home
  • Christmas and New Year’s at home (and with co-workers and neighbours)

Trip to Kiusta

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Visit to my dad’s in the summer (4th of July)

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Visit to England (my mom and Aunt Mary)

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Our new truck (and house behind it)

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Karen Underwood in Dublin

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Entering London for a day – saw two incredible plays 

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Uncle John’s funeral

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View from my porch in Queen Charlotte

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Camp Moresby

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Things to look forward to (43)…

  • Taking more hikes and spending more time off
  • Visiting my mother in law in Davis, California (during spring break)
  • Going to Ashland and watching 9 plays with Steve, Laura, mom, and Aunt Janice
  • Kim’s visit this summer
  • Traveling to Terrace area for camping with Ron this summer
  • Luke’s wedding in Chiapas, Mexico (!)