Welcome to our March 2019 issue!
This will be my last issue as editor for the Academy Quarterly Review. It has been a real pleasure for me to collaborate with the other members of the Communications Committee and our contributing writers and photographers to launch our new format. We hope that you find it as enjoyable to read as we do to create!
Gillian Long - incoming Chair for Communications - will take over as editor with the June issue. You can reach her at email@example.com
April 1 - Workshop details for 2019 / 2020 are posted
April 4 - Spring Luncheon
April 10 - Spring Talk, Innis College
April 10 - Board Meeting
April 15 - Registration for 2019/20 opens
April 15 - Facilitators' Forum, Hart House
April 15 - Volunteer Reception and Luncheon
April 17 - Spring Talk, Innis College
April 24 - Spring Talk, Innis College
May 1 - Spring Talk, Innis College
May 7 - Spring Walks begin
May 8 - Spring Talk, Innis College
May 15 - Workshop Randomization
May 15 - Spring Talk, Innis College
May 15 - Board Meeting
June 3 - Annual General Meeting, Victoria College, Alumni Hall
June 3 - Board Meeting following AGM
One hundred elegantly dressed Academy members gathered in the familiar surroundings of the Faculty Club on Thursday April 4th to celebrate the end of a long, hard winter with our annual Spring Luncheon. According to event organizer Trudi Armstrong, a recent member survey confirmed the Faculty Club as the venue of choice for Academy luncheons and that, although occasional special entertainment is pleasurable, our preference is for uninterrupted social interaction. And so it was today!
Pre-lunch drinks were enjoyed as we all mingled in the Main Lounge before moving into the Wedgwood Room for a plated meal. Vice President Doug Wilson read a brief speech of welcome on behalf of President Sharon Harris, rendered speechless by laryngitis, acknowledging the School of Continuing Studies and Knox College for their supportive relationship with the Academy. Another welcome came from Faculty Club General Manager, Leanne Pepper, who encouraged us to take advantage of their current membership specials. After that everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch, with choice of three entrees. As is usual, seating was randomly assigned to allow us to meet more people and, also as usual, the conversation was animated.
As the meal came to an end we were reminded of further opportunities to keep in touch with fellow members at the upcoming Spring Talks and weekly walks. Our thanks are due to Trudi and her Special Events team for orchestrating another thoroughly enjoyable Academy event.
submitted by Gillian Long
Looking for Home: 17 Years in the Therafields Psychotherapy Commune by Brenda Doyle
My introduction to the community that would become known as Therafields began one day in July 1966 when I met with Lea Hindley-Smith, its core founder, to talk about my need for counselling, Though I was excited about meeting her, I could have had no sense of the radical importance of that meeting for the whole of my life. Nor could Lea at that moment in her career have foretold the directions that she would take within the next few years that would in some ways turn inside out the values that her early work had embodied. Both of us were moving along an arc of our own. I badly longed for connection, for understanding, for a solid base on which to anchor my young adult self. Lea, however, was reaching the outer limits of her capacity to provide that base for the by-then hundreds of young people seeking her help.
Over the next seventeen years, I lived within the community known as Therafields which developed out of Lea’s therapy practice as it intersected with a group of religious men and women studying with theologian Greg Baum at St Michael’s, University of Toronto. My experiences there were the most important formative elements of my young adulthood
It is possible that the Therafields community which flourished in Toronto from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, is unique in its psychotherapeutic origins and focus. At its zenith the community comprised over a thousand people, many of whom lived communally in 35 large houses in Toronto’s Annex. In the country near Orangeville, Ontario, five farms and a former schoolhouse property were owned, managed, and lived in by community members. An organic garden, cared for by volunteers, produced food for the people who swelled the ranks of the regular farm group on weekends and during the summer. In the city four properties along Dupont Ave., were renovated to provide office space for individual therapists, as well as group rooms, bioenergetic rooms, and a restaurant that was also used as a locale for entertainment.
The rise and dissolution of Therafields is a classic tale of people falling in love with a charismatic leader and cleaving to her despite developing signs that she herself had lost her moorings. The outcomes were tragic for some, however it must be emphasized that the experience for the vast number of people involved was on the whole positive. People report not just difficult times but also the importance of the experience for them. They had learned more about themselves and their fellow human beings; they had met some wonderful people with whom they had developed deep friendships, and in some cases, they had learned skills which they have used in their lives since. Life’s lessons can come in quite an array of forms.
Brenda is an enthusiastic member of the Memoir Reading and Writing workshop. She hopes that the extract that she has generously shared with us here will form part of a book she is writing.
A Thought-Provoking Spring...
This year's Talks Committee presented us with a stellar lineup of Forums with something for everyone:
Backstage at Koerner Hall
Even unploughed sidewalks and extreme cold weather failed to deter enthusiastic Academy members from attending the first Forum of 2019 on January 30th – a fascinating conversation with Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts for the Royal Conservatory. As he chatted with Ernie Fallon, it was easy to see why Mehta has made such a success of his tenure as Programme Chief of Koerner Hall.
He reminisced about his early life as a hockey- playing teenager in Edmonton and Montreal, whose summers were often spent exploring the great cities of the world while his father, Zubin, was busy conducting their orchestras. Before being headhunted (three times!) for the position in Toronto, he had a career in acting in the USA and Canada, followed by another incarnation as Director of Programming at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, and a similar position in Philadelphia. All these experiences, combined with a natural easy manner and an impressive rolodex of connections with the musical world, made him the perfect choice for Toronto. He was deeply involved with fine tuning the superb new concert hall, which opened in 2009.
Clearly a jazz afficionado himself, Mehta is just as enthusiastic about all types of music. He firmly believes that no genre is better than another; there is no high or low – if it is good, it belongs. As well as the big names in music, he likes to showcase newer, but highly talented young musicians, and to tap different markets so that relatively unknown artists can sell out the house. Ernie was particularly interested in how Mehta built the jazz tribute to Oscar Peterson in 2015, with members of Peterson’s family and big name jazz pianists in attendance.
In answer to questions from the audience, we learned that Koerner Hall, despite having minimal government funding, is a $50 million company, much bigger than the AGO or ROM which have substantial funding. Koerner Hall has attracted much more talented faculty and students to the Conservatory. Its unique rush seat policy is very popular.
After sharing a variety of his experiences with different musicians in the past, he revealed some highlights of the upcoming new season. These will include the posthumous world premiere of Oscar Peterson’s African Suite, musicians as different as Dakka Brakka, a unique and crazily colourful band from Ukraine, and the peerless baritone Matthias Goerne in a double bill with Canadian pianist wunderkind, Jan Lisiecki.
In conclusion, Kennedy Marshall eloquently thanked Mervon Mehta and Ernie Fallon for their illuminating conversation. Once again the Talks Committee is to be congratulated for arranging such an interesting afternoon.
Jeanette Clark and Gillian Long
The Rap: Reading African Canadian Experiences Via Poetry
Janet Tyrell, a member of the Academy, introduced our guest speaker, Professor George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-2017).
Attendance at this forum to mark Black History Month was small due to the weather; however, the guest speaker, Professor Clarke, kept the crowd enthralled for the complete two hours with his engaging style.
An Africadian (Afro-Acadian) poet, author, playwright, and academic, Professor Clarke, who holds numerous degrees and honourary degrees, is currently a Professor of English at the University of Toronto. He came from Windsor, Nova Scotia, born in 1960.
Professor Clarke held our attention for two hours reading from his books, ‘Canticles 1 and 2’. His final poem referred to a visit by Duke Ellington to Africville, which was a small community located in the southern shore of Bedford Basin, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from the early 1800s to the 1960s. Duke Ellington visited his in-laws there, the parents of his second wife, Mildred Dixon. Professor Clarke read his poem as if he was playing a musical instrument.
Also, he read from 2 of his anthologies, ‘Fire on the Water’, an anthology of black Nova Scotian writing and ‘Eyeing the North Star’, an anthology mixing prose, poetry and drama, and including the works of established writers and new voices, writing in English as well as French. Professor Clarke gave us background to the poems and the poets. One poem from the Anthology related to the arrest of a young black girl for jaywalking.
He expressed his feelings particularly about the treatment of the black community by the police.
Kennedy Marshall, from the Talks Committee, thanked our speaker.
Preparing For 2 Degrees Celsius: Science, Planning and Action in the Region of Peel
The wonderful March 13 Academy Forum was presented by Linda Tu’s daughter, Christine Tu. Christine is the Director of the Office of Climate Change and Energy Management for the Region of Peel and her presentation was thoughtful, fact-filled with excellent graphics, and challenging.
Christine showed us a real-time climate clock which monitors the time we have left before the earth’s temperature increases by 1.5° C, a point after which we will have little control of climate change. The clock gives us 15 years. After telling us that science continues to find conclusive evidence of man-made climate change, Christine talked of the effects of global warming: ocean acidification, sea level rise, desertification, Arctic sea ice loss, and increases in hurricanes, flooding and forest fires. She stated that “abnormal is the new normal” and warned that the world needs a reduction of 45% in the burning of fossil fuels by the year 2030 if we are to have any control over the changes in climate.
There are possible scientific solutions to the problem of climate change such as fertilizing the oceans with nutrients to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or reflecting the sun’s light back into space, but we don’t know what the unintended consequences of these and other such techniques would be. A much better solution is to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.
The acceleration in climate change is disturbing, but Christine left us with some optimism by describing the leadership of the 16 year-old Swedish student, Greta Sundburg, who is mobilizing young people around the world to get active in the fight for action against climate change.
Christine urges all of us to go on the website of the new Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) where the government will post notices for policies, acts and regulations relating to the environment in Ontario. It provides a portal for public input into these issues and the website suggests that our comments are welcome. The new PC government is moving very fast with changes and we need to remember that as residents of Ontario we have the right to express our opinions.
submitted by Mary Doucette
Laughter is the Best Medicine
The last forum in the current series – Laughter is the Best Medicine- was held on Wednesday, March 27 at Knox College. The lecture room was packed to the rafters; it was standing room only on a sunny, spring-like day.
Thea Herman, chair of the Talks Committee, gave an update on the Academy’s Spring Talks starting on April 10 at Innis College. She then introduced Michael Cole, the facilitator of the Academy’s comedy workshop for 2018-19.
Michael spoke of his long career in media and comedy; time spent teaching at Ryerson University; his involvement in the Muskoka art and theatre scene; his experience and friendship with two Canadian comedians – Ron James and the late Dave Broadfoot; and his admiration for the satirical group The Royal Canadian Air Farce.
Michael has also been involved in using comedy as a positive tool at the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and has won an award for his work in this field. He noted that many comedians suffer from depression, and comedy is often their coping mechanism.
He talked about Canadian writer, economics professor and humorist Stephen Leacock, who used his humour to expose hypocrisy. Professor Leacock hated pretension and social climbing and the way the Canadian upper classes tried to emulate the British class system. He felt that humour can be a strong tool to bring attention to matters that have to be addressed. Leacock loved the eccentrics in our society and commented, “at least we know they are alive.”
Michael observed that comedians are often loners, observers on the outside looking in. He suggested we practice a humorous approach to get through life’s difficult issues, to assist with the obstacles that come with the aging process. Why not add humour to our list of senses? Good humour using exaggeration and puns brings us together; bad humour, such as using certain groups as the butt of the joke, makes people feel persecuted.
The highlight of today’s session was a series of engaging performances by the following members of the Comedy workshop, who took the stage to amuse and entertain:
Michael Cole, Pete Broadley, Melanie Reeve, Susan Klein, Randal Holloway, April Wall, Nancy Sewards, Laura Tyson, Priscilla Platt, and Ian Darragh.
The budding comedians all did a fabulous job; their own unique voices coming through in their writing and delivery.
Ian Darragh thanked Michael Cole for his inspiration and leadership, and the workshop participants gave short comments on why they took the comedy workshop and what they learned.
A Forum that has us chuckling well after it is over is the perfect way to end an afternoon. Thanks Comedy workshop and Talks Committee!!
Janet Broadley and Ian Darragh
Coming up next - Spring Talks at Innis!
We tend to take for granted all of the ‘bells and whistles’ that the Tech Team installs and maintains for us each year; equipment that allows us to enhance our presentations with high quality visuals, music and videos. I thought that it might be interesting to take a look back at a Tech Team piece from the Academy Newsletter of November 2001. It makes you really aware of how far we have come in a relatively short timeframe.
“On Tuesday, September 26, Bill Hall, Peter Blathwayt and Ken Iverson mounted a show and a discussion of aids to making presentations.
They covered how members of the Academy can use the aids which are available …. (flip charts, whiteboards) as well as other aids that can be obtained from Victoria (VCEs, slide projectors, multimedia projector). This workshop has had a practical outcome: Bill made plans for both rooms to show where the electrical outlets are and where projectors may be placed for best viewing.”
It is with sadness that we say a fond farewell to Academy member Chris Gort, who died peacefully on April 2nd after struggling with ALS since 2017.
Chris joined the Academy in 2013 on the recommendation of his wife Elaine who joined in 2011. He co-facilitated From Page to Screen (books adapted to film) and Socio-Political Feature Films while Elaine co-facilitated Memoir. Chris was a valuable member of the Architecture workshops where he gave illuminating insights from his background as an engineer. His technical skills were always welcome in workshops as was his openness to differing opinions.
Chris managed the increasing challenges of his illness with a positive attitude and forward-thinking planning, adapting his home and cottage so that he could enjoy family life as long as possible. He and his family have been an inspiration. They enjoyed extraordinary extended family and community support over the period of his illness. His voice was the last to go and Chris dictated email updates which he circulated to anyone interested.
A celebration of his life was held on March 24th attended by over 200 family and friends including family travelling from the Netherlands. Chris is survived by his wife Elaine, his sons David and Paul and their wives, and his grandchildren Em, Shane, Stellan & Saskia
We know that the members of our Economist Reader workshops are a passionate and dedicated bunch. They do love their Economists and enjoy reading them wherever in the world they may be.
Below, workshop member Dan McCabe catches up on the news in the Dead Sea.
Are you a dedicated Economist Reader? Let us see where you read your copy.
Thanks to the work of Colin Gordon of the Academy Jazz workshop, on February 11 of this year we were treated to a special presentation by Steve Wallace, one of Canada’s most accomplished and best-known bass players.
Steve admits he is “hurtling toward senior citizenship” himself, and was intrigued by the idea of the Academy. Steve says he prepared notes for his presentation, not knowing what to expect from the Academy audience, and brought his bass so he could demonstrate some of his ideas. He also chose recorded examples of key bass innovators who he felt would enrich his presentation. Seeing the enjoyment the audience was getting from his music, he admits that after about five minutes into his talk he relaxed, and abandoned some of his original game-plan. He says he realized that “jazz is not a trendy flavour-of-the-month music, but one which you can savour for your whole life.” He calls it “an anti-aging renewal of the mind.”
Although he originally thought of his Academy gig as a chance to educate Academy members, he was delighted to find that the experience educated him. Steve writes: “Thus do we all learn, by ad-hoc sharing.” Not a surprise to experienced Academy members. He also admits that after playing a 1927 cut of the brilliant bassist Sidney Brown, it occurred to him that the “new stuff” you may teach or learn doesn’t have to be contemporary to be relevant.
Steve’s experience at Knox College appears to have been a rosy one. However, getting into and out of the building, he found the challenges of bringing a large bass on his back through the doors of Knox College led him to invent “scathing new combinations of swear words” and was a dose of reality about the aging process.
For those who missed this event, there is a complete writeup by Steve in the March 2019 edition of Wholenote magazine, a local publication that covers music in the greater Toronto area.
Submitted by Mary Doucette
In case you missed it....
THE ACADEMY WILL BE MOVING — but not until next year!
As we all know, our Academy is a very special organization — and we are currently in a unique situation because of our success.
At last count we had 433 members, the most ever, and these individuals participate actively in our many workshops. The Membership Committee estimates that this year’s registration will surpass our current members as more retirees seek out stimulating learning experiences.
We are bursting at the seams and our numbers are so large that not all workshops can be accommodated in one location. If you attended the last forum on March 27th, you were one of eighty people squeezed into a room meant for twenty-five!
Similarly, Knox has grown considerably in recent years with the addition of two new and popular programs. They also have a need for more space and cannot give us the additional room we require.
We very recently received official notice that, according to our annual Memorandum of Understanding with Knox, the Academy would have to depart from the college by December 31st of this year in order for Knox to accommodate its programs. Making such a transition within a short period would be a great challenge and happily Knox consented to extend our agreement until the end of the academic year in 2020. We are extremely pleased with Knox’s understanding and co-operation as this gives us sufficient time to find a suitable new location.
Knox College has been our home for the last sixteen years and we have greatly enjoyed being part of the Knox community. However, by the fall of 2020 we will be housed in another location in or near the U of T campus where our ever-expanding needs can be better met. To that end, Brian Gaston, our Past President, has organized a committee which is actively engaged in seeking a new home for the Academy.
Our 2019-2020 program will be at Knox College as usual, however we will say “good-bye” and “thank-you” to our friends at Knox on April 30th, 2020. We hope our new accommodation the following September will be a permanent home for the Academy for many years to come.
The Search Committee and executive will keep you informed so please stay tuned. If you know of any appropriate locations, or if you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
President, Academy for Lifelong Learning
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