Bitter Medicine at November CALL Café
At the November CALL Café, Clem Martini made an eloquent and powerful presentation about the memoir he and his brother Olivier published in 2010
Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness (Broadview Press).
Clem Martini is a playwright, novelist and professor at the U of C. Clem’s younger brother, Ben, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1970’s and after a struggle with the disease committed suicide. Clem’s older brother Olivier (Liv), a visual artist, was diagnosed with the disease in 1980. Using Liv’s images, Clem describes the experience of a person with schizophrenia and the effect it has on the family.
The presentation centered around the things Clem learned, intentional as well as unintentional, in the process of creating the book. He demonstrated that “a picture is worth a thousand words” with drawings Liv had made of the events of his younger life. The drawings were expressive of many things and gave a different perspective to Clem of the way the world felt and looked to his brother.
Clem learned to work cautiously as regard to working with his brother on the book. A deep understanding came out of the work together and Clem made many self-discoveries. He found the experience physically and emotionally draining. He learned that “although one feels one can get a grip on the experience of schizophrenia and a sense of perspective” on the disease, “it is a life-long, on-going endeavor”. Liv must negotiate each day weighing his physical health against his sanity. He was in hospital the day of the presentation struggling with this issue.
Claiming “schizophrenia didn’t destroy my family but it gave us a pretty good working over”, Clem described the harsh effects the disease had on his family. Clem’s father, who found Ben after his suicide, felt ashamed and judged and fell into silence. Eventually Clem’s parents divorced. According to Clem, “Silence isn’t an option. Discussion is essential.”
He learned how difficult is it to share one’s story with the public. The book was shared with thousands incoming students at the U of C. The response from them was overwhelming. They had stories to tell about how mental illness had affected their lives. Sadly, “things have not changed too terribly much since the 70s”. Schizophrenia or any mental illness is experienced by an individual as well as by the family.
Clem learned that “my brother lives as part of a community that lives alongside continuing ongoing trauma”. He described the continuous cycle of loss, grieving and lack of support experienced by people with schizophrenia. Hospitals tend to hide the psychiatric wards. Support groups meet in rough neighborhoods.
Describing Liv’s experience of collaborating on the book, Clem stated, “My brother loves things backwards. New situations frighten him and make him anxious. But once they conclude he finds them glorious experiences.” Clem found the experience of writing the book challenging and curiously bonding. He left us with the idea that people have to talk to each other, share stories and see that the government opens up it’s services to those with mental illnesses and their families. A very inspiring thought!
Facilitators Wined and Dined November 6th!
CALL’s Board and Program Committee played host to the many Interest Group Facilitators and Co-Facilitators who have led groups over the past two years. Current Facilitators and even some who plan to facilitate groups in the New Year were included.
The evening began with punch and activity that “broke the ice” that let everyone learn who was who in the world of CALL Facilitators. Then there was a catered dinner complete with checkered tablecloths and great conversation.
Following the meal table group members were asked to address questions about their experiences as CALL Facilitators. Discussion about what was working as well as what kinds of challenges arose within groups was lively and informative. All in all, the positives outweighed any challenges by a long shot.
Facilitating or Co-Facilitating a CALL Interest Group isn’t difficult. It just starts with an idea or an interest and the desire to bring other people in on an exploration of the topic or concept. It is a rewarding experience and one YOU might consider.
CALL Visits the Stars
Current RAO Observatory Building.
On October 4th, about 40 of us visited the Rothney Astrophysics Observatory (RAO) south of Calgary where we were greeted by Sue Constable, our CALL program registrar. In the Visitor’s Centre Jennifer Howse, University of Calgary and RAO Education Specialist, gave us a “thumbnail” history. It was initially made possible by a gift to U of C of a quarter section of land from Sandy Cross. Over the years it grew and flourished through numerous generous donors and cooperation with other observatories from the Vatican to NASA.
One recent exciting event was on September 29, 2013 when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched the CASSIOPE satellite for the Canadian Space Agency. The U of C developed technology for the satellite, and the RAO is acting as the “Ground Station” for the satellite’s communications.
Who knows that the sun is setting? The Shadow knows! – and keeps growing beside the original building
The first .4 metre telescope was installed in this building in 1971 and was used for research in the 70’s and 80’s.
More info: http://www.ucalgary.ca/rao/history
Through a filtered Meade LX200 telescope, Jennifer enabled us to look at the sun.
The filtered Meade telescope was the first telescope we looked through. It is a 60 power instrument, whereas the average binoculars are at 7 or 10 power. Because it takes time and care to adjust the sensitive machine, the protective shed is on tracks so it can easily be removed and replaced as necessary.
The nearby country is being built up. With that development and light pollution from the City of Calgary, there is a concern about the Observatory “going blind”. Education and cooperation are slowing that possibility.
More info on light pollution: http://www.calgary.rasc.ca/lp/index.html
We were impressed by the size of one of the three biggest telescopes in the country, the ARCT, a 1.8 metre instrument. Recent upgrading has made it the largest infared telescope in Canada.
Half our CALL group with the outdoor telescope for star gazing in the dark. Note the tracks are illuminated with red light so we didn’t trip.
Then we went outside with Larry McNish, a Royal Astronmy Society of Canada (RASC) volunteer, to visit the real stars! We gazed at the Big Dipper with its apparent seven stars. The middle star of the Dipper’s handle is named Mizar. However, through the telescope we saw that there are actually FOUR stars in a tiny area contributing to what we see visually as a single star.
Then Larry adjusted the equipment so we could look at a fuzzy group of stars called “Messier13,” a “globular cluster” of stars orbiting our galaxy. One theory about these is that they were once a small galaxy that got too close to our huge Milky Way, and our galaxy’s gravity “stole” everything it could from the smaller one. Only the ball of stars nearest the centre of the small galaxy remained due to the stronger gravity there.
Larry also told us of other star viewing opportunites through the RASC at their nearby Observatory. More info: http://www.calgary.rasc.ca
Another thing we learned is that the Observatory building is not heated so that lenses of telescopes are not subject to temperature change when the building ceiling is opened. Since you are standing around for a fair time both inside and outside, if you go again, I strongly recommend – wear your woollies!
Respectfully submitted, Helen Steeves Jull
Cooking with CALL!
In mid-April. twenty-two C.A.L.L. members had an splendid time when Jon Fisher of the Willow Park Golf and Country Club welcomed us to learn from his Food and Beverage team managed by Monty and Herb, and to have an entertaining and unforgettable evening with food and wine and good companions.
Conversations About the Autumn of Life
Conversations about the Autumn of Life is an Interest group that has been meeting for over a year. Last fall we became interested in neuroplasticity and we explored the topic through reading, watching various DVDs and interviews online.
Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain That Changes Itself, talked to us via Skype on March 12th about brain health. About 45 CALL members and friends attended the talk at Self Connection Bookstore. We were delighted with the outcome. Dr. Doidge was generous with his time and information. Rather than coming with a prepared talk he did the entire call in response to questions from the audience. While he gave us some information on current findings in the field of neuroplasticity he also gave us lots of things that were unexpected.
He suggested that our sedentary lifestyle and poor diet are major contributors to not only our physical health but also our mental health and cognitive skills. He is a proponent of movement-related exercises for the brain such as Tai Chi, and the Feldenkrais methods. This surprised the group because we were expecting something much more left-brained and scientific. Meditation and the ‘alpha’ brain state are also areas that he studies and believes in (he mentioned Hemi-Sync). And, as do many others, he recommends less carbs, less gluten and less sugar in our diets, and more exercise. Exercise…walking…. is good for our brain!!
Following the Skype call many participants stayed for a conversation that was rich with further questions and ideas. Many book titles were mentioned and some of these may well guide our future Conversations About the Autumn of Life.
An Evening with Hot Glass at the Bee Kingdom
On March 14 the CALL Art Gallery Tour Interest Group arranged a special evening demonstration of glass-blowing at the Bee Kingdom Studio. Four graduates of Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) who established this glass-blowing collective and business are Ryan March Fairweather, Tim Belliveau, Phillip Bandura and Kai Georg Scholefield. The Studio is located in the garage of a Mount Pleasant home that has been in Phillip Bandura’s family for three generations. The name, “Bee Kingdom” represents the busy pace of the studio and the fact that molten glass is much like honey. The founders consider the studio to be their kingdom.
The Bee Kingdom specializes in glasswork that ranges from imaginative corporate commissions to exciting contemporary fine art. In a few short years, the Bee Kingdom has received national and international acclaim.
CALL interest group members watched in awe as Phillip Bandura, assisted by Kai Scholefield, fashioned molten glass into a beautiful vase, through a process of continuous rotation and blowing while maintaining a consistent temperature of the glass. This process was physically demanding, requiring precise coordination and complete focus.
CALL members placed their names in a glass bowl and at the end of the evening a name was drawn to take home the completed vase shown below. The lucky winner was Donna Spaulding.
A NOTE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF CALL
Welcome to all returning and new members of CALL! The Board would like to let all of you know what has been happening, to keep everyone up to date since our Annual General Meeting in late October.
Now just one and a half years old, CALL has grown to over 315 members. Our programing has expanded. This past FALL and WINTER there have been thirty-five interest groups and activities. Our Web Site gives the range. Just to mention three– in terms of global travel CALL Adventurers have taken us in our monthly evening series, TREKS and TRAVELS, from Baffin Island, to Mongolia, from Nepal and Peru to Cuba, then the Grand Canyon. CALL’S partnership with the Petroleum History Society and Calgary CBC Radio produced OIL SANDS 101, an introduction to the topic by six informative speakers. Approximately 200 people attended each of the six sessions at the Glenbow Museum Theatre, held weekly each Tuesday during lunch hour from late January to the end of February. CALL’S involvement with Mount Royal University’s (formerly Alberta Buzz) Somar Speakers Series, enters its second successful year, reviewing major issues from the U.S. Presidential Election to the Idle No More Movement in Canada. Our profile is increasing in the community.
CALL’S continued success is thanks to a number of coordinators, facilitators, and CALL members themselves. As CALL is an organization completely volunteer-run, our committees and all our programs depend on our membership. Together, members and facilitators determine the subject matter, timing, location, and duration of our Interest Groups. Please see the CALL Web Site http://calgarylifelonglearners.ca for information on how Interest Groups work, and to see descriptions of the roles of Interest Group facilitators, and Interest Area coordinators. In CALL, you have a voice. Suggestions are most welcome for new Interest Groups and other programs. If you would like to be a leader or group facilitator, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .You can take part in other ways, including by joining committees and helping with social events. Please write to email@example.com . You can always share your ideas and suggestions with others at our CALL Cafes, our regularly monthly get-togethers, where members socialize, learn about and sign up to Interest Groups in the first hour. An interesting talk or a special performance or presentation follows in the second. Many of CALL’s Interest Groups, Treks and Travels and CALL CAFEs meet at the Rosedale Community Association. We are most grateful for their support.
The first stopping place for all information about CALL’s upcoming events and programs is our Web Site– http://calgarylifelonglearners.ca
For the SPRING nine new groups or sessions have just been posted on the Web, with several others on the way. New Interest Groups include: A Taste of the Camino, Cooking with CALL, Living Your Best Healthy Lifestyle, Scrabble – A Laid Back Approach, and Seniors Housing: Exploring Alternatives.
The following existing interest groups are now active with new offerings: Art Gallery Tours, Bird Identification and Nature Appreciation, Orienteering-An Introduction and Orienteering – Beyond the Basics.
Our goal, reaffirmed at the Board’s strategic planning session held on February 23 remains: “The Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners facilitates affordable, innovative and flexible learning opportunities for adults.”
The Board wishes to thank warmly out-going Vice-President Dariel Bateman for her contributions. The Board welcomes Pat Roome as CALL’s interim Vice-President, and Tom Kerwin, Co-Chair, Program Committee.
I look forward to seeing you at many future CALL events. It is an honour to serve as this year’s President of this dynamic and growing organization.
Don Smith April 9, 2013.
FOOD AND WINE Interest Area
CALL is pleased to announce the long-awaited arrival of the new Food and Wine Interest Area. Pat McCann, a veteran of the Hospitality industry in Calgary, has agreed to be the Co-ordinator of this portfolio. CALL is fortunate to benefit from his experience and expertise.
Click here to check out the first offering of this new Interest Area.
We are currently in the planning phase for a new Wine Tasting interest group. Watch for the announcement and description to appear shortly.
OILSANDS 101 – A RECAP
Sensing the need for better public information on the controversial oil sands initiative, CALL decided last fall to embark on an ambitious series – entitled “Oil Sands 101” – covering various facets of the topic. CALL was fortunate in having excellent partners for this undertaking: the Petroleum History Society gave us some very good ideas for speakers, and provided generous funding; and CBC Radio, as our media sponsor provided on-air staff as moderators. CALL staff devoted close to 500 hours in the series development and promotion.
Fortunately, all this effort paid off: the six-part series – held Tuesday lunch hours from mid-Jan. to end of Feb. at the Glenbow Museum Theatre – averaged 200 attendees/session, filling the Theatre to capacity! The enthusiasm and audience feedback showed that we met our objectives of providing stimulating, even-handed information on this very important initiative.
To view copies of the presentations click here http://www.petroleumhistory.ca/oilsands101/index.html,