A private school education for free!?!

16 05 2017

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Seems a bit too good to be true, right? Small classes, interdisciplinary projects, experiential learning, supportive individualized mentoring, community engagement, and social and environmental consciousness. Free? Yes, it’s true, and available right here on the peninsula! Our community is fortunate enough to be the home to BPDS, an incredible K-12 UNESCO school that offers many of the features of a private school, for free, and it’s the default option if you live in Northern Bruce. Yes, it’s not perfectly free, because we pay taxes, but at least it won’t set you back $15,000 a year, as some private school parents pay. Yet it remains a mystery why parents and students are opting out.

I have been involved at BPDS in various capacities – as a volunteer, supply teacher, supply educational assistant, school bus driver, and perhaps most importantly, a student. I was also on the steering committee for the Peninsula Action Committee for Education (PACE) and was involved in a research project that surveyed about 300 community members and 80 former students on their local school experiences. Through these roles, I feel qualified to attest to the high quality of programming at BPDS.

I was fortunate enough to attend a private, nonprofit university after graduating from BPDS. Many of my peers attended private high schools and prestigious international schools, so naturally, I worried that my small-town education might come up short. However, I was relieved to find out that I was sufficiently prepared and even excelled in many of my classes. Small classes, interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities, supportive teacher mentors and the wide range of volunteer opportunities equipped me with the work ethic and skills to succeed at university. And thanks to Mr. Rodgers, I was more comfortable using Excel than many of my peers!

So of course, no school is perfect and certainly no high school experience is clear sailing, however continue to support our local school, not only because the school plays an important role in the vitality of the community, but also because it is a good school that offers unparalleled opportunities. The grass will always seem greener elsewhere, but I would encourage students and parents on the peninsula to take a moment to recognize just how green the grass is here.

This letter was published in Issue #6 (May 16 – May 30, 2017) of the Bruce Peninsula Press

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The Fitz Hostel set to launch

28 03 2016

Hello friends,

As many of you know, I’ve spent the last two years thinking about and the last four months steadily planning and preparing to open a hostel in Lion’s Head. At last, it’s becoming a reality!

tfh_logo_cropThe Fitz Hostel is a small hostel opening on the Bruce Peninsula this May! The Fitz offers both private and dorm room options – one private double room and two 4-bed dorms. There will be shared bathroom facilities, a fully-equipped guest kitchen, spacious common areas and backyard. It is centrally located in the village of  Lion’s Head – steps away from the beach, amenities, and right along the Bruce Trail!

Like Captain Fitzwilliam Owen, the first explorer to chart Georgian Bay, The Fitz Hostel is charting new territory as the first hostel on the Bruce Peninsula. We, too, are explorers and travellers, and look forward to helping you make the most of your adventure – whether it be an action-packed week of as many outdoor activities you can fit in, or a relaxing weekend outstretched along Georgian Bay’s rocky shores. We hope you’ll fall in love with the Bruce Peninsula as much as we have! Whatever your adventure, start it at The Fitz!

For more information, visit www.thefitzhostel.com or drop a line to info@thefitzhostel.com! And of course you can find us on Facebook and Instagram (@thefitzhostel).

In the meantime, I need your help getting the word out to those who love the Bruce Peninsula! Also, a huge thank you to all of you who have encouraged and supported me thus far, and thank you in advance for spreading the word! Stay tuned for more details about our official launch and hope you’ll stop in and check it out for yourself!

See ya at The Fitz,

Megan





A rant on carbon

14 02 2016

Yesterday a woman mentioned that this past weekend she’d bought gas for $0.67/litre. She likely expected me to join her in celebrating how great that was, but instead I fell silent as I was thinking…

HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SLOW CLIMATE CHANGE WITH GAS PRICES SO LOW!?!

I know, I know. It doesn’t make any sense to be complaining. With every cent of savings I should be breathe a little easier knowing that I’ll have a few extra bucks in my tight budget. After all, having a car and driving nearly everywhere seems to be an unfortunate reality of living rurally. But rather than relief, I’m more worried than ever. With fuel being cheaper than it’s been in quite a while, there is even less incentive for folks to make that effort to carpool or to think twice about an extra trip to the city.

I once thought that perhaps climate change might be resolved by diminishing oil supplies, that we’d just run out, or even before that oil will be so precious and expensive that we’ll be forced into alternatives. Now, it appears that’s not necessarily the case. A much more urgent matter is the impacts if we continue to burn all the fossil fuels we have. Sea levels will continue to rise, natural disasters will occur at even more horrific frequencies and intensities, and people will be displaced. Of course, the people who are benefitting from fossil fuel use (i.e. oil execs) are unlikely to be the ones displaced because they can afford to live wherever they’d like.

Seems to me like a mighty fine time to introduce a carbon tax, and to use those tax revenues to develop public transportation infrastructure (and create jobs), clean and community-owned renewable energy projects and low-carbon industries.

But wait! What about those rural dwellers that don’t have access to public transportation? In urban areas, transportation is a public issue, while in rural areas it’s mostly a private one that must be absorbed by the individual. So, it seems unfair to put the cost of greenhouse gas emissions strictly on the shoulders of rural folks that are already under economic pressures to keep their communities alive in the face of urbanisation and out-migration. As Fay Martin recommends in her paper on migration decisions of rural youth in Ontario (2013), the government could offer an income tax deduction equal to the vehicle costs for at least one car per household in places where there is no public transportation, and offer an even greater deduction for those with fuel-efficient or electric vehicles.





The currency of trust

27 10 2015

Who do you trust? Only your closest family and friends? Everyone until they do something to lose your trust? Our elected politicians?

I’m usually the type of person who trusts almost anyone, unless there’s a good reason not to. In addition to being an idealist, I attribute this mindset to refusing to live in fear…and rarely watching the television news. I worked at a bakery where we regularly gave people IOUs and allowed people to send payment in the mail, and they did (usually along with a thank you card). I attended a small university where we’d leave our laptops in the library when we went to the cafeteria for dinner. My undergrad research suggests that I’m in the minority.

In 1960, 58% of Americans agreed that most people can be trusted, but by 1993, this proportion declined by a third to 37% (Putnam, 1995). Social trust is considered one of the four dimensions of the broader study of “social capital,” along with informal social ties, formal social ties and norms of collective action (Liu and Besser, 2003). Social capital encompasses the features of social organisation that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit (Putnam, 1995). While social capital contributes to safer, healthier, more civically engaged communities, Putnam argues that it is on its decline. One of his explanations is greater mobility, or the “re-potting hypothesis” meaning that if we disrupt our roots, it also disrupts our acquisition of social capital; when you move, you basically start at zero.

In the past 10 months, I’ve been moving around quite a lot, so I could only expect my trust bank account would be quite low. When you are a stranger and are surrounded by strangers, and you are taught not to talk to strangers, there is no reason for trust to be pre-existent or for there to be even much potential for it to grow, because this would require talking to strangers. But when trust does emerge, it is a delightful surprise that has enriched my travels.

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Dear Editor

30 09 2015
I have just sent this letter to the editor to my local newspaper, Bruce Peninsula Press, and the Owen Sound Hub. Please consider making a pledge at votetogether.ca and voting strategically to oust Harper. I’m anxiously awaiting my voting kit to vote by mail!

Dear editor,

Over the past nine months, I’ve been living outside of Canada. There is something about being abroad that brings you to reflect on what it means to be Canadian. In meeting and talking to people from around the world, naturally we discuss similarities and differences between our home countries. While I’m grateful for my Canadian citizenship and the freedoms it entails, my national pride dwindles as I think about the “achievements” of the Harper government over the past nine years. Read the rest of this entry »





Tea and tajine

22 09 2015

As I sit in Marrakech on my last day in Morocco, too hot to move anything more than my hands, I’m thinking about my last 6 weeks in this crazy country. I think it has been the most “different” place I have traveled, in comparison to the culture I grew up in. As a solo Caucasian female (three characteristics that make me stick out in the crowd), my travels have been far from easy and have required constant diligence. But with this experience, I leave Morocco tomorrow with much more than the 10 kg carry on that will be on my back – figuratively and also probably literally, but hopefully Ryan Air doesn’t notice the latter.

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What is a dromedary anyway?

2 09 2015

I arrived in Fes, Morocco about three weeks ago. Dropped into what one guidebook described as an “assault on the senses” – brightly coloured textiles, ceramics and leather wares, often indistinguishable food smells, sometimes the smell of urine from the tanneries, horns honking and people yelling in an indiscernible language, or worse, calling out to you in hopes of luring you into their shop. At first glance, it looks dirty and chaotic. My stomach remained unsettled for the first week, and three weeks later, it still gets unsettled from time to time, like today. Fes, in particular, is notorious for its confusing, disorientating medina – the old city which consists of a network of narrow, winding streets and alleyways. The culture shock arrived in full force, then gradually dissipated as I eased into the discomfort of this unfamiliar place and way of life. In Fes, I enjoyed having my skin being scrubbed like a dirty floor in a public hammam, learning about leather tanning with a visit to the tanneries, getting lost in the medina, learning to eat Moroccan style – with my hands, learning how to properly brew a pot of mint tea and cook couscous, and enjoying panoramic views of the city from the Merenid Tombs.

Mohammed helped us navigate the countless medina streets. Here is a local uses donkeys to transport goods - a familiar sight.

Mohammed helped us navigate the countless medina streets. Here is a local uses donkeys to transport goods – a familiar sight.


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