Volunteer vs volunteer board

I sit on the boards of a couple of local non-profits, and one of them had a planning meeting recently. At the meeting, the complaint was made that “the board members aren’t stepping up to help run things.”

I’ve heard the same sentiment a dozen times, and i bet everybody in town who sits on a non-profit board has heard it too. And it occurred to me that there’s a fundamental flaw with the way our whole area thinks about, and enacts, the board model. Continue reading

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Attack of the Arts Administrators

This post is prompted by the District of Tofino’s Request for Proposals for a “cultural scan” (on tofino.ca, the 3-page PDF downloads from this link). Scanning the document itself, i am struck by how little it has to do with actual art. In fact, the thing is pure 200-proof bureaucracy in its wording and its thought process, and as such is 180 degrees opposed to art. I suppose i’m not saying it shouldn’t be done; presumably the district’s bureaucratic mill needs it. I am saying nobody should even begin to confuse it with making or advancing art. Continue reading

List life

I can’t resist picking up little bits of paper with writing on them. Being a compulsive list-jotter myself, I just have to know what people consider significant enough to commit to paper. Usually it’s disappointing, but occasionally i happen upon a gem.

As a teen, i spent a year living with my grandmother in Winnipeg. I sometimes used to write messages on bits of paper and drop them strategically on downtown sidewalks, sometimes with a phone number, to see if anybody would call back. They never did. I would have.

This intriguing list at right i just picked up on the sidewalk by the Co-op parking lot. I like the “big undies — LOL,” and have to wonder why the “beach scene” photo got cut in half.

I was on the way to the office, incidentally, to check my email to see what time tonight’s party started. Turns out the party isn’t for two weeks — something i’d have known if i’d listed it in my daybook.

I’ve had lists on the brain for the last week or so, one in particular: Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s famous “five stages of grief,” from her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. Thing is, at any given time i can never remember more than three items on the damn list. So for posterity’s sake, here it is, courtesy of the Wikipedia page:

  1. Denial – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.”
  2. Anger – “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
  3. Bargaining – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”
  4. Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”
  5. Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.

Seems to me that list applies to much more in life than just terminal illness. A few things come to mind.

  1. Most life changes, big or small
  2. Many relationships
  3. Finding accommodation in Tofino

Tiny house = affordable house

Given Tofino’s longtime agonizing over our affordable housing crisis — played out for years as summer staffing shortages, now escalating to the threat of school closure — it’s interesting that tiny houses have not been looked at as part of the solution.

As far as i know, there’s a minimum square footage requirement on habitations in the district. (Can anybody confirm that?) Which, combined with the price of land on the West Coast, pretty much guarantees that truly affordable housing cannot be achieved within the free market paradigm. Hence the resulting contortions of the Tofino Housing Corporation, now five years and some $300,000 into its mandate (per this Westerly News article), with groundbreaking for the first units now set to start early in 2010.

I see it as a “rung” effect: For an affordable-housing strategy to be effective, you can’t just build a handful of units and fill them up, because then everything comes to a stop and the affordable housing issues reappear. Affordable housing has to be seen as the introductory rung on the accommodation ladder. The idea is that, once people have built up some equity in the affordable house, they can use that to move up to market housing, thereby freeing up their affordable unit to enable others to hop onto the ladder.

But with entry-level market condos starting at $265,000, and houses at $349,000 (figures from realtor.ca), it seems that most Tofitians — with a 2006 median income of $22,696, per the community facts page from BC Stats — will find even the lowest of existing rungs out of reach.

I’m not being critical here, just pointing out that the system the THC is working within does not lend itself to quick solutions. It does lend itself to ghettoized affordable housing, clumped  together in one area, and not spread out through the village (which strikes me as a superior approach).

Tiny houses have evolved into a well developed field of  design, and can be eminently liveable for one or two people. There are a slew of websites devoted to the subject. One of the best is TinyHouseDesign.com. From that site, here are the free plans for an 8′ x 16′ Tiny Solar House (4.9 Meg PDF download) — a 128-square-foot gem that (the plans say) could be built for $4-8,000 US. That would go a long way toward getting some people, at least, off the money-pit of renting and onto the escalator of ownership.

More sites: TheTinyLife.com …  SmallLivingJournal.com