A Great Week

Sometimes it’s easy to turn to social media for being social, and I have realized lately how much time it takes. How unreal it feels. I use it for my business and to create awareness about climate change and other environmental problems, but I have a hard time getting into any kind of online social network except to talk to people I already know. The internet limelight seems weird. I believe what journalist Edward R. Murrow once said:

It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other.

It’s good to remind ourselves of this statement. But social media has its place. It can lead us to each other, which can also be nice. And this is what today’s blog post is about: the value of getting offline and into the real world, where real people are, where nature still abounds if you look hard enough.

Some time ago I met environmental lawyer Paul Collins online. We didn’t really talk much until I asked him about his writing, and read his short story (“The Apology”). It was really wonderful: a talk that a future female president named Eleanor gives. In her speech she apologizes about our climate inaction and invites hope and blazes a trail to change. I had done a short story contest and was interested in putting together an anthology. I invited Paul to participate, and he agreed. During this journey, I chose 17 other stories and some poetry by Stephen Siperstein and Carolyn Welch for the book, which turned out to be Winds of Change: Short Stories about Our Climate. Through an online contest, a lot of tweeting, and pushing through other social media, this anthology came to be. But the absolute best part of the process was two nights ago when a few of us met in person to launch the book.

Paul had come from Bristol for a visit and to read at the launch. Meeting him renewed my faith in humanity somewhat. Are all Brits so agreeable and friendly? Maybe we just don’t meet such genuinely nice people often, but meeting Paul was a breath of fresh air. He was here for a few days, and we explored trails, the city, and philosophical subjects in late night discussions over yet one more glass of wine or decaf. Paul is also a runner, but we only hiked together–once over at Lynn Canyon, and then he and my husband Morgan spent some time doing the “Coquitlam Crunch” and hiking around Burnaby Mountain and Rocky Point Park when I was at work. Morgan had taken some vacation time he had left before the end of the year. Paul left yesterday; he truly became like one in the family, a lost brother. We will miss him and hope he visits again with his wife someday.

Here are some photos of our outdoor adventures:

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Lynn Canyon: mushroom with Douglas fir
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Waterfall at Lynn Canyon
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Green lagoon at Lynn Canyon

Then on Tuesday night, I was so fortunate to meet some of the others who live in the city who were able to come to read teasers of their stories: Janis Hindman, Michael Donaghue, Anneliese Schultz, and Keith Wilkinson. Where are these people in everyday life, where hugs come as easy as smiles and true appreciation of each others’ works is so voiced. Thanks to Keith for bringing his friends, who I hope are new friends of mine; Michael for his very contagious wit and excellent photography (he is on my list for a home-made mint julep); Anneliese for her subtle humor and warm nature; and Janis for her incredibly intelligent story and friendly manner. Through Keith I met not one but two other Marys, a name you really don’t come across too often.

Photography by Michael Donaghue
Photography by Michael Donaghue. Right to left: Janis, Keith, Mary, Anneliese, Paul, Michael

My husband Morgan didn’t make it into the picture, but he was as much a part of this event as anyone: giving constant support to Moon Willow Press and helping so much with this event, so here he is:

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Morgan, the unsung hero

After the event, Michael took us to a bar on Commercial, where we had a couple drinks before calling it a night.

It has been a fun-filled week, both exploring outdoors and meeting very fine folks. Thanks to them for their creative brilliance, truly genuinely kind attitudes, and good times. You never get a real sense of what people are like, or who they are, over social media. In person, there come some very pleasant surprises.

Now that the very busy week is over, it is time to go back to my three-times-a-week run regimen (which I’ll hit this week) and gear up for the holidays!