Over the past year, I’ve taken on a more “public” profile with my advocacy and activity in local issues. I always say that it’s my friend Cheri’s “fault” because she taught me to become more engaged in the happenings around the city (London, On).
Given my tendency toward vocal pursuits, I have undertaken many ventures over the years – advocacy and leadership for Parkinson Society, running a networking group for small businesses, starting my own business, fundraising for many different causes, and promotion of those causes through social media. This past year was no different. But I’ve realized that with more public involvement there is more public communication required. I know I’ve entered into several discussions and contemplated very publicly several advocacy issues that now require some culminating and resolution. The following will be a summary of those things for any interested party (NB: this is a fairly long post).
With a very active Twitter profile, I found one of the most active (and divisive) conversations became one of my biggest commitments. As the discussion of local Public Transit issues ramped up, I jumped in with both feet. My empathetic approach to life dictated that I consider the issues from the inside, putting myself in the shoes of someone needing Transit and then advocating accordingly. As I delved into the thick of things online, I lost friends (or contacts I had considered “friends”), I studied city planning, and I asked tons of questions. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, right around that time I was also dealing with some significant losses and financial troubles.
So I faced the big decisions and considered my options (there weren’t many). I had to cut my costs significantly, meaning I was forced to take my car off the road and undertake a #TransitTrial in order to make ends meet. This was my chance to assess the system from the inside, and to put my advocacy voice to good use.
2. #MultiModalTrial (Cycling and the #PedestrianLife)
Getting wind of my #TransitTrial, a friend recommended I try adding cycling into the mix to decrease wait-times and increase efficiency throughout my day. And so I did. During the summer months, the cycling was a welcome addition to the transportation options. It was a great work-out, gave me more flexibility in my day, and put me in touch with a new community of Londoners.
In the winter months, however, I was not as eager to commit to cycling but I continued my Transit advocacy and even recorded experiences of the #PedestrianLife around the city. I learned quickly that the accessibility of London is definitely lacking.
3. City Council (bettering London)
Amidst (and probably due to) my experience of engagement in local issues, I heard from several friends and contacts who believed I may be a good fit for the “next level” of involvement – City Council. I knew right away that there was no way I could run for council in the immediate future (2018 fall election), but it got me thinking about the possibilities for the future. As is my way, I started researching the requirements and commitments that were involved with the position of City Councillor. I met with several men and women in the position currently and from the past; I surveyed friends and random local contacts in social media; and I spent a lot of time reading about and observing the activities of those involved in local representation. In the end, I was both surprised by the negativity of some but pleased by the positivity of others. The investigative process itself taught me a lot about the people and their methods in the local political scene.
To those who were following this line of investigation, I am not discounting the possibility that I will one day be involved in a political campaign but I am not actively pursuing anything at this time. I am, however, still advocating where I can at a grassroots level for the overall improvement of the City and its functions.
4. Parkinson Society – While mentioning my updates for the public discussions, I thought I’d also post here the changes related to my quieter commitments. As many of you know, I have been a “helping hand” partner in the facilitating of the London Parkinson Support Group. With the head speaker-coordinator and organizer moving on, I have committed to increasing my involvement and starting in September I will be taking on her role. This has been another factor in my overall major shifting of “life-stuff”.
5. Brain Injury – And lastly, but definitely not of least significance, is the discussion around my brain injury (its effects and ongoing implications for life as I know it). As I age and consider my personal commitments to myself and future family, I have been making every effort recently to establish healthier routines, facilitate a life of optimal function, and giving myself the best chance at success despite my challenges.
That is why as I fast-forward to April, 2018… I am in a much better place in life overall. I have reset my finances (sold my townhouse and purchased a “family home” with my life-partner) which means that now I can put my car back on the road because I can afford it. Which is good because the house I was able to afford is in St Thomas! So that means I’ll be driving back and forth to clients instead of taking bus. And there is definitely no chance of my running for City Council in London now.
BUT…having said that, I am excited for the new possibilities in my new city. I’m looking forward to the free time for my brain and the increased attention and energy available for personal pursuits. And you can bet I will still be active on social media with local conversations and attending events in my favourite city whenever I can.
Peace out, #LdnOnt! ✌️