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“Uncertainty is the Word of the Moment” by Steve Bynoe

September 3, 2020

VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION:

Hi, I’m Steve. You may have seen me on other profile segments on Road to Possible and I’m just here talking about life in the pandemic of 2020.

I’m a school teacher and it’s been a rough adjustment for not only myself, but also my students and my students’ parents, because not only is there the factor of isolation and the uncertainty of going outside and not quite sure what precautions to take to remain safe, but also how do we educate our kids moving forward?

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School ended for me and for my class right at the end of March Break and we hadn’t been back. We had distance learning, which was an adjustment. It was difficult for a lot of students not having the interpersonal contact with their teachers and it was the same for me. I missed my kids and I know that they missed me. By learning only through that portal, it’s really difficult to reach the kids and the specific needs that each one would have. So if you’re a hands-on learner, if you’re someone that needs a teacher over your shoulder, that aspect of learning is taken away from those students and then they’ve got to adjust.

A lot of the stresses that teachers go through every day are then placed upon the parents. They not only have to educate their kids, but they also have to then get through their daily lives and their work as well. So it’s just been pretty stressful all the way around. Then with the uncertainty of school opening again in September, even though the levels of COVID infection seem to have been decreasing in the city, it’s still a challenge moving forward.

Uncertainty is the word of the moment at this point, especially when it comes to school. There are many theories on how to reintegrate the students come September, but with social distancing and not having any place to house the kids, it’s going to be really difficult to find a way to have this be a successful venture. But the powers that be have their ideas, the teachers have their ideas and hopefully they’ll be able to come to some sort of an agreement that makes it safe for everyone involved.

The 2020 pandemic has had far and wide ranging effects on not only people, but also businesses as well and for me personally, outside of teaching, I also have my self-publishing business. So you’ve got comics and unfortunately, they were shut down for those who are in the professional ranks with an event called Pencils Down where a lot of the publishers stopped publishing during the early stages of the pandemic. What that did though was it allowed independents to continue to work and develop their ideas.

I was one of those people where I was able to kind of take a bad situation and make it as positive as possible. I used a lot of the time where I was isolated, away from everybody else and I was able to put that into developing and continuing some of my ideas. While it has been a shut down for movie productions and some comic book companies in terms of producing content, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. This year has been used to create your ideas and then hopefully get them into the marketplace for next year.

The life blood of any artist is the environment around them. So being in Stage 3 here in Kensington, in Toronto with the sounds and the people, the environment, cars, it’s just something that feeds the soul and also feeds your muse. I’m just really happy that we’re at this point and hopefully we can all work together as a community, government, industry, as well as citizens of the city and the country to make sure that we can beat COVID and get back to life as we knew before.

Follow Steve’s Journey – Click Here


Mardi Daley on Youth Mental Health During COVID-19

June 26, 2020

In this video, Mardi Daley shares her insights about the impact of COVID-19 and social isolation on youth mental health.

We encourage everyone to check in with the support groups and resources available in your neighbourhood. Take care of yourself and stay safe.

Click here for more on Mardi’s Road to Possible



“Last Selfie, As the End is Revealed” – by Howard Fox

April 15, 2020
This oil painting by Howard Fox is called "Last Selfie, As the End is Revealed." In the painting, there are three young women dressed in trendy dresses and mini-skirts. They look tiny as they're standing in a large, ornate palace ballroom. They smile and pose for a selfie. The wall behind them is a giant-sized puzzle of beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds. But unfortunately, this puzzle is incomplete - there are several missing pieces, forming a large patch in the middle. In this empty patch, a skyline of dark buildings and stormy sky is revealed. It appears these buildings are bursting into red, yellow and orange flames. The sky above fills with thick, black smoke.
“Last Selfie, As the End is Revealed”. oil on canvas, 100 X 75 c.

The inspiration for this work was a chance meeting with a number of Japanese girls in Hong Kong Harbor. I was sitting on a bench viewing the city of Hong Kong, a mass of skyscrapers built up against the green mountain. Beautiful.

A group of Japanese tourists, armed with cameras gathered before me. They beckoned me to come and photograph them, all together, smiling, and peering into the camera.

I stood a few meters from them, as to get them and Hong Kong together for posterity. The girls motioned for me to come closer, to take a photo of them from close up. I pointed out that their heads made it impossible to see Hong Kong behind them.

They said that was ok, and I took the shot.

I asked them where else had they visited? We sat down and they took out photographs of their travels. All the pictures were close-ups of them, taken by other amiable folks. What was most interesting was there was absolutely no way to figure out where the photos were taken, since they were all close-ups of the young ladies. Whatever landmark they had visited could not be seen.

In this case and apropos to our current dilemma, is the appearance of the “End of Days” in the background. As the girls focus on themselves, the landscape and blue sky behind them, becomes a puzzle, its pieces falling and revealing a world on fire!

This work is meant to be an act of humor, and child-friendly.


Peace and Perseverance – by Edward Heeley

April 10, 2020

During this period of Passover and Good Friday / Easter enveloped in this deadly pandemic stressing all our human resources, I’d like to share this painting and thoughts….

Painting of a blue, God-like figure lifting a man from the ground. They are in a large grassy field with two wooden crucifixion crosses behind them. The sky in the background is a deep stormy blue with wispy white-grey clouds.

I am not a religious person. I am, however, a spiritual person. The painting is from Havana, Cuba. What resonates with me is the universality in the characters and the simple dynamic of assistance and support overcoming the torturous, murderous, terrorizing crucifixion crosses.

I wish everyone health and safety, of course. A profound, human, spiritual bonding within all this social isolation and distancing can evolve, moving us all forward into a more humanitarian existence. Peace and perseverance to all of us….


Support the Twins and Mark

March 11, 2020

Twins, Alexandria and Sebastian are on a playground sitting side-by-side on a large swing and smiling.

Alexandria and Sebastian were born prematurely, 2 ½ months before their due date. They’ve both had to deal with a number of major health issues since birth. Mark, their dad has been doing his best trying to juggle their appointments while raising them on his own. He’s devoted to keeping them healthy and happy, but the past few months have been difficult.

After much encouragement from his family and friends, Mark has started a GoFundMe campaign. He says “I’ve been told that sometimes you can’t take the world on by yourself and you sometimes have to ask for help. Today is the day I swallow my pride and ask for help. I don’t care about me when it comes to making their lives easier at any cost.”

Please take a look at his fundraiser and donate if you can:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/1wpcx7mh2o

3-picture montage of Mark, Alexandria and Sebastian.

We’ve known Mark for a long time. He’s a warm, friendly, caring individual who cares deeply for his children. We’re really rooting for him and the twins. We’re also profiling them on RtP.

Leave a comment below to show your support.


Blog with Babz #7 – What Are You Fighting For in 2020?

January 1, 2020

We want to know what you’re fighting for this year, your hopes and your dreams! Share with us in the comments below.


Accessibility Matters!

November 1, 2019

Cartoon of 2 men in front of computer. The caption says: "But my website is accessible. See the little handrail icons on it?"© Jerry King 2014, webdesignerdepot.com

At RtP, we want to make sure our content is fully accessible! Here’s what we’re already doing:

1) Closed captions on all videos and all platforms (website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

2) People with vision disabilities can listen to our Talkies like a podcast through our website or YouTube playlists.

3) Some of the Talkies include pictures, but they just reinforce what the profile is speaking about. We don’t add b-roll or images that give new meaning or change the context of what is being said.

4) We use Arial font on our website, which is considered to be one of the most accessible fonts.

5) We’ve simplified our website navigation for direct access to the Talkies, profiles, blogs, etc.

6) Once we transition to a more in-depth web series or network series, all episodes will be offered with closed captions and described video.

7) We’re continuing to apply feedback from people with disabilities.

Is anyone having difficulty with our website or videos? How can we make it easier for you?

Please leave us a comment, or email your ideas and suggestions to roadtopossible@gmail.com


Don’t be Silent, Don’t be Disengaged – by Edward Heeley

(Introduction by Babz the Navigator)

June 30, 2019

BABZ:

A friend recently lost a close friend to an accidental fentanyl overdose and according to his mother, he had been contending with his mental health issues for a long time. I encourage you to take a few moments and read their story. Ask questions, be vigilant, reach out.


EDWARD:

The summer is upon us. The visibility of the homeless, the less fortunate, people with mental health and addiction issues becomes more acute.

Two police officers recently saved two young teenagers with Narcan who had been doing cocaine laced with fentanyl.

The fetanyl crisis is going to get worse. These deadly crystals are expanding by being mixed with a widening range of recreational drugs. From heroin to now even marijuana and everything in between.

We just want everyone to be vigilant, safe and aware of family members and friends.

Don’t be silent – help in whatever way you can… Communication is the beginning and most important 1st step.

Last year, I lost a close friend in Ben, 22 yrs old and a terrific young man to an accidental fentanyl overdose. We are still grieving and dealing with the loss, as are his family and friends.

Here is what Ben’s mom wrote:

(Originally posted on the Stella’s Place website: https://stellasplace.ca/whatwouldbensay/)

Ben died in Toronto on April 16, 2018 at 22, due to accidental Fentanyl poisoning.

Ben had no drug or alcohol issues in high school in Halifax, was an honour student, took music lessons, had part-time jobs and then went to Ryerson’s Media Production program on a scholarship. He worked weekends at the Toronto YMCA as a lifeguard and swim teacher. He loved staying fit. He was handsome, funny, smart and charming, but also impulsive and at times, tempestuous.

We now know from Ben’s notebooks, browser history and his friends that he experimented widely with drugs in Toronto. There is no evidence of addiction, but he tried LSD, cocaine, MDMA, opiates, mushrooms, and was a cannabis user. Once or twice a month, an acquaintance provided a pill from a parent’s Percocet prescription. He and a buddy bought a jug of Etizolam. These substances were just a click or text away.

We saw no sign of any of this.

We are a loving, stable family with close ties; he came home to Halifax three times a year, and we visited him in Toronto. When he had a problem or worry, he shared it and could count on our love and support.

But in the last year of his life, he was searching, and became less communicative. He left school to try his hand at music and art. Then he left the YMCA to work in a downtown restaurant. He told us he hoped a busier job would help with his growing anxiety.

He had tried traditional counseling but ended it when he left school and was off our health plans. He didn’t want us to pay, but then did not use his own YMCA health plan. He assured us he had all the tools he needed, that he was meditating and exercising.

But having the tools and using them are two different things. According to his phone history, in late March 2018, Ben bought an opiate via text. He bought from the same individual 4 or 5 times between March 23 and April 14. Even close friends had no idea he was doing this. The final purchase killed him. He was alone in his bedroom, with headphones on.

How could this happen? We’ve turned ourselves inside out to figure that out, and what we missed as parents. Maybe because he was anxious, because he was searching, because he was adventurous and creative, because drugs were common in the social group and music he loved. Perhaps just because it was available: he was vulnerable and could easily satisfy an impulse. Or maybe experimentation had evolved to something else.

When he was a teenager in Halifax, Ben was independent and responsible. In Toronto, he never missed work and paid his own bills. Days before he was poisoned, he proudly texted his dad that he completed his own taxes for the first time, and “felt like an adult.” He was in touch with an ex-girlfriend; he told her he was tired of his anxiety running his life, and would explore counselling options at Stella’s Place. He bought a money order for first and last month’s rent on a new shared apartment.

Things were looking up, but he then bought a drug that he had no idea was laced with Fentanyl. The coroner told us he didn’t have a chance; the drug had 7 times the lethal dose of this poison.

Ben’s story is important because he wanted to go to Stella’s but never got there.

His death tells us that anxiety, mood disorders, and substance abuse can affect anyone. And yes, tainted drugs stole the opportunity to work through a difficult phase of life. The risk for vulnerable young people is so high in the Fentanyl age. No second chances.

But there’s something else: He lied to the people he loved.

We believe he was trying to protect us, but really we just lost a chance to help. On a Skype call one night, he told us: “I carry a lot of guilt and shame.” He said the reason was that he felt he should have been working harder on his music, should be more focused. He told us, without telling us.

He texted a close friend a few weeks before he died. He said he was going through a rough time and was tempted to self-medicate. She offered love, help and support but he laughed off his previous text, said he was just fine.

This was a pattern with friends. Reach out, mention drugs or anxiety, and then say he was just joking, that he was okay.

Guilt and shame, and perhaps pride, kept our son from getting the help and support he needed. He was so very hard on himself.

Ben did not make it to Stella’s and it breaks our hearts. We want to help other young people access these resources, and to encourage them to do so. Most of our Stella’s donations came from Ben’s own bank account. He worked hard for that money; he would be so proud to help others.

We think he would tell them:

Please reach out. Please accept help and support, and don’t wait.

https://stellasplace.ca


A Canada Without Pride or Justice – by Edward Heeley 

June 10, 2019

The final Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report has finally been presented, with an extensive set of critical recommendations. Over the last week, I’ve had many discussions and debates on whether the violent actions targeted towards Indigenous women was a genocide or not. People seem to be focused on that issue rather than the reality of the specific, targeted, racist, fatal violence, strategically targeted on these women. I believe it’s a genocide. It’s time for the current government to do an immediate apology as the government in Australia did and needs to immediately set up a fund to assist the living victims. The government must also implement all of the recommendations of the report.

All violence against women is totally unacceptable. Write your local MPs and Prime Minister to make your views known in advocating the necessary changes.


Blog with Babz #6 – RtP Career App

May 6, 2019

We’re surging ahead with our educational Road to Possible Career App. Through a diverse collection of video interviews, the intention is to provide an alternative resource for high school students / youth on knowing who you are and providing guidance on how to discover what you love and want to do.

RtP is working with a downtown high school as a beta site. Students and teachers are watching the selected video clips from RtP’s extensive profile list. These videos illustrate the process each person followed in determining their career. We’ll be getting a lot of feedback from them in order to improve and create more complete resources.

We’ve got an extensive selection of people that accurately represent the North American population. It’s completely inclusive. The objective is to create an accessible resource for dialogue, growth, discovery, inspiration and self-awareness.

We’ll keep you posted! And remember, you can add your thoughts, experiences and responses on our blog. We want to engage in dialogue with you, not just a one-way monologue… So let’s all hear from you!


Blog with Babz #5 – Moving Forward

April 8, 2019

Adversity is faced by all of us. None of us escape those confrontations with obstacles.

Sometimes it’s people or institutions, even objects. Always an interruption or block. Sometimes seeming insurmountable, overwhelming defeat… But we usually find a way through or around or over / under. Our will to move forward always seems to get us through… Always with support, always with resources. Never alone.

RtP’s profiles share some of their adversity. We don’t want to exploit or be melodramatic. So far it seems to be working… Finding the right balance of depth without invasive exposure or indiscretion.

We hope that these profiles provide a source of positive motivation, humour and above all, empathy.