Cuts To Vancouver School Board’s Excellent Music Program?

CBC News reports that the Vancouver School Board is cutting elementary school music programs this fall, axing the band program for Grade Five students and eliminating the string program for Grade Four students. I know governments at all levels are struggling to … Read more…

Our First Annual Chrismakkuh Celebration Dinner!

A few weeks ago, staff and friends of the Vancouver Recital Society got together for our very first Annual Chrismakkuh Celebration Dinner!  We are a typically Canadian mix of Christians, Jews, Atheists, and (as I like to describe myself) a … Read more…

Can You Spare A Life Saver?

lifesaversLike the rainbow of flavors offered up in a single roll of Life Savers, kids are not all the same.

Some kids are not born athletes. They’re too small for sports, or too large, or just don’t fit in. Others have obstacles thrown in their way by adults who prey on the weak, shattering youthful confidence. For these children, the age-old ritual of choosing up teams itself can be humiliating for those always picked last.

But all kids want to be part of something bigger than themselves, to belong. All kids want to make a contribution, to believe they are good at something, to feel good about themselves, to not feel useless.

And every single child is inherently creative – it’s what makes us human, the divine spark that elevates and animates us.

If you will imagine for a second that a school is like a passenger liner proudly carrying its precious cargo into the future, then the children that can’t play competitive sports, the kids that don’t fit in, the kids that are bullied and ostracized, those wrestling with existential challenges, are like a passenger that has fallen overboard, drifting silently away, ever further into the night.

1179935_lifesaversFor the children falling further and further behind, left to navigate stormy seas on their own, the arts can act like life preservers, a path to something better, a way back to the light, and, to stretch this metaphor further, can serve as a lifeline back to the mother ship heading off oblivious without them into the future.

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Coming Out!

Harvey Milk
Harvey Milk

I came out 35 years ago in January, 1978, six months before Harvey Milk’s infamous rallying cry:

Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene.

I was 21 years old at the time, studying violin at UVic and playing in the Victoria Symphony to help pay my way. The December before, Canadian pianist William Tritt came to perform with the orchestra as soloist. He was a bit older, but beautiful, with such soft eyes, so fun, so cynical and so smart — I fell head over heels in love with him, showering him with attention and books and gifts I couldn’t afford.

51K+qkqdlkLTo my eternal gratitude, he didn’t take advantage of me, refusing my clumsy sexual advances, but stayed on in the city for two weeks after the concerts so we could spend time together talking about the books I made him read, arguing about our favorite artists, sharing many beers and meals and the intoxicating romance of it all.

I was completely wrong for Bill. He was attracted to much darker, more dangerous encounters. I was all boyish, youthful beauty — the opposite of what turned him on. Still, the love he kindled in me was shared. I’ve never been so depressed as when he left Victoria to return home. It seemed so cruel, no sooner having found Love than it abandoned me!

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An Address To City Council on Civic Status for Pride & Removal of the Viaducts

Madam Chair, Mr. Mayor, Councillors, Dr. Ballem, City staff and honored guests, my name is Sean Bickerton and I appear before you as a member of the Board of Directors of the False Creek Residents Association, although my remarks here … Read more…

Barbara Smith Conrad: Grace And Fire!

Barbara Smith Conrad‘s career would be remarkable enough, having sung so many of the major roles with legendary conductors in all of the great opera houses around the globe, her artistry honored by both Presidents and Popes. But it is … Read more…

Happy New Year!

“Out with the Old and In with the New!” has never rung more true for me than it does with the advent of 2012! It’s only been five years since I moved back to Vancouver after twenty years away in New York. … Read more…

Dear Friends, Supporters, Donors & Volunteers

Many thanks for the thousands of kindnesses you’ve shown me over the past eight months! Thank you for the hours spent phoning, the free haircut, the time spent on cold, rainy nights handing out my flyers, and for the friendliness … Read more…

My Remarks To Council On Mega-Casino Proposed for Downtown Vancouver (amended)

Mr. Mayor, Councillors, Dr. Ballem, City Staff and Concerned Residents of Vancouver:

My name is Sean Bickerton and I’m speaking today as President of Paris Place Strata, as a Director of the False Creek Residents Association and as one of the founding members of the Vancouver Not Vegas! coalition.

I would like to state on behalf of the members of the coalition that we fully respect the workers here tonight, their jobs and the heart-rending stories they have shared with us.

But i’m also wondering, as you must be, how a one-word footnote in an appendix of a 50-page report somehow morphed into the largest casino in Western Canada …

I’m also wondering how, like some creature from the movie Aliens, it managed to glom 0nto BC Place, our family-oriented sports stadium? We’ve recently learned that families and children will be banned from one of the main entrances to BC Place – an entrance paid for by the taxpayers of BC – because that once-public stadium entrance will be taken over by Paragon’s private new megacasino!

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Timeline of Correspondence with Paragon Gambling – In Response To Councillors Reimer, Meggs & Jang

In response to false challenges to my veracity by Paragon Gaming, and questions raised by Councillors Reimer, Meggs & Jang following my address to council last Monday, March 14, I have provided the following timeline of correspondence to Mayor and Council.

The correspondence was with Paragon Gambling Corp’s legal counsel George Cadman of Boughton Law Corporation, and their spokesperson, Tamara Hicks, in which I sought a meeting on behalf of the False Creek Residents Association to discuss community concerns regarding Paragon’s proposal to build a mega-casino at BC Place:

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