WE ARE WITNESSES 2/28/2018
It is never too late to tend to deeply buried seeds. To chase the hardened shadow to the source of light. To redeem a sense of loss through an unexpected gift. It does help of course if the conditions are propitious.
HOW I FOUND THE COLUMN AT GREEN WOOD By Judita Pamfil
During the years of the communist dictatorship in Romania all aspects of culture were subordinate to the Communist Party’s ideology. The censorship apparatus worked day and night, and overtime into a time and space where arrests, institutional purges, terror, corruption were the norm. Private and public reunions were severely restricted and controlled. Few were the adults who had the energy and/or temerity to risk their livelihood or their lives in order to oppose a system that posited the indisputable equation 2+2=5. But WE were not adults yet. WE did not wake at 4 AM to spend hours before work, queuing in darkness and frigid temperatures to ‘receive’ perchance a bag of flour, a few eggs... WE were the insubordinate, the valiant, foolhardy teenagers! WE did not consider the risks as much as we envisioned the gain. WE were not paralyzed by the terror as much as emboldened by the dream. Unceremoniously and tenaciously, undaunted by nagging admonitions we proceeded to found our radical group called The Column. We were ‘radical’ in opposition to a tyrannical regime. From within the core of our group the natural flow of our curious spirits appeared ever so ‘normal’ to us. One of the members had a kitchen large enough to accommodate fifteen adventurous, driven teenagers. This kitchen was to become for some six months the undercover headquarter of our alchemical experiments. I say ’alchemical’ because the brief period that saw our risky venture unfold was indeed trans formative. From the dross of lies and dread to the gold of creative power. The school days had us in tight ideological straight jackets from Monday to Saturday. Sunday was our day of exemption, our day of electric freedom! Chaperoned parties? They could wait! Homework? Who would bother when a much more significant task consumed our time? The Column became our safe hub, our dependable stronghold. Fifteen teenagers assuming each a guiding role in a field of choice, an area of uncensored passion. Art History, Physics, Religion, Ballet, Theatre, Gardening, Poetry, Photography, Philosophy... So self taught and self teaching we explored anything and everything from trying to focus our single pointed attention on the cherry-pattern on the cheap plastic table cover to UFO’s and back... We were witnesses to each others’ quest for understanding, for learning, for sharing. But above all, witnesses for each other in-being, in a dialogical relationship, uncensored, present and grateful. The Column survived the prying eyes of the neighbours and the grim censorship of the Secret Police for nearly half a year. We were found out, summoned to the principal’s office, “commended” on our “scholarly initiative”, rebuked for our recklessness and defiance and given an ultimatum. We could indeed pursue our worthy interests should we agree to hold our meetings at school under adult supervision and electronic surveillance. And so The Column came tumbling down. Like the fallen trunk of a beloved tree. But the roots sustained us for the rest of our formative years. Not long after, we all left our motherland behind and made our way to other lands, more hospitable, our adoptive countries, our other lives. Fast forward some 40 years to a small town called Port Hope in a vast country called Canada. When I was serendipitously directed towards Ontario Street number 18 I knew nothing about Green Wood’s philosophy and/or social mandate. Tables, chairs, exposed brick walls, coffee brewing, art work all around, and a welcoming man, generous with his time and speech. An image of a long forgotten ‘kitchen’ was activated from the recesses of my mind. It’s been now three years since I crossed the threshold into that welcoming space. My ‘membership’ at Green Wood does not entail the risk of radical resistance as did my involvement with The Column. We are now operating within a democratic system, much flawed yet rarely domineering through terror. And although one does not often feel that the supreme power is vested in the people who attend our meetings, we know that the best we give and receive can be sustained through a hopeful action and a non-judgmental togetherness. And, yes, there is always a delicious bowl of soup! I believe it better than the one in the Column Kitchen! Judita Pamfil is an artist, poet, teacher, survivor, friend and inspiration to our weekly art gatherings at Green Wood.
WHAT A GENEROUS COMMUNITY! 2/26/2018
Saturday's Coldest Night of the Year walk, through beautiful Port Hope, was a winner in every way. Thanks to everyone who helped us raise over $50,000 to support our local outreach work.
Congratulations to the top walkers who each brought in more than $1000: Randall Arsenault, Les Robling, Jenn McGuire, Kaye Torrie, Jack Russell, and Walter Hillman.
We couldn't make this work without sponsors like Lauria Auto Group, Emulate Global Printing and our generous suppliers, Basil's Market & Deli, Olympus Burger, Millstone Bread, LA Signs, The Mill Restaurant & Pub, Table & Loft, and Summerhill Manor.
Thanks to UCB Radio and 89.7 Radio for getting the word out. Amazing work everyone!
(Photo cred: Lee Higginson)