A Money Coach in Canada

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I love free stuff! Or living large while spending little!

So here are some upcoming events for Canadians:

FREE OUTDOOR MOVIES this weekend for Williams Lake Folks:
Friday/Saturday May 29/30
Sunset Time: 21:15
Movie 29th: ET
Movie 30th: American Graffiti
Location: Williams Lake Stampede Park (800 McKenzie Ave South)
Courtesy of FreshAir Cinema

CLUB FATASS is a misnomer! It’s a free runners’ club by the people, for the people. If there isn’t one in your community, you can start one with a little free help from the Club Fatass folks.

It’s DAY THREE of Staples’ 5 DAYS OF DEALS. Today’s deals include leather executive chairs, Notebook PC, Digital Frames and more.

Montreal – looks like you’re having a massive TOMMY HILFIGER SALE over the next two weeks. Time to get some great jeans!

Edmontonians, you’ve got a brand new FARMERS’ MARKET to visit. Fresh baked goods. Fresh Produce. Atisans.
Thursdays, 2 – 7pm.
93rd Street and 118th Ave.
Shop away!

The Regina LADIES CHOIR TEA MUSICAL is having their final concert (presumably of the season) on Sunday – only $12!

And for those of you preferring to hang out at home, Knowledge Network almost always has something of interest to watch. Check out their weekend lineup, which includes a documentary on Ansel Adams.

Me? I’m looking forward to Yellowknife’s first ever YKTweetup at (still unwired, but we love it anyways) Javaroma cafe.

Most of us have heard of Adam Smith’s theory of invisible hand. (If you haven’t, the gist of it is: Left to pursue our personal self-interest, we will also inevitably help the greater good as well.)

Here’s a lesser-known theory by WiIlliam Lloyd, a contemporary of Smith. It’s called The Tragedy of the Commons. It goes like this.

Many herdsmen over the centuries grazed their cows in the commons (ie. a space owned by no-one, and used by anyone). Herdsmen naturally tried to maximize the number of cows they had grazing there. Because of disease, tribal warfare and poaching, the numbers were still small enough that the commons was not overgrazed.

Eventually, social stability was achieved and veterinary practices improved, so that the former limits on growth were no longer in place.

When an individual herder would decide whether or not to purchase another cow, he/she had to factor in the cost/benefit.

The benefit was all those included in having another cow – increased milk production, ability to sire other calves, and money gained at slaughter.

The cost was increased grazing in the commons – but this cost was distributed among all the herders, ie., the overgrazing meant everyone’s cattle suffered a bit, not just the individual’s new cow.

You see the dilemma – each herdsman is motivated to maximize the number of cows they have, yet collectively, they rush towards ruin (overgrazing and hungry, unhealthy cattle).

OK, Readers, over to you: What’s the solution?
528135849_b28de394c6 Photo Credit: Erin

Yellowknife. What a place. Here I thought I was coming up here for a new job, and I’m a new mom.

It happened this way. I dragged my heels and went to church reluctantly and late. Then three things happened: I made 2 friends, and I discovered that Tony Campolo, formerly Bill Clinton’s spiritual advisor and someone I admire a lot, was coming that very Thursday to Yellowknife. To Yellowknife. Tony Campolo.

So off I went to Northern United Place on Thursday, late again … and because I was late and the place was packed out, I was seated right beside Tony and his wife who chatted amicably and easily with me and my friend Gregg (visiting from Vancouver, btw). You gotta know: This wouldn’t happen anywhere else. Typically he’d have his equivalent of handlers and there’d be throngs of thousands in the audience. I told him I subscribed to his podcast (I do) ’cause I thought he’d think it was cool knowing someone way up north was listening to him.

I shoulda known he was there on behalf of World Vision. (Dear World Vision – if you’re reading this, I’d like to work for you after I’ve accomplished a couple things up here in the NWT). So Tony did his Tony thing, made a compelling case why each of us in the room needs to help alleviate poverty and sent us over to the table to look at the faces … those sweet, sweet faces, of kids around the world who are in really tough circumstances.

And in the midst, there was this blue-eyed, blondie from Romania. I didn’t stand a chance. Maybe it was the ancient genetic similarity or maybe it was the little red sweater but Gabriela won my heart and my monthly support just.like.that.

This isn’t actually her but it conveys the same spirit:

Readers, have you ever sponsored a child? How did it go? Did you get all giddy like me? Did you correspond? What happens when they grow up? And the moneycoach in me has to ask: Why did it take me so long? Only $35/month to make a real difference. Why don’t more of us do it?

It was easy to suggest Free Things To Do in Vancouver.
Yellowknife’s harder. There ain’t no Stanley Park or Starbucks here!

Thankfully, Yellowknife has a thriving citizen-engagement culture, so I’ve found a couple free activities that I really enjoy:

1. Cinema Politica shows films that are eye-opening and informative, at least once a month. It’s by donation, and includes popcorn! To date I’ve viewed Blue Gold which has significant implications for the NWT, and Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, the story of a Nobel Prize Winner who has started replanting trees in Africa. You’d be hard pressed not to leave inspired, awestruck by some of the activist work done, and much better informed.

2. I’ve also joined , for a dollar, AlternativesNorth, a social justice/green kinda group. We meet for lunch every Wednesday. It’s a crowd of well-informed, creative thinkers who hold out an worthy and exciting vision for the NWT. During those meetings, I’ve met the Minister of Finance, a woman documenting the effect of toxics on people in the North, a man writing a position paper on the Green Economy (or potential of) in the NWT – you get the picture! I mean, just imagine discussions about how to develop local-food initiatives in the frozen north. That takes chutzpah!

Well these freebies may not leave me as fit as a Seawall walk, my capacity as a citizen is growing by the week. I feel good about that!

Readers: over to you! What does your community have to offer, that’s free, or nearly? It doesn’t have to be political – just something interesting or fun or healthy, that’s free. You know, true north, strong, and FREE!

Photo Credit: Peretzpup

nancy_small2Folks, I’m middle aged. Despite the Norwegian dna which keeps me looking thirty-something, I am not.
I’m a fourty-something.

I recently had a birthday up here in Yellowknife. Because I scarcely know anyone, there were not the usual celebrations, but there was time to reflect on the cost/benefits of my aging. Happily, by my analysis, it’s a massive win on the benefits side: I’d far rather be my age with my experiences than any younger age.

Here are some things I have now which I didn’t have even in my thirties:

  • A hard-won inner sense of security. Some people (can I call them “kids” yet?) seem grounded in their twenties but most of us have insecurities and uncertainties that can send us into real tailspins. That hasn’t happened to me in years, thank God. Having weathered enough of life, there’s not much that causes me self-doubt. Life feels a lot better being grounded, and confident! It gives me a place from which to venture forth, and to risk. Yes to security!
  • Perspective. This can only be attained with the passing of years. For example, as a former conservative it took some life experience of my own to change my point of view – and so now, I hold positions a little less tenaciously, knowing I could again see things differently. It enables me to dialogue and seek creative solutions rather than be choked with frustration and discouragement. Yes to perspective.
  • Hope. I grew up during the cold war, when it was a very real possibility that we’d blow entire countries up and kill the planet. Remember The Day After? Like many of my cohort I understood that annihilation was imminent. Yet here I am. And the Berlin Wall is gone (remember the Pepsi advert that year?). On less catastrophic levels, I’ve seen political change for the better, I’ve seen the green movement really take hold, I’ve seen Apple take market share 🙂 Seriously – hope born of experiencing turn-arounds is energizing and keeps life full of good possibility. Yes to hope!
  • Tried, tested and true friendships. By now I have a handful of friends with whom I have a long history. They’ve seen me through break-ups, through career dramas, and through the vagaries of life. These are friendships with depth, honesty and strong support when needed. This is not to downplay my more recently developed friendships, but it’s those 15-20 year friendships that enabled me to move to Yellowknife, knowing they’ll be there when I return. Yes to long-term friends!
  • A fierce love of life. There’s nothing like shattered dreams and taking a series of personal hits to help you discover that life its very self is worth the living. When I was younger I kept hoping for the life on the commercials – financial security, romance, and some measure of success that would put me somehow in the spotlight. As a middle-aged woman, I’m much more interested in a life deeply lived than externally pleasing circumstances. Yes to life!
  • None of this is to diminish my life in my twenties and thirties. But with these wrinkles (Norwegian dna notwithstanding), and with my mildly arthritic fingers, and knowing I’ll soon lose the ability to have kids, with those costs, comes an ongoing engagement with life, and people, and politics, and love, and learning that has become richer and deeper with the years.

    Can’t wait to turn 50.