Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Tag: Social issues Page 2 of 7

Weekly Column: Climate Change Challenges Will Never Be Solved With Cat Doors

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 7, 2019. 

If you want to chuckle, check out the amusing story of how a $2,000 cat door installed in a West Vancouver home can help fight climate change (embedded in the $3 million home it belongs too.) To be fair, the article has some good information on passive houses, or net-zero homes, but you might find yourself jaded by the time you get to the part where the 11-foot windows are described (shipped from Europe, they were.) Carbon footprint applies to the whole product and the processes involved in building it, no?

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Weekly Column: Restriction On How We Use Cannabis Have Their Place

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on October 15, 2018. 

October 17 is just around the corner. Cannabis will be legal (and the province expects a hit from the first orders, predicted to come as a huge wave as many want to make history by ordering as soon as cannabis becomes legal,) and many others are bracing for what the legalization brings about.

One of the concerns is driving while under the influence.

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Weekly Column: Staying Connected Can Help Us Turn The Tide

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, September 24, 2018. 

I had been at the Old Courthouse for many art exhibits and for a wedding once too. There is an air of sobriety that attaches itself to you as soon as you step inside, no matter the event: the dark wood panels and large windows, the old staircase that creaks softly as you make your way up, the echoes of people’s voices.

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Weekly Column: Our Teenagers Are Vaping Away At The Cost Of Their Health

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops on September 17, 2018 and also published at www.danielaginta.com

On August 30, 2018, the San Francisco-based company Juul Labs Inc. announced its arrival to Canada. Their products will be available for sale starting this month. The Juul memory stick-like vaporizers contain nicotine in variable amounts, as high as 59 micrograms per milliliter of liquid. The amount of nicotine contained in a pod could be as high to two packs of cigarettes, according to one source. The nicotine salts deliver a head rush like no other, users say. Plus, it’s slick and easy to conceal.

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It’s Good To Be Missed – Reflections

It is good to be missed. Humbling too. I have moved ‘homes’ for a while now and while head is still in the clouds at times, I have been publishing blog posts and columns at www.danielaginta.com. But old habits die hard. Some people said they still look for me here. I checked the stats and they reflect the very story. So it is then, I decided I will cross-post my columns here and there for a while. Blog posts will sprout from the other location alone (a subscription form is available on the homepage at www.danielaginta.com.) My ancestors would shake their finger at me. You see, I grew up with many sayings and the one for this situation goes something like this: ‘do not try to sit in two boats at the same time.’

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Do We Need To Redefine Adolescence?

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 22, 2018. 

When I was 12 or so, I became aware that some elderly people around me, relatives or not, had been married or were forced by various life circumstances to become an ‘adult’ early on, at the age of say 16 or slightly older, but under 20. There were a few stories of people whose fathers died suddenly, which meant that the eldest in the family had to work a lot harder to compensate for the loss.

I kept asking my mom about how someone just a couple of years older than me could know enough to take care of a home, or a family. Her answer was that they likely didn’t, but learned as they went along. It made sense then as it does now. Being around my parents during the times I was not at school, or doing my homework, playing, or reading, I got to learn so much just by spending time with them, watching them do things, asking questions, or being given various tasks.

It takes being there and being present, and having the awareness of time spent that way, something I often wonder about regarding our children and more so, our teenagers, nowadays. We cannot make up our minds on whether they are growing up too fast or if they need some extra time allocated to mature and leave the nest.

Throughout the last decade, there have been many books written about the teenage brain and its mysterious ways. The library of knowledge is growing, yet here we are still scratching our heads and wondering if we understand our teens as much as we thought we did.

As of last week, another stick was thrown in a parent’s rather shoddy (at times) wheel. In an op-ed piece published in the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Journal, Professor Susan Sawyer, Director of the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, argues that we ought to rethink the definition of adolescence and redefine existing age brackets as to include all our young ones between 10 and 24 years of age. One of the reasons, she says, is that young people do things such as leaving home, gaining financial independence, and starting a family, a lot later than they used to.

One wonders whether calling a 24-year-old a teenager will solve all those issues. If back in the day kids often had no choice but to grow up fast and fill whatever size shoes life threw at them, nowadays most of them (on this side of the world, anyway,) have the luxury of not worrying too much about providing for their families and instead indulging a lot more in what is generally known as ‘chilling’. On the other hand, a ludicrous minimum wage coupled with education-related high debt can lock young people into living with their parents past the age of 20.

There are, indeed, many facets to having teenagers transition from living with their parents to being financially-independent, and affordable secondary education, and a decent minimum wage can make the process a lot smoother without having to expand the teenage years past the actual ‘-teen’ numbers.

Allowing one to not have any responsibilities has never been a recipe for developing resilience or a dependable character, nor has excusing one’s questionable behaviour or downright defending it. The latter has been increasing over the years, according to many teachers who have had to deal not only with their students’ challenging behaviour, but also with the parents’ resentment over their children being disciplined.

Some of the conclusions streaming out of the neuroscience labs point to the teenage years as essential for brain development (as opposed to just early childhood.) Some scientists concluded that activities involving learning (reading, being involved in various tasks that involve both brain power and hands-on projects) help increase teenagers IQ during the ages of 12 and 16.

On the other hand, a substantial body of research points to the teenage brain being easily highjacked by addictive activities such as gaming, drinking, smoking, or using recreational drugs such as pot, all of which can reduce their ability to perform at their highest potential. In other words, they are vulnerable. Not in a ‘let’s bubble-wrap them’, but in a ‘let’s provide what they need such as a listening ear, time spent together, dialogue, and not least, boundaries.’

It’s the age of digital tech connectivity and life in the fast lane; fewer and fewer families sit down for meals together, or spend enough time with each other to truly stay connected. While defining life stages and pouring over books discussing behaviour and arguing for this or that is great and a good conversation tool, truth is, what we most need, to know, understand, and connect with our growing children, is time. Also, if we want to be able to count on our teenagers to be dependable and trustworthy, we must provide them with good examples to follow, solid boundaries and enough opportunities to learn to grow.

It may not be the definition from outside bodies that counts the most, but rather empowering our teenagers to see themselves from inside as capable to raise up to challenges, instead of letting their spirit succumb to immaturity, a narrative we are collectively suggesting to them, albeit with the best of intentions.

New Year, Old Problems

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on January 8, 2018. 

As of two days ago, we are back to slush. A walk to the library yesterday had me jump over soupy snow marshes, making me pay extra attention to the sidewalk. When you do, one thing that stands out is the garbage. A straw here, a wrapper there, a disposable cup here, another one there, lids included, half-revealed by the melting snow. A couple of blocks worth of garbage.

Then come the daily walks through Peterson Creek Park. If you go far enough on the trails, there’s little or no garbage. The main trail though and the portions of trails immediately adjacent to it suffer from the same garbage litter issue. Plus, dog poop, right on the trails. ‘Tis almost the season again when it all comes out, some bagged, some not, all equally disgusting, more so if you happen to step in it. If the past years are a good reference, the worst is yet to come, I know that much.

Moving down the list, there’s the visual references from people who went up to the grasslands recently. Driving along Lac Du Bois Road takes you to a place of wondrous beauty every time, no matter the season. We are ever so lucky to be so close to the grasslands, as they truly are a wonder. They cover less than 1 percent of British Columbia and are home to more threatened and endangered species than any other habitat, according to the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC. Nothing short of magical beauty, and right in our common backyard.

The ‘common backyard’ part is where the heartache starts. It’s where I go back to the recent photos and videos I came across on social media. Loads of garbage. From pizza boxes, to diaper boxes filled with garbage, to Christmas wrappings and more, it was all dumped by the side of the road in the grasslands (could be another wild space too, such as Greenstone Mountain.) This happens every year.

Sure, there will be a cleanup organized by well-intended folks who will fill many garbage bags and remove (again!) more debris than one can possibly imagine. There will be many in fact – one in Peterson Creek, one in the grasslands, one at Riverside Park and in many other places. Thoughtful people are out there, and we need more like them. The question remains though: Will it hold?

Not really. Garbage keeps coming back. One could argue that it is worse to dump a couple of weeks worth of garbage somewhere along a dirt road outside town than it is to drop a candy wrapper in the city.

Well, size matters indeed, but mentality is the common denominator that we ought to pay attention to. It’s the care we manifest for our spaces, big or small, close to home or further away.

Single-use plastic is most commonly found out there, in town and in the back country, but it’s almost impossible to describe the worst of it all. Is it someone’s domestic garbage lying by the side of a road that cuts through beautiful landscape, or the growing heaps of nails from burnt pallets with some crushed beer cans for good measure. There’s unfortunately another shocker lying around the next bend, so you can never tell.

What can be done, one wonders? Install more garbage bins? Those who mean well already use the existing ones, but a higher density helps. Put up more signs warning of steep fines? That could work, but would be there to reinforce it? Perhaps we need to see more conservation officers and park rangers.

Yet the truth is that the most sustainable solution rests not with the reinforcers of laws and by-laws, but with each of us. Our planet is slowly but surely drowning in garbage. The more stuff we buy, the more we throw out. The less we care, the more the beauty that surrounds us shrinks and suffers. It may be that we are the ones causing the trouble, but the chilling reality is that we are also at the receiving end. If not this generation, then the next.

The writer and environmentalist George Monbiot once wrote ‘Progress is measured by the speed at which we destroy the conditions that sustain life.’ The emphasis is on ‘life’; not animal life or plant life, not wild life of any kind, but life. That means us too. It’s high time we see it that way, think it and live it, and raise ourselves and our children breathing it in as if it were oxygen. Because it is.

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