Thursday, 31 July 2014
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
I'm so glad I did because it gave me a great excuse to visit one of my favourite sculptures, Love of Family, which is located across from the tennis club, nestled in the rock garden that was liberated by Parks staff last summer. It looked especially pretty surrounded by the blooming black-eyed susans.
|Love of Family|
|2001, A Transit Odyssey|
Monday, 28 July 2014
|Nope nope nope|
Canvassing in the rain is a lonely job. I am generally trying to do my best to keep things very low-key for my first round of canvassing. After all, this is summer time and to most people, the municipal elections seems like a lifetime away.
If someone is out in their front yard, on the sidewalk or sitting on their front porch, I have no qualms about introducing myself and handing out a card. Beyond that, I do my best to respect people's privacy. Besides, I would say that probably 50% of homes in Dundas have some sort of "No Soliciting" or "No Junk Mail" sign hanging outside.
I rationalize to myself that my cards are not junk mail but important election information.
This approach has served me well so far. I can move through most neighbourhoods relatively quickly, which is good because I have a LOT of ground to cover. When someone is open to a conversation, I give them all the time they want to spare me. I've learned so much in just one week! Unsurprisingly, the people of Dundas have a lot on their minds!
With the hundreds and hundreds of cards I've distributed, I've only had four people go out of their way to reject them. To them, I smile, wave and wish them a nice day.
Despite all the great and valuable encounters I've had, I am a fairly sensitive guy and it's the rejections that stick with me.
Then, out of the blue, I get an e-mail on my phone that's a cogent and thoughtful response to my cards. My smile is instantly restored and the bounce is back in my step. People really are responding to my message and it is very gratifying.
It was just shortly after I received just such an e-mail that I was tracked-down by the gentleman that puts all that fine work into the Dundas Facebook page. If you haven't been yet, you should visit - it's great. Don't forget to "like" it.
Anyhow, we've been trying to connect for some time now and we finally had a chance to get our first video interview "in the can". You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/dundasontario1847
It wasn't such a bad day after all!
Inevitably, I bring the same discipline to everything I do from campaigning to trail building. It's second nature.
Sundays, as I've explained, are special days. This is where I get to reconnect with myself and my friends and build trails at Christie Lake.
While I do go on about this, there is a lot more than you might expect that goes into building a "simple" single-track trail.
Our focus is on building "sustainable" trails. Sustainability means something to different to everyone depending on the context in which you use it. For us, it means building trails that require as little maintenance as possible once they're built. Ideally, these trails will need no further work to keep them open, except for clearing the odd fallen tree.
In the beginning, you sit down with a giant topographical map and lay out your basic loop structure. You decide on way-points and pencil in loops starting with the easiest near the most likely starting point and gradually increasing the level of difficulty as you get deeper into the woods.
Next, you walk through the woods and start sketching in attractive possibilities. Sometimes you find a really pretty tree or other feature that you really want your trail users to see. This process generally begins months or even years in advance of the actual building.
Commonly known as "corridor flagging", it can be done in the dead of winter. It involves tying bits of coloured flagging ribbon to trees to define a general route for a trail. You work with the topography of the land (as opposed to against it) to develop what are know as "contour" trails. The idea is to keep water "shedding" across the grade and away from the tread.
Different difficulty levels allow you to work within different average grades. Beginner trails shouldn't exceed 5% average grade either up or down. Intermediate trails are generally limited to 10%. Advanced trails can often go beyond 15%.
All this is dependent on the the half rule. Simply stated, no trail grade should exceed half of its side-slope grade. While that sounds complicated, it's not. We use clinometers to double-check our work; if a trail looks too steep, it probably is.
Here's a picture of a trail I flagged almost two years ago.
|Insert trail here|
|Hey there, handsome!|
Saturday, 26 July 2014
I'm not sure where the people who write this stuff live but at our house, Saturday is the last day you want to be approached by a stranger. We're way too busy! Saturday is the day when you finally have a chance to get stuff done!
Anyhow, the minute we turned off TSN (Hungarian GP qualification), we were out the door on our way to Fortino's for groceries.
After that, we were off to mid-town to check out The Hamilton Toy Museum's open house. I don't know who had more fun, me or the boy. This project is clearly a labour of love and we were glad to drop in and support such an amazing initiative. Plus, I learned that the boy is an adept air-hockey player!
|Oh my gosh!|
WARNING: Campaign message ahead. I think it's really important for a candidate for council for Dundas to understand the City beyond the reaches of our town. Dundas is part of Hamilton and our councillor has a duty to understand the City in its entirety. Ideas that benefit Hamilton will ultimately benefit Dundas.
I've been hearing a lot of discontent about how Dundas subsidizes the rest of Hamilton and I do believe there is some truth to this. However, I think the best way to stabilize our tax rate is to revitalize Hamilton and enable the core to pay for itself. Just think about how attractive downtown Hamilton could be under full employment. This is something we can accomplish right away with the right mindset!
Anyhow, that's enough politicking for a Saturday. I'll just cap off this post with a recipe. Tonight, we made glazed BBQ ribs. I adapted the recipe from the LCBO's Food & Drink. I generally find their recipes a bit fussy so I aim to simplify them with an eye to achieving the same results.
Step 1: Season (salt and pepper) the ribs.
Step 2: Give them a good char over HOT charcoal.
Step 3: Cut the air to the coals and put the ribs aside to cook on indirect heat for a really long time.
Step 4: In a good size sauce pan combine (per rack of ribs) 1 cup root beer (we actually had some home-made root beer in the fridge!), 1/4 cup hoisin sauce, as many garlic cloves as you dare, some green onions, a good knob of ginger, some sriracha, black pepper, fish sauce and lime juice. It should look something like this:
Friday, 25 July 2014
This is special event where a senior researcher will invite their grad students and various other co-workers over for a pot-luck. It's meant as a thank-you for all the hard work the students do throughout the year. The best ones are BBQs.
They're a lot of fun. I've been to lots of them and it's interesting for me to notice the shift for us in moving from the "student table" to the role of "grown-ups". We're the ones eating corn-on-the-cob and hamburgers on the run, chasing after kids who are trying to eat glow sticks.
After the week I've had, it was nice to relax, sip on a Pabst and enjoy the company of some fine people.
If you'll indulge me in a cliché, I'm going to let the following three pictures do the bulk of the rest of the talking for me.
|Luckiest kids ever|
|Campaign, they said, it'll be fun!|
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Mark Coull is a retired high school teacher and seems like a nice guy. He intends to officially enter the race in August and I wish him well. While I still want to win, I appreciate it when people engage in the process. It's a big leap for anyone to take.
Looking back on it now, I really think I made the right choice entering the race when I did. I'm really having a great time doing this and meeting lots of really great people along the way. Plus I don't think I could sit still knowing I couldn't start campaigning for a month!
With it now being a (likely) five-way race, it should prove to be very interesting and I'm really looking forward to the all-candidates debate.
I capped off a rewarding day with a relaxing visit to the Dundas Farmer's Market. We got basil, yellow beets, cherries, plums, eggs, cheese and corn - a real bounty. I love summer!
|The parking lot of plenty|
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
First thing this morning, I popped out on to the front porch to grab the paper and what I found there made my entire day. I got my first postcard back!
|Balloons for all!|
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
With temperatures reaching the low 30s this afternoon, I smartened up and made sure to take some electrolytes in the afternoon. Salt was still crusting my temples as I got home. It was a HOT one!
Hitting the pavement for three-hour stretches is like a series of small vignettes interspersed with long stretches of sweating and dropping cards in vexingly difficult to locate mailboxes and slots.
Naturally, the people I meet are the highlights (also, the cats are really nice too).
Here are just few "moments" from my day:
"It's time for a change!" This came from the first person I ran into this morning. I was actually quite surprised considering its source. It pays to keep in mind that Dundas is a voting town - our turn-out in the last Provincial election was well in excess of 60%!
I also came across our crossing-guard as she was jogging by. "I didn't know you were running!" I explained that I am expressly keeping my public persona separate from my private life. When I'm "Daddy", I"m off the clock.
My last anecdote for today concerns a car that pulled up to a very nice house I was visiting. "Do you live here?" Nope, it was Meals on Wheels. It turns out it takes three volunteers to cover Dundas. It was a brief but enlightening chat.
My dogs are barking, as they say, so I'm looking forward to my "office hours" at the Dundas library tomorrow morning. See you there!
Monday, 21 July 2014
As you may recall, I'm fairly new to all this. For now, I've decided to break my canvassing into two three-hour chunks. I'm going to go from 9AM-noon and 1PM-4PM every day until I've hit every home in Dundas. That leaves me enough time to check on e-mail and social media in the morning, again at lunch and once more before I go pick up the boy from pre-school.
I emerged this morning all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
|Good morning Dundas!|
|Does this make you angry? It probably should.|
Sunday, 20 July 2014
I could sit here and try to impress you by saying that I'm just digging into Hillary Clinton's new bio or tell you that I just *love* Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century but frankly, the summer is just too freaking short to plow through something so serious.
Here's a picture that illustrates the depth and breadth of my summer reading:
|Misty, like the corners of my mind|
|Mr. Jumpy, the trail-building toad|
|Taylor Farms - so good!|
Saturday, 19 July 2014
Don't get me wrong, I love it but there is little time to come up with amazing election strategies when you're busy repeating gems like "Look with your eyes, not your hands!!!"
Friday, 18 July 2014
I sprung him early from pre-school and we scooted down the QEW to the Ex to take in all the sights and sounds. We had an EPIC afternoon.
I have to admit that despite all my pretenses as a progressive and environmentally-minded individual, I have a profound weakness for motor-sports. In fact, in completing my election profile for The Spec earlier this week, I listed my "vice" as "fast cars". I guess it beats crack and driving an Escalade under the influence of cheap vodka but I digress.
I blame my Dad.
It was a great Daddy-son day and I really did owe it to him as I've been out campaigning pretty much all week. Highlights include when I talked the program guy into comping us a pit pass and the entire chaotic scene at the Hot Wheels pavilion - never have I seen so many little boys mesmerized while ACTUAL race cars were whizzing by at break-neck speeds.
|Eyes on the prize.|
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Thursday, 17 July 2014
I made a dedicated campaign Facebook page so that I don't have to annoy my non-Hamilton friends with all my election noise. Please "like" it here: www.facebook.com/MarcRisdale2014. As of this writing, I'm already sitting pretty at 16 likes.
Oh, and I topped 50 Twitter followers today too. You can find me at @risdale4dundas. It's been fun; I even got Jian Ghomeshi to reply to one of my World Cup tweets!
I think I'm getting the hang of this social media business...
We (the Hamilton Cycling Club) also got the final go-ahead from the Hamilton Conservation Authority to install our pump track at Christie Lake Conservation Area. If you don't know what a pump track is, don't worry, you're not alone but trust me, it will be awesome!
This is something we've been working on with the HCA for almost three years now and it should use up the last bit of the Trillium capital grant money we had. This is a great partnership that just keeps getting stronger.
Kim and I also took some time out for a lunch date and headed on down to the just-opened Il Fiasco, Dundas' newest restaurant. We shared carpaccio and fritters to start and a potato pizza. It was great and the service was excellent.
We ran into a couple of neighbours there and had a good chat with the owner. You'd think it would be a relatively simple task to open a new restaurant in a spot that was previously a restaurant. In Hamilton, it seems, you'd be wrong.
I've heard this sort of complaint before from all sorts of small business owners around town. Food for thought, so to speak.
Finally last night, I attended an information session hosted by Environment Hamilton and Hamilton Association for Renewable Energy regarding local improvement charges. "LICs are long-term, low interest loans backed by the City. [...] LICs are currently used by Hamilton homeowners for limited property improvements. We want to extend LICs to improve your home comfort and reduce your energy bills."
Managed properly, this sounds like a really great idea. Learn more here: www.ehsavesenergy.wordpress.com.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
|Things just got real!|
I also wrapped up my battle with WordPress and got my website up and running. It will continue to evolve as I develop more content. You can visit it here: www.marcrisdale.ca. There's a handy menu button and the top right that takes you back here to Blogger.
I also filled out a candidate profile for The Spec and started looking at a survey from the Hamilton & District Labour Council. That last one is a toughy and I'm going to take a few days to contemplate my answers to the long-form questions.
Anyhow, as I mentioned yesterday, I headed over to Democracy on Locke last night to participate in The People's Platform. I really wasn't sure what to expect but wow, what a turn-out! It was standing room only and people were spilling out onto the sidewalk.
For tonight, I was invited by a Dundas citizen to attend an information session regarding local improvement charges (LICs), an affordable way to make significant energy saving improvements to your home.
Wednesday, July 16, at 7 pm, at Laidlaw Memorial United Church, 155 Ottawa Street North (corner of Ottawa and Cannon)
Should be interesting!
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Thankfully, I have some good friends that set me up with a proper URL and a WordPress account. "It's really easy!" they said as they handed me the keys...
Never one to leave well enough alone, I had to go tinkering. Well, let me tell you, I had that thing pretty well screwed up for the better part of the day. My apologies to anyone unfortunate enough to visit while I was "fixing" things that weren't broken.
To give you an idea of the kind of day I was having, I learned what a widget was today and how not to make them work properly. Everything should be fully operational by next week. Trust me.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was invited to attend a meeting of the Hamilton Civic League last night as a candidate. I was very warmly received and was encouraged to participate.
There were some very thought-provoking presentations and a great summary of the results of their Values & Priorities survey. It was fascinating to see just how my personal opinions lined-up with those of the respondents.
I also ran into another candidate there who may be familiar to you from his involvement with Open Streets: Ira Rosen. He's running to take over Brian McHattie's seat in Ward 1. Seemed like a genuinely nice guy so I became his first (and only) twitter follower!
People's Platform , 7 pm tonight, Democracy Cafe, 202 Locke St S.
Based on the quality of last night's discussion, I'm looking forward to good things tonight.
Also, tomorrow will mark the start of something new for me. Throughout the summer, in addition to canvassing, I will be available for "office hours" from 10AM to noon every Wednesday at the Dundas branch of the Hamilton Public Library. Please drop-in and say hi! (I'll have a sign on my table to identify myself.)
Monday, 14 July 2014
On today's To Do list:
- Design and order campaign post cards and stickers.
- Register for the Dundas Cactus Fest.
- Go to the bank and dump some money in my campaign account so I can pay for all this nice stuff.
|The post card.|
|Be there or be square.|
Hamilton Civic League Meeting
267 King Street East (near Wellington)
Sunday, 13 July 2014
|Easy like Sunday morning.|
Impromptu meetings were held at the Coach and Lantern in Ancaster in the dead of winter. People from all corners of Hamilton were united: we need more trails. A few brave souls stepped forward to volunteer. Mailing lists were logged and committees were formed. It was on.
It just so happened that I put my hand up at at just the right (wrong) time and suddenly I was in charge of something bigger than me. I organised a rag-tag bunch of people into action groups and set about making contacts - any contacts.
I'll spare you the details but one thing led to another and now, almost five years later, we have a huge group of volunteers surrendering their Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings to build trails.
They build partly out of self-interest (who doesn't want to ride something they made) and partly out of a sense of duty to the greater good. They've ridden for years on other people's trails and now, they have the opportunity to give something of themselves to other riders (and runners, hikers, dog-walkers, skiers, snow-shoers, kids, etc...). The work we do with Hamilton Conservation Authority has been extremely positive and it benefits us all.
Every Sunday morning, we load up the car with tools (and all the other paraphernalia a toddler demands) and head out to Christie Lake Conservation Area. Come what may, I always know my friends (old and new) will be there to help me add a few more meters to our hard-won network.
7km strong and growing every day.
This is why I'm running for office - the power of an IDEA.
Saturday, 12 July 2014
I won't bore you with a travelogue (and frankly, if you want to see the highlights, you can witness my lameness on twitter) but suffice it to say that it was just the right mix of family and "not" family. We kept things relatively local, basically sticking to the Georgian Bay circle route.
It was epic - I got way too much sun and couldn't be happier!
So, again on twitter, I made a coffee date with my new rival Toby Yull, who, as it happens, had the same basic idea as I did and decided to enter this municipal election almost immediately after Russ Powers decided to retire.
We met a Café Domestique yesterday, just minutes after I unpacked the car. I treated us both to Americanos and we set about having a repartee.
Toby is a lovely woman and if I weren't voting for myself, she would be my first choice.
We don't see eye-to-eye on everything but we are lock-step in our belief that Dundas is in need of renewal.
Don't get me wrong, things are darn near perfect in Dundas but, as with most things, there is room for improvement.
What Dundas needs more than anything right now if we want to remain at the forefront of civic life in Hamilton is FAMILIES.
While it may not be obvious, Dundas is dangerously close to pricing itself right out of the family market. I know plenty of people who would love to move here and raise a family but just can't stomach the real estate prices.
Cliché as it may sound, kids are the future of this town. If we want to keep our "new" high school open and keep our children from being bussed to Ancaster once the the next ARC review decides Dundas is no longer "economical", we have to act now.
Stay tuned for more. I'm just getting started.
|Buidling the future.|
Friday, 4 July 2014
What a week! I've gone from being just some guy to being just some guy with a campaign blog!
If you like what you read here, please spread the word (or better yet add a comment). Judging by the response I've had in just a few days, I think we're really on to something here!
This morning, I had a great interview with Craig Campbell from the Dundas Star News and I'm really looking forward to seeing the results in print.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm actually supposed to be on vacation right now so, this afternoon, we packed up the car and headed north for some much needed R&R.
As I sit here, snugly nestled on the shore of beautiful Lake Nippissing, I'll leave you with a couple of parting thoughts.
Last night, I made myself a Twitter account. Please consider following me by either searching for me by name or by my snazzy handle @risdale4dundas. It's been quite interesting to see the followers pile up so far!
I'm also available for "friendship" on Facebook by searching for Marc Risdale. I never turn down a request. Having such an unusual name has never seemed like such an asset!
Thursday, 3 July 2014
|Watch this space!|
I grew up in Sudbury in the 70's and 80's, the son of Ken, a travelling salesman, and Jocelyne, a developmental worker. My grandparents on my Dad's side were British immigrants - Jim, a nickel miner and professional percussionist, and Kay, a dedicated Scout leader and foster Mom. My grandparents on my Mom's side were "pure laine" French-Canadians - Léo, a nickel miner and lumberjack, and Jeanne, a school teacher. My godparents were Rhéal (after whom I am named), head of the Nippissing school board and Armande, a school teacher.
I did JK though grade 8 at École Félix Ricard and went on to graduate near the top of my class at Collège Notre Dame.
I earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 1995 and a Diploma in Industrial Design from Humber College in 1998.
I have also earned continuing education credits in Economics, Financial Analysis and Accounting from the University of Toronto.
|That's me on the left (photo credit: Krys Hines).|
One of my many volunteer "jobs" is as a Provincial Commissaire for the Ontario Cycling Association. Simply put, in the world of bike races, I'm a referee. Earning this qualification involves a lot of in-class training as well as practical "internships", where we shadow senior referees.
Aside from learning all the rules involved, we also receive extra-curricular training in conflict resolution, mediation and effective communication. It's been a great learning experience and it has given me a whole new insight into the world of competitive cycling (as opposed to my experience on the other side of the fence as a busy racer).
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
The first thing you need to do is fill out the Nomination Paper - Form 1, which is actually a provincial document provided by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Having filled-out a PDF version of the form, I made my way to City Hall.
Here's where I parked:
Did you know we had bike cages downtown? (I did but that's only because I'm a representative of Ward 13 on the Hamilton Cycling Committee but more on that later...) It's a great facility. I imagine we could do with something like it in Dundas... but I digress.
Once inside, I was directed to the City Clerk's kiosk, where I was warmly greeted by genuinely kind and helpful gentleman, Christopher Newman. He guided me through the remainder of the process and made sure all my i's were dotted and t's crossed.
Among other ancillary forms, you also need to complete a Declaration of Qualifications that basically says you are you who you say you are and that you are indeed eligible to run for office. Interestingly, I learned that to run, you only need to be 18 years old on the day of the election so, conceivably, a 17 year old could run. Neat!
I was off to the cashier to fork over my $100 my filing fee. If I do well enough in the election, the fee is actually refunded so I'm going to think of it as a deposit.
With that done, it was off to the bank to open a special campaign bank account. You need to set this up to ensure that all the funds you collect and use over the course your campaign are recorded properly. As of January 2nd, the spending limit for our ward is $20,694.40 per candidate.
|So it begins!|