Goodbye’s

This was only ever supposed to be a three year visit. Somehow, almost six years later, we’re still here in Aotearoa New Zealand. The idea, the Grand Plan, was that we’d come over, Christine would do her PHD on her scholarship and we’d bugger off when it was done in three years. Cameron would get a job in Dunedin, our house in Canada would sell, maybe we’d buy an investment property to live in while we were here and everything would be grand. Oh yes indeedy.

So yeah, the PhD is nearly finished, the Dunedin job never happened and the real estate market in Canada crashed. So Cameron wound up working first in Wellington, then in Christchurch, while Christine and Lucas lived in Dunedin. Then everyone moved to Christchurch, just in time for the quakes to kick off (which slowed progress on ALL the things). Chris started working in Christchurch, then Cameron got a job in Dunedin and commuted for a bit, then we all moved here…

It has been, frankly, a bit exhausting. Through it all we’ve loved this place, but it has never felt like home.

Home is the wonderful mess that is Montreal. Home is a 130 year old end of terrace house. Home is where our now (god they’ll hit me if they read this) aging/aged parents live. Home is where winter comes for real and summer is insanely hot. Home is where we fight endlessly about language and culture and then make up over the shared joy we have about Les Canadiens having a good hockey season.

So home is where we’re going.

Sometime around the 25th of July all, or at least two-thirds of us (job offer dependent), are going back to Canada.

PS: we are going to be Trademeing the living crap out of our stuff (or accepting offers from anyone who’s seen something they want – We have Dunedin’s largest collection of IKEA!), we are also looking to borrow a line trimmer and may be begging a lift to the dump/a few other places.

PPS: Pardon for the third person usage, it’s just that this is to be a general announcement from all of us, not just me

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Political expediency

Look, here’s the thing, I voted for Gilles Duceppe at least four times. I know, as an Anglo that this made me unpopular, but, given our FPP system in Canada and given that most other candidates in our riding were sacrificial lambs, I reckoned voting for the guy who I thought was the best MP for my riding seemed like a good idea.

Voting that way got me called names, caused some interesting debates in my family and was generally not always the easiest way forward. That said, I thought Gilles was an excellent MP, a great voice for workers and that the BQ did a really excellent job in committees on the Hill. I didn’t agree with him about everything (Afghanistan, which has worked out badly, was something I support(ed?) but the BQ didn’t), but for the most part he and the BQ had an 75% to 80% overlap with my views. I am also an odd sort of Anglo, in that I’m sort of ambivalent about separation. As I’ve said here before, I consider myself a Montrealer first and a Quebecois and Canadian a distant second.

That’s why this

upset me so much.

(Roughly, in English: Sovereignty is neither left or right, but forward. Pierre Karl Péladeau is basically everything Duceppe is not)

Seriously, the ex-union organizer, the social-democrat, the guy who I thought was onside with my views said that?

As we say around here, yeah nah.

February 22: three years on

As I write this (or start it at least) I’m sitting in Dunedin in the garden by Knox Church just off George Street. I’m killing time before I meet Chris and Lucas at a local restaurant for b-day celebrations for my buddy Steve (happy 40th you whippersnapper you). I’m alone and have just been reading some February 22nd earthquake commemoration stuff.

I am, as the people of the interweb (My people I suppose) say, feeling a great many of the feels.

For those of you just joining me: it’s been three years since the big quake that killed 185 people and destroyed vast swaths of Christchurch. I continue to have very complex feelings about this: all of us from Chch fit somewhere within what I figure are concentric circles of guilt and pain. Those of us who lost almost nothing feel guilty about those who lost homes who feel guilty about those who got hurt who feel guilty about who lost loved ones who feel guilty about surviving. I’ve felt all this for three years but this year I feel something new, something I’m not sure I expected.

Background time: I’m a Montrealer. Montreal is a messy, confused place. It has bits about it that I hate, it has bits that are unjust, bits about it that are amazing and stunning and wonderful. If you ask me where I’m from my answer is always Montrealer first, with Canadian and Québécois tied for a distant second. I’m not just from there, I am of there.

So the absolute longing for Christchurch I am feeling today comes as a total surprise; if I were to put a name to it I’d have to call it homesickness. The rage I feel when politicians and developers lie about what’s happening to my friends who are still there still amazes me. The heartbreak I feel when someone else gets screwed by a landlord or CERA or the EQC or some insurance company is stunning.

I love Dunedin, it’s my home for now and there is much to like about it. But it would appear, to my utter amazement, that Montreal AND Christchurch now compete for my heart.

Kia Kaha #eqnz whānau. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Gratis/Libre/5 freedoms/CC licences

Even though I work in the OER space with WikiEducator on an almost daily basis I have to admit that I continue to struggle with some of the finer bits of CC licenses and the whole balance between the various “frees”.

I think the distinction made between “free beer vs free speech” made in the  “Gratis versus libre” article from Wikipedia really helped me out quite a lot. I’m starting to think of it less like a black and white thing and more like a series of interconnected steps or like nesting dolls (or Venn diagram-like circles).

One of the problems  I’ve come across in my work on wikieducator is how to deal with some of these nesting issues: we had a screen shot created by a contractor (so he’s the author right?), on the screen was Powerpoint (so the author is Microsoft?), in the Powerpoint was a CC-BY-SA licensed photo (hoo boy! – is this guy the author?).. we’ve not really gotten a clear answer on this and it feels like we never will. What we reckon is that it was created by the contractor, we have to mention MS, and mention we’re using it for education AND say who the photo is by…

For my personal stuff (this blog, for instance) I think I’d go with Creative Commons License but I honestly am not totally sure that this is the best choice. For instance would this preclude someone quoting something I wrote here in a newspaper article?

A look into a scary future

On twitter this Am (I’m supposed to be on a detox, why can’t I quit you twitter?) I made my usual “aarrrgggh” comment about another article based on the stupid national standards and Education Minister Parata’s ideological response to them (expert after expert say that poverty and home situation and parents matter as much or more than teachers but she hates teachers and their union so screw you experts).

This lead to Karen (@serenity22) asking me what I thought the agenda was. I tried to answer but, you know, 140. My guess though? Total privatisation of education.

So here goes:

1) attack teachers and their union (I’m guessing but I’d imagine they are the biggest public service union in NZ —if not the biggest period). This is being done through a variety of ways the bogus standards and torquing of other stats are good examples
2) create educational deserts. Christchurch, some lower income neighbourhoods in Auckland and many rural regions are facing closings or mergers.
3) speaking of mergers, these create massive institutions that will be exceedingly difficult to manage. I’m also not clear on how their geographical location will effect their funding. If 60% of the kids are from lower income households but the school isn’t in a neighbourhood like that hep hat happens?

Right, so the first three steps (and their substeps: general denigration of teachers, ongoing attacks on the tattered remains of organised labour etc) set the stage for:

4) the right wing opening act to all privatisation moves: “OMG THR THING WE’VE DEFUNDED AND CRIPPLED AND HOBBLED AND ATTACKED AND DESTROYED CAN’T DO THE JOB IT’S MEANT TO DO!! THE INVISIBLE HAND WILL DO BETTER!!!”

5) charter schools!
6) institutional management companies (Chartwells Intermediate anyone?)

Which leads to the destruction of teaching and education as a public good and an integral part of democracy.

So job done.

An introduction and some thoughts

Hi/Bonjour/Kia Ora,

I’m Cameron Campbell, I’m a Montrealer who is currently living and working in New Zealand. For three years leading up to this past November I worked in Christchurch at Lincoln University and since November I work at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin; at both institutions my role has been as an instructional designer/edtech resource. Lincoln has just announced an open policy for it’s research and other resources and Otago Polytech has a CC/Open as default policy.

That done I guess what I think open means is shareable, reusable, free (or almost) of restriction for reuse and free (or largely – I have some internal debate about this). I guess my thoughts on this have evolved greatly over the last few years but at the end of the day I’ve always worked for publicly funded institutions so I find the idea that we’re locking away things that the public has paid for us to do to be quite odd.

Looking forward to reading what everyone else thinks.

Othering and my wee glimpse UPDATED

Years ago, when I genuinely was a young, white, middle-class, suburban punk (as opposed to the same angry guy wrapped in a 44 year old body) I looked, well, different.

I had hair about a cm long (more than that and I’d feel like a hippie) or that and a weird Tintin piece in the front. I wore a uniform of hightops (converse of some variety always) or a mix of monkey boots/combat boots/Docs. Jeans or cut off Canadian Forces combat pants were my bottom of choice (I was also prone to work pants that had been altered to to be tighter at the ankle). T-shirts from shows and a plaid shirt finished off the look. Sometimes there might be a baseball cap on my head, or a bandana (either over the head or in the old school suicidal tendencies style). I was, to put it clearly, the very picture of suburban punk rock kid.

I also reviewed music and other arts for a string of college papers so I went to A LOT of shows. (One year i worked out that I’d been to close to 150ish – this may explain some of the hearing loss that 44 year old me has). This put me in places that nice middle class kids don’t usually go, looking not all like the middle class kid I was.

This gave rise to interesting experiences because, outside of our little bubble of alt/punk Montreal, we stood out as scary, dangerous and dirty. This probably suited us just fine a lot of the time but some of Montreal’s finest weren’t in love with us.

To whit: one night 5 of us were on the sidewalk outside Foufounes Electrique, we were scattered about trying to decide where to go for a drink. 5 people can’t block a side walk, especially not the way we we standing. Next to us another club had roped off enough of the sidewalk for their line that people were stepping into the street to get bye. A police officer came up to us and told us to move on because we were blocking the side walk. When I politely asked about the next door club he pulled his nightstick and shoved me with it and told me to shut up. This sort of thing was hardly uncommon.

When I grabbed the night bus to go home I’d get off in the suburb I grew up in the roving public security van would follow me home. One night when it was -30 I went over to the driver and said “look, we both know you’re going to follow me home. We both know you know where I live. Why don’t you just give me a lift, I’ll buy you a coffee and we’ll both go on about our night?” He laughed at me, said no and then followed me home on my 30 minute walk.

Speaking of bus or metro rides: I always got seats. ALWAYS. Seats would come clear in the way that Moses could part seas. It was magical.

But here’s the thing. Back in my closet was another wardrobe that I could put on, one that clearly went with the cloak of white privilege I could never take off. I had nice pants, going to church shirts, a tie or two. I could shine up my Docs, wear the normal pants, cut out the swearing, take off my earrings, grow out my hair a bit and manage what I always thought of as the “lapsed Mormon” look.

This guy had a most of a degree, this guy spoke correctly, this guy belonged. This guy had choices. This guy had been born with that (in)visible cloak. This guy was playing the game on the easy setting.

But this guy had had a tiny glimpse through the curtain and this guy remembers.

That’s why this guy STFU when people of colour, women and LGBT people talk about their experiences and day to day challenges.

If you’re denying that racism and prejudice don’t effect people’s lives or worse, if you’re saying they don’t exist, then you are part of the problem.

UPDATE

Two additional thoughts:

1) as scary as the nightstick (and other) incidents were, I came out of them without getting hurt or even being arrested. Further testament to that cloak.

2) another experience that opened my eyes was going to see KRS One at a venue in Toronto. I was one of eight (I counted) white people at the show. I went to a high school with a good mix of minorities so I’ve never been one of those people who feels uncomfortable around people who didn’t look like me (this smacks of “some of my best friends are…” Please know I’m aware of this) but it dawned on me that night that this must be what a lot of life felt like for the people of colour I’d gone to school with.