Not so long ago I was reminded of a book my Mom used to read me as a child: “Fortunately,” by Remy Charlip (briefly renamed “What Good Luck! What Bad Luck!” for a few years as well). It tells the tale of a young boy invited to a party and the series of misfortunes he experiences on his way there.
It’s that time of year again, when we take a little holiday break by rerunning a seasonal staple. Until we cross paths again in the new year, best wishes to you for a warm and happy holiday season.
In the realm of supply chains and distribution logistics, Santa’s the guy. Even FedEx and UPS, the recognized leaders in the field, fail to measure up against the benchmarks he maintains, year after year, without fail.
So you’d presumably be safe in assuming that the planning and design of his village at the North Pole would reflect a similar insistence on best practices. That it would be a model worthy of emulation — not just in terms of efficiency and productivity, but in terms of the emotional, economic and spiritual fulfillment necessary to maintain a happy and motivated workforce.
Five or so years ago, Better Cities and Towns publisher Rob Steuteville told me about Porchfest, a yearly community event taking root in his Ithaca, New York, neighborhood. The idea is simple: For one afternoon, porches throughout the community become makeshift stages, yards become venues, and people from within and beyond wander the streets, chatting, taking in music, and basically reacquainting themselves with what it means to be neighbors.
It’s grass roots, open to all, and totally free.
It was an idea ripe for emulation and I had the perfect idea where: My own, porch-laden neighborhood in Decatur, Georgia. So I added it to my list of things I need to get right on, then promptly neglected it for the next five years.
Thankfully, over the course of those years, a lot of other communities had similar inclinations — and better follow-through. Now, there are upwards of 40 Porchfests across the continent and the list keeps growing.
Being back in the south for a couple weeks has given me a chance to reflect on the Adventure Canada Heart of the Arctic expedition. The biggest imprints are three things: the inclusivity of the people, the vastness of the land, and the need to continue to do all we can to develop in compact settlement patterns as one of the many things that can help keep us from further damaging earth’s cooling system. The images on my mind for today happen to be from the one day of our expedition that did not upload successfully, due to intermittent internet access.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
After sailing up one of the longest fjords in the world, the delightfully scenic Söndre Strömfjord, we disembarked Ocean Endeavour for the last time, to explore the community of Kangerlussuaq. One group went off for a walk on the ice cap and the other on a nature hike, before we flew out of Greenland midafternoon. We headed for Toronto, stopping in Goose Bay, Labrador, to refuel. Tomorrow, we’ll disburse to Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Israel, across the US and Canada.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We crossed the Arctic Circle at 07:37 today!
Early in the day, we landed at Itilleq, a tiny community of 97 people, set in a hollow between two hillsides. Itilleq means hollow. The tiny colorful wooden homes are a complete switch from Canada’s Arctic communities, here arranged as compactly as the stony landscape will allow.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
We docked in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, around dawn. We had successfully crossed the Davis Strait, formed 65 million years ago by a rift, thanks to a massive movement in the earth’s crust.
Our landform today was a peninsula, which is what the word “Nuuk” means, or some would say that the word means “the headland.” It’s actually a peninsula on a peninsula, at the mouth of a complex fjord system. Dominant rocks here include gneiss, schist, and basalt.
Friday, July 24, 2015
The Canadian Coast Guard has given us a strong warning to not enter Cumberland Sound due to the 9-10/10 ice. This sea ice is 9 to 10 years old, with sporadic glaciers that are much older. So we sadly didn’t make it into Pangnirtung.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Leaving Kimmerut, we headed for Baffin Bay, anchoring at Lower Savage Island just at the end of Frobisher Bay. We spent a couple hours on the zodiacs, not able to set foot on the island due to the possibility of polar bears and walrus. We were hoping to see walrus from the ship as we circumnavigated the island, and polar bear while going through the interior channels on the zodiacs.
However, luck wasn’t with us, and the only wildlife we saw were birds through a heavy fog. The interesting rock formations, sea ice, icebergs, birds, and cold Arctic air made up for it.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Kimmirut is a community of about 500 people, with the buildings clinging precipitously to the sloping landscape. The day was surprisingly warm, with a high of 14 C and sunny skies. Children were lining the shore to greet us, and their inquisitive brightness was the highlight of the day. We were the one and only passenger ship into the village this year, and almost every villager came out to spend the afternoon with us. Some of the stories the children told me were rather tough, and it clearly isn’t easy making a life here.