is due to my good friend Jack's saying, Run out of topics? Let me
I started working in the Chatham Public Library at quite an early age, when I was in Grade 6. There, I became an omnivorous reader. I was determined to know everything about everything. In the course of this I started reading biographies. Before then it was fiction or fictionalized stories based on truth.
Ernest Thompson Seton was a Naturalist who wrote books suitable for young people. His book Two Little Savages had a profound influence on me. It was about 3 boys one sickly, one a farmer's son and one a little, well, a little redneck and how they worked together to learn Indian ways and build teepees and do all sorts of interesting things in the bush guided in part by an actual frontiersman. Thus, I really got into natural history and woodcrafts and I ended up joining the Girl Guides (that's Scouts in the USA).
Another influential book was Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island'. In my mind I was Jim, the cabin boy, having adventures on the seas and especially on the island. That's why my little gang called itself 'The Bloody Pirates Club'.
As I grew
older I became interested in such towering figures such as Mahatma Ghandi.
I read his biography and I was very impressed by the freedom movement
in India and the march to the sea to make salt and all of that.
On the flag of India there is a spinning wheel and that is because Gandhi preached making one's own clothes instead of buying European-style garments manufactured in Britain from Indian raw materials. He also respected the work of the hands. I took this as a very great lesson that I should always be making something with my hands, that this was a worthy thing to do. As a result of this and also from the influence of my mother who was a great sewer and potter, painter and crafts person I have always some kind of needlework in my hands whether it be cross stitch, garment sewing, cloth doll making, knitting, crochet, beading. My hands, when not typing on a computer keyboard are almost never idle and,, as strange as that may seem, I owe that, at least in part, to Mahatma Ghandi.
Another person who had a great influence on me, again through reading his biography, was George Washington Carver. Not as familiar to people nowadays, he was a prominent African American agricultural chemist. He developed a series of procedures where you could develop almost anything from a peanut. He helped to popularize peanut butter. He was a brilliant and public-spirited man. His father had been a slave and his mother was stolen back into slavery. He found over 300 uses for the peanut and worked tirelessly his whole life for something he believed in sometimes under adverse conditions. He developed a crop rotation system that revolutionized Southern agriculture
one more to this trio of folks who influenced me and the third one will
be Peter Kropotkin. Peter Kropotkin, sometimes known as Prince Pete, was
born to a noble Russian family. He became an Anarchist. He believed in
mutual aid, that the ability of people to help each other was a integrally
important characteristic of an ideal society. His views which I obtained
from his book titled Mutual Aid had a great influence on how,
in later years, I worked with groups. In the passage of time I ended up
working for the Canadian government where I was considered to be an unusual
employee because I put the good of the whole office, the group, above
my own little cell or silo. I worked for everybody and over time this
affected the whole office, partially because of communication. It made
me a natural bridge between separate groups in the office.