Category Archives: Sociology & Psychology

A Ride Home from Prison

I don’t have any time to waste on jail anymore ~ Stanley Bailey, newly-released former inmate

Carlos Cervantes, a former inmate, says every ride home from prison is different. He picks up men released from life sentences after California reformed its three strikes law in 2012. Most of the men don’t have family or friends anymore; they’re starting from scratch.

Imagine what it must be like in those first few hours, after not having walked on grass, sat under a tree, or watched the comings and goings of modern life for nearly three decades. According to Carlos, and his latest rider, Stanley Bailey, it’s overwhelming.

More than half a million people are released from prisons in the U.S. each year, often without services to help them reintegrate. In a graceful act of personal kindness, Carlos helps make those first critical hours a little less terrifying.

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I Am Not Your Negro

The question you have to ask yourself, White America needs to ask itself: Why was it necessary to have a nigger in the first place? ~ James BaldwinI Am Not Your Negro

In a neighbouring village more English than England and whiter than white, I found Agatha Christie’s book in the stacks of the church’s charity book sale. I was shocked to a degree commensurate with my liberal leanings. Then I bought it for a dollar.

Published in England before the Second World War, the cover of this edition explicitly states that it is “not for sale in the U.S.A. or Canada.” It was later republished as Ten Little Indians – hardly a stellar rebranding and, finally, as And Then There Were None. It ranks as the 10th best-selling book of all time.1 That’s an awful lot of influence. Continue reading I Am Not Your Negro

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books 

Love Your Children Well

For the past few years, I’ve been struck by intermittent doubts about whether we’re raising our children “right.” Our house is filled with a gaggle of teenagers. As our eldest nears university, his upbringing is a done deal, the question a moot point. As for the others, it is said that parents have a diminishing influence over their children around the age of 12, when peers take the upper hand.  Continue reading Love Your Children Well

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The Sham of Highest and Best Use

This triplet of houses in Québec City defies the modern logic of “highest and best use” and its inherent rule of being “maximally productive.” It flaunts every last morsel of economic thought except one: It is a keeper of history, and provides a vital and extraordinary point of interest in the city’s viewscape, arguably contributing to the profits realized by the city’s tourism efforts. Continue reading The Sham of Highest and Best Use

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Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 3

Click here for Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 1

Click here for Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 2


Not Set in Stone: Memorials for the Future

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute collaborated on Memorials for the Future, an international ideas competition that took place between March and September 2016. The goal of the competition was not to directly produce new monuments, but to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. 

It called for designers, artists and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, reflect the country’s diversity in history, heritage and culture, and that enrich Washington’s landscape while responding to the limitations of traditional commemoration. 

The jury chose four finalist teams –  Climate ChronographAmerican WildThe IM(MIGRANT) and VOICEOVER – who offered distinct concepts and approaches.

Continue reading Capital Building: A View from Washington – Part 3

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Don’t be like this idiot

On the gravel shoulder of the road sits an abandoned clothes dryer wrapped in official-looking crime scene tape bearing the words “Under Investigation.”

Beside it, a canary-yellow lawn sign screams DON’T BE LIKE THIS #IDIOT. This curious tableau did what it was meant to do: It caught my eye and stirred my imagination. Continue reading Don’t be like this idiot

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Hello, This is The New York Times Calling

It’s not every day that The New York Times calls one for an interview. But I arrived home recently to find a message from Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir. The topic? Charity house tours in New York City and the potential breach of privacy that cellphone cameras pose to homeowners.  Continue reading Hello, This is The New York Times Calling

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360° of Franc van Oort (Pt. 1)

For the two years I attended trade school at Algonquin College, Perth became my second home. Between classes I photographed the countryside, explored abandoned buildings, foraged in antique shops and became a regular visitor to Riverguild’s mezzanine, concocting a mental list of the works I would buy from artist Franc van Oort when I’d finished spending money on my greedy old house. Continue reading 360° of Franc van Oort (Pt. 1)

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Walking with Our Sisters

Over 1,181 native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered in the last 30 years. Many vanished without a trace, with inadequate inquiry into their disappearance or murders paid by the media, the general public, politicians and even law enforcement. This is a travesty of justice. ~ Walking With Our Sisters website
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Almost two thousand pairs of moccasin vamps, or uppers, lay evenly spaced, side by side and end to end, on the floor of the Carleton University Art Gallery, a breathtaking mosaic of traditional beadwork, sewing, painting, embroidery and other creative embellishment. A red fabric path, underlaid by cedar boughs, guides participants around and through the landscape of colour. Continue reading Walking with Our Sisters

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What We Think We Want

When Eat, Pray, Love first came out and I got the big check, I bought a big house, a five-bedroom Victorian with a wraparound porch in this small town in New Jersey. I put a ton of money into making it really magnificent. I spent four years restoring it, putting in amazing gardens, a new kitchen and bathrooms and steam baths, and a huge library. It was stunning—I mean really beautiful. But I never truly felt very comfortable there. I didn’t like being the rich lady sitting on the top of the hill in the biggest house in town. It made me feel disconnected. I felt as if I were living in a house that belonged to somebody else. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

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