Talking tar sands in Germany

An article of mine on Canada’s tar sands, used in a conversational English textbook for German high-schoolers. It’s in a book called Canada – Dreams and Realities, part of the Schwerpunktthema Abitur Englisch series.

Suggestions for using the article include an activity where the class are divided into representatives of either the oil industry, the Canadian government or the Canadian First Nations, for a mock debate.

christmas resources from lifewords

free-christmas-resources.pngThought I’d better give a little plug to some work stuff. Every summer I end up spending a fair chunk of time working on Christmas materials, which is always a little bit strange. The lifewords christmas site for 08 is here, and it’s looking good.

The basic idea is to supply free christmas resources for churches, so we’ve got powerpoints, audio downloads, posters, invites, a rather nifty advent devotional thing, and bunch of other stuff.

We’ve also got the little story booklet, A Little Story About Something Big, written by yours truly and illustrated by very talented Japanese artist Chinatsu Sunaga.

abandoned places

Everybody likes a good ruin, but the ones we usually value tend to be old, ancient civilisations, runied abbeys. But the 20th century has given us more abandoned places than any other, the cycles of innovation, industry and obsolesence leaving us with ruins in and around our cities, empty and crumbling, foreboding and locked away. I find such places fascinating.

So does Tim Edensor, my old university lecturer, who wrote a book on the subject.

His eloquent and thought provoking take on industrial ruins is online too, in writing and in photography, here and here.

“As spaces by the side of the road, ruins can be explored for effects that talk back to the quest to create an impossibly seamless urban fabric, to the uses to which history and heritage are put, to the extensive over-commodification of places and things, to middle-class aesthetics, and to broader tendencies to fix meanings in the service of power.”