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Goodybe My Friend

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Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” (Marcus Aurelius)

A day after hearing the painful news that a relationship I had for the past year filled with joy, adventure, spirit, goddess and wilderness had ended, I learned of the passing of a very dear friend. Later that week I attended his Celebration of Life in Lumby BC. Words alone are always inadequate as a means of expressing the depth of such a loss, the meaning of such a wonderful man, but here is my attempt.

 

Hello everyone, my name is Johnny Stork.

Although I don’t know most of you here today, I share with all of you the loss of a dear friend, a husband, a brother, a father, a son. I have never spoken at a funeral or Celebration of Life before, but there was simply no way that I could not come today. As is always the case with the most important, powerful, heartfelt experiences in life, words alone fail to adequately express the depth of feeling, the breadth of meaning, of such a loss. Please forgive me as I attempt to express with words alone, what Richie meant to me.

I met Richie when I was living in Prince George around 1998. I was sitting at the bar of a local biker pub and in walked this giant of a man with the most beautiful long black hair I had ever seen. He pulled up a stool beside me and we started chatting. I don’t recall exactly what we talked about at first, but what I do recall most of all was how I felt sitting next to this beautiful giant of a man. Rather than feel anxious, threatened or intimidated in any way, what Richie exuded was a gentle kindness more befitting a Saint in a Church rather than a physically large man with long hair and tattoos in the sometimes intimidating atmosphere of a biker bar. I immediately liked him, I felt safe and we shared a curiosity over the bizarre antics of one of the dancers which we tried to understand and debated what might be behind her strange behaviours. Again, although I don’t recall many more details of our conversations what I noticed, what I felt, was the complete lack of judgement or criticism and a delightful open-mindedness in how he viewed the world and the presence of a kind and gentle soul.

I left the bar that evening feeling that I had been blessed, fortunate, to have met such a gentle-giant of a man with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. I don’t think we exchanged any contact information at that point but over the next few months we continued to run into each other and our friendship grew.

Over the years of our friendship, the depth of Richie’s kindness, the strength of his love for Leona, his son Robert, his daughters Victoria and Lacey, his sister Shelagh, his parents Mary and Jim along with the rest of his friends and family, was evident in everything he said or did. He often spoke about his love for his wife Leona, his daughters and during the time he and Robert lived with me in Squamish, I saw first hand the extraordinary love and respect he had for his son. I witnessed the words and actions of a father who felt blessed to have a son and the constant pride he felt for Robert was enormous. More than once I saw his eyes well up when he spoke of the pride and respect he held for Robert.

There was only one thing larger than the enormous physical size of this beautiful man, and that was the size of his heart. Not only for his family but for his friends. On the day before he went away, we chatted at length about a recent loss in my own life, and he immediately offered me many options moving forward, including coming up to stay in Lumby. But his last words to me were to tell me that he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife, his kids and his family and it was time to start working less and living more. I think Richie would have wanted all of us to do the same in our own lives, even though he may not have had the chance to do so himself. He recognized the importance of family and the need to keep those connections strong and so this is one of the many messages for my own life, that Richie has gifted me.

For me, Richie has not gone anywhere, he is very much inside everyone one of us here today. The impact he had on me, in my heart, will continue to move me forward in my own life and will continue to guide and support me through all challenges and will continue to remind me of the many blessings that come from living a life filled with love, family and friends. I will not say goodbye to you Richie, because you cannot leave my heart and I will thank you for the blessing of your kindness and friendship until we meet again. Thank you my friend.

A Good Man

What is a good man?
Is he handsome?
Is he rich?
Is he famous?
Is he strong?

I will tell you what a good man is.
A good man is a man whose heart is larger than himself.
A good man is a man who knows his family is more important than himself.
A good man is a man who knows his friend’s are more important than himself.
A good man is a man who can crush you with one blow, yet extends his hand in kindness instead.
A good man is a man who stands up and defends those who cannot defend themselves.
A good man will give of himself before he takes from anyone.
Richie was all this and more, Richie was a man’s man.

Richie was, Richie is, the model of a man, a father, a husband, a brother,
a son, a friend that we should all seek to become.

Richard Melvin is and always will be, the most extraordinary father,
parent and friend I have ever known.

With all my heart, I love you Richie.

 


Wonderful poster created for Richie by one of his cousins.

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debutcarbonespritdc_5-001Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong” ~ Donald Porter

Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them” ~ Kevin Stirtz

 

A few weeks back I posted on Facebook something about having a bad day and that for the first time in maybe more than a decade I called someone an idiot straight to their face. I am typically far more respectful to everyone and so what might have precipitated that momentary outburst?

Back in October 2014 I purchased a Project Debut turntable from (what once was) my favorite audio gear shopLotusland Electronics and Music on Alma street in the West End of Vancouver. This shop is an audioporn paradise of vintage, mid-range and high-end used audio equipment which also has a great selection of vinyl. Although I have only purchased maybe a thousand or two dollars’ worth of gear from them (so far), I certainly planned on buying more down the road, until recently.

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The more we exploit nature, the more our options are reduced, until we have only one: to fight for survival.” (Morris Udall)

What is the good of having a nice house without a decent planet to put it on?” (Thoreau)

We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.
(Margaret Mead)

 

Squamish is currently wrestling with the difficult moral, economic and environmental questions around a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) plant along the shores of the recently revivified and somewhat healed Howe Sound waters. There is no shortage of opposition to this project as can be seen in articles from the Georgia Straight, Squamish Chief, Vancouver Observer, The TyeeGlobe and Mail, Huffington Post and a Facebook Page titled No to LNG – Squamish which currently has nearly 5000 likes. This proposed re-industrialization of Howe Sound, in combination with other proposals, has also generated new concerns and opposition if its own. Although the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas project also has it’s proponents, this article is not about presenting any sort of balanced coverage and so there are no links to any articles supporting the project. This post is about my own personal reasons for opposing the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant on the shores of Howe Sound and near the small mountain community of Squamish BC – my home.

The communities of Howe Sound have already been through decades of polluted waters, reduced salmon stocks, reduced whale populations and other damaging effects of a mining operation at Britannia Beach which operated from 1905 to 1974. Cleaning up the devastating environmental damage from those decades of copper mining effluent polluting our waters has been a long and costly process. But this cleanup effort has been a resounding success and to the amazement of many, whales and dolphins have become a regular occurrence again in the waters around Squamish and Howe Sound. Although past environmental regulations and oversight were nothing like what we have today, and the potentially damaging effects of a mine vs an LNG plant may not be comparable, there is still a potential risk to the environment if the LNG plant and subsequent increase in tanker traffic goes ahead. And regardless of the size of this potential environmental risk, an LNG plant INCREASES the probability of environmental damage and INCREASES the chances of a plant catastrophe with potentially devastating long-term environmental and economic effects to Squamish.

Summary of My Opposition to the LNG Plant:

Reason 1: I am opposed to the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant on moral grounds – it is the RIGHT thing for me to do since I value the health of the planet and our local environment far more than personal employment opportunities or economic development.

Reason 2: I am opposed to the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant because I believe we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as an energy source, in order to create a sustainable future for the planet.

Reason 3: I am opposed to the Woodfibre Liquid Natural Gas Plant because it would contradict the growing reputation and image we are presenting to the world as being an environmentally conscious community.

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 “It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.” (Albert Einstein)

  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi)

 “We do not act rightly because we have virture or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly” (Aristotle)

 

 

Here we are facing another municipal election in Squamish and once again there appears to be no shortage of high emotions, bitter disputes, accusations, suspicions, personal attacks and what appears to be at least one witch-hunt. Not the sort of environment which is likely to entice the 60% in our community who typically refrain from voting to get involved this time around. During the last round of municipal elections in 2011 I made the decision to vote and to become involved with local politics for the first time in my life. Since I am politically ignorant my only contribution was around helping candidates with getting out their platforms, aggregating election material on a site which became THE most popular election/candidate portal in town, engaging on social-media and facilitating/administering the creation of the Squamish Speaks Facebook Group. A personal donation of hundreds of hours of my time and hundreds of dollars in costs which I believe benefited every candidate, the community and the overall election process in Squamish in 2011. Although I enjoyed contributing in a small way to the previous election, there was also a dark-side to the process. A disappointing dark-side which demonstrated how strong emotions, passionate beliefs, inflated egos and in some cases how personal and self-serving agendas can often evoke the essence of someone’s character, both for the good and not-so-good.

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happy-at-workChoose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ” ― William James

This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ― Alan Watts

So, how do we find happiness at work? This is a very relevant topic, and question, for most people since I am sure we have all had a job or contract where we questioned the value of that working/contract relationship, or we are just plain unhappy in our current job. Often, particularly if the position or contract is financially lucrative, it is easy to justify maintaining the status-quo and “tough it out”, even when the environment becomes dissatisfying, stressful, unfulfilling or even toxic. But there is a heavy price to pay, both for you and your family, for putting aside your psychological or emotional well-being, or in some cases your integrity or principles, by remaining in a less-than-fulfilling, or dysfunctional work relationship, regardless of the financial benefits. This is an important topic I would like to try and cover more in-depth in the future, but let me see if I can offer up a few insights, starting with my own experiences with less-than-satisfying work environments. Continue Reading »

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