You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

(CN: Mentions of death and fire damage)

Actually, yes; yes you do.

It’s a technique used to both fight and prevent dangerous wildfires. A section of forest, or field, or whatever other terrain is under threat is subjected to a controlled burn. This serves two purposes. The main one is that it creates a pocket of space of cleared material that cannot feed the fire. The wildfire burns to the edge of the cleared space, and finding no fuel, burns out.

Additionally, the controlled burn clears the area of dead vegetation and speeds up the rate at which nutrients are returned back into the soil. This helps speed the growth of fresh green vegetation, which prevents the likelihood of future wildfires developing.

It’s actually a tactic being used right now in British Columbia to help fight the devastating wildfires that have taken place this year. In fact, the current wildfires are as bad as they are right now in part because the use of fire in firefighting was dramatically decreased in the last several years because of the perception that fires are always harmful. Because people were more afraid of potential property damage now, or a reduction in tourism, than they were of the deaths and devastation that would result from not taking the appropriate preventative steps.

Continue reading “You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire”

You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire
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Rise of the Fool

They called him a joke.

They said the people who supported him were fringe elements, just a bunch of extremists without popular support. Rabble-rousers making up the audience of beer halls; a bunch of drunk fools getting into trouble. Just a bunch of children.

His book was a bestseller.

His explicit hate and racism was said to be just for show. Not genuine, but just a way to gain the masses trust and attention. Interesting how no one considered what the fact that such hate would gain the trust of the masses actually meant.

No one thought he would make it very far in politics. He was a joke. There was no way he would actually win.

When he did, the whole world looked at the electors in shock, confusion, and a sense of horror. No one thought he would win.

Even after he won, no one thought he was really a threat. No one believed that he would actually manage to achieve his horrifying promises. It was all just rhetoric they said. He was too incompetent. He was too weak.

When armed resistances started up, protesting and threatening violence against any who spoke against him, it was excused as the childish antics of angry young men. Not a representation of what they really thought, but just a manifestation of the anger they felt at being disenfranchised by bad economic times.

The rise in vandalism and violence was excused as childish antics and not an indication of how they really felt.

The world mocked him. Comedians at the time drew attention creating caricatures of him as a bumbling angry clown with a funny appearance.

Who am I talking about? Continue reading “Rise of the Fool”

Rise of the Fool

Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities

Dear Councillor Taylor,

I hope you are well.

My name is Ania Bula. I am one of your constituents living at the A_____ neighbourhood near Bayshore Park. This summer, the city has been working on updating the local Community Fieldhouse to better accommodate the needs of the neighbourhood. In consultation with local community organizations, the city was notified that our community would greatly benefit from having a full working kitchen, which in particular would include a separate handwashing station.  

It has recently come to our attention that the plans were modified by the city and that instead of the discussed kitchen, they are putting in a warming-kitchen only, which does not even include  the separate handwashing station. Continue reading “Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities”

Dear City of Ottawa: Community Kitchens Help Build Communities

It’s not about the A

One of the many jobs I’ve had is that of tutor. I’ve helped teach a variety of subjects including math, various sciences, and English. Additionally, I have designed and taught smaller classes, and have also helped siblings and friends study and understand the class material. I spent a lot of time thinking about teaching and about what and how we learn.

Growing up was interesting. My parents were relatively new immigrants to Canada, and it was their first experience with the Canadian school system. Much of their approach to education came from the European systems they were raised in. While grades mattered to them, education was about something more than regurgitating back information and facts.  I never realized how lucky I was in some ways for that, until I started hearing students repeating the same idea over and over again: it doesn’t matter what the right answer is, it matters what the teacher thinks it is. The only thing that matters is the grade they get.

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It’s not about the A

Not Slacktivism After All

Blogging often gets criticised as being a form of slacktivism: a way of looking like you are participating in social change without actually “doing” anything.

There have been some great pieces out there criticising how this idea is ableist, classist, and I’m sure several other isms as well. Moreover, as someone who is descended from several people who participated in major revolutions, I am more aware than most of the awesome impact that words and writing can have in promoting social change.

Today however, I got to have physical proof that my writing does in fact make a difference. I received a call from an official at the City of Ottawa. Apparently my blog post about how ableism almost killed me last week, made its way to their Facebook page.

I was being contacted so that they could tell me that the sidewalk where my accident happened has had a concrete ramp installed as a temporary measure until they can replace that part in the future with a proper dip ramp that usually serve as accessible access to street crossings.

Because of my blogpost, that curb is no longer a hazard for other people like me. Not going to lie, that news made my day.

Not Slacktivism After All

Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2

Part One Here … 

This is a fairly long post, so I split it into two parts. I ask however, that you not respond to either of them unless you have read both. There are nuances to both parts that I think are pretty essential to one another. Because this is dealing with some heavy and possibly delicate areas of theory, I’m pretty terrified of some of it being lost. 

I’ve run into similar arguments before at different times, being told that black people cannot be ableist. At the time I believed, and still do, that the statement is completely false. Not only is claiming that black people are not influenced in the same way by social prejudice as everyone else seems to me like a form of benevolent racism which is still harmful, but it is especially damaging to disabled black people. By that logic, a disabled black person who has to struggle with ableism in her community and in her family would be told that her experiences are not real.

It can be tempting to excuse a black person’s ableism towards a white person given the history of racism, but even with the racial power dynamics at play, ableism hurts black people too. A person who feels comfortable insulting someone on the basis of disability because they are white, is unlikely to treat disabled people of their own race any better. The ableism will inform their actions towards other disabled people, and even when it doesn’t, the ableism they display at disabled white people, will cause splash damaged to disabled black people.

However, in having the discussion, it is important for me to be aware of my own privilege.

I commented to a friend recently, that in these discussions the framing is always a white woman talking to a black woman, but why can’t it ever be framed as a disabled woman talking to an abled woman. This was, after all, a discussion about ableism and I was speaking as someone affected by it.

The answer of course is because it is always both.

Continue reading “Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2”

Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2

Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2

This is a fairly long post, so I split it into two parts. I ask however, that you not respond to either of them unless you have read both. There are nuances to both parts that I think are pretty essential to one another. Because this is dealing with some heavy and possibly delicate areas of theory, I’m pretty terrified of some of it being lost. 

Earlier, I participated in a bait thread on a friend’s wall that made the statement: All men who do not stop street harassment, are complicit in it. Many of us came onto the thread to agree with this statement, until someone jumped in to accuse all of us of being racist. The argument was that it is not always safe for certain men to speak up in certain circumstances. I agreed that this was true, but argues that that didn’t change their complicity. The responder then accused me of having said that all men are culpable always.

I will concede that perhaps a clarification could have been added specifying that this was referring specifically to gendered street harassment, and not other forms of hate speech that may get thrown about on the streets. While all forms of harassment on the street are bad and should be talked about, there is something unique about gendered harassment in that many people are not convinced it is a bad thing. Many respond to concerns about it saying that “It’s meant as a compliment. I wish people would yell nice things at me walking down the street.” (For the purposes of this post, when I refer to street harassment, I am specifically taking about this gendered type and not all forms of hate speech spoken on the street. )

Continue reading “Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2”

Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2

PSA: Don’t Touch Accessibility Devices

Accessibility Devices are, for all intents and purposes, a part of our bodies and should be treated as such.

DO NOT touch an accessibility device WITHOUT CONSENT. In case this is not clear, I mean the consent of the disabled person.

Do not touch a wheelchair without the consent of the person in it.

Do not touch a walker or a cane without the consent of the person using it.

Do not move a walker or cane out of the way, even if the person isn’t using it right now.

Do not push a wheelchair without consent, even if you are just trying to help. Even if you just want to make it easier for them to get up a hill.

Do not put a cane where the person who needs it can’t reach it. It is not funny.

Do not take a person’s prosthetic. It is not funny.

Do not push a person’s wheelchair out of your way, or to make them go faster. If you wouldn’t shove someone out of the way, then consider pushing someone in a chair as the equivalent.

Do not take a person’s hearing aid. It is not funny.

Do not try to make a person’s hearing aid produce feedback.

Do not push someone wearing a hearing aid into a pool, or spray them with water.

Do not touch a service dog. Doesn’t matter how cute it is. Doesn’t matter how small it is. If the dog is wearing his vest or currently working, DO NOT TOUCH THE DOG. (Or Any Other Service Animal)

Do not talk or stare at a service dog – dogs are social and if they are paying attention to you they are not paying attention to their job. They’re trained, but they’re still animals who CAN get distracted.

 Do not put a walker or a cane somewhere else, even if it is not currently being used.

DO NOT try to help by lifting their walker or the person themselves unless asked. If you offer, respect their no.

Continue reading “PSA: Don’t Touch Accessibility Devices”

PSA: Don’t Touch Accessibility Devices

We Are Not Ironic Comeuppance

There are two comments that are rarely far off when self-proclaimed allies encounter anti-queer politicians.

“I bet he’s secretly queer.”

“I hope he ends up with a queer kid.”

Naïve, ironic, and insensitive in the trademark way of ignorant would-be allies, these comments rankle deeply. Much has been written about how the first of the two effectively assigns all responsibility for society-wide anti-queerness on queer people and absolves from same the straight people who invented and perpetrate it, so today’s topic is the other one.

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We Are Not Ironic Comeuppance

What About People Who Want a Cure?

When discussing the Social Model of Disability, one of the questions that comes up is: what about those people who actually do want a cure, or would benefit from one. What about the people with chronic pain, with terminal illnesses, or with degenerative conditions that do interfere with a person’s ability to function, regardless of accommodations? This very question occasionally leads to clashes within the disability community. Some believe that people with chronic illnesses should not be included under the definition of Disabled People. Still others use the existence of such people to push the Medical Model rather than the Social one.

I’ve seen the argument before that chronically ill people are not disabled in the same way as people with more traditionally defined disabilities like paralysis, hearing loss, vision loss, lack of mobility, and so forth and so forth, because they don’t perform disability the same way as others. The article I read, went on to describe examples of how their white cane, their dark glasses, their inability to navigate unfamiliar environments, even their service dog, all added to the disability performance. With a chronically ill person however, they argued, there is no performance. The ill person can maintain privacy or invisibility, thus not being treated the same way that “real” disabled people are. That chronically ill people are not disabled or even impaired, but rather sick.

Continue reading “What About People Who Want a Cure?”

What About People Who Want a Cure?