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Happy New Year 2021

Happy New Year Friends and Family,

I hope you are all thriving and doing well in spite of this year’s many restrictions. My introvert self has been well fed this year and it has been hard to make myself get active and pull together our annual Christmas letter. I am grateful for the tradition My mother taught me to stay in contact with friends and reading all the cards is one of my highlights.

Thanks so much to all of you who actually sent me a card or letter this year. Each one contributed to the pick-up of my spirits. I admit, I had braced myself for the long haul (I thought) but another 6-9 months and possibly missing the cottage trip for a second year in a row was almost too much to bear. And I am so privileged compared with those who had to work as essential workers for low pay, or who lost their jobs altogether. So I swing between an up-beat optimism and a gray sort of funk – but never for too long before I get going again.

Ron gets up every day with positive spirits and something useful to do. This year he got us started cleaning up the pond, built a drainage system and a stairway and made the far end of our property accessible among many things.

Pacific Gardens has been a great pay ground for Ron and a good place to be locked down. We were able to work, 6-foot distanced from our cohousing neighbours in the gardens all summer so we didn't experience as much isolation as many people did. We got to know our neignbourhood a bit better with long walks. We took one wonderful week in Ucluelet and Tofino, enjoying the stunning views on the West Coast of the Island and walking Long Beach. We had another lovely week at Karen Christie's B&B in Victoria.

Pacific Gardens was just beginning to gel as a community when the pandemic hit. We had to adjust to different risk-taking styles and find ways to meet the needs of elders, adults and children. We chose to make the children a high priority and to ensure that their social and developmental needs would not be sacrificed to these strange times. We looked for every excuse to create some fun with 6 foot distanced parties, but we are missing the wider community no longer invited because our bubble is already too big. This photo is Doris’ 90th birthday party. Sadly we lost her this year. And of course, we’ve had lots of meetings on Zoom deciding how we will keep ourselves and each other safe through our use of the building.

It has been interesting to watch how each person finds what they need to keep themselves healthy and in good spirit. Big thanks to my buddies, KJ and Suki, for long walks. I think those who did the best are the ones who were into music. I’ve been really impressed with all the choir groups who managed to create magnificent events on zoom. The children and adults who decided to spend their time learning to play an instrument. The small bands that managed to practice at 6 foot distance. And the choir directors all across the country who found a way to improvise music for services on Zoom. I attended The Messiah/Complex, organized by the Toronto Symphony with choir groups from across Canada and 10 Indigenous or POC soloists from across Canada, who each sang one of the major solos of the Messiah, filmed in their home landscape and in their own indigenous language. The words were adapted to the spiritual beliefs and practices of the singer. Somehow, in spite of the pandemic, the resilience and creative capacities of Canadians and many people around the world remained strong.

I took the opportunity to take a few workshops in facilitation skills, and in Non-Violent Communication, and to make use of those skills working with people in our community to improve our consensus-decision culture and our relational resilience processes. In spite of all the difficulties, this year we were able to start making major decisions and build the good spirit in the community. I have also joined the tech team to support our FUFON Zoom services.

I had hoped that Trudeau had finally understood that this pandemic is just the beginning of many disruptions, that we are in a major transition, and that we will truly need a universal basic income, full healthcare, childcare, and a real shift in direction for the economy. Instead he came up with a patchwork of temporary programs and is signalling a return to business as usual. We still have no vision and no solutions in place for the challenges of climate change. It would appear we activists will have our work cut out for us, scrapping for each necessary innovation, piece by piece.

I didn’t get over to Vancouver much to take advantage of my pass to the Art Gallery or to see my daughter, Karen. She has been stuck all year waiting for critical dental surgery before she can really get on with her life. In the meantime, she has put her toe in the water of going back to school. In school she is always a hard worker, a lover of learning. Here is hoping this is the year she’ll make good progress towards a degree.

A big thanks to friends Joy and John for giving her a family close by and lots of love. Big birth-days with them were a highlight. Please keep an eye out for my petition for a national strategy on crime prevention coming out soon. Happy New Year Everyone!

This is from a photo of Eel's Creek from brother John's deck - where he is now living.

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