Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Human Rights Suggestions

So about a week ago archaeologists uncovered an 800 year old footprint at the Museum site.

And the Friends of the Forks are...where...?

Okay, enough about the "Friends" wisecracks (although can you imagine if the UFG apartment went through, and they found an 800 year old footprint).

But since this idea was first conceived, I've wondered what will actually make the grade and get an exhibit in this museum.

Will they play it safe? Put in the big ones, the most obvious. Will it be political? Will it include human rights issues with native Canadians, or natives of other current governments around the world? Will it bring to light human rights issues in China? Will the board decide to just name current human rights issues, or will they have the balls to outright name countries and corporations?

How about environment-related human rights?

Perhaps an (oftentimes) overlooked aspect of human rights in some areas, mostly because, here, people don't even know about them. The BBC often does a good job of uncovering these stories. And thus, I have a few suggestions:

Isolated tribe vs modern society.

Picture an isolated, primitive tribe of people living in a virtually untouched area of the world, in the jungle, harvesting the fruits of the land, participating in their own customs and religion.

And then the white man comes. He wants the ground from the mountain. For what? Well it's valuable. Bauxite. To make foil for candy bar wrappers.

This is modern society, consumerism in practice. Is the displacement of an isolated tribe of jungle people who want nothing to do with "us," just so that we can continue to enjoy low prices for chocolate bars and beer, moral?

I thought assimilation and plantation was a thing of the past. We didn't learn anything from the Irish, from the North Americans?

At least worthy of discussion in a human rights setting?



Chevron pumps thousands, perhaps millions, of gallons of waste crude into the Amazon rainforest.

They covered it with dirt and pretended it didn't exist. The locals began to get sick. They couldn't drink the water. They started getting cancer, when before cancer was unheard of. And then the dirt covered dump piles started leaking and bubbling slick black crude to the surface.

Chevron/Texaco denied that the water was polluted. They deny that oil contamination can cause cancer. They've deprived over 30 000 natives of basic living rights. Instead of clean environment, they have a toxic waste site with undrinkable water.

This is an atrocious story, and one that has been ongoing since before the year 2000 I believe. Will the Human Rights Museum run an exhibit like this? An ongoing dispute, only being dragged on by the multi-million-dollar lawyers that Chevron can afford.

Would the threat of an angry letter from perhaps the biggest corporation in the world stop the possibility of an exhibit like this one?

Museums are supposed to be impartial, neutral, non political, and display facts.

Until I see it with my own eyes, I will be skeptical and critical of which kinds of stories the Museum will end up telling. I can only think it will end up being a Museum of cop-outs, or half-assed conservativeness.

I suppose I'll have to wait for my world class museum to be completed to find out.

Monday, July 7, 2008

!

I had one of those lightbulb-over-your-head moments.

Realizing that the definition of "downtown revitalization" has the characteristics of a parking lot in a big-box mega-retail hub, a la Polo Park. Or Kildonan Crossing. Or St Vital. Or Kenaston.

"Revitalized" downtown via megaproject during the day:



The stores (downtown) open, and customers (downtown visitors) flock to spend their hard earned cash, driving in from suburbia. Rona (coffee shop, newsstand) opens at 7, other stores open at 8 or 9 (Portage Place). Customers stay during the day, may catch lunch nearby during their shopping (visiting) trek at a Kelseys (Portage Place food court). Later customers in the evening may stick around and go to SilverCity (MTS Centre), and as they exit the venue, they find stores are closed. With nothing to do in a virtual wasteland of level concrete with carefully painted parking stalls (parkade, surface parking lot.) They are greeted with this image:



The image of revitalization.

Revitalization during normal business hours only.