Monday, 24 March 2008

Writing in The Point

The Point is a local community based News paper / News letter here in my community. I've worked with it in one capacity or another for a few years now and at the start of the year I committed to writing one article per issue for the whole year. Well I've kept it up and in fact have done the feature article for the last two issues..

Here they are for your reading pleasure, I welcome any feed back and comments.

Looking Back 5 Years of The Point

Wow, it’s been five years of The Point! In fact this is the 38th issue that the newsletter team has put out for your reading pleasure. We have had contests, recipe exchanges, great tips for life and limb, and a variety of articles written by and for members of the community. I’ve always felt that is the most important thing about The Point--it is not outsiders coming in and telling us residents how to improve and make things better, it is community members speaking out.

In the past five years the newsletter has benefited from a variety of staff members and has had articles written by far too many community members for all of them to be listed. However it is important that we recognize their contributions because without them The Point wouldn’t be what it is today. It is also very important that we celebrate the contributions of a couple of people who have been strong supporters and hard workers since the very beginning.

First off is Mary who really is the driving force behind getting every issue out. She’s been with The Point since day one and worked on some of the original funding proposals. She’s continued on since the beginning, serving as co-editor and regular contributor as well. Even as I write this article celebrating our five years together, I know she is waiting to receive it so that she can edit and get it ready for publication.

Another person who has been with The Point for a very long time in one capacity or another is Valerie. She started out writing articles about community centre events and was the official photographer. Now she is co-editor and helps with the many tasks involved in producing and distributing the newsletter. Both Mary and Val work tirelessly and often without thanks, so when you see them on the streets or at a meeting, take a moment and thank them for the endless hours they have put towards The Point.

Over the years the newsletter has also lost a lot of good volunteers, although some have moved on to other things in the community. Heather was a huge force in the initial visioning and planning of our community newsletter. She served as editor and then did layout during the first months of publication. She went on to create a home-based business and recently started working as capacity builder for the North Point Douglas Residents Committee. Jim was a regular part of meetings for a long time, wrote some great articles, and served as co-editor for a few issues. He got more involved with PDRC as well and is now treasurer. Before returning to school, Olive came to planning meetings and did wonderful work as a photographer and editor’s assistant. Sandy produced many wonderful features as our Roving Reporter. She is now a leader of SISTARS and active in many other community groups.

Sadly not everyone involved in The Point has moved on to other commitments. A few years ago we lost a wonderful volunteer, as well as a good friend, when Nancy Barbour passed away. She is often in our thoughts when we work on new issues, and we know how excited she would be if she were here today to see us putting out our 5th anniversary issue.

Without the production team, distribution crew, and volunteers you wouldn’t be reading this or any other issue of The Point. However they are not the only ones who make it happen. In almost every issue we have a few advertisements at the end of the issue or a flier insert menu from Kung Po. These businesses spend their money to support our newsletter, and we hope our readers will return the kindness by supporting these business neighbours.

It’s been a long and interesting run these past five years. We’ve seen a lot of positive changes in our community. The Woman’s Centre was still based in the school when we published our first issue. Now they have their own building and are making plans to expand as part of the proposed Community Hub. SISTARS and Eagle Wing Early Childhood Education Centre are months from breaking ground for the first building in the Hub. The residents committee has its own office, two employees, and has expanded its activities ten-fold. The Boys and Girls Club and Graffiti Art Programming now offer programs for children and youth in the neighbourhood. Considering all this vitality, we are sure that The Point will continue to grow to serve the community.

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Healthy Living Habits

The holidays are over and we have all had our fill of wonderfully sweet and tasty food. The New Year has come and gone, and we’ve made our New Years resolutions. Studies say that by the time the holidays are over, we likely will have gained an average of eight to ten pounds. So our thoughts turn to dieting and weight loss tricks to get rid of that extra weight.

The sad reality is that the majority of us who do turn to diets and weight loss gimmicks may lose a little bit of weight, but we will be hard pressed to keep it off for the long term. Weight loss isn’t about quick diets. What we need to do is change how we eat, what we eat, and perhaps even where we shop. The changes don’t have to be big and they don’t have to be expensive, but they need to be consistent.

We can eat anything-- the trick is to eat in moderation. Ideally we are better off getting locally grown, natural products. The reason for consuming locally grown food is that as a general rule we can know more about what we eat, it’s fresher, and there are fewer preservatives, dyes, and waxes added. As an added bonus local food is better for the environment as well. A healthy eating movement, commonly called the 100 Mile Diet, has grown up around this idea. For more information visit the website http://www.100milemanitoba.org/. It’s a great resource and includes a number of places you can shop including our own California Fruit Market, which offers locally grown fruits and vegetables when they are in season.

As indicated earlier, these don’t have to be expensive changes. For example a butcher just off Regent Avenue called the Carvers Knife offers locally raised meats at a price comparable to what you would pay at big box grocery stores that have meat shipped in from across the continent. They also offer freezer packages and bundles so you can save even more.

If you can’t get local products, then look to organic and more natural alternatives. Those will be much healthier for you then factory farmed and heavily processed foods. Winnipeg has a wide variety of sources for organic products. Two companies, EatIt and Fresh Option Organic Delivery, both offer regular deliveries right to your home. This is great over the winter when we don’t have local farmers markets to visit every weekend.

Now that we have places in mind to shop, let’s look at things like portion sizes and servings. The Canada Food Guide offers a suggested

number of daily servings for all ages. You can order a copy of the Canada Food Guide for free just by calling 1-800-622-6232. Until you receive your copy a good rule of thumb to follow is this. Dividing your plate into four equal-sized sections, two of them should be vegetables, one section meat or meat alternative, and the last section should be a starch. The Food Guide has information on portion sizes, too.

Drinking water is very important. On a daily basis you should drink at least 8 glasses of water. Doing this will keep your body hydrated, which is a very important factor for good health. As an added benefit the water also fills you and discourages you from eating more than you need. You don’t need to rush out and buy bottled water. Just purchase a water bottle, fill it with tap water, carry it with you, and use it.

Eating right is a very important first step in healthy living. We also need to make healthy physical activity decisions. Like with food it is all about making consistent changes. Find some type of physical activity and stick with it. Every little thing makes a difference. For example, I take the stairs over elevators whenever possible and practical. Another thing that has helped is getting off the bus a stop early and walking the extra distance.

Everything I have talked about in this article requires changing habits. Anyone can make anything into a habit by doing whatever it is for 21 consecutive days. Miss a day for any reason and go back to start. It sounds harsh but that’s what it takes. Every day that you make this new habit a part of your life, you are one step closer to success.

I wanted to end this article by saying that weight loss as well as weight control are both life long journeys. I have learned a lot of new things as I wrote this article and am by no means an expert. In writing this I wanted to share some of the insights and things that I have learned though my numerous attempts at living a healthier life style. I am not a professional, so if you are planning on making significant life style changes make sure that you take time to talk with a health care practitioner before hand. Good Luck!

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