Global Walk for Elephants – Vancouver 2017

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Hi everyone and especially Vancouverites,

Elephanatics is once again hosting the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos on September 30th | 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm at Creekside Park |1455 Quebec Street | Vancouver. Find out more about the details of the event here.

Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory. Every 8 hours a rhino is poached for its horn. Conservationists estimate that elephants will be extinct in the wild within 10 to 20 years. Several species of rhino have already become extinct. Closing loopholes in global markets and decreasing demand for ivory and rhino horn is essential if these species are to survive.

Advocacy

The focus for this year’s event is on advocacy. Many people ask what Canadians have to do with African elephants. Well, it turns out quite a bit.

Canada was one of only four countries that voted against all countries closing their domestic ivory trade during the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. At the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, Canada voted against moving all African elephants to Appendix I to provide them the highest level of protection. In recent years, Canada has been the sole country to issue blanket reservations on all new CITES listings, and has failed to lift those reservations in a timely manner. These inexplicable positions put the Canadian government at odds with a growing international movement to save the African elephant from extinction.

Find out how you can become involved in saving one of the world’s most iconic, essential and beautiful species

While we take what we do seriously we also like to have some fun so there will be face-painting, music, cool people who like to make a difference and some awesome t-shirts for sale to help raise money for frontline conservation work in Africa.

T-shirts for this year’s march.

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Poster for this year’s event Please share!

GMFER 2017

Hope to see you there!

 

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The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust

The story of Edith Hahn Beer proves that life is harder and weirder than anything anyone of us could make up.  Edith, is an Austrian Jew, whose family lives through the “Nazification” of Austria in the period immediately before and during the Second World War. As was the Nazi way, she and her family are stripped of their rights…typewriters and radios had to be handed in to the authorities, law degrees (or any professional designations) were no longer recognized, people were removed from their homes, their work, her mother, friends and neighbours were deported to work camps in the east. By the time people realized these measures weren’t just a passing fad it was too late to get out.

Forced to quit school, Hahn is sent to a farm labour camp in Germany where she works under backbreaking conditions. She finally manages to return home where she realizes she can’t stay without risk of deportation and she escapes back to Munich, Germany with a new identity – Grete Denner. There she meets a Nazi Officer whom she marries and with whom she has a child. Even though her husband realizes she is Jewish, she lives in constant danger of everyone around her. She is a refugee inside her own skin.

This is a story that most of us know quite well. It’s the story of how 6 million people were murdered and how an entire political structure supported their murder. Complicity was everywhere and this personal journey shows the impact of the laws of a madman and his followers (these people are everywhere) on the life of a single woman, a survivor of this horrific regime. Along the way she meets a few unexpectedly kind people, but cowardice, cruelty and prejudice are her companions every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

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The Story of the Lost Child – Elena Ferrante

It took me more than a year (possibly two) but I finished all four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Normally I can’t do that but each one of these books is compelling on its own and it leaves you wondering…what ever happens to the complicated friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo. And off I would go to get the next book…until finally at last I finished it with the last book in the series The Story of the Lost Child which still leaves you wondering.

By way of background the novels are set in Naples, Italy and they span the lifetime of two young girls who grow up together in the rough and tumble Naples of the 50s. Both are bright young girls but only Elena is able to continue her education through university. The beautiful, street smart and equally intelligent Lila stops going to school by grade 5 and survives by building a business for herself.

The novel is about friendship of course, and all the difficulties and the beauty that come with it. But the sprawling novels are also about social change, politics, violence, domestic violence and how staying ahead, even of those we love, is an act of survival. The competitive nature of the friendship between Elena and Lila is also about poverty and what happens when you have to fight for every scrap of recognition in a world that is hard for everyone. And yet it is friendship that binds.

In the end the novel(s) don’t offer any answers… what happened to Lila, what happened to her daughter, what was she writing, why did she disappear? Here is a woman who devoted herself to fighting gangsters in her unruly neighbourhood, who devoted herself in the end to learning everything about Naples…understanding her city inside and out and then leaving.

These books are less linear narrative then they are impressionistic art…paint thrown on a canvas of love, hatred, political structures, friendship, family…and the result is an ode to Naples. Lila Cerullo represents beauty, intelligence, history, politics, rough and tumble love, and a deep sense of right and wrong in a hard world.

I loved these books. You’ start with one not be able to stop until you’ve finished all four!

 

 

 

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Poem of the Week: In the Middle of This Century, by Yehuda Amichai via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

This poem hurts, its so beautiful.

 

In the Middle of This Century, by Yehuda Amichai (translated by Assia Gutmann)

In the middle of this century we turned to each other
with half faces and full eyes
like an ancient Egyptian picture
and for a short while.

I stroked your hair
in the opposite direction to your journey,
we called to each other,
like calling out the names of towns
where nobody stops
along the route.

Lovely is the world rising early to evil,
lovely is the world falling asleep to sin and pity,
in the mingling of ourselves, you and I,
lovely is the world.

The earth drinks men and their loves
like wine,
to forget.
It can’t.
And like the contours of the Judean hills,
we shall never find peace.

In the middle of this century we turned to each other,
I saw your body, throwing shade, waiting for me,

the leather straps for a long journey
already tightening across my chest.
I spoke in praise of your mortal hips,
you spoke in praise of my passing face,
I stroked your hair in the direction of your journey,
I touched your flesh, prophet of your end,
I touched your hand which has never slept,
I touched your mouth which may yet sing.

Dust from the desert covered the table
at which we did not eat
but with my finger I wrote on it
the letters of your name

 Thanks to Alison McGhee for sharing these beautiful poems.

*Transliterated Mandarin is not pronounced the way it looks in English. Phonetically, Liu’s name is pronounced more like this: Lee-yu Shee-yow Baw. His wife’s name is pronounced more like Lee-yu Shee-yah.

​For more information on Yehuda Amichai, please click here.​
For more information on Liu Xiaobo, please click here.

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New York City Flash Fiction Contest

 

 

 

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Yikes, people. I’ve been submitting 150 word flash fiction stories to the Ad Hoc flash fiction contest in Bath, England (and I’m proud to say two flash stories have been published) BUT NOW I just registered for the NYC Flash Fiction contest which takes place this weekend and I’m officially scared. What if I can’t write one single word. I’m a serious muller. Generally I need days, weeks, hours, YEARS to mull a story. And I have no idea what genre I’ll have to write it. Wish me luck fellow writers! 1000 words here I come!

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Poem of the Week, by Marie Howe

What a wonderful, beautiful post and a fitting tribute to an old friend.

Alison McGhee

See that old photo to the right? I found it yesterday in a scrapbook filled with random high school mementoes. The girl with the beautiful smile playing the violin used to be one of my closest friendsIMG_7430. She lived in a small bright green ranch house right across the street from the middle school, which meant that all she had to do was walk out her front door, cross Route 365 –the main street of the town– and there she was, at school. Unlike me, sitting on that accursed bus, groaning and lurching its way around endless curve after endless curve, down from the foothills, 45 minutes or more to school.

In my memory she is always smiling. She had silky dark brown hair, parted in the middle, falling over her shoulders. Her nose was sharp and red and a bit hooked, and her eyes, in my memory, are blue…

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Poem of the Week: Bargain by Alison McGhee

Bargain
     – Alison McGhee

The newspaper reports that at twilight tonight
Venus and Jupiter will conjoin
in the southwestern sky,
a fist and a half above the horizon.
They won’t come together again for seventeen years.
What the article does not say is that Mercury, the
dark planet, will also be on hand.
He’ll hover low, nearly invisible in a darkened sky.
I stare out the kitchen window toward the sunset.

Seventeen years from now, where
will I be?
Mercury, Roman god of commerce and luck,
let me propose a trade:
Auburn hair, muscles that don’t ache, and a seven-minute mile.
Here’s what I’ll give you in return:
My recipe for Brazilian seafood stew, a talent for
French-braiding, an excellent sense of smell and
the memory of having once kissed Sam W.

Then I see my girl across the room.
She stands on a stool at the sink,
washing her toy dishes and
swaying to a whispered song,
her dark curls a nimbus in the lamplight.
The planets are coming together now.
Minute by minute the time draws nigh for me to watch.
Minute by minute my child wipes dry her red
plastic knife, her miniature blue bowls.

Mercury, here’s another offer, a real one this time:
Let her be.
You can have it all in return,
the salty stew, the braids, the excellent sense of smell
and the softness of Sam’s mouth on mine.
And my life. That too.
All of it I give for this child, that seventeen years hence
she will stand in a distant kitchen, washing dishes
I cannot see, humming a tune I cannot hear.

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