Musings from an undecided Voter on Federal Election Eve 2015 

As this marathon campaign (the longest since 1872 – source http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/ElectionsAndRidings/LengthCampaigns.aspx), winds to a squeaky, screechy, nails-on-a-blackboard closure, I realize that I am at a loss. 

 I am truly undecided. 

I am informed.   I’ve followed Federal Politics for years; debating issues with my family and friends, discussing public policy from a young age.  I first voted at age 18, dragging my best friend with me, the entire time lecturing her on the importance of this civic responsibility. 

I do not feel an affinity with the major parties.  My core values – fiscal conservatism, environmental stewardship, social entrepreneurship,  support for families to name a few – are not reflected in any one party, but in snippets across them all.  

 The candidates within my riding are all quite approachable, and I’ve had the opportunity to chat with each one over the past few months.     I am weighing the options of voting for the person, or for the party.  

I find it incredibly promising to have a strong voter turnout at advance polls. Our collective apathy has been on the rise the past few decades and Canadians appear poised to reclaim their democracy.  

I will vote at some point on October 19.

  But my “X” will be undecided until I enter the booth.  

My Parents

October 10,2015, marked my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary. Their ceremony was held in a beautiful stone church in Red Deer, Alberta, and they were surrounded by their closest friends and family.

Carol and Art are both humble and do not like the spotlight, but as their daughter, I feel that it is necessary to share a bit of why I think they are incredible.

Mom and Dad are the first-born of their respective families; Mom of six and Dad of seven. I know how much their siblings look up to them as I see and feel the admiration through my relationships with my aunts and uncles.  

Growing up, I did not always appreciate the good parenting I received.  As a mother of three teenage daughters, I now wonder how my parents dealt with their troublesome offspring with such patience. 

They both have incredible hearts and show their love quietly through their actions. My dad can always be counted on to ensure that my oil is changed and that my van is in working order. Dad volunteers in many aspects of the community to help those in need of assistance. He is one of the most intelligent people I know 
Mom is patient and kind; she is one of the nicest people I know.  She is a caretaker, whether it be a member of her family or a neighbour in need.  Any friend I’ve ever brought home is always welcomed (and most often fed as well). 

They are the most amazing grandparents to my daughters. My kids love visiting the farm, meeting extended family and joking with dad’s coffee buddies. 

I am so proud to call them mom and dad.

I love you both.  

  
   
 

The Cinnamon Bun Song

I like to bake.

It’s one of those things that I do well.  I find baking to be therapeutic.   There is nothing like matching flavours together, playing with the ratios and textures for the best taste, testing different oven temperatures and baking times for optimal results.

Each batch is always slightly different, as I tend to not measure; at least, not in a conventional sense.   My grandmother taught me a few tricks – how to hold the palm of your hand to get a perfect teaspoon, when the egg whites were the right consistency, and that there is no wrong way to cut a pie.  The best things learned from her at a young age were to not be afraid to have fun with your baking and from scratch always tasted best.

And one thing about baking, I always make extra and share it with whomever I encounter throughout the day.  Besides my family, my colleagues at Painted Boat and at the School Board tend to have the most baked goods bestowed upon them.

Truth be told, I love to share the baked treats.   I don’t know if it’s the ‘nurturer’ or the ‘people pleaser’ in me, but it’s better than having them sitting on my counter at home!  But it likely comes from my grandmother as well – you were never allowed to leave her home without a goody bag of some delectable delight.

One of the favourites at the School Board office are cinnamon buns.   I have a ‘jiffy’ recipe that doesn’t use yeast, and is baked in muffin tins.   The buns tend to be crunchier than a regular roll, with the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon mixture soaking in to the dough.  The end result is a crispy sweet treat that is the ultimate crowd pleaser. (except for my gluten-allergen friends out there.  Don’t worry Tracey – I’m working on a recipe for you)

We were joking at the Board office one day during a meeting break about songs dedicated to baked goods – the Muffin Man, etc – and Patrick, our superintendent, said “Isn’t there a Cinnamon Bun Song? If not, there should be!”

Well, I don’t know if there was one before, but there is one now!

At least my gluten-free comrades can enjoy this…

The Cinnamon Bun Song (for Patrick)
Fresh from the oven
or even a day old
A cinnamon bun is heaven
It’s just as good as gold.

A sweet filling of sugar and spice
the dough a crisp, yet tender texture
it’s so much more than a treat so nice;
the goodness will sustain any boring lecture

An unexpected batch of rolls
in the middle of a mundane day
​Chases away the humdrum trolls
​They brighten the world in ev’ry way

The basket is full to the brim
​Many to choose from and pick
​Don’t stand there too long with a grin
​or you’ll lose out to Greg and Nic

​From mini two bite tastes
​to jumbo pinwheels of gastronomy
​there’ll never be any waste.
​Buy one and support local economy.

​Cinnamon buns are a great treat
​They’re the best of all the types of bread
​But you never know;  when we next meet
​I may bring some scones instead

That Woman

I was speaking on the phone with a young woman yesterday and after we said goodbye, but before the connection was broken, I heard the young woman declare to her companion (to whom I had spoken with as well), “I just love that woman”.

Wow, I thought. That is quite touching. It’s neat to hear someone proclaim their affection for you when they think you’re not listening.

Then I started thinking about how incredible it is to have this young woman think so highly of me. She is a very talented athlete, humourous, intelligent and a personable human being. She is highly loyal to her friends and can be trusted to look after her responsibilities.

The companion she had with her is an amazing person as well- she’s a champion of the environment with high political aspirations, witty and intelligent.

I am quite proud of these ladies; it’s always a pleasure to spend time with them and hear about what’s going on in their lives.

So who were these young women that were on this call with me?

My daughters- Kim and Michelle.

The Pieceful Coast

Earlier this week, I was traversing the waters of Howe Sound in the metallic bosom of a BC Ferry.  From my car’s vantage point, I had a stellar view as the vessel cut through the stillness of the fjord.   And then it struck me how the calm waters of the Sound were a considerable contrast from the raging typhoons howling in the political arenas of the Sunshine Coast.

Neighbours, I am concerned. The gales that have occurred on our Coast the past few weeks are twisting opinions, pitting us against each other. Citizens are being disrespectful of other points of view, simply because it is not what they feel.  Rather than debating the issue, personal attacks are whipping around, stinging sand in to our community’s heart.

Healthy discourse and disagreement is part of the democratic process.  Running rampant with rumours,  fear mongering and throwing mud may advance your cause in the short term but in the long term, it will only further distance you from it. Negativity disenfranchises voters, especially newer voters, whom are simply trying to disseminate through the information to find the FACTS to make the best, or most palatable, decision for their future.

Coastally, we have some very real challenges facing us over the next few years: aging infrastructure, lack of services for our elderly populace, a deficit in young people and families, the need for affordable, safe housing and economic development to name a few.

We will still be neighbours after November 15, whether it be directly next door, in the same jurisdiction or as Port Mellon and Egmont. This Coast is our home.

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Demolition of the Berlin Wall.   The significance of this day in our global history should not escape us.   Politics divided families, friends and citizens for decades.  Let us not divide our own community in to separate pieces along opinion and posturing.

I truly believe in the following, and even though it was written in the context of contract negotiation, it fits for election time.

Whether you look from left or right
Your politics do not matter
It’s for our kids we must fight
But not leave each other in tatter

The balance of the modern world is found
in the harmony of success
even arguments can be a sweet sound
In their tangled, ugly mess

At the end of this… we rebuild
relationships, community, schools, our self
We try and forget of animosity that filled
But wait for the next contract to come off shelf

(excerpt from “Poem from a Negotiation Observer”)

In one week from today, we will know the make-up of our municipal governments for the next four years.    And for those four years,  we will continue to be neighbours.

We don’t have to be friends.

But let’s bring some peace to the Coast by treating each other with a bit more respect.

Open Letter to all #SunshineCoastCa Candidates

Open letter to all Sunshine Coast Candidates..

The past few weeks, Voice on the Coast has been heavily concentrated on encouraging members of the public to get involved in the Electoral process. We have held a forum, attended candidates meetings, circulated questionnaires to all candidates (acclaimed and those on the campaign trail)

One of the things that I personally have asked the public to do is to speak directly to those running for office. ASK them the questions that matter to YOU and your family and friends. And the public is doing that! I think that’s AWESOME.

Well, it was brought to my attention that someone has asked repeatedly for questions to be answered, specific to their family situation, and has waited WEEKS now for an answer. This voter has followed up numerous times. And been put off. This is a two-vote household, with both members under age 35.

CANDIDATES – please do not do this.
You are in the interview process right now. Don’t mess it up. November 15 is a few short days away. Are you REALLY interested in being hired?

This opportunity to speak directly to the public about what matters to them is incredible. Embrace it. Learn the stories that shape our coast. Answer the tough questions.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC – please keep asking questions. You’re the boss here.
Nervous about asking/not sure what to ask? Send me an email. I’ll help. loripratt75@gmail.com

From
Lori Pratt
CoChair
VOICE on the Coast

November 15th will be here soon! Who’s got your VOTE?!

Check out my PSA on behalf of VOICE on the Coast, encouraging residents to find out about their local candidates then VOTING on November 15th.

Find out more about the candidates at the local government websites:

http://www.sd46.bc.ca for Rural Area 2 School Board Trustees
http://www.scrd.ca for Regional Directors
http://www.gibsons.ca for Town of Gibsons Mayor and Council
http://www.sechelt.ca for District of Sechelt Mayor and Council

We do have several positions that have been acclaimed this year. I encourage you to find out more about those people as well.

Where Have All the Playgrounds Gone?

I was driving around Sechelt last week and noticed that there seemed to be a lack of playground spaces for young children.

We have playgrounds at the elementary schools, soccer fields and ball diamonds, but when it comes to the newest subdivisions in the Sechelt area, there are no ‘real’ playgrounds, especially in quickly expanding West Sechelt.  There are a few ‘green areas’ in the West Sechelt area — Tyler Heights Park and Clayton Park, but as you can see from my photos below, the playground equipment is unimpressive.  Picadilly Park is much more family friendly, but is still located quite a distance from these other two areas.  And if you want to drive, you can certainly try Trail Bay Waterfront, Pier and Adventure Park or Porpoise Bay Provincial Park.

Tyler Heights Park

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Clayton Park

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I will say that the views from both of these parks is amazing, but the terrain not especially friendly for young families. Tyler Heights is especially difficult, having been built up on a rock boasting in blackberry brambles. There is green grass at Clayton Park which I’m sure is lovely to roll around in after you’ve used the equipment there – a short slide. One positive thing is that both of these playgrounds are very close to the trail system that snakes through the West Sechelt area. And the view is stellar. But c’mon… the play structures are abysmal.

The Sunshine Coast community is trying to attract more families and young people, yet our neighbourhoods lack the subliminal message that children are present or even welcome. And yes, you could argue that these new subdivisions are not being marketed to families with young children. But those luxury homes can be sold to young professional couples that wish to make a lifestyle change to the coast or they can be sold to grandparents.  And don’t we already have enough luxury homes sitting empty on the coast?

The launch of the Vital Signs Report earlier this week (see full report here http://sccfoundation.com/vitalsigns/ ) shows the aging demographic of our population is continuing to grow as the population under age 45 continues to decrease. In 2010, 40.9% of the Sunshine Coast population was under 45. In 2013, that number was 38.6%. No, this is not the fault of subpar playgrounds. But I would place blame in how each aspect of our community markets and brands ourselves to the world.

You can throw money at iniatitivies, projects and programs but if the policy, political will and messaging are not there, you will not change the trajectory that we currently following. By 2022, only 15% of the Sunshine Coast is projected to be of working age. Compare that with the rest of BC at approximately 40%. ( Vital Signs, 2014 )

Take a look around your neighbourhood with new eyes. What attracts you to live there? Is there a place for your children to play? What keeps you here? Is it your job, quality of life, the environment? What would it take to bring your friends here from off-coast?

As we enter the 2014 Municipal Election arena, listen to the candidates carefully as they address the issues brought forth to them. And make sure that you ask your questions.

November 15th comes quickly; make sure you have your voice heard.

My 30 Day Challenge(s)

A friend of mine recently completed the 30 Day Vegan Challenge. 30 days of all vegan cuisine, focusing on local ingredients.

Listening to her story on how the challenge helped her to curb her candy addiction made me start thinking about accepting a challenge of my own. Thirty days to a new habit… I can do that! But there are so many other things that I need to cut out or start doing in my life. Where to begin?

Vegan?!?! No way! I enjoy my steak too much. Plus, my daughter just found a great recipe for beef jerky. And bacon is a food group of its own. I decided to pick three or four things that would help to improve my health, creativity and contentment.

Last Sunday, I gave up bread. Why give up bread? There are too many times that I end the day with “did I even eat any vegetables or fruit?”

And it’s been okay so far. I made Kale Chips for the first time today and we inhaled them. Amazing! I am now on Day 8, with only one slip up on Tuesday last week – I made scones for a meeting, and I can’t let baked goods leave my home without the obligatory taste test. Quality control, really.

But it’s such a hard food to kick. One of my best friends is allergic to gluten, and I don’t know HOW she survives. I’m just committing to omitting bread and wheat for a few days; I can’t imagine trying to avoid it for the rest of my life.
… I keep thinking of the pita bread in the freezer screaming to be made in to chips to have with homemade humus… yum… .. 22 days..

So what’s next? This week begins with a more active habit. Rather than ‘stopping’ something, I’ll add to my week by ‘starting’ something. This means I will walk or run everyday. I was in a fairly regular routine before the summer began, but it fell off. I sporadically ran or walked during the summer and need to get back to the routine by getting out daily.

The two weeks after will be my blogging and “random acts of kindness” in some order. I have been starting to blog more regularly, which is better than the monthly/bi-monthly/once-in-a-while that I’ve been posting in the past. The concept of “random acts of kindness” is one that’s always intrigued me. I have always done nice things for others, but true “ROAK” has anonymity at its core.

Wish me luck!

What would you challenge yourself to do for 30 days?