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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

Tom Kennedy, founder of The Third Market, and events organiser for
my Ottawa and Montreal speaking tours.

CANADA - Kitchener (Wk.13 of 16 weeks)
Week 46 of World Tour

Ministers, Monks and Mynahs

Blessing Mynah Birds

After Easter, Tom Kennedy had organized a 4 day speaking tour for me in Ottawa, with a one day stop in Tamworth. But first, he wanted me to meet Rev. Lindsay King in Toronto … and I’m glad I did.

Lindsay had advocated the use of community currencies way back in the 60’s, long before LETS was thought of. He was even interviewed on radio regarding his radical ideas. But being radical has always been the way of Rev Lindsay King. His web site at http://www.FLFcanada.com shows a photo with this caption …

‘Let’s agree to disagree agreeably.’

In 1974, his photo, with 2 mynah birds, was on the front page of the Toronto Sun Newspaper, and also featured in many other newspapers worldwide. Lindsay showed me the newspaper clipping and related the story to me.

He had asked his church if he could bless and celebrate the fact that 2 pet mynahs, belonging to the new Mynah Restaurant, were already mated, and for life. This was as a result of a promotional approach from the owners of the restaurant which was opening in Toronto, but would also give his church much free publicity in the process. As mynahs usually pair up for life, he thought it wouldn't be a problem. He even had hopes of holding the blessing-event in Nathan Phillips Square, certain to attract upto 1,500 curious on-lookers.

But his church opposed the idea. This didn't stop him from getting in the newspapers anyway, which announced that these mynahs, unfortunately, would not be blessed after all. But in typical Rev. Lindsay King style, Lindsay gave the birds his unofficial blessing anyway.

This story is still being told around the world 30 years later, which certainly shows the power of an acted-parable. And with the passing of time, minds have changed. Last winter, the United Church Observer – the national magazine of the UC – published an article, with a picture, of a minister blessing a number of animals.

Rev. Lindsay King served with the United Church for 40 years, being ordained in 1953 and retiring in 1993 at age 63. He founded the New Canadian Theology – Unitheism, and is now actively involved with the Family Life Foundation (FLF) which welcomes people from all faiths.

Karash … Buddhist Monk

That night I gave my usual LETS presentation to a small audience in Tamworth. Half of them were already members of Tom’s Third Market group, and the others were interested guests. Afterwards, Tom drove me the farm of Karash, a Canadian carpenter who’d also become a Buddhist monk, where I’d be staying for the night.

The house I was staying in was massive. Three floors of huge rooms, all at various stages of completion. Karash had been building his house for the last 15 years, but now at age 56, he was reluctant to keep at it with the same passion as when he started.

“I’ll put myself into an early grave if I continue to work as hard as I did for the last 15 years”, he said.

His Swedish wife, Margherita, cooked a wonderful breakfast for us the following morning. And I had my very first taste of St. John’s Wort Tea. I know the name is off-putting, but I can’t help trying things at least once. Tom had also mentioned my play to them, so for their amusement I squeezed in a short performance of my Homer monologue (see http://www.jamestaris.com/ebook-TheGloryOfAthens.htm).
Then after signing the visitor’s book and receiving a stone crystal as a parting gift, Tom and I headed off for Ottawa.

Dead Skunk, Groundhogs and Hare Krishna

On the way we passed a sea-plane which had been converted to a lake-skimmer by fixing a propeller to the back of it. I got Tom to go back and take a look at a dead porcupine on the road. But it turned out to be a dead skunk, causing me to start humming ‘Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road’ (by Loudon Wainwright III), although, thankfully, this skunk wasn’t ‘stinkin’ to high heaven’.

As you must know by now, I love to catch glimpses of wildlife, so I was pleased to see a wild turkey walk off the road and into the bushes. This was the largest wild bird I’d seen overseas, but no match for the emus we see quite regularly in Australia.

At last we arrived in Ottawa. Although this was my second visit, it looked very different without snow. The parks were already a rich green and I was amazed to see dozens of fat groundhogs scattered throughout these parks, basking in the sun.

Dinner was at Dovinda’s Hare Krishna’s Vegetarian Restaurant, near Ottawa University. Tom had been there many times over the years, so he knew it was good food at a good price. The menu read … All-you-can-eat menu - $7. And then at the bottom it had …The above prices are a suggested min. donation. … GST in Canada is 15%, so the bill was going to be about $16. But Tom was happy to pay them $20.

Ottawa Sights and Events

The sun hadn’t set yet, so Tom drove me to the city center where we saw the National Gallery of Canada, Léglise Notre Dame, the American Embassy and Nepean Point with the statue of Champagne at the top. On the other side were the Parliament buildings, and across the bridge, on the opposite side of the river, was the Quebec city of Hull.

At 7pm, I gave another LETS presentation to a small, but fiery, audience of Third Market members and guests. And after the meeting, 5 of us continued our discussions in a nearby coffee shop. In fact, the discussions went so well, that the same 5 met the next day to continue our thoughts and develop ideas for both local and international LETS systems, specifically UNILETS.

That meeting was then followed by a performance of my play, The Glory Of Athens, to another small but captivated audience. I love to entertain people and make them laugh. But I feel much more fulfilled when I know they’ve been motivated and inspired. I guess that’s the energy that keeps me traveling around the world like I do.

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

About the book

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