Gogos fundraise for Africa with ‘Cheater’s Scrabble,’ feather fascinators

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game.
“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game.

In just a few weeks the Royal City Gogos, a group of almost 50 New Westminster grandmothers and “grandothers” formed to help the Stephen Lewis Foundation are hosting a Scrabble event entitled “Good Words for Africa.”

The first “Good Words for Africa” Scrabble meet and craft fair was held two years ago and I had the pleasure of taking part along with a team organized by New Westminster MLA Dawn Black. I’m looking forward to participating with Dawn again this year (here’s the link to my donation/info page).

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game. Those playing Scrabble collect pledges prior to the event, but even those who can’t commit to playing Scrabble that day can drop in for the craft marketplace.

One highlight of the craft sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators.”
One highlight of the craft sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators.”

I interviewed Royal City Gogos founder Janine Reid about the event. First I asked what people who want to register to play Scrabble should know.

“This isn’t a straight-up Scrabble game – this is a variation and it’s meant to be fun,” Reid said. The Gogos’ press release points out this is “cheater’s Scrabble”:

“This modified game is intended to engage all comers. Many players will come in crazy hats or costumes and create words on a theme… According to event rules, players are allowed to use proper nouns, purchase letters they need, consult the experts from the Vancouver Scrabble Club and even purchase cheat sheets! There will be door prizes galore and scorekeeping is optional.”

Of course if you’re a more hard-core Scrabbler, there’s nothing to stop you from playing the rules the way you normally would, but the looser rules mean that players of any background can participate and have a great time.

Players can register and receive a pledge kit by sending their name, address and phone number to royalcitygogos@gmail.com and Reid points out it’s important to register soon.

“We’re 50% full and we haven’t even started advertising,” she said. “It’s important for people to register soon and get started.”

People who can’t stay to play Scrabble are still encouraged to stop by for the marketplace, which will run from 10-4. Entry is free. The marketplace will be stocked with gift items and fashion accessories made locally by the Gogos or in fair trade African cooperatives. One highlight of the sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators”.

All proceeds from the craft market and Scrabble will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

An estimated 14.8 million children have been orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Their grandmothers, having buried their own children, have stepped into the breach to parent again with few resources. The Grandmothers Campaign is a Canadian initiative to raise urgently needed funds which are directed by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to community-level organizations that provide necessities such as food, educational supplies, uniforms and school fees, home-based care, HIV counseling and testing, adequate housing, grief support and micro-credit loans.

“We made $43,000 last time and in our dreams we would like to raise $50,000 but we’ll just have to see how it all unfolds,” Reid said.

Volunteers needed for June 5 Twelfth St. cleanup party

New Westminster MP Peter Julian and MLA Dawn Black will be hosting the sixth annual Twelfth Street Clean-Up on Saturday, June 5. Dawn & Peter will be there with their crew, with rubber gloves on and garbage bags in hand, and they hope you’ll join them in cleaning up litter along the street.

“It is not heavy work and many hands will make the job go quickly,” wrote Dawn in an email call for participation.

The cleanup crew meets at 10am in the parking lot at 1170 8th Avenue at 12th Street (behind Community Savings Credit Union) and will go out in the neighbourhood for an hour or two. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. All equipment such as garbage bags will be provided.

A free barbeque lunch will be given to all volunteers at 12 noon back in the parking lot, courtesy of the New Westminster Firefighters Charity Fund. In addition, each participant will receive certificates of appreciation from the MLA and MP.

If you are able to help out or need further information, phone 604-775-2101.

Video: New West all-candidates’ meeting

Video is up for last Wednesday’s all-candidates’ meeting, courtesy of David Maidman of Pumpkinhead Productions.

Part one:

  • Introductions
  • Regional transportation & the North Fraser Perimeter Road (5:00))
  • Food security, lower carbon footprint & healthier population (10:02)

New Westminster All-Candidates Meeting, May 6th, 2009 7-9pm from David Maidman on Vimeo.

Part two:

  • Provincial support for New West waterfront park
  • Improvements to Royal Columbian hospital (4:06)
  • Provincial funding for New West schools (8:49)

New Westminster All-Candidates Meeting, May 6th, 2009 7-9pm from David Maidman on Vimeo.

Impressions of New West candidates

Although last night’s all-candidates meeting was not billed as a debate, as an undecided voter I came away feeling there was a clear winner for New Westminster.

The Tenth to the Fraser editorial team decided this publication would not endorse a particular candidate this election, however as individuals we all have opinions and we agreed that it is fitting to share them. All are free to comment or submit a guest post sharing their POV.

I am very glad I attended the meeting because the candidates’ performance made it clear to me how I will mark my ballot on May 12. Based on her eloquence, passion and solid understanding of both local issues and the broader political context, I have decided to support Dawn Black, and to vote Yes to STV.

This was not an easy decision for me. In the meeting last night, Matthew Laird took the words out of my mouth when he said that he thought Black has done great work in Ottawa … and that he wishes she would keep on doing great work in Ottawa! It troubled me that Black chose to resign as MP only a short time after the election, triggering a byelection for already weary voters. And even more than this, I struggled with supporting an NDP candidate when I feel the party’s opposition to the carbon tax has been wrong-headed and jeapardizes my children’s future.

Yet in the end I came away convinced that Black is the strongest person to champion New West issues in Victoria. Quite simply, I trust her to do her very best to make good choices for New West and the province as a whole, and I believe she has the talent to follow through on her promise.

I would also like to commend Matt Laird on his performance. He demonstrated a good understanding of local and environmental issues and kept both Millar and Black on their toes. Those who follow local politics are likely quite familiar with his name, whether through his work with NWEP or as a candidate for council. New West is lucky to have someone with his passion for Green issues – and the courage to put himself out there again and again in order to push these issues to the forefront.

As for Carole Millar, I think she has a long way to go to become MLA material. She seemed to struggle with thinking on her feet and most of her answers were read verbatim from the BC Liberal playbook. Unlike Black and Laird she failed to illustrate how her personal story exemplifies the ideals she promotes. While for some this may not be a major failing, I want my elected representatives to be in it for passion. Public life should be a calling, not a job.

And finally, the referendum question. I said already that I will support the change to STV. I believe our current system is inequitable and demoralizing for voters. I haven’t taken much time for deep research into the world’s democracies, but thankfully the citizen’s assembly has done this for me. I have decided to trust their judgement and vote for change.

I was concerned about New West issues being drowned out in a constituency that included Burnaby, but then I remembered that we neighbours already share an MP. I have felt very well served by Peter Julian in Ottawa, and I have not seen that he favours big ol’ Burnaby in a way that compromises representation in New West. The argument that STV is too complex also doesn’t sway me. It may take more effort to understand but it is not an impossibly arcane system. I agree with the STV advocate who said that we should demand more of our electoral system than mere simplicity.

So there you have my two cents, for whatever it’s worth. I commend all our candidates for putting their names forward as leaders. May the best person win.

Excuse me, Ms. Black, what about this byelection?

In response to this question from the public, NDP candidate Dawn Black, the recently elected federal MP for the NDP references the illness of current NDP MLA Chuck Puchmayr as a driving force in her decision to leave federal politics and enter the Provincial race. This election posed too many important issues to allow the traditionally NDP riding to go to another party.

Green candidate Matt Laird had a zinger when he announced that he thought Ms. Black was doing a great job in Ottawa. He suggested she continue to do a good job… In Ottawa. Best laugh this evening.

Ms. Millar claims Ms. Black is shirking her responsibility to the public and leaving a $500,000 bill for the byelection to boot. Something tells me she doesn’t think that Dawn Black’s Provincial conversion was so funny. Black points out that with the current state of Federal politics, a general election will be called any time anyway so a byelection may not be necessary to begin with.

In closing statements, Liberal candidate Carole Millar announces that the NDP treats New Westminster as “a retirement post for the party faithful,” a possible dig at the age or Federal experience of Dawn Black. Both Laird and Black looked aghast at the comment. Calls of “low blow” are issued by the croud. Some are offended but many applaud the jibe, if only because it was so tawdry.

The comment doesnt really make sense to me as Puchmayr is not retirement material and in fact left the race due to illness. Federal New Democrat Peter Julian is quite young by MP standards so he cannot be said to have been given a plumb retirement post. Dawn  Black does not seem to be retiring into the riding either, as she is clearly replacing the ailing Puchmayr and further is likely to become a clear leadership candidate for the Provincial branch of the NDP.

Matt Laird notes Ms. Millar’s comment is an example of why BC-STV should be approved: to help end the partisan name-calling and roadblocks that prevent our province from going forward. An STV presentation will follow the All Candidates debate.

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Dawn Black Campaign Statement

Dawn Black
B.C. NDP candidate Dawn Black

During the 2009 BC Election Campaign, an opportunity has been provided to all election candidates in the riding to post a brief message to their constituents. These messages will not be edited.

In the guest post below, NDP Candidate Dawn Black has responded with a few words to the voters.

Dawn Black has been a strong advocate for New Westminster for years.

As a Member of Parliament, Dawn pushed for investment in public transit, a comprehensive anti-gang strategy, and keeping good, family-supporting jobs in our community.

Dawn has worked closely with seniors, parents and working people, and has acted on their concerns.

Under Gordon Campbell’s leadership, we’ve experienced hospital closures, mill closures, and cutbacks to education and health care.

“I decided to join Carole James and the BCNDP to take back our BC – New Westminster is my home and I want BC to be a place of opportunity and security for our children and grandchildren.”

Dawn’s Priorities for New Westminster

  • Increase Royal Columbian hospital’s funding to deal with shortages that began when St. Mary’s Hospital was closed down under the Liberals

  • Work with the police and community groups to implement an anti-crime strategy to keep our parks and streets safe

  • Raise the minimum wage and protect good-paying jobs

  • Invest in transit to help reduce the amount of traffic that goes through New Westminster – 500 new buses for the Lower Mainland

  • Re-establish adequate funding for schools, to avoid the spectre of school closures

  • Create more affordable housing and close the “renovation” loophole that allows landlords to evict tenants and charge unfair rent

For more information check out our website: dawnblack.bcndp.ca

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