Kenya Elections

Other things are going on in the world, besides the usual.  The big news in Canada is the PM falling out of a kayak. 

This week, Kenya has their elections. Much respect for Kenyans who faced long line-ups to cast their vote:

..and made it meaningful, truly Kenyan:

This NYT article from election day outlines a few basics, but obviously neglects local, on the ground understanding of the real issues.  Obama weighed in:

I urge all Kenyans to work for an election — and aftermath — that is peaceful and credible, reinforcing confidence in your new Constitution and the future of your country. Any disputes around the election should be resolved peacefully, through Kenya’s institutions and the rule of law.

The reality is, there is extreme poverty and unemployment in the day to day life of many Kenyans.  Even though Kenya has one of the most robust economies in Africa, with vast natural resources (coffee, tea, sugar), a population of 48.5 million and 90% enrolled in school,  more than 42% of Kenyans still live in poverty.

There is now a lot fake news, flooding their social media. There is also the new problem of big data, and international meddling that was seen in both the US election and Brexit, with a strange connection to a tech firm in Victoria, Canada.

It is a complex situation, with no easy answers – the systems of justice cannot be over simplified, without knowledge of life on the ground.

Despite reports in the international mainstream media, people of different tribes, of course, make friends, work and live together  in peace.  (Just as Catholics and Protestants do in Northern Ireland, despite reports). No one wants violence.  People want shops to open, they want to feed their families.  Like the vast majority of people, Kenyans just want a functioning democracy, so they can live.

A friend in Kenya once told me:

You do not know what peace is, until you do not have it.

Kenyans want peace.  Democracy and peace – means simply and peacefully naming and speaking the truth.  Without fear.

I think without understanding and empathy for ongoing economic oppression, it is also easy to misunderstand the context, and potential power, of peaceful opposition. Democracy brings hope.

No matter the results of this election, I’m thinking about my students:

…and praying for peace, justice (and some soda) for them.


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Jambo Kenya!


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“No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning” – US President Barack Obama


President Obama dances the Lipala in Kenya.

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Sacre Verte

Check out my latest project in Kenya:TestSV_Logo


Learning with Class Six



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Book Tour

Toronto Star Books Section Saturday October 24

very honourrrred…




–> support independent CDN publishers/bookstores = that support local CDN & Indigenous authors: 






& honoured to be invited to International Festival of Authors Toronto this year:


a little interview, click:


looking forward to Words Aloud 2015 in Durham Ontario – reading at Sunday main event with super cool writers Mark Truscott and Armand Garnet Ruffo

& reading with a group of great Exile+ writers @ The Bookshelf in Guelph:GaylieLaunch


<–independent bookstore supportive of CDN authors





good fall, all.small sunflower

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Two baby orphans at the elephant orphanage in Nairobi. They’re both small. The little fellow on the right – less than 4 feet tall. At the orphanage just two months, he was very quiet.  He stared at the ground most of the time.

Watch this documentary, Warlord’s of Ivory.  30,000 African elephants die every year because they are hunted for ivory. BBC: Why is ivory so popular in China? 

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Sword Dance

Jambo. In Kenya with my first book of poetry: Sword Dance (Exile, awesome publisher)vgimage-sd


jambo…tembo. elephant orphan at the sanctuary in nairobi. this little fellow was found fallen down a well after his mother was killed for ivory tusks. click the pic to read more about ivory poaching.

two small orphans at the sanctuary. elephants are very quiet animals.

two small orphans at the sanctuary. elephants are very quiet animals.

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Book Launch


Monday, June 22, 6:00 pm Windup Bird Café 

382 College Street, Toronto

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Eco-Justice Conference Detroit

Poetic Justice: Walking the Talk in Eco-Education

In the empty lot – a place
not natural, but wild – among
the trash of human absence,
the slough and shamble
of the city’s seasons, a few
old locusts bloom.
(Wendell Berry, “The Wild”)

In these times, it is worth remembering, we can still create, co-create, or if necessary, re-create, the value of things.

We know the facts of climate change… How to respond? The idea is simple: When we take students and scholars out of their classroom cages, minds and hearts open to the larger ecological, social and cultural world around them – a world that now desperately needs open hearts and minds. The session will begin with the session leader briefly sharing her latest work in a decade old project to engage students in reflective, ethics-based eco-education. From there, this walking-talking nature immersion session collectively explores mind-opening climate change education in light of heart-burning, soulful, mature, poetic reflection. Our radical goal is to talk, listen, take note, write, and find hope in the only place change ever begins: from the ground up.

As Masanobu Fukuoka, the founder of organic rice farming in Japan, says in The One Straw Revolution:

Artists and poets must also help to decide whether or not it is permissible to use chemicals in farming….

No fertilizers, no watering, no weeding. . . just throw the seeds in clay bowls. Then do nothing. Just leave everything to nature

So, come on.  Let’s do nothing, together!

Please bring a pencil, something to write with, and a passion for the great outdoors. (No experience necessary).

Time/Day: Saturday March 21 2015 10:10 am

Location: EMU Porter Lobby then the Great Michigan Outdoors.

Update: Our session evolved into a collaboration session with Jussi Mäkelä of the Art-Eco Project, Tampere, Finland and his work, An Oak: A Phenomenological Approach to the Concept of True Capital. For this, Jussi found some Michigan Oak,  a bee-hive, brought some copper wire from Finland and made a thought provoking sculpture exploring eco-justice and gender.  Thanks for the way-open discussion with the Finlanders representing. Super cool.

detroit art wallPhoto: Detroit Heidelberg Project


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Grace Gallacher Gaylie (Tobin)

This post is in honour of my mother, Grace Gallacher Gaylie (Tobin), born in Glasgow, Scotland, passed away in Vancouver Canada, September 10, 2014.


I chose this photo for my mother’s funeral prayer card.  Here my mother sits in her wheelchair: strong, eager, happy, well loved – and looking forward.  In other words, real beauty.  Total authenticity.  Totally human.  That was my mother’s spirit. She was a true Glaswegian-Celtic woman: bold in generosity, constantly encouraging of young people, and kind, loving, and most of all, genuine, to every person and living entity she encountered.  My mother was gentle — though never weak.  My mother worked in Glasgow factories as a teenager, then in Woolworth’s in Glasgow and London (she had a fun sense of fashion and style).  She also had a grounded sense of humour, and good Glaswegian-Irish wit.

My mother, my friend, my mentor – my first teacher.

My mother was also known for her deep, genuine, spirituality and social justice ethics, which she put into practice throughout her life, as a labourer, as a mother, and as a worker with the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement and other Vancouver charities.

My mother’s soulful respect for life, and death, was with her to her last breath.

My mother always appreciated a song, simply sung:



Amazing Grace




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