Oh Alberta…

3 05 2012

Alberta: Canada’s Texas; land of cowboys, oil, rednecks, truck balls, and an ultra conservative political climate. It’s not exactly a friendly place to be in if you’re a bike riding environmentally conscious radical activisty type, but still, here I am.

There’s no recession in Alberta. However, in the name of mining the tar sands, more earth has been moved than any other project in human history. To mark this, and to divert attention from the communities protesting the poisoning of their land from mining & pipelines, the city celebrates by displaying oil patch equipment in Churchill Square. I was going to take a picture with my bike in the bucket of the giant bulldozer, but there was a homeless looking dude pissing on it, and I did not want to interrupt his solitary act of protest. Now that I think about it, there was liquid inside this tire… ew.

I often think of this place as the belly of the beast. Many people escape, enriching other places with their energy and creative spark, turning other communities into friendly shores. I sometimes wonder how different it would be if all those collective efforts had been focused here, because if change can happen here, it can happen anywhere. As I read that last sentence, I shake my head and think of the recent election, and how the conservative party that has been governing this province for the last 41 years (fortyfuckingone!) promoted itself as the choice for change in the face of the even more right-wing-looney Wild Rose Party?!? This is a place that chews up and mockingly spits out people working for anything but their most selfish interests.

Click on picture to zoom in on all the juicy details. This election even got the graffiti writers riled up.

Still, there’s something about living in a hostile environment that galvanizes those working towards a more progressive community. I suspect it’s a big part of the reason that E-Ville is home to one of the oldest community bike shops in North America (now with 2 locations), why everybody knows your name when you visit Earth’s General Store, and just ask an Edmontonian about our dump.

The point of all this? Only that this place is more complex and nuanced than the superficial stereotypes, and as a reminder that there is still hope and resistance in the belly of the beast.

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