Fraser calls himself the only right-wing idealogue in a neighbourhood of socialists. He says he only started using the word socialist because his ex wife told him that he was offending too many people by calling them communists. Fraser fixes and sells gadgets down the block.

Fraser has a lot to say about government and immigration and business and history and citizenship and patriotism. His political platform is one he calls anti-incumbentism. He also has a lot to say about world travel. For a guy who claims to be against just about everything around him, he sure does help a lot of the people on the wrong side of his arguments.

On Friday mornings Fraser buys a couple extra cups of coffee and shares them with people on the street. Like Park Bench Lady. He sits and chats with her for a good long time.

Fraser is a magnet for teenagers, partly because he fixes and sells the kind of gadgets they like, and partly because he talks to them like they’re real people. Fraser talks to everyone like they are real people.

He goes to the high school football practices and gives them workout tips. He cooks for the 5 year old on her birthday and brings her mom out for Music Night. He keeps us all up-to-date on the specials at the grocery stores. He offers a Travel Tips Seminar at the cafe. Fraser knows how to travel in style, how to do it for less than you’d think, and what sort of things to prioritize in order to really make the most of your future lifetime memories.

Fraser doesn’t seem to hold it against me that I often try to steer the conversation AWAY from his favourite rants and I don’t hold it against him that he keeps trying.

Fraser knows the secret that the rest of us are trying to find: People are what’s important.


Your Eyes

When I see me through your eyes I don’t want to live here.

Don’t want to live.

I see what you imagine, what you believe, what you’re afraid of.

You don’t really look at me. Into me.

You are careful not to touch me.

I’m not that person you see, but if I reach out…

You step further away.

So I move on. Maybe for now, maybe for ever.

Maybe till somebody can see me. Hear me. Touch me.

Till I am real.

Till I can touch the world.

Till I am strong enough to see it through my own eyes.

Park Bench Lady

We see her almost every day, Stella and I. I say good morning just because. For ten months she didn’t answer. Then a little while ago she answered. “Good morning.”

Last week, I could see as I approached, that she was looking at me, anticipating it.

“Good morning.” “Good morning.”

And today, she said it first.

With a smile.

l don’t know what it means, but now I am looking forward to it.

Assets and the Giving Economy

On Saturday 19 year old Alex looked at the Asset Inventory on the wall at the cafe and said “Who’s Ariel?” According to the asset inventory, Ariel is a five-year old who’d like to learn to play piano. “I can teach her,” said Alex.

In Seth Godin’s book Linchpin he talks about a giving economy, where people give to their family, friends and neighbours rather than charge money, or interest. He talks about how this is the way it used to be and that this creates prosperity and abundance for the community.

When Celeste coordinates the Property Angels, when the coaches share their wisdom at the Neighbourhood Business Round Table, when Sarah teaches crafts to kids on Saturday afternoons, they give their time and they enrich their community immeasurably.

There are certainly no shortage of people outside of our community with whom to do business so if the 19 year olds get it, without explanation, without training or courses or workshops on giving, how come it’s so surprising, so novel to the rest of us? How come it isn’t normal?

Maybe it is normal for them. Maybe what this generation, much derided for their lack of work ethic is ushering in is a new-school economy, new-school community. Maybe for these children of boomers who were the centre of our economy, education, lives, from whom nothing was stinted, maybe for them giving is normal.

Maybe without even trying they are ushering in a giving economy.

Thanks, giving

Thank you family for giving me so much support, even though I am an absentee Rebecca lately.

Thank you new friends and old for making me feel like I like being me.

Thank you neighbours for giving everything from appliances to furniture, from talent to time, from tips to trips and from laughs to lessons-learned to help make a go of our cafe. I still can’t get over the day the jam cupboard collapsed crashing all the fancy tea cups and before I knew it more arrived.

Thank you Hamilton for giving your all. You are the most givingest city on the planet

Thank you people of Hamilton for the very exciting arts and innovation renaissance that is happening; there is no where I’d rather be right now.

Thank you neighbours for giving me so many new skills like how to make jewellery; how to work together without any of us having job descriptions; how to do dishes without so much complaining…

Thank you Hamilton for giving such great weather. I love it all and I so love that you are in the Banana Belt.

Thank you Tonja Surman and the whole team for giving the world CSI.

Thank you David Derbyshire for giving our neighbourhood a vision of what we can build if we work together, and to the organizations who support the effort.

Thank you social entrepreneurs for inventing and implementing solutions that brighten people’s lives.

Thank you lightning rods everywhere for taking one for the team. You give the rest of us a chance to get important work done.

Thank you Janice and Sandy for giving us such great examples. Never were two friends better matched.

Thank you Quebec for giving us such great bread and cheese. Wish you could move a little closer.

Thank you Stella, for giving so much of yourself to so many.

Thank you Charlie for giving me a car. Nothing gives me a sense of freedom like having my own wheels. (Sorry environment!)

Thank you talented musicians and artists for giving our neighbourhood a chance to enjoy your art. It all comes together on music night.

Thank you all the people I owe money to for giving me the chance to make some (soon! I promise!)

Thanks to so many for giving so much.