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saving the Farm: a proposal

On Wednesday, I received a desperate email message from a neighbour – they were debating city finances at City Hall on Thursday, and one issue on the table would be charging $2 admission to Riverdale Farm, which has always been free. The Farm Committee needed volunteers to go down to City Hall and wait around, possibly for many hours, to give a deputation. I thought about it and decided I must do it, I feel so passionately about the Farm – and by that time, the deadline for a time slot request had suddenly been put back some hours, and I had already missed it.

The barbarians are truly at the gate. It’s beyond disgusting, what they’re proposing – cutting school lunch programs, swimming programs, ice time for kids, increasing the cost of day care, transit … Every single cut targets the people who can afford it least. Makes me almost physically ill. And, of course, the thought of turnstiles and ticket-takers at the gates of my beloved Farm, because our wealthy city just cannot afford that kind of luxury any more – a free farm.

I was there today and, as I stood watching Rooster the Clydesdale munch his breakfast hay, I thought, I’d be willing to donate some money to the Farm, a contribution toward something specific, so the place remains open and free for those who can’t afford it.

And then I thought – the Americans have Sponsor a Highway, for God’s sake, where you pay to maintain your bit of highway. They have an Adopt an Animal program at the Zoo, I believe. Why don’t we have a Sponsor an Animal program at the Farm? Figure out how much it costs to maintain Dusty the donkey, Rooster, a cow, a chicken, a duck – and ask people to contribute towards that amount. Get Cabbagetown itself involved – get a street to sponsor an animal. Amelia Street sponsors a goat!
There could be lists of donors in the barn. And a ceremony once a year, some kind of event, with city people thanking the sponsors, so that everyone feels warm and fuzzy, even if they’ve only given $5 or $20. That means everyone will feel they have a stake in the Farm. That day, maybe people could even be photographed with their animal. And then, the other 364 days a year, the Farm goes on as usual, only with a list of names on the wall. It sounds like a pretty easy way to raise money, to show the cretins at City Hall that the community, and indeed the entire city, is behind the Farm, and to make individuals and groups feel invested in its future.
What do you think?
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I am on the mailing list for the Halifax Grammar School, a Nova Scotia private school focussed on excellence which was founded by my father in 1958, and am often very proud of what they accomplish. One of the great sadnesses of my life is that my own kids didn’t get to attend this marvellous school. Today’s news: the Grammar School won the Oxford Debating Cup last weekend in Toronto. Two HGS students, Debi Ogunrinde and Oliver Bjornsson, rose to the top of 50 teams in the country to win. They will now represent Canada at the British National Championships in Oxford. The final round debate focussed on what makes social action morally correct; the team had 25 minutes to prepare. Oliver’s analysis centred on “a discussion of John Rawl’s theory of the veil of ignorance,” and Debi’s speech, apparently, was a “tour de force.”
I’ve never even heard of John Rawl, covered as I am by a veil of ignorance.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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