Kate Baggott's Blog: Cornfields of the Sea

June 28, 2018

A Manifesto For Caring (About Local Politics)

When I lived in Germany, I could not vote. I couldn't go to the embassy and vote in Canadian elections. I couldn't vote there. At the time, Canada's reputation abroad was at an all time low thanks to the Stephen Harper government's inability to cooperate with others, especially on matters of huge scientific, environmental and world peace import. There was not a single thing I could do about it.

People often ask me why I am so political and I tell them it is because of that decade when I had no voice.

For me, returning to Canada and getting my right to vote back was a renewal of my hope for the future. I don't know what the future will look like, even if I know there are going to be community gardens and arguments over the cherries on the tree by the tennis court in St. Patrick's Park. I don't know what the future will look like, but I know manufacturing is not coming back. I don't know what the future will look like, but I see sunlight and green spaces and air and water that is cleaner and healthier than any breathed or that will have been drunk down in three generations -- if we work for it.

And I know, too, that there is greater reason for despair than ever before. As a rule, we don't earn fair wages but are taught that the condition is a personal failing because of the few exceptions who earn so very, very much.
We are made to feel like failures when the price of rent rises to unaffordable levels while there are empty houses in so many neighbourhoods owned by absent investors. We are told not to grieve when people who experiment with drugs, or are addicted, or whom the system failed, die on the pavements.

Still, I have hope that we can elect people who really care about their fellow citizens. I see demonstrations of care every single day. And, the greatest demonstration of care I see is the knowledge of what is going on around us -- not just in our own neighbourhoods -- but in the city and region as a small ecosystem of the world.

I love democracy, but more importantly, I love informed democracy. Whether it is a point of international relations that impacts the globe, or an article about choosing locations for a dog park, I will read it and consider all the implications. While I do have party loyalties, not one of those loyalties is more important than my own conscience and judgement. I put the people of my place (city, region, province, country, planet) above any party platform.

What I don't understand is NOT being political.

When people say, "all politicians are the same," I hear, "I am too lazy to check who is running, what they stand for and what their experience is."

It's totally judgmental of me to hear that, of course. I'm not always reasonable.

People aren't lazy. They are tired. They no longer believe that life might get better or easier, or fairer. They just know the slog of trying desperately to make ends meet and not making it, at least, not every month. I know that slog too. It's a slog that has gotten into our very souls and cracked them.

Here's where the hope is: we can elect people who also know the slog. Who know there is a crack in each of our souls because it is in their own soul too.

Our best chance for change starts at the lowest levels of government. These are the people whose decisions affect our daily lives. They keep the buses running, prevent the garbage from accumulating, keep the furnace on the in homeless shelters and kids fed in breakfast programs at schools around the region. And, for the rest of us, there is infrastructure. Roads and sewers, schools and community centres, pools and centres for older adults. It keeps us connected to each other.

We need to work together to identify who these caring people among the candidates are.

It's only one job. It's the heart of a manifesto for caring.

Are you in?
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Published on June 28, 2018 14:54

May 23, 2018

A Promise Fulfulled: the DSBN Highlights and Red Flags

Last night, I fulfilled a long-standing promise and attended a DSBN Board of Trustees meeting.

Since the last school board elections, I've been trying to give the board a chance to prove itself. Like many citizens in Niagara, I was shocked that the board's decision to sell Parliament Oak School was made in camera (private). There is a very short list of issues public bodies should ethically discuss or decide out of public view. It is surprising the sale of a public asset was one of them. The secrecy did, in my view, lower the public confidence in the DSBN. In particular, the public does not understand why the board did not sell the property to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Before the next election, everyone should ask their trustees how they voted. I understand that they can state their own vote, but they cannot disclose anyone else's.

I could only attend a meeting objectively once my worries about that decision weren't so prominent.

There were highlights to the evening's proceedings:

It was great to see members of the community who are doing wonderful things for our students recognized. Bonnie Boichuck, Caroline Bonfield, and Patti Lucas are amazing people and all of us are lucky to have them here in Niagara.

I also enjoyed seeing the mural created by "the mural girls" at Governor Simcoe Secondary School. Exemplary teachers of the arts were also recognized by local arts organizations...since my own daughter is worried about the shortage of arts instruction, resources and materials in her own school. it was heartening to see arts take cente stage at the meeting.

Less encouraging? Watching trustees receive reports and adopt recommended motions without discussion of report contents. Learning that they have as little as 48 hours to examine those reports was also disheartening. Especially when most of the comments in the meeting consisted of the board congratulating itself. That was a red flag for me to start paying closer attention.

Especially shocking? The report on the student achievement improvement plan that included consultation with Indigenous communities in Niagara was not discussed, but covered in praise for the board and then dismissed with "Thanks for making this job easy!"

It is hard to imagine meaningful student achievement improvement being easy. It is hard to imagine meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities being meaningful and genuine when the comments are full of praise for the board and not for result. I am personally aware of one community group that is watching the DSBN out of concern for what it sees as a failure to respond appropriately to incidents of racism against students. In this context, the acceptance of the report without thorough discussion also raised a huge red flag.

How does one respond to red flags? Well, I'll attend another meeting and see if they are waving again. If they are, I'll have to examine my conscience and existing policies to see if I am required to act.

What external factors are influencing my thoughts on this issue?Well, if there is one thing citizens of Niagara learned from another public board that created the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority mess, it is that the public needs to take a more active role in watching, discussing and questioning the actions of public boards and committees. School boards probably need the same attention to prevent more controversy.
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Published on May 23, 2018 11:37

September 7, 2015

The First Day of School!

Tomorrow is the first day of school here and I cannot wait. I've teamed up with Coffee Marvel for a great contest. Visit my guest blog and leave a comment there to win a great Dry Stories Prize Pack.
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Published on September 07, 2015 13:08

July 17, 2015

The Andy Petrowski Apology Collection

Today, Regional Councillor Andy Petrowski apologized to council chair Alan Caslin.

This time, the topic was hateful remarks made by Twitter and covered in local media that compared gay marriage to murder.

While Chair Caslin now considers "the matter closed," citizens of St.Catharines, whom Petrowski represents, are not in agreement.

In fact, we have seen too many apologies from Mr. Petrowski during his tenure on council.

Making the issue more complicated is Mr. Petrowski's position as vice-chair on the Police Services Board. This is a time of deep reflection and rapid change for police services around the world. Respectful, diverse and honest policing is a goal that all of us; members of the police, residents, citizens and politicians; must improve and pursue with our hearts and minds. This latest incident shows that Mr. Petrowski is incapable of that respect and honesty.

And, we know that from his last public apology in January of this year to Chief McGuire.

Alas, that was not Mr. Petrowski's first apology either.

In November of 2013, Mr. Petrowski apologized to members of staff who were bullied and intimidated by the councilor. In this incident, Petrowski was investigated by the integrity commissioner. Alan Caslin, it should be noted, defended Petrowski during this incident as well.

Prior to being elected to public office, Petrowski was known mostly for his acts of petty vandalism. He apologized for those crimes as well.

Are these very public apologies the only ones Petrowski has made or are they the only ones I can remember? If there are others, please let me know in the comments below because so far, the pattern is an illustration of Petrowski's complete lack of regard for the code of conduct that governs councilors of Niagara Regional government.

Were Andy Petrowski at all sincere, there would not have been further violations after the first incident and apology.

Andy Petrowski's insincere apologies are a political and democratic crisis of their own, especially since the board decided to eliminate the integrity commission in February.

There are, though, additional incidents that make this crisis more complicated and disturbing.

In this latest case, the rules of fair play are also at stake. It could be the violations of ethics we learned in the sand box as children that make how this incident is being treated by the chair especially painful.

Last week,Greg Miller was outed as the owner of @NiagaraNext, a twitter handle that was known for its criticism of all levels of Canadian government. His article comment sign in information was provided to chair Caslin by an editor of Bullet News Niagara, a media outlet owned by Councilor Bob Gale and operated by his children. The incident followed a possible disagreement between Miller and Bob's son. RD Gale alluded to it in a Facebook conversation about the "investigation." As a result of the news outlet's information and Chair Caslin's involvement, Miller lost his job at the Region.

What is happening in Niagara is nothing less than a crisis in democracy. A group of citizens is compiling a formal letter of complaint to be delivered to Chair Caslin later this month. One can only hope their concerns will be properly aired.

My fear is that the formal complaint, like all the informal complaints, will be dismissed with another insincere apology. Niagara Regional Council obviously needs immediate provincial and federal investigation.
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Published on July 17, 2015 05:23 Tags: alan-caslin, andy-petrowski, greg-miller, niagara-next, niagara-region

June 1, 2015

The DSBN: Where Public Consultation is not Consultation

School closures is an emotional issue. It is also a child health and security issue, an economic issue and massive social issue. We've been heavily impacted by school closures in Niagara and I wish I had more time to blog about it.

In Niagara the closure of public schools has been hugely controversial. Lies have been told, underhanded tricks have been played and public protests have been met with silence.

The population of Niagara is now the 4th oldest in the country. As baby boomers retire, they sell up their homes in Oakville, Toronto and other high-income centres and move to St. Catharines where they can re-invest as little as 25% of their real estate capital and live off the rest.

Except, that trend is a blip. In the next 15 now-active seniors will become less-active seniors who need more care, more facilities, more help. Who will provide that help when families have been chased out of the cities of the region by school closures, pool closures, and the re-distribution of resources to senior-centric activities?

It's a question that needs answering and, while I do have children right now, I know they are growing up fast and the way these issues are dealt with now will have a greater impact on my grandchildren than they will on my kids in the here and now. That's what political foresight is about. And that brings me to the District School Board Of Niagara
Pupil Accommodation Review Policy Update.

The DSBN is looking for commentary from the public and it has to be submitted today! I've been so busy with work and family obligations that I am getting mine in at the last minute. Here's what I have got:

Naturally, the red flags are immediately apparent. The first one I can respond to is in the preamble in paragraph 1.6 which states:

"The purpose of the accommodation review process is to develop viable accommodation options and solutions that support student success."

Up to now, all discussion about school closure has ignored student success. In fact, some of the schools that have been most successful in getting kids through high school, have high rates of alumni participation in post-secondary education and participation in civic and community life have all been closed or are slated for closure. The board has always used "student success" as its slogan in doing things that are ultimately harmful to students. Neighbourhood schools that children can walk to are considered the safest option because parents, who may not have easy access to transportation, are easily reachable, the children have safe spots in their neighbourhoods and, few people seem to realize that school buses are not public assets, but fee-based services we all have to pay for. Expanding their profit based in providing poorly-paid jobs and extending the school day with rides to and from school has never been a sign of student success. So, really, if the board is going to act in the interests of "student success" they had better define what that means for whom.

My next red flag comes in the Accommodation Review section. In section 2.1, item ii states:

"Declining enrolment (sic) has created a negative impact on learning opportunities for students at the
school or group of schools."

What we have seen is the migration of learning opportunities out of neighbourhood schools resulting in declining enrollment. The movement of ESL classes to central locations and the creation of a French Immersion-only school are just two examples of this.

In the same section, item vii states,

"Any other reason upon the recommendation of the Director of Education and subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees. Examples include, but are not limited to: health, safety or environmental conditions affecting the school or surrounding area; unforeseen changes in
funding, policy, or legislation; a request from the community; etc."

While the examples dress up the statement with some priorities that might arise, it ultimately means that the Director of Education can do whatever he likes as long as he garners the support of the board of trustees. Which basically makes all public consultation and commentary ultimately easy to dismiss.

If I were more careful about not wasting my time, I would have just stopped at section 2.1 item vii, but I'm a researcher, so I went on to read about the elements of a staff report in Section 3 called Planning Prior to an Accommodation Review. Item 3.3 includes the contents of an initial staff report. I am commenting item by item here:

"3.3 The Initial Staff Report must include the following:

"i. Supporting rationale for the accommodation option(s);"

This should tell us why the board is looking into closure. This should also include the supporting documentation and research sources used to inform this rationale.

"ii. A recommended option if more than one option is presented;"

Again, this should include the supporting documentation and sources that justify and all recommendations. In the past, these sources have not withstood examination when moved from one document to another. Fill disclosure at this stage would protect the integrity of staff and the board in future requests to the province and of the community.

"iii. A timeline for implementation;"

Again, this has to be research-based and all documentation of sources must be included at the most preliminary stages. Research has to be examined and validated to protect staff and build community trust.

"iv. A summary of accommodation issue(s) for the school(s) under review;"

Again, these issues have to be researched, examined and validated with a full inclusion of any and all documentation and sources.

"v. Where students would be accommodated;"

This should also include assurances of equal access to facilities of equal quality across the board. Students should not be housed in portables at one school while others have better learning environments, to use a broad example. Access to athletic and outdoor facilities has also long been unequal in our schools.

"vi. If proposed changes to the existing facility or facilities, or new facilities, are required;

"vii. Any program changes as a result of the proposed option;

"viii. Impact on student transportation;
ix. If new capital investment is required and how the DSBN intends to fund it or a proposal on how students would be accommodated if funding does not become available; and,"

This is huge. Quality and safety of transportation to school, coupled with time spent travelling to school, has been linked to both student well-being and academic success. These elements, not just funding, are huge considerations that have to be included in the draft.

"x. Any relevant information obtained from municipalities and other community partners prior to the commencement of the accommodation review including any confirmed interest in using
underutilized space."

This, also, is huge. It's difficult to believe that this is not already enshrined.

Right now there are three properties the city is hoping to redevelop as residential areas: the old GM site on Ontario Street, the old Hotel Dieu hospital on Ontario Street and the old General Hospital on Queenston Street. Memorial School and Maywood, which would have been the target schools for the Ontario Street sites are both slated for closure in September along with Alexandra and Queen Mary. The new school, Harriett Tubman, has just 30 more seats than all of the schools slated for closure combined. That means, if the GM and Hotel Dieu sites alone are redeveloped and homes for 200 more families with only one child each are created, 170 of those children won't have a school space.

Luckily, no one has to be Catholic to attend Catholic school any more. That may be the only option for many school age children in Niagara.
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Published on June 01, 2015 07:12 Tags: accommodation-review, dsbn, school-closure

May 10, 2015

Mothers' Day: Survival & Rescue Skills

Being a mother is the greatest pleasure on Earth. Having a mother is often a pain in the ass, until we mature enough to realize we won't always have our mothers. Then having a mother becomes the other greatest pleasure on earth.

Life is like that. Bitter and sweet, salty and sour.

There are mistakes I have made as a mother. I managed to keep them alive through toddlerhood. I managed to learn that silence always means trouble and basic health and safety procedures did get in. I insist on advanced swimming lessons, not for the swimming skills but for the life-saving skills, to keep their survival and rescue instincts sharp.

Beyond those basics, I am proud of my children's black belts in sarcasm and the trophies they've won for creativity in mischief and smartassery. I am often awed by the rhetorical skills they have developed and the logic of life experience that they bring to questioning almost every single thing I say. I am proud, also, of how parenthood has forced me to recognize that I am often wrong and that assumptions are only assumptions.

While I often fear I might be raising little lawyers, I love them enough to put that fear aside to see how these puzzles turn out. Arguments become conversations, decisions become choices and challenges become explorations.

And it happens when I provoke and challenge them too. My other unbreakable rule is this: all technology is consumed in shared spaces, not private ones. As we approach teenage hood, I will not have them retreating to their bedrooms for hours of internet usage, video games and skype calls. That stuff happens, but it happens under my nose. I don't censor them, but I look over their shoulders and they look over mine. We ask about content, we judge each other's usage of time and bandwidth, and we challenge everything we see, read or hear. This too is a survival and rescue instinct.

It's also the foundation of morality: don't hurt others, question the motives of those who would restrict others right to exist, question the events of history and pull back the blanket of assumption.

My mother thinks I'm wrong. My most conservative religious friends think I'm wrong. They don't have conversations like these with their 9 year-olds:

"Mum, why is Canada so mean to Native Peoples? They don't even have safe water on the reserves."

"I don't know sweetie, but I want to change that."

"Me too. I want to change that too."

In my life, I have been obeyed without question. It's nice, but I don't expect the same behaviour from my children as I do from my dog. My dog, as intelligent and wonderful as she is for a dog, does not have to unravel the mysteries of science, the wonders of humanity and the solutions to problems created that put our people and planet in peril.

When I was in university, my professor of sociology of education said something I have never forgotten:

"Each generation must be more intelligent than the last. Educational systems must ensure they do not prevent that."

Parenthood is an educational system.

"B-- is a pleasure to teach and is always ready to learn," my 12 year-old's last report card said.

"Are you sure she's talking about you?" my bother asked my son.

Obviously, my children's teachers get the benefits of conversation, choices, and exploration without the hard work of starting with arguments, decisions and challenges. I'm fine with that. I'm their mother and negotiating those three things are the responsibilities my children and I share.

Happy mothers' day.
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Published on May 10, 2015 06:28 Tags: mothers-day

April 28, 2015

Swapping Stories

Strangely, Incredibly Good by Heather Grace Stewart

Heather Grace Stewart is the author of Strangely, Incredibly Good whose book, like Dry Stories was published by Morning Rain Publishing. Authors like to talk shop and, while we're sharing a fantastic Mothers' Day offer, there is no time the present to make that shop talk public. Here is my interview with the fabulous Heather Grace Stewart.

Kate Baggott: When I'm writing, my idea of the perfect audience is always in my mind. In particular, I think of having the complete attention of the person I loved most at a specific moment in time to tell them whatever I want to say. Other writers tell me that the reading audience is secondary to their involvement with their characters whose lives become all-consuming. Who does your imagination interact with while you are writing, your audience or your characters or is your process completely different?

Heather Grace Stewart: It's all about the characters for me. Even with my poetry, I get lost in the meaning of the poem, or in its anecdote. As I write my novels, I'm always imagining where the characters are, what it feels like, and what the character is going to say next. Funny, when I write a magazine piece, I write for the audience. I picture who will be reading as I'm formulating my lead- I think, how do I best inform them about this particular story? But for my fiction, I never think about the audience. That would just throw me off. I am led by the characters and sadly, they
often take over my thoughts for three to six months. They are the cause of burnt pots, forgotten showers, and uneaten sandwiches, but I still love them like my kids.

KB: We live in an era when parenting is constantly being examined, advised and judged. It's a wonder kids managed to grow up at all in the time before blogs existed. Motherhood and living the creative life, though, have always been portrayed as two forces in conflict. Have you been conflicted by the experience of being a writer-mother or a writer-daughter?

HGS: I feel lucky to be able to juggle the hats that are stay at home mom, writer, and speaker. I'm really blessed to be able to combine those
three jobs, and yes, sometimes it's difficult to balance writing(because when the writing is there, you can't ignore it) and being available to our daughter (because when she has a question, you gotta answer it immediately!), but I've been working from home as a journalist and author for eleven years now, so I've found a routine that works well. One trick that's worked well for me is to get to work right at 7:30 once our daughter is on her bus to school. I try not to be distracted by social media early in the morning, because that's when I usually get my best writing done. I try to leave social media for past five, when projects and homework are done.

KB: You are a prolific writer who manages to arrange events to meet with your readers all the time all over the place! I've gotten notices that you're appearing in BC, then I get one that you're in Kingston, ON. How do you manage to get out there and meet so many people in so many different places?

HGS: Thanks for saying that, because it's not easy to find new readers, and I'm always feeling like I should do so much more touring. I started touring with Carry On Dancing (2012) thanks to some grants from the Canada Council and the League of Canadian Poets. Once I did that with that book, I realized how great it is to actually meet your readers in person, so I did the same with Three Spaces in 2013. I had to think of places that might be interested in having me speak. I approached the Ban Righ Centre at Queen's, my alma mater, and they graciously hosted me. Then the Queen's Media and Journalism Conference (QMJC) approached me later that spring, and so then I went looking for other places in Kingston where I could speak or sign books on the same weekend, and chose Novel Idea. My 2013 Three Spaces tour, which took me to Toronto, Kingston, and Ottawa, was a good start for learning who to call and how to arrange it all.

When Strangely, Incredibly Good came out, I knew I should and wanted to do the same, to try to meet more readers. I called my local library and arranged a special reading there in the fall, and thankfully, Queen's University's Ban Righ Speaker Series asked me to speak in Winter 2014, so I arranged to speak on the same weekend as the QMJC, where I'd been invited to guest speak for a third year. It's not easy to arrange these
events all in one weekend, but, and this goes back to the parenting-writing question - I don't want to be away from home too many weekends, so I try to arrange the events all at once. I tacked on a visit to Kanata at the end of this year's tour, because I grew up there, and hoped to reunite with many old friends at Chapters Kanata. I did, and it was such a memorable day!

As for B.C., I was going to be there to visit my husband's family over Christmas anyway, so I asked my family about local bookstores, and my family was very supportive, and encouraged me to arrange a book signing.

It took several phone calls and emails, but I managed to arrange a January signing at Black Bond Books in Maple Ridge, and it was my most successful independent bookstore signing yet.

It takes courage to make that first phone call to an organization or book store to ask them to have you sign books or speak, but, I think it's the first step to meeting your audience. Our audience as authors isn't just on social media; there are so many people who don't even use social media who we need to reach out to. I have a lot of fun touring, but can only afford to do so once a year or so, so I spend many afternoons for many months planning these trips so I can get the most out of my three or four days on the road.

KB: What's your favourite memory from the road?

HGS: There are so many! I meet a lot of Via Rail employees who ask what I do, and so I pull out a book, and we get talking. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. Cabbies who tell me all about their difficult lives and PhD's from other countries; employees in hotels who get so excited I'm an author (which is so hilarious because it truly is not that glamorous) they grab their friends in the back room to say, "she's an author!" or ask to take a photo with me! One of the most rewarding moments of my career so far was being asked to return to Queen's University to encourage young writers. Last year, I spoke about following your passion to a group of university students. I wasn't sure I was getting through to them, but at the end, one of the students asked a really intelligent question, and then asked to take a selfie with me, and they all crowded in, took it, and posted it to Twitter, I thought, maybe it's not just about selling books, or getting rave reviews. Maybe it's about making a connection and a difference in a young person's life. And that's the kind of thing that keeps me going, on the rough days. Writing and encouraging others to write: It's like the milk in my Earl Grey tea; I wouldn't have one without the other.

Here is Heather Grace's bio and links to more of her work.

Heather Grace Stewart

Heather's debut novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, was released by Morning Rain Publishing in June 2014. She is also the author of the Amazon Kindle best-selling poetry collections Three Spaces,Carry on Dancing, Leap and Where the Butterflies Go, a best-selling Kindle screenplay, The Friends I've Never Met, two non-fiction books for youth,
and a book of children's poetry.

Born in Ottawa, she lives with her husband and daughter near Montreal. In her free time, she loves to take photos, scrapbook, cartoon, inline skate, dance like nobody's watching, and eat Swedish Berries - usually not at the same time.

Visit her blog at http://heathergracestewart.com and her official website, http://heathergracestewart.me

Facebook: http://facebook.com/heathergracestewart

Twitter: @hgracestewart
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Published on April 28, 2015 09:59 Tags: author-interview, heather-grace-stewart, kate-baggott, strangely-incredibly-good

April 11, 2015

King Wally Wants to Expand His Realm

It's arguable, but it is possible to believe that social media can result in a better democracy. Take this conversation on St.Catharines', city councilor Mark Elliott's Facebook pagefor example.

Our mayor of less than six months, rather then proving himself trustworthy and reliable after the dual representation debacle, believes the city boundaries should be "straightened" to extend into the Greenbelt and onto our rich agricultural land.

The discussion, as a result of Mark's post, is intelligent and expansive, referencing city planning, environmental concerns, climate change concerns and economic health. It also has valuable information and links to opportunities for citizen involvement.

I did the land use survey to recommend expanded access to and affordability of public transit, advised against the expansion of city boundaries and expressed the need for re-development of abandoned buildings and the need for infrastructure limitation for better and more cost-effective maintenance.

I followed up with an email to the appropriate provincial authorities at bbellows@stcatharines.ca,landuseplanningreview@ontario.ca, minister.mah@ontario.ca

Being an informed and involved citizen feels good. You should try it. Here is my email and I would like to read yours. Feel free to leave it in the comments below.

Subject: Protection of Agricultural Lands, Infrastructure Management

To whom it may concern,

I was shocked to learn that the new mayor of St.Catharines is in favour of "straightening the boundaries of St.Catharines" to expand the urban community onto Greenbelt and protected agricultural lands.

I believe this plan is short-sighted and harmful from both an environmental and food security point of view. It is also financially irresponsible.

It is short-sighted as it failed to consider world events, including climate change and catastrophic climate events and how they impact us. These include the on-going military actions in the Middle East, which make fuel security and costs unstable and the drought in California that threatens food production for the entire continent.

It is expensive because it demands the creation and maintenance of infrastructure systems and duplication of city services. Water rates in St.Catharines are the second most expensive in the province. Since the department for water treatment has told us that the departure of industry from the area has resulted in less consumption, there is not enough money to maintain the water infrastructure. The same thing must be true for all other utilities and infrastructural elements. With so much land that has to be re-developed, including the two hospital sites and GM (the current plan looks like an absolute and complete fantasy), it does not make sense to expand the boundaries and increase the reach of city infrastructure.

It is difficult to see benefit in this plan for anyone but developers who make cash grabs and run. Since most of city council and the mayor himself are still new -- and controversial -- shouldn't they be trying to prove themselves trustworthy rather than trying to expand the reach of the kingdom?

With kind regards,
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Published on April 11, 2015 17:48 Tags: councilor-mark-elliot, stcatharines-city-council, walter-sendzic

February 26, 2015

Exciting News Part One: Dry Stories Giveaway

I have some exciting things planned for the next few weeks.

To start things off, I am pleased to announce that Morning Rain Publishing has decided to sponsor a giveaway of Dry Stories.

The giveaway runs until midnight March 9th and you can win one of two copies if you enter here.
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Published on February 26, 2015 12:13 Tags: canadian-literature, dry-stories, giveaways, kate-baggott, short-stories

February 24, 2015

Fun with Lists

As I write this, Dry Stories is #144 on the Best Canadian Literature List here on Goodreads.

I came of age during the Wayne's World era. Lists, are an important part of how I perceive best to worst on almost every topic that doesn't really matter, but is fun to think about.

"Fun to think about" is key right now. Like most working single mothers, I live a ridiculously stressful life with lots of laughter and fun thanks to my kids (by the way, the older one would like you to subscribe to his YouTube channel, if you please).

To distract myself, I started thinking about my books again. I am not concerned about marketing, but I do love having readers. I get a lot of feedback from readers of the business writing I do for the B2B News Network (B2BNN), but not much from the fiction I write.

My 120 closest friends supported me on a huge-link sharing binge and, as a result, Dry Stories appeared on the best-selling short stories lists at both Amazon and KOBO. I was obsessed. And boring. Very, very boring. I was especially boring on Twitter.

The highest the book rose on any list was to #4 and never came close to that Neil Gaiman guy's collection of short stories.

Still, the lists captivated me. They were a great distraction. No matter how I am losing in life, there's something about a good list that says "winning anyway".

I haven't had that kind of re-assurance since I was last in school and got report cards that told me how I was performing. Some of us, never really graduate from needing that kind of feedback.
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Cornfields of the Sea

Kate Baggott
When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to be part of a writing workshop with author Barbara Greenwood. Every member of the workshop was to write a short story for a group anthology. I thought w ...more
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