Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not for Sale: Resourceful Education

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Based out of California, USA, Not for Sale is an organization dedicated to abolition and education. They act to educate people on the ways that trafficking occur world wide, attempt to provide fare trade options for consumers, and act on the frontline to remove men, women and children from unhealthy, unlawful situations of trafficking.

David Batstone credits the original idea for Not for Sale from an article he read, similar to Craig Kielburger of Ontario, that gave details on a slavery and trafficking related death.

Different abolitionist movements cite different numbers on how many people are trafficked annually and how many people currently live in slavery around the world. Not for Sale gives a number that many sources list: about 30 million. That is nearly the entire population of Canada. This is the number of people currently trafficked or held for the purpose of exploitation and covers any number of different fields. For those readers who have a strong sense of empathy towards people suffering, I recommend you click the link at the bottom, and explore the different avenues of education that this organization offers. It is not just field work, but there are classes and options for those who wish to work on the home field to help stop trafficking. Explore the slavery map and see what's listed. I was surprised to find an article about the next town over from myself I had never heard about, and find that an event I did know of had not been listed. It may surprise you to look at what actually occurs in your back yard. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mayhem and Madness, Unreal Reality

Hey guys, so in the last week my life has gotten a little bit messy. I should still update on time, as this is something incredibly important, but I am going to leave the almost journalistic ones out of it, for now. However, I will still be posting three times a week, attempting to do so on Monday's, Wednesday's, and Thursday's. I'm really excited to say that in the last two weeks, I have had 120 hits on these posts. If you have not had a chance to look through my previous posts, I hope you do so.

I previously stated that my goal was to post a personal update, an article or review, and then a reflection. It is far more likely that I will be posting some of my previously posted writing (stuff you can find elsewhere on the internet), an article or review, and then one that will be in different categories (see my business proposal update, and in the future I plan to include survey's and requests for opinions on different story lines or characters. I may post synopsis' of my new or upcoming writing or details about certain stories or characters). For now, you will have to forgive me, I am going to post a story I wrote at age 14 for my English class. I got the equivalent of an A+ on it, and a note from my teacher that they did not want to know what lead me to write it. When I was 18, I re-worked the story and submitted it to my first writers craft teacher. She was not nearly as content with it. Her criticism was that it was not realistic. Read it and let me know what you think?

Date: 6th February, 2008Draft: #2
Title: Unreal Reality

The girl stood as a lone survivor. She was the destructive hurricane that had wrecked everything in her path and was, only now, slowly dying. With little heed to the remaining proof of her earlier temper, the girl kicked any of the objects she felt were unnecessarily hindering to her out of her way as she journeyed the remaining five steps to the far corner of her room. 
There she stood, oddly detached, as she surveyed her reflection in the mirror. It was a full-length mirror, and it was one of the only objects that remained intact in her room. The girl cocked her head as she looked at herself. It took a moment for her to even realize that she was, indeed, looking at herself. The reflection that looked back from the mirror at her was far removed from the other her she knew. This reflection looked nothing like the other girl, this reflection resembled a bloody wraith. 
The girl looking back at her had bloody gouges down her face, the rapidly drying red was the only color on a face that was otherwise the color of death. A receding redness in her eyes left behind a deep and vivid green coloring. Smudges of mascara had not fully been wiped off by the scalding hot water. The water had also caused red and nearly raw spots over much of her skin that she knew would fade and disappear by morning. Her hair was a rapidly drying tangle of auburn curls, and blood dripped from viscous scratches that criss-crossed each other across her legs and arms.
She had a headache. The Advil she had taken earlier had not helped. It grew progressively work instead and now her stomach also hurt as well. She turned to the shelf where she normally kept her migraine relief- only to find that she had knocked the shelf at some point, from the wall. Clutching the corner of her towel she knelt and shifted piles of her belongings until she found what she had been searching for. Picking up the bottle of extra strength migraine relief Advil, she quickly and efficiently dry swallowed the capsules. Carefully she walked the other two steps to her bed. The girl crawled into the corner of the mattress where the two walls of her room met. Here she curled up, he back in the corner and slept almost immediately, exhausted from the spending of so much emotional energy just an hour before. 
It was still dark outside when, just a short three hours later, her alarm went off jolting her into the world. Thought she wanted to hit the snooze as any average teenager would, she instead stretched and climbed from her corner. Gathering the towel about her again, the girl went back to the shower.
This time she did not scald herself with the water. The girl did not tear out her hair or gouge out her skin. She had bitten off her nails so she could not again scratch herself. Her eye color had faded back again to the neutral hazel it always was. The couple hours of sleep had done nothing to abate the headache so she took three more Advil capsules, and suddenly the girl from hours before was gone, and the other girl had returned. Choosing her outfit carefully and applying her makeup with perfection she hid the signs of the night before. She readied herself for the day of school before her, smiling to herself and hiding any sign that she was not feeling well.
Throughout the day she laughed and joked with her classmates. At lunch she hid in the library, taking a few more pills for the migraine so she could focus on her reading. By the end of the day she had all but forgotten the other girl.
As she stood at her locker, every now and then someone would stop and talk to her. She would wave and make a return comment, smiling and discussing classes or homework. Nobody mentioned the look that was new to her that day. They didn’t ask if she was all right when she fell silent at moments, or the far away and lonely look she had tried unsuccessfully to hide all day.
She swallowed a few more Advil to keep her from getting sick on the walk home from school. She intended to go home, do her homework, take a bath, eat a light supper and then sleep right through to the next day. That being decided, she headed for the half an hour walk home.
When the students got to school the next morning, she didn’t come in. It wasn’t a big deal since she had seemed pretty ill the day before. They all figured she’d just been sick and so no one was really worried. The first announcement of the morning was made by the principle.
His voice, which was normally cheery and an attempt to grab people’s attention, was quiet and subdued. The change in tone caused more quiet than it would have otherwise. “Hello students,” he began, “last night on of your class mates was killed. A truck hit her on her way home from school. She reportedly walked into the oncoming transporter and was dead from her injuries by the time the police arrived.” 
He stopped for a moment. Perhaps to collect wayward thoughts and gather them into a coherent statement. “It is always awful when we loose one of our students, but especially when we loose one in this manner. It seems that it was a successful suicide attempt, and the driver did not see her prior to the collision.” He let this sink in before continuing, “There is a social worker and investigating officer here this afternoon, anyone with information on this student is asked to come and talk to them and tell them what they know or what they may have noticed in the past couple of days. There are also grief councilors available after the announcements today for anybody who would like to see them. Thank you.” With those final two words, the Principle’s voice died.
None of the girl’s classmates said anything for several long moments. The teachers asked if anybody knew anything- but nobody did. They asked if anybody needed to go to guidance to see the councilors, but nobody did. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Poetry for a purpose

I started writing several years ago. There has been very few items I have ever been proud to claim as my own though. When I was in my early teens, I began to try at writing poetry. Today I will share the two pieces I am most proud of. 

Number one: It is a memorial poem I wrote when my uncle died close to christmas a few years ago. I read it at the funeral, as I stood with my sister and his eldest daughter who was my best friend for quite some time. Please acknowledge the fact that these poems are cited as mine, and while I do not mind if you use them for something else, that they were written with certain purposes and emotional commitments behind them.

Number two: Was one I wrote to go with a piece of artwork I drew- one of the very few that turned out anything like I had hoped they would. It was also intended to be the prologue to a story line I have worked on and off with for quite some time. Eventually, this poem will act either as a chapter heading, or the prologue itself. Again, note that these are mine, and I have posted them elsewhere on the internet with the copy right to myself.

Angels singing in the sky, 
Though man can't see them with his eye;
But you who's gone can see their splendor,
Shining light, the path of the mender.

Time will pass, and we’ll move on,
Though no doubt you won’t be gone.
As long as those who knew you best,
Continue to remember, you may rest.

You blazed your path-
Though your life was short,
You left your family
-With good memories in their heart.

You had your share of ups and downs, 
Though your love, it knew no bounds.
We’ve got to go, and let you Live;
Though it won’t be easy, we’re willing to forgive,
That you went and left us, because your pain is over,
Good-bye and please, make sure we don’t surrender.
To the times around, help us be strong, and maybe it won’t really seem that long,
For next we see you, then we’ll all be much better. 


Faeries here, so bravely dancing;
Wings of light, dreams enhancing,
This realm of flight I enter here
Though I'm just a mortal mere.

The trail ahead is lost to sight-
The mornings sun is burning bright.
No sign of anyone, the path seems cold,
Yet night of last they danced so bold.

Here and there among the grass
A ring is found, though it isn't brass;
Not set in gold, no jewels found
A fairy home, they danced round and round. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Presenting Profits

"In my recent experiences with death and funerals, I have come to appreciate the need for rituals, for the ceremony, where once I simply felt impatience, even disgust, at the whole procedure. It is hard, though, hard to make a meaningful ceremony out of death in America in our time. Certainly the funeral industry isn't interested in authenticity, it's interested in efficiency, profit, and assembly-line repetition."
ADOLF HESCHL, Das Intelligente Genom

Can you guess what sickens me? According to the internet, the average cost of a funeral alone (no, this does not include a "donation" which is often mandatory if you wish for a member of clergy to be present, nor does it cover ANY of the burial costs) is between $5000 and $7000. My mothers, for instance, cost well over $7000, and that gave us the bare minimum of what was offered, with a number of things given for free because we were personally connected to the family that ran the funeral parlor. This is without the other $5000- $10 000 it will cost us to have an urn of cremated remains buried. 

What is worse is the often blatant exploitation of grieving family members. Thank God that we had family and friends there for us, helping to reassure us and to help with the organization and cost or else I have no idea what would have happened to my mom. I just read an article online, which stated that for those that are "poor", "a service is [still] available to these members of society that helps to ensure they too can rest in peace" - the article further states that if one is on social assistance, they MIGHT qualify for up to $2500 for funeral costs. (See: Dying Poor )

Did you know that the cost of a gravestone alone, in my area, starts at $4000? Or that the cost to dig a small grave for the urn (let alone what it would be for a coffin)is $500? That is with a plot pre-purchased. 

A report by Calderdale and Citizens Advice, best illustrated the reason why people continue to beggar themselves over the cost of a funeral.
" Funeral rites are as old as humanity itself, and perform important psychological, sociologica, religious and symbolic functions for bereaved living that are left behind. They play a vital role within the bereavement process, as a funeral can assist the bereaved with acknowledging to themselves that the death has actually occurred, as well as providing an opportunity for the bereaved to publicly and jointly express their grief, share memories, and come together in a forma ceremony dedicated to the deceased[...]
[ ...] The bereaved can feel so strongly about this need for dignity that they may well be willing to incur debts or financial hardship in order to provide their deceased loved one with a respectful funeral service. " [Source Link Here ]

The report goes on to give the example of an elderly man who had no collateral to take a lean against, to pay for a gravestone and  was so distressed that he left his apartment home to live with a friend, so that the money formerly spent on his day to day needs, would be spent ensuring his wife was not in an unmarked grave- often associated with a theif or someone so negative that there was no one in their life to claim or care for them. This is also one of the reasons our own mother, after six months, has still not been put to rest. It is psychologically unhealthy to keep a deceased loved one with you, but what happens when you can't afford to put that person in the ground?


This post was brought on by the fact that we would like to find a final resting place for my mother, but are still unable to meet the costs. As it is, my father views himself as several thousand dollars in debt to another family member who was caring and helped share our burden during last fall when it seemed like our world was caving in on itself.

The second influence for this article was the episode of 60 Minutes which aired last Sunday. It discussed a specific company in the US, which offers more affordable options for burials but only because they double sell plots, or completely wipe them out, throwing the previous occupants into mass graves. If you are interested, the link to this is: 60 Minutes

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summertime Blues? No thanks!

Hey guys, so I fell behind last week but it's because I decided on two different items in politics/ the news to commentary on, but I need to do some research on it first! So look forward to my commentary on the Occupy! Movement, which believe it or not is still going (all though not on the same level it was); and on Bill C-31, which will make it impossible for many groups to apply for refugee status or appeal immigration decisions. I want to make sure I have well rounded information.

Now, on to my life update! Ladies, and Gents, I had the most amazing week! This week was beautiful, warm and sunny - the the exception of a day and a half but that can be forgiven as I needed to catch up on my sleep anyways. Ordinarily, this weekend is nice. This year it was amazing. This whole past week has been beyond positive.

What made it so wonderful? I got a second job which works well with my other in terms of scheduling. Mark worked steady the entire week and has a good chance of steady work for the rest of the summer. I found the dress I want, just have to get measured and purchase it now. I had a girls night with two of my friends who have been out of province/country for school. Mark and I set the date for our wedding, I babysat quite a bit which was good for some extra cash, allowed me to hang out with a friend I don't get to see too much, and well, I got my baby fix-- I have maternal drive so if I can babysit enough, I don't want my own baby so bad, ha ha. I also got a really awesome date night this week with my man <3 . Also I got my garden dug and I'm planting seeds after dinner when the sun goes down- it's well over 30c out with the humidex.

Of course, no week is complete with a bit of negativity, but this time it's very easily the kind I can ignore: everyone seems to have an opinion on how I should do my wedding. Wouldn't it be great if I could grow the balls to tell them to bugger off and let Mark and I do our own thing? Maybe he did take the smarter approach in not telling his parents. Oh, and I'm down a size (this is not a huge deal... I can gain or lose a size within a day or two of a dietary change, but it's still a good sign). Originally I wanted a closed ceremony and open reception, and for the reception to be a potluck. We would do it more like a giant party than anything else. I got the spiel about how upset people will be if they don't get invited to the wedding, then about how tacky it is to do a pot luck (even though I've heard stories from several people about how the only or best wedding receptions they have ever been to have been potluck). So, since I now have to provide enough food for either a very large wedding or an open wedding, I've had to decide to do a buck and doe but the only chance I have to do one is this summer. I've gotten a LOT of support on this from my friends who are psyched for it, but the same family that have been opposed to the above are against us doing a buck and doe so much in advance. But seriously. Who is gonna show to a buck and doe in the middle of february? I wouldn't even have bridesmaids at that point in time... hell I should, in theory, be in the middle of exams then! This is one point I have told people to bite me, on. They can chose not to come if they want to. I'm not asking for tones of money, it's just a party to announce the wedding arrangements, let people know it will be open invite, and give out our registry info! I'm just looking for a good time, all though it would be nice to get the finances to pay for the food and seating for the reception.

Last week, I barely slept as I was too busy being excited, or happy, or hyper. Those two cold days were wonderful for sending me back into hybernate mode and letting me catch up.

This upcoming week is a bit more neutral, but hopefully it will be just as nice out and just as energetic! I've started trying to tell those of my friends something positive because I feel very strongly that the positive needs to be passed along!

Please stay tuned for my two updates later this week, and someone comment or email me about my last post! I need feedback! Wednesday, my post is going to be regarding travel types and a book idea I have. It will ALSO require lots of feedback.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Best of Two Worlds

' Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does. ' - Margaret Mead

Many of my friends have heard my spiel, time and again, regarding a business I would love to someday be able to create. I realize that it is 90% pipe dream, but the remaining 10% keeps me looking for a way to make this dream possible. I have realized that the only way to really make this possible is to establish a portfolio of different contacts who would be able to provide specific services, and create a committee of dedicated individuals who would be willing to help make this a possibility. One friend who I work with has all ready volunteered to help come up with imaging and ideas.

"The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world." - James Baldwin

The purpose of this business idea (yes, I am intentionally being non - descript about the business itself, as that will come later) is education regarding social change and justice. It would bring together various Non-Government, and Non-Profit, Organizations from across the world and make them available to the North American public. They would address localized, national, and international needs that attack our generation and the generation we are trying to keep the world together for. My hope is that it could change the perceptions people have regarding "hippies" and the need to be disorganized to make a statement - see the Occupy movement. It would also unify those who wish to fit into the hippie cliche and give those who wish to stand up for something, something to stand up for.

' Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not. ' - The Lorax

I am looking for individuals ready and willing to commit to trying to make a difference in societies around the world. This IS a business idea, however, so please don't come ready with steaks and silver bullets looking for the monster to slay right away. The goal of this business is to provide opportunity for people to learn about social change and justice, find the right organization for them. Note, this is not an attempt to create an aspect specific NGO or NFP (IE: Free the Children, Not for Sale, Amnesty), but rather a chance for people to see what opportunities exist and recieve training for those. It is also to give those organizations a place to train, hold conferences or conventions, or just take a well earned rest at.

" How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ” - Anne Frank

Step one to meeting this goal is for the time being, I need dedicated individuals who are able to recommend organizations for research, who are willing to write up articles on their own personal favorites and reasons why, and who are willing to pass this blog on for individuals who may be interested in the resources we will hopefully be able to make available through it! Any articles passed to me can be sent to: kyla.mccartney2@gmail.com , any volunteers can email or comment!

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” - E.B. White

If you happen to still be reading this post, you get rewarded by finding out what my actual goals and business ideas are! The idea is to open up two resorts and two retreat centres across Canada: one in the maritimes, and one in the rockies. They will both be castle themed, the maritime a medieval theme and the BC a renaissance palace theme.

Initially, we would save up enough to purchase the land in the maritimes, then find a way to rezone and invest in opening the first phase of the resort- the keep. There will be a set number of phases, and each phase will be built, start to finish during an off season, while the previously completed phases will be fully operational during the main tourism seasons. This is so that the resort will be open , self sufficient, and very close to debt free within 5 years of the initial phase being built.

Then we would be able to open a retreat centre in the prairies which will be non-profit. Here seminars will be held, education and resources available, jobs and employment opportunities through an application process open, and it will be ranch or ranch- house themed, at least. This way it will be self sufficient as well, within five years.

Following this, profits from the first resort will be split to help support the retreat centre, and finance the purchase and building costs of the second resort in the rockies where it will be a renaissance theme. The process for this will be similar in nature to the first resort.

The last stage, five years after the second resort will be the second retreat in southern, or central, Ontario. The theme for this centre is yet undecided but "viking lodge" has been a popular vote.

This is a twenty year plan, however hopefully if the first resort is succesful, this could be done in as few as ten or fifteen years. Should these four phases be completed, I would love to see a second stage designed, where we could open up affordable retreats across the world in smaller locations, similar to the KOA campgrounds. This stage would be available for international workers or missionaries as vacation spots or training centres, or secure outreach locations!

Please let me know what you think!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day, and Planting Season

So I did it. I managed to survive my first mother's day without my mom. It wasn't even particularly painful. I got up and it was beautiful and sunny out and my dad was doing yard work, I got ready for work and worked five hours, then went to dinner with my dad, sister, Nana and Papa. I am sure that part of why today was a lot nicer than I expected was because I did not spend the day in a graveyard. We had originally planned to bury my mom today (she was cremated and cemetaries aren't open between October and May), but thing's were not quite ready. I'm sure sometime in the future I am going to have to deal with this but I prefer to just avoid thinking about it.

Dinner tonight was pretty awesome, however my father and I have been having a disagreement over whether we should do a vegetable garden or not this year. He is convinced that it is a bad idea and I am pretty set on doing one, whether he likes it or not. In fact, I'm planning on starting to get suplies tomorrow. My neighbour said I could use the back part of her yard to try and see what I can grow. My things to do list? Get supplies and equipment, measure and dig out the garden, plant, water, nurture and figure out how to keep the blasted deer from eating my plants! Hopefully I will be able to post some pictures soon, before and after pictures of the land.

It kind of upsets me that my dad is so against a garden this year, but I suspect he has his reasons. Growing up, mother's day we always got my mom some Mums, and usually talked about the garden. When I was a kid I always helped my mom with the vegetable garden but it was always her initiative and job. So between the deer eating all of our plants last year, and the memories it probably brings up for him, he just does not want to be involved but I'm not asking him to be. Just to let me try and see if I can, or not.

There is such a different mind set here, than in Georgia. I was not particularly great at helping out on outreach but I had eyes and ears and picked up a lot more than my team mates probably realized. I felt inferior to most of them doing the work, and it was definitately hard when I was trying to learn something and would be told not to do it because someone else was better at it, but the jobs were also not about me but the people we were helping. In Kobuleti, we helped our hosts plant their garden, literally in a ditch. In Svaneti, we helped weed a garden that had not been touched since it had first been planted. Around here, things are so set in order and there is the mindset that if you don't spend massive hours every day, a garden won't survive or produce... I know this is true to a degree but often just exaggerated.

Wish me luck! This picture was me avoiding the work by being the photographer :P

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Food, Family and Mayhem

They say the third times a charm, so wish me luck with my third and final attempt at blogging!

This last year has brought a whole host of changes to my life- my mom passing away, mutually seperating and drawing closer to certain members of my extended family, taking on a bunch of new responsibilities, and welcoming my fiance to the craziness that is my world. Luckily I don't have to pull through this alone- I have my family and friends to help carry the strain. 

Why a new blog? Well, I'm starting a new phase in my life and it just felt wrong and weird to use my old one. I also have very different goals for this one. I may continue to use my old one for IT'S goals- which was travel talk. I'm shutting down my facebook because there were just too many issues, and to be very honest I spent too much time on it and worrying about what other people would think of me based off of what content I put up. I plan to use this to update people on our wedding plans, provide information on causes and organizations that I feel are important, and to get me back into the habbit of writing on a regular basis. Gotta kick myself in the butt to get back into shape for NaNoWriMo so I can take it seriously this year!

I am hoping to be able to post three times a week. Each post will have a different purpose, all though I suspect sometimes they will overlap and become just one post. 1)An update! Some pictures, a wedding announcement or just a good old adventure. 2)A reflection- thoughts inspired by a song, book, movie, or quote. Finally, 3) A review of an event in the news, an organization I support, or my views on a trend. These will be opinions but as always, I will try to do my homework on them!

Wish me luck!