jump to content
In the Network: Media Co-op Dominion   Locals: HalifaxTorontoVancouverMontreal

Omri Haiven's blog

July 25, 2011 Weblog:

Dispatches from a pool shark on the frontlines of Suburbia - Part 1

Not that type of pool. I’m a lifeguard. I work at private swimming pools all around the island of Montreal as a substitute or stand-in. When you’re sick or don’t want to work for whatever reason, I’m your guy. I’ll bike over to your pool and sit there for 8+ hours at a time.

Why would I travel so far just to sit and bake myself in the sun for a day? A big part of it is that I love biking and being outdoors in Montreal; the city glimmers in the summertime. Mostly though, it’s for the people-watching. The residents whose pools I guard are the other Montréalers. The oft-forgotten residents of Montreal’s suburbs who don’t usually come to mind when we think of la belle cité. My job gives me access to those whose lives are rarely covered in the news, in books or in the movies. Far away from the glamour of the downtown, this city’s suburbs are vast and otherworldly to me. Exploring them and the people who live there has been quite a learning experience and I’d like to share some of my thoughts from it.


Apartment building pools are interesting places. For most of the residents, when the summer comes, the swimming pool becomes an extension of their home. Children who have languished in their rooms all winter gladly take up residence in the pool every moment that they can, right up until the minute I close it down for the day. Retirees who had lost touch with their friends across the way during the rest of the year happily gab with each other, picking up where they had left off. I watch them – it’s my job – and I learn a lot about how the other half live.

» continue reading "Dispatches from a pool shark on the frontlines of Suburbia - Part 1"

July 7, 2011 Weblog:

The revolution will not be Canadized

The other day I walked into a Mexican restaurant on Cote des Neiges. It was as big as a hallway and on its walls hung pictures of Aztec temples and bright blue beachsides. After getting a basket of nachos and some salsa-verde I hunkered down at a table on the patio overlooking the street and began to work from my computer. The waiter, a burly guy with olive skin and a thick beard came out to take my order. As he was telling me the password for the restaurant’s wi-fi he saw the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) sticker on my computer. Despite my prominent orange hair and pale skin he asked me “Are you Arab?” I replied, “No, Jewish”, and so our conversation began.

He told me that he was Tunisian and had just finished studying international relations at U de M. He had moved here before the ousting of Ben Ali but was headed back in a few weeks to visit relatives.
As my over-fried meal arrived the same waiter sat down at the table and began to talk at me. The BDS sticker had broken what hesitation he might have had and soon the topic of conversation turned to the history of Western imperialism in the Middle East. My co-conversationalist spoke on the issue with an obvious passion. His words took in the whole restaurant and no other conversations could be heard as he told me about what was happening in his country and his region.

I was interested, as of course most foreigners to the Middle East are, in how the Arab spring had been sparked. However, I wasn’t going be given a free ride. Instead, the questions were turned on me and I became, as so often is the case for immigrants to Canada, the representative of my country.
He asked me three questions that I’ll reproduce below:

» continue reading "The revolution will not be Canadized"

June 12, 2011 Weblog:

Permaculture 1

My name's Omri and in addition to being one of the new interns at the Dominion I'm also really into Permaculture.

What is Permaculture you ask? Permaculture is a composite word that means both permanent agriculture and permanent culture. A combination of earth-care and people-care that results in sustainable ways of living on and interacting with the environment and each other. In addition to these two elements there is also the core value that we must only take what we need and fairly distribute what we take. This ethos extends from gardening to house construction, from animal husbandry to urban planning and beyond.

Originally developed in the 70s by two Australian academics turned practitioners, Permaculture is now practiced by a wide variety of groups for a diversity of reasons.
I'm just in the processes of completing my Permaculture design certificate after taking a 72 hour course. This course, like hundreds of others that happen all around the world allows ordinary individuals to take agency in their lives. This is done by teaching them the basic skills required to sustain themselves independently from prevailing systems of exploitation.

My reasons for learning Permaculture stem from an involvement in food sovereignty related groups. Permaculture, for me, provides the best framework for tackling issues of the environment, self-governance and corporate imperialism that are tied into our livelihoods. This is no yuppie escapism. It is instead a well tested and respectfully conceived set of principles that can be applied to many aspects of our lives.

» continue reading "Permaculture 1"