Sept 18, 2014 live broadcast on Windsor, Ontario’s downtown: Whose Downtown?

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor
Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Windsor, Ontario is a Canadian border city across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan. The city centre suffers from an over abundance of bars and clubs that heavily cater to young Americans taking advantage of a lower Ontario drinking age than in Michigan.

Bars seem to have preferential treatment when zoning issues come up and like thousands of other cities in Canada, downtown cores have been hollowed out because of suburbanization and subsequent big box developments on the fringes of suburbia.

The main theme of the broadcast was: ‘whose downtown is it?’, and a selection of voices, from a coffee shop owner, a condo resident, a renter, panhandlers and other low income people can be heard.

From Left: Howard Pawley, Mireille Coral, Ron Balla, Mike Longmoore, Robin, & Adele Pawley
From Left: Howard Pawley, Mireille Coral, Ron Balla, Mike Longmoore, Robin, & Adele Pawley (Photo: Paul Chislett)

The broadcast was inspired by a conversation I had some months ago with Ron Balla, owner of The Coffee Exchange, on how difficult it is to make a go of it as an independent business owner in the downtown, given the predominance of bars and clubs and a Starbucks and Tim Horton’s nearby.

The consensus was that independent businesses meeting the needs of Windsorites while providing a living wage and decent working conditions for workers will ensure a thriving downtown that others outside the city would want to visit. To get there means working on a vision beyond the short range thinking of bar owners and city planners cashing in on state and provincial regulations on the drinking age.

The 1 hour version was broadcast Sept 18th on CJAM 99.1 and was co-hosted and conceived by Paul Chislett, Host of The ShakeUp which airs Fridays at 4PM, and All in a Day’s Work co-host Andrew Nellis (airs Thursdays at 8PM.:

Lawrence Wittner on the nuclear disarmament movement

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor
Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Aug 6th marked 69 years since the US dropped the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima. Ever since, the world has lived with the threat of nuclear destruction and all the dangers that go with the research and development of nuclear weapons. Even the peaceful uses of nuclear power have dire consequences for the planet with nuclear waste and the possibility of bomb making from nuclear material.

On Aug 6 in Royal Oak, Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History Emeritus at State University of New York/Albany spoke on the need for the abolition of nuclear weapons and how peace activists have managed to help save the planet from the horrors of a nuclear war – so far…

He is the author of  the trilogy: Resisting the BombConfronting the Bomb  and  Toward Nuclear AbolitionHe is a Peace Action Board member.

I spoke with Prof.  Wittner on The ShakeUp on August 1st:

With the world seeming to lurch toward an ever more violent future, Wittner just published a piece in The World Post

After summing up the conflict in Ukraine and the recent bloody outrage in Gaza, Wittner notes:

This aggressive use of military force is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, it’s been par for the course throughout the history of nations and, before that, the history of competing territories. It’s what brought the world to the brink of total disaster during World Wars I and II.

What is new is the dawning recognition that the world can no longer continue down this destructive path — that the competition among nations must be handled within the framework of an international security system. After all, there is no reason to assume that any individual nation can divorce itself from its own special “interests” and adopt an impartial stance when it comes to world affairs. Despite the claims of rabid nationalists and theocrats, God has not decreed that their nation should rule the world. Instead, an institution representing all nations should speak for the international community.

It’s pretty clear that the global neoliberal experiment is a disaster: for working people, the environment, and especially for non-Western cultures. The neoliberal agenda is the continuation of colonialist expansion driven by corporations bent on owning the very land, air, and water that should be held in common for all.

As Wittner points out, “…the nations of the world spend $1.75 trillion a year on war and preparations for war”. The Cold War may be over, but the threat of an all out global war is a never ending threat to us all.

We need a global peace movement led by the working class and a re-vitalized United Nations where nations can act in concert for the common good of all citizens – not just corporate entities.