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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Conservation Area surrendered to ATV vandals

(sent to letters-to-the-editor of The Belleville Intelligencer, The Community Press, Central Hastings News) also sent to Marmora and Lake Mayor, Terry Clemons and Marmora and Lake CAO, Typhany Choinard, The Land Between (Cottage Country's Conservation Organization),Leadnow, Green Peace

Published as a letter-to-the-editor in the Central Hastings/Trent Hills News (metrolandmedia)
Thursday, Aug. 24/17  page B4, titled Callahan's Rapids under serious threat

Aug. 20/17

Dear Editors:

I've been enjoying the 800 hectares of natural beauty at Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area for 28 years. The peace of mind this sanctuary always provides has given me an affordable summer vacation spot as well as a place to recover in solitude from various personal tragedies. But over the 28 years I've watched a gradual decline in its care and maintenance. When I first visited there were change and toilet facilities and waste receptacles were available. The toilets and waste bins disappeared decades ago, sadly replaced by illegal campsite fire pits filled with garbage. The three main footpaths have been 'supplemented' by a maze of rutted trails torn through the thick bush, courtesy of illegal ATV trespassers.

Seemingly Crowe Valley staff are content to sit in their air conditioned offices and surrender our once pristine conservation area to the vandals. I've never once seen a uniformed conservation officer during my dozens of visits to Callahan's Rapids. Considering it's a ten minute drive from Crowe Valley's Marmora headquarters to the conservation area, I wonder why this lack of monitoring? Ditto the OPP - never once have I seen a cop car stopping all the illegal ATVs.

Our local taxpayer dollars are being wasted while we wait for our public servants to perform their duties. The fish and birds, whose breeding areas are being destroyed, are voiceless. Ditto the frogs, toads, snakes and turtles who are having their habitat ripped up by fat and lazy ATV joyriders. There are rare orchids in the woods which are now criss-crossed by ragged trails and illegally chopped down tree stumps. Today I watched a parade of ATVs driving downstream from the Trans Canada bridges to the rapids, a distance of several kilometers. The jerks were often churning through several feet of water, and I kept hoping they'd ruin their noisy idiot machines. The senseless damage they were doing to the habitat is hard to believe.

Simple solutions: for starters I'd like to see a couple of uniformed Crowe Valley Conservation officers in the parking lot on weekends. Although they are empowered to give tickets, just their presence would cool out some of the garbage leavers and illegal campers. Our local OPP should also visit on weekends, and begin by issuing warnings for the first few weeks to the ATVers. Something has to be done soon, or we're going to lose this special spot to the vandals among us. The original donors of this sacred conservation area must be turning in their graves. 

for the frogs, toads, snakes, birds, bees, fish, trees, orchids and all our other silent friends who depend on us for their preservation,

Chris Faiers (signed)

                                                  ~    ~    ~    ~

On 2017-08-26, at 8:38 PM, Gail wrote:

Hi Chris,
Congratulations on your letter to the Editor.  You echoed so many of my sentiments exactly.  You know it was my neighbour's plan to create an ATV trail right in the Pines and use that old rail trail up to town.  I tried contacting the municipality, the the conservation authorities but all to no avail.  When Hydro decided to clear cut our roadways even though the ministry had advised us of a very rare butterfly in the Pines.  Instead of trying to protect something quite rare, hydro was allowed to cut down a lot of bushes that might have been host plant for this butterfly.  The kids that were racing around on ATVs were not even legally old enough to be riding on the roads.

Here are a few articles expressing similar concerns.  I think we need to start a campaign Chris.  Don't give me the been there done it line.  We could do this.

                                               .    .    .    .

Hi Gail,
I've already done the first draft for an action plan which includes the creation of a Friends of Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area!

I was talking with JC yesterday, and she had a similar bad experience at CRCA. She took visiting friends there, and people were illegally camping right across the path. JC and her visitors didn't feel comfortable crossing through the campsite, even tho they knew if was wrong and illegal. So she just drove her friends home and they didn't get to enjoy the natural beauty of Callahan's :  ( 

Also AR has had bad experiences at CRCA, and she worked there many decades ago. I think a lot of people will ally with us in getting some action on cleaning up CRCA. The Marmora & Lake Council needs to do its job ensuring our taxpayer money is being used by Crowe Valley Conservation and the OPP to enforce the rules!

It'll be interesting to see if any further letters-to-the-editor are published about the sad state of Callahan's (hmmm, hint, hint).

I'll add your email to my posting. 

Image result for no ATV logo

Monday, 7 August 2017

Film being made about Basho and his student

Zen monk Seigaku: A life with less can be so much more

Special To The Japan Times
Japanese monk Seigaku lives a Zen life with as little money as possible in Berlin. The desire for popularity led Seitaro Higuchi from Tottori on the Sea of Japan to Germany’s capital, transforming himself along the way. He had sought to become an actor — and instead became a monk. How did this come about?

“I wanted to be popular with girls,” Seigaku says over the phone, laughing. He is speaking from Kyoto, where he is shooting a movie over two months in summer.
As fate would have it, the 36-year-old monk is now also an actor, playing the role of a monk who was a student of poet Matsuo Basho in a fictional documentary by Swiss filmmaker Richard Dindo.

The documentary traces the life and times of the famous poet, who has since become famous for his haiku verses. Dindo wanted to use real monks in his production and so chose Seigaku to play the role of the student and another higher-ranking monk from a temple in Kyoto to play Basho.
Image result for pic of Basho
standard pic of Basho

Seigaku, who spends most of the year in Berlin since moving there in 2011, has quite a story to tell.
Born Seitaro Higuchi, he became a Zen monk at the age of 23 after graduating from Keio University with a degree in politics.

“I couldn’t find a reason to work for capitalism,” he recalls, thinking back to his final years at university. Instead, he was looking for something he felt would be more fulfilling.
There was also the desire for popularity. He wanted to be liked and decided to imitate someone who was already popular.

Noting that a popular senior student in his ice hockey team was also an actor, Higuchi seized his chance when a friend invited him to take part in a theater production produced by Yoko Narahashi.
The internationally renowned casting director and film producer also headed an English drama theater group for students at universities in and around Tokyo. Higuchi realized this offered him a great opportunity.

However, Higuchi’s enthusiasm was soon brought down to earth by Narahashi, who told him not to do anything in front of the camera. Narahashi told him he was “doing too much and trying too hard,” advising him to “undo” what he was doing. Such advice tore Higuchi apart.

“Up to this point, I thought that we have a purpose in life, and that we have to find this purpose by doing the very best that we can,” Higuchi recalls. “It was difficult for me to change my mind-set.”
At the time, Narahashi was working on “The Last Samurai” starring Tom Cruise. Higuchi wondered why such a popular actor was into samurai warriors. He realized that the Japanese kanji for samurai (侍) contains two parts: “human” (人) and “temple” (寺). This connection between a samurai and Buddhist ways of thinking led him to develop an interest in Buddhism and Zen.

A cousin of Higuchi’s father was serving as a monk in a Zen temple and so he asked how best to practice Zen.
His distant relative told him the best way to practice is to become a monk. And so he did.
Higuchi decided to practice as a monk for one year at Eiheiji, one of two main temples of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. Eiheiji is located in Fukui Prefecture.
He enjoyed living at Eiheiji very much, although life in the mountains was pretty ordinary. A typical day would consist of waking up, eating, cleaning, sitting and meditating (zazen), and sleeping. All these activities — especially the cleaning routine (called samu) — would be carried out with mindfulness as a part of Zen. One year at the temple turned into three years before he even knew it.
Higuchi, who had by now adopted the name Seigaku, went back to his former life in Tokyo only to realize that he needed money. He tried to earn the minimum amount needed to survive, working in an izakaya pub as a bartender and chef.

“Once I earned the minimum amount, the amount I saved grew larger,” he recalls. “At the temple I hadn’t used electric appliances like TVs, laptops, mobile phones and so on. Once I saved a little bit of money, I thought I should get a phone so that my friends would be able to communicate with me. The more I earned, the more I started living like I used to before I lived in the temple.”
Eventually, he worked less and only practiced Zen. He shared an apartment with friends, where they would sit and meditate together.

His next goal would be to attempt living this kind of lifestyle in other parts of the world.
“By living like this, I could prove that this way of life is OK,” he says. “The Zen way of life could therefore become an alternative way of life to capitalism.”
Seigaku had planned to move to New York in April 2011, using a scholarship for monks from the Yokohama Zenkoji Scholarship Foundation for International Buddhist Study that would grant him ¥1 million for one year.

But then the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Fukushima occurred and he changed his destination. Seigaku had just married and his wife was expecting their first child.
“Nobody knew what would happen next. The situation was changing a lot,” he recalls. “When Germany decided to phase out its nuclear power plants, we chose to move to Berlin instead.”
He arrived in Germany with his pregnant wife in May 2011. The scholarship helped them get their first apartment in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood and his wife gave birth.
“I like the relaxed atmosphere in Berlin a lot,” Seigaku says. “It feels like people don’t seem to depend too much on capitalism and on the economy.”

In Berlin, Seigaku has been meditating every day. He first did it in his apartment. Then, friends started to join him in his home. One day an attendant invited him to do it in his cafe, and the word started to spread.
For nearly two years, Seigaku has been holding zazen classes in a yoga studio, owned by another attendant, where students give donations. He also holds zazen workshops in a salon space called Ryoko that is run by Ryoko Hori and her partner, Daniel Kula. Likewise, participants don’t pay a fee for the service but instead offer a donation.
“Berlin has changed me,” Seigaku says. “I’m healthier today. I have met many different people and become confident that the Zen way of living could be a real alternative for the next generation. That said, it’s always difficult and never stable.”

Sometimes he goes to a square dressed in his black robes. He just sits there and places a bowl in front of him. Occasionally, people put food or money in his bowl.
“I want to stay in Berlin because more and more people seem to be interested in my way of living,” Seigaku says.

It does indeed seem that a life with less can be so much more.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

interviews for Eel Pie Island Dharma movie script going well

I had my second phone interview with the script writers at noon yesterday. I meant to limit the time, but I was so engrossed in telling my stories (sooprise!) that somehow an hour and 10 mins slipped by before Tom asked if that was enough. I'd only sipped half my beer, and honestly had thought we were only 15 or 20 mins into the interview, so obviously I was thoroughly enjoying it.

Afterwards I Googled Twickenham and found the site for the Twick Museum. I sent them an email asking to be  added to their list of writers and poets connected with Twick history - be interesting to see if they reply. Also on the site was a map of Twick area, and I must have spent half an hour revisiting various old haunts. I was able to find the street the Squires lived on, as well as The Hermitage (street in Richmond) where I briefly lived in a flat with Crippled Eddie. The interviewers wanted to know how and where I lived in the time period between my narsty cousin throwing me into the street and when I moved into the Eel Pie Hotel. l didn't write a lot about this period in EPID, so again it was interesting to remember and reminisce  ;  )

We're taking a break from the interviews for at least a few days, which I think is a good thing all around. As much as I may like to talk about myself and my adventures, it can get a bit tedious - fortunately the interviewers claim to find all this blather fascinating (?)

Twickenham Museum
Twickenham Museum on The Embankment

Footage of PurdyFest by Professional videographer

Hi Henry,
It's a real longshot that the 2 young Brit actor/playwrights will get beyond writing the script - figure it's a 10,000 to one longshot that a movie will ever be made. But it's exciting that they think so highly of the book that they want to do this! We started a series of interviews yesterday - here's yesterday's blog posting:

I'll post stuff on the blog from time to time to stay updated. Part of why I emailed you is that you took professional footage of the PurdyFests. I don't know how much of my literal story will be in the script and if they'd want an update on my activities for inclusion in the film (if made!), or if the script will be more an an "everyman hippie", which was a bit of my intention when I wrote Eel Pie Island Dharma.

Be great if you decide to take some R&R at Tai & Kim's B&B on Presqu'ile. It's a gorgeous place, both their house and the park. Have you ever visited there?

keep in touch ;  )-
peace & poetry power!

On 2017-08-02, at 11:03 AM, Henry Martinuk wrote:

Hi Chris,
very exciting news about the Eel Pie Island Dharma movie. Looking forward to seeing it!
I thought the Milt & Gwen reading was a bit subdued but it may have been the heat in the bookstore; no circulation & lots of bodies.

I really want to visit & Tai is encouraging me to also stay in his B&B. Lots of possibilities in the fall.
I'll definitely give you plenty of notice before I head to Marmora so we can connect.
cheers, Henry