April: I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean It Up, by James Hoggan

The most pressing environmental problem we face today is pollution in the public square, where a smog of adversarial rhetoric, propaganda and polarization stifles discussion and debate, creating resistance to change and thwarting our ability to solve our collective problems.

In “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot”, author and David Suzuki Foundation chair James Hoggan grapples with this critical issue, conducting interviews with outstanding thinkers from the Himalaya to the House of Lords. Drawing on the wisdom of such notables as Thich Nhat Hanh, Noam Chomsky, and the Dalai Lama, his comprehensive analysis explores:

– How trust is undermined and misinformation thrives in today’s public dialogue
– Why facts alone fail — the manipulation of language and the silencing of dissent
– The importance of reframing our arguments with empathy and values to create compelling narratives and spur action.

Focusing on proven techniques to foster more powerful and effective communication, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot will appeal to readers looking for both deep insights and practical advice.

Barbara Herring and Joan Higginson, two of our members, read and recommend this book. Should be a good discussion.

Meetings on April 9 and 23, 2-4pm, on Zoom. Email Helen Griffin for the link.

March: Thirty Years of Failure: Understanding Canadian Climate Policy by Robert MacNeil

Thirty years ago, Canada was a climate leader, designing policy to curb rising emissions and
demanding the same of other countries. But in the intervening decades, Canada has become more of a climate villain, rejecting global attempts to slow climate change and ignoring ever-increasing emissions at home.

How did Canada go from climate leader to climate villain?

In Thirty Years of Failure, Robert MacNeil examines Canada’s changing climate policy in detail and argues that the failure of this policy is due to a perfect storm of interrelated and mutually reinforcing cultural, political and economic factors — all of which have made a functional and effective national climate strategy impossible.

But as MacNeil reveals, the factors preventing a sensible, sustainable climate policy in Canada offer activists some strategies to strengthen Canada’s response.

Barbara Herring, one of our members, read this book and found it highly readable, engaging and informative, It provided helpful information specific to Canada’s climate response.

Available at Chapters.

Meetings on March 12 and 26, 2:00-4:00 pm. The March 26 meeting will be online here.

February: Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran” by Roger Housden

When Roger Housden decided to travel to Iran and finally see the subject of his youthful fascination, he was in his sixties. By then, he thought he had seen the world. He was wrong.

 It was a quest that changed him forever. In Iran, Housden met with artists, writers, film makers and religious scholars who embody the long Iranian tradition of humanism, and shared with him their belief in scholarship and artistry. From the bustle of modern Tehran to the paradise gardens of Shiraz to the spectacular mosques and ancient palaces of Isfahan, Housden met Iranians who were warm, welcoming, generous, intellectually curious, and altogether alive with their love for one another, and for the faith and tradition that holds them together.

Saved by Beauty weaves a richly textured story of many threads. It is a deeply poetic and perceptive appreciation of a culture that has endured for over three thousand years, while it also portrays the creative and spiritual cultures within contemporary Iran. While there, Roger Housden was brought face to face with the reality that beauty and truth, deceit and violence, are inextricably mingled in the affairs of human life, and was forever altered by it.

Meeting on February 13 and 27 at the home of Gillian Trowbridge, 24 Cricket Place, phone 705-874-2281.

Time for both: 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

January: forgiveness – a gift from my grandparents, by Mark sakomoto

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean chose to escape his troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada and volunteer to serve his country overseas. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Mitsue Sakamoto saw her family and her stable community torn apart after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Like many young Canadian soldiers, Ralph was captured by the Japanese army. He would spend the war in prison camps, enduring pestilence, beatings and starvation, as well as a journey by hell ship to Japan to perform slave labour, while around him his friends and countrymen perished.
Back in Canada, Mitsue and her family were expelled from their home by the government and forced to spend years eking out an existence in rural Alberta, working other people’s land for a dollar a day.
By the end of the war, Ralph emerged broken but a survivor. Mitsue, worn down by years of back-breaking labour, had to start all over again in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A generation later, at a high school dance, Ralph’s daughter and Mitsue’s son fell in love.
Although the war toyed with Ralph’s and Mitsue’s lives and threatened to erase their humanity, these two brave individuals somehow surmounted enormous transgressions and learned to forgive. Without this forgiveness, their grandson Mark Sakamoto would never have come to be.
Meeting on January 9 at the home of Joan Higginson (86 Auburn St) and on January 23 at the home of Helen Griffin (1370 Armstrong Drive). Time for both: 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

Hidden Heart of The Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story (REVISED EDITION), by Brian Thomas Swimme

Twenty-five years after the publication of the first edition of Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, Brian Swimme presents his revised edition. In this book he writes ”I offer some practices for integrating the counterintuitive nature of Science’s discoveries, including our relationship to the birthplace of the universe, to the omnicentric nature of the universe, and to the non-visible, generative ground of our existence. These personal transformations of consciousness find their fulfillment in the reshaping of our cultures and societal institutions.”

Meeting on Dec.12 at 2:00pm at the home of Jan Bowen, 730 Spillsbury Dr.  705 745 2990

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