Hurry up 2021!

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a stinker of a year.

And maybe we should have seen it coming, because from the very start, 2020 came with some pretty ominous associations. For starters, it was a leap year. Check your calendar, and you’ll find 2020 includes a February 29th, which only happens once every four years. Second, it is the year of the Rat, the beginning of the cycle in the Chinese zodiac, and a year that is supposed to bring ingenuity and renewal. That only happens once every 12 years. Third, 2020 is a so called double-date year, where the first two digits are the same as the last two as in 1919, 1818, or 1717. That only happens once a century and interestingly enough, 2020 is the fourth century in a row to be visited by a pandemic during the double-date year. In 1919, it was the Spanish Flu. In 1818, it was Asiatic Cholera, and in 1717, it was Small Pox.

Even without the Covid-19 Pandemic, 2020 was an unbelievably busy news year. It saw the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani triggering open hostilities with Iran, the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 killing all 176 souls on board, Harry and Megan’s dramatic exit stage right from the British Royal Family, the death of more than one billion animals and the extinction of several endangered species in the Australian brush fires, Brexit in the U.K., the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump, the California fires and the horrific death of George Floyd unleashing widespread protest throughout United States.

The cherry on top of all that social turmoil was the U.S. Presidential Election in November, which many saw as the fight for the soul of America, and perhaps the last chance for it to preserve its democracy in an increasingly autocratic world. And even when the good guy eventually won, he did not ride off into a Hollywood sunset, but into an apocalyptic landscape on teetering on the thin edge of who knows what.

I tried to capture some of the angst of 2020 in these two short movies. which are both set to a song called These Days. Let’s all hope it’s a Happy New Year!

Pandemic
Lead-up to 2020 presidential election

2020: the year of the rat, and other stuff.

Even without the coming U.S. presidential election, 2020 would still be a very quirky year.

For starters, it’s a leap year. Check your calendar for 2020 and you’ll find it includes a February 29th. That only happens once every four years. Second, it is the year of the rat, the beginning of the cycle in the Chinese zodiac, and a year that is supposed to bring ingenuity and renewal. That only happens once every 12 years. Third, 2020 is a double-date year, where the first two digits are the same as the last two as in 1919, 1818, or 1717. That only happens once a century.

But more to point, we are only a little more than halfway into this tumultuous year, and it seems like there’s already been enough societal turbulence to fill a decade. So far this year, we have seen the outbreak of the corona virus, the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani triggering open hostilities with Iran, the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 killing all 176 souls on board, Harry and Megan’s dramatic exit stage right from the British Royal Family, the death of more than one billion animals and the extinction of several endangered species in the Australian brush fires, Brexit in the U.K., the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump and the horrific death of George Floyd unleashing widespread protest throughout United States.

But as we all know, there is at least one more big news story on the agenda for 2020. It is the cherry on top of this Pandora’s box of horrors: the U.S. Presidential Election, the outcome of which will have huge ramifications, not just for America, but for the entire world. It will determine, I think, the direction of our humanity for decades to come.

Even though the election is likely to affect every living person and organism on this planet, only Americans get to vote, and rightly so. It is, after all, their election. However, I think it’s okay for the rest of us to at least express an opinion, and it is in that spirit that I offer up this short movie chronicling events of 2020 in song and photographs.

Song and video by Donald Glenn

Donald Glenn and his Musical Friends

Hi there. I’ve been getting lots of new views on my YouTube channel lately, mostly because of my song/video Lullaby for Livia, which I wrote for my granddaughter. The song is about the sorry state of the world that her generation will inherit, and my personal pledge to do the best I can for it before I leave. There’s only two song/videos on the channel right now, but I’m planning to add more soon. I’ve been working on a collection of songs for an album called Mystical Journeys, and I’ll be featuring selections from the album on the channel. You can check it out at the link below, and If you like what you hear, please consider subscribing. Ciao for now…

Donald Glenn and His Musical Friends

N.S. Beach house may help save planet

On the west coast of Nova Scotia in the tiny community of Meteghan River, sits a tidy little beach house that just might help save the planet from the coming ravages of climate change. The brainchild of Dave Saulnier and Joel German, the beach house is one of those elegant approaches where problems are re-defined as opportunities.

Beach houseLike many coastal communities, Meteghan River will face severe weather in the decades ahead as the climate worsens. Sturdier shelter that can withstand severe storms is urgently needed, especially on the east coast of North America where hurricane-force winds are becoming an annual occurrence. At the same time, unwanted plastic is piling up in our landfills and littering our beaches. The solution? Use the unwanted plastic to build more durable shelter.

With a $109,000 repayable loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Saulnier and German, built the demonstration home using 612,000 recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Reduced to pellets and injected with a gas to turn them into foam, the bottles were re-constituted as building panels to assemble the beach house.

The result is a structure that can resist moisture, fatigue, corrosion and rot and is 2.3 times more energy-efficient than homes built using traditional methods. However, the real eye-popper is the ability of the panels to withstand windstorms. At Exova testing facilities in Mississauga, Ontario, they withstood 326-mp/h (524-km/h) sustained wind force, which is twice the strength of a Category 5 hurricane.

Through their company, JD Composites, Saulnier and German hope to export the technology to countries in the Caribbean and South America, as well as into the United States. Many of the processes and methods used actually come from the boat building industry in which the two partners have worked for many years.

The beach house is currently up for sale, but if it doesn’t sell, Saulnier and German say they’ll list it on airbnb to help spread the word.

 

Letter from David Suzuki

This year we invited David Suzuki, a well-known environmentalist, author and activist to come to the Sunshine Coast to participate in the Arts Council Literary Reading Program. With funding by the Canada Council, the program brings authors and poets to the Sunshine Coast to present readings of their work throughout the year. For some time, we’ve had it in mind to have a theme evening devoted to the environment and climate change, and who would be better for that than David Suzuki?

fullsizeoutput_9a3We knew our chances of getting him were slim to none, and we were right. David reluctantly declined our offer, but he took the time to write a personal handwritten note explaining why. It was very cool for me to receive the letter because David Suzuki has been one of my personal heroes for decades. It is something I will keep and show to friends and family; however, I was also saddened by the last few lines of the letter, which read as follows:

“I am going to be working flat out on the election Oct 21st. After that, I think I will have expended all I have in me and I will withdraw from public life.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that David Suzuki, who will be 84 on his next birthday, has decided to step back from the role he has played as Canada’s leading spokesman for the environment and the danger of climate change. He has been such a strong voice for so many years that it is difficult to imagine the climate debate without him. It is, perhaps, a signal that it is time for the rest of us to step up.