Finding Santa

Originally published in Alternatives Journal blog, Think Global

It’s December 6, and we are on the island of Kos in Greece. The stores are closed for the celebration of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, but the sun is out and the cafes are doing a brisk trade. A band approaches and then a procession bearing the icon of St. Nicholas sweeps through the square on its way to the church where the service is being held. The procession passes, and the square is empty again, save for the Christmas tree and Santa Claus display. Continue reading

Guts over Fear

Vimy_Memorial(2)

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial

Originally posted in Alternatives Journal

Lest we forget: war is about power.

It’s mid September, 2014. We’ve been driving the North of France with Eminem’s new single, “Guts over Fear” in never ending rotation on French radio. Our theme over the past week has been the great wars, which makes it an appropriate anthem. Much better than “Gigo, gigo, gigotez”, the French version of one of the many songs reflecting pop culture’s newfound fascination with butt wiggling and which leave you wondering what all the sacrifice was for. Continue reading

The Challenge of Living Lightly

housepackssmHow do you fit a house of stuff into four backpacks?

We’ve always tried to live lightly, at least by North American standards. We’ve never owned a car and use a mix of cycling, walking, transit, and car sharing to get around. We shop locally, and favour local and natural foods. We have a modest, well-insulated home with energy-efficient appliances and pay a premium for green power. On the whole, we’re not doing too bad, and we don’t think our lifestyle has suffered for it. Quite the contrary, in fact.

We may not have a lot of the usual trappings of a North American lifestyle, but there is nothing like taking just one backpack each for the year to make you think about how much stuff we actually have. As we clear out the clutter to make room for our tenants, the big purge is underway and our local thrift shop and yard sale will be full of things we now realize we don’t need.