Heather Menzies received the honour of the Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.
Here is what the jurors said:
“In this eloquent memoir written from the heart, Menzies takes the reader on a fascinating trip to the Scotland of her ancestors to examine and retrace life on the Scottish Commons. With a light and at times poetic touch, she offers her insights into how the venerable wisdom of sharing and caring for the land might be applied today. A unique combination of memoir and manifesto, Reclaiming the Commons urges us to become participants in changing our world for the common good.”
Dr. Richard T. Clippingdale, Suzanne Evans and merilyn simonds
People working to reclaim cities as habitats, especially habitats that can sustain them with healthy food, water and transportation options, are in a sense reclaiming the commons. Certainly the commons offers a useful heritage to draw on, starting with the shift of perspective involved: seeing ourselves as inhabitants of local habitats, which cities are. The commons heritage also affirms seeing ourselves as implicated in shaping relations with and within this shared habitat, not waiting for politicians, bureaucrats or investors to respond to local needs and issues.
When the great Crash, ecologic or economic, comes, Heather Menzies’ brilliant critique will provide an understanding of why it came about, and a path towards a truly sustainable way for humanity to live on the planet.
– David Suzuki
By Heather Menzies, Author of Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good
Heather with her friends at her annual ladies gardening party.
Divestment is part of the shift, but only the moving-away-from-the problem part. Moving toward the positive vision I outlined, of a society and global economy operating within the carrying capacity of the earth and its atmosphere, requires a partner line of action: what I call re-vestment.
Reviving the Occupy Movement, Climate Change & the Commons
By Heather Menzies (author of Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good)
Heather Menzies speaks about the White Poppy movement at Occupy Ottawa in November 2011.
Oxfam’s recent report, Working for the Few, on one per cent of the world’s population controlling most of the world’s economic power got me thinking about the relevance of the Occupy Movement, and why perhaps now would be a time to revive it.
The movement served notice on the moral danger of such deep inequalities: when even the hope of common-good consensus collapses into a them-versus-us divide. But equally, the occupiers brought the issue down to earth. One of the little-discussed truths about the escalating concentration of wealth and power is how ephemeral it is. It’s centred in the information systems running the post-industrial phase of the global market economy. It’s in the trillions of dollars and related influence vested in stocks, bonds, loans, mortgages, derivatives and other largely unregulated financial instruments. Quite apart from how insulated the wealthy can be, there’s the fact that the power they wield, relentlessly, 24-7, is through symbols on a screen, far removed from the impact those symbols have in real life, on the ground.
Remembrance Day 2014 in Ottawa, Canada. Photo by Dennis Gruending.
Remembrance Day is always an important day for me as a peace activist and also as a writer who tries to speak truth to power. I participated once again in a White Poppy ceremony at the Cenotaph in Ottawa, after the main Red Poppy event.
In my speech I made it clear that I wear both poppies: the red to honour those who lost their lives in war and the white to keep saying that war is not an acceptable option; it violates life, it violates the earth and it poisons the air physically and metaphorically. In my comments and in an op-ed I wrote for the Toronto Star that day, I described my Canada as a white poppy country because of its founding values (peace, order and good governance), and its leadership in efforts to step-by-step criminalize and outlaw war.
Ottawa writer Dennis Gruending shared his views on the event in his Pulpit and Politics blog and took the photo seen above. Enjoy and let me know what you think.