Sunday, March 29, 2009

Celebrating Earth Hour 2009

Yesterday, March 28, the world united to express their concern for global environmental issues. If you think about it, that’s quite a positive statement!

For one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm – millions of people turned off their lights and unplugged stereos, computers and other electronic devices… millions of people!!! Yes, it’s true that enormous amounts of energy were not used during this time, but the purpose of this event was not simply to save one hour’s worth of electricity. This event was an artful expression of love. Love for the Earth. Love for each other. Love for future generations.

Over the last decade or so (tho’ the alarms have been sounding for over half of a century) people have become increasing concerned about the health of the Earth’s environment. The first stage of this process is accepting a new set of personal values and beliefs. During this time, we begin to search for new ways to live our lives. Maybe we stop eating at fast food restaurants. Maybe we sacrifice the things that we once thought were a necessity (like a morning cup of coffee) but now realize are a luxury. Maybe we’ll put up ‘No Flyers’ signs on our mailboxes to try to cut down of the paper products that our society loves to waste. Many of these actions are personal – things that we can do in and around our homes.

The second stage of becoming a citizen of the World, is a little more difficult and takes a lot more personal courage. This is the ‘sharing’ stage where people look for ways to express these new desires with others – so that the entire world will benefit. This stage is more difficult because we don’t want to anger others by telling them what they are doing is wrong. This only builds walls between us. I’m fortunate because I’ve found positive ways to share my ideas with others… thro’ my environmental art classes.

Earth Hour was designed for our second stage. It allows individuals to do something personal to express their desires to heal our planet, realizing that millions of others are participating as well. Earth Hour is not an action that will save our environment. It is an action that will prepare us for the third stage of this new human development. Considering that this event is now only three years old, we should all be amazed and overjoyed with this global celebration that united millions of passionate lovers of life!

My Earth Hour lasted for the entire day…

I began my day, with Koly, in my back garden. Many sprouts are beginning to appear in my gardens and I spent the morning making mental notes of what was coming up where and where I wanted to do my transplanting to make my garden more beautiful this year.

After a hearty breakfast, I prepared myself for my afternoon art class that I was to teach. Although my ‘Art For Earth 2008-09’ classes ended last month, my new art workshop began yesterday. For the next four months, I’ll be teaching these classes once a month on Saturday afternoons.

The class is designed to allow ten children to participate. This number has worked well, in the past, allowing me time to give each student personal instruction. Yesterday, there were just two students enrolled. My assistant, Chris, decided that he wanted to do a painting as well, so I guess you could say I had three learners. There were supposed to be two others joining us, but…. The promotions for these art workshops is still growing and everyone involved knows that future classes will be more successful with attendees.

We spent the first hour of the class learning about the significance of the Temagami forestland. We learned about species of forests. We discussed the harms of clearcutting. We talked about things that we could do to reduce our consumption of paper products. And then we learned how to paint a picture, using many different texturing techniques…

We all had a great time painting, sharing funny stories, joking around and occasionally I had a minute or two to play a little music on my guitar. Then the paintings were done!

I made it home by about 6:00pm and Joanne and I celebrated the success of my first class by going out for a simple meal. We returned home and began to get ready for Earth Hour. I had not heard of any community event happening during this hour, but I figured if something was going on that it might be happening in the downtown park. Victoria Park takes up an entire city block. It has bike paths, benches, lots of trees and flowerbeds and a bandshell for summer concerts. I was thinking that possibly a few young ‘hippy’ types might be gathered with guitars and drums.

It was a half-hour walk to the park and my arm was getting tired from carrying my guitar case. We got there and we didn’t see anybody. There were two guys with bikes, standing around yaking and a few pedestrians walked through the park, but other than that, it was dark and vacant. Joanne and I and Koly (I forgot to mention that we brought him along, too) sat at a picnic table and simple enjoyed the warmth of the strong spring breezes while we chatted.

After about half an hour, we decided to walk back home, but first I had to play a song. I walked onto the bandshell stage and got out my guitar. In honour of Earth Hour I sang just one song. For me, it was more profound that no one was there to listen. It made me feel that I was playing for the entire city and the world!!! I wanted the vibrations of my guitar strings to resound into our atmosphere as a prayer for healing. I sang…

The Bricks Of Love

We’ll always reap the seeds we sow
When we’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks
Our love will shine when it’s peace we grow
Yea! We’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks

Hope is………

The road we rode quickly turned asunder
And now we’re frightened
By the rain and by the thunder!

We’ll build a house for the world to share
When we’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks
With no more crying or despair
Yea! We’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks

Hope is………

The road we rode cracked, split and fell away
And now we’re building
Towards a better way!

We’ll clean our windows so that we can see
All the love and joy that’s still to be
We’ll open all our doors and let the good spirits in
Then we’ll dance and sing – Yea! Rise above the din

Hope is………

Layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks

Jim Kogelheide
May 2008

I hope that your Earth Hour was as inspiring and filled with joy!!!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Water Water Everywhere and Disappearing

It’s a pretty common understanding that our Earth has lots and lots of water. 97% of the Earth’s water is salt water found in our oceans and seas. The remaining 3% is fresh water that can be used by humans, plants and animals. If this percentage seems quite small then consider the fact that only 1/3 of this fresh water is flowing in our lakes, rivers, forests and bodies. 2/3 of the Earth’s fresh water is frozen in the polar ice caps. Of the 1% of this useable water a large percentage of this if locked beneath the surface of the Earth in the underground aquifers. WOW!!! Our water supply seems almost limitless but when you realize how limited it really is it becomes clear that our water is so very precious.

That was the focus of discussion at a water forum that Joanne and I went to last Sunday afternoon at London’s downtown library.

A group of concerned activists featured an environmental film entitled ‘Blue Gold: World Water Wars’ and it was a very informative film. As most films of this nature play out, we were first introduced to the negative aspects of our water usage. We learned how our over consumption of this resource has led us to a state of global crisis. We were shown examples of how this misuse has led to the creation of man made deserts – here in North America as well as other parts of this world. We were shocked to realize that some ‘poor’ countries are poor because of the pressures that our governments have placed on their economies.

For example: There is a country, in South Africa, that has been a desert for many decades. This desert was created because this country was oppressed by ‘our’ governments and then forced to cut down most of their virgin forestlands to pay off their growing debts. Without these forestlands the rains wash across the bare lands that have become hard and dried and wash into the seas carrying with them the topsoil that is needed for their crops. To ‘help’ this country, our nations have gone in with drilling techniques to allow them to extract water from the underground aquifers. This has led to the draining of these aquifers and many regions have witnessed enormous sinkholes as the ground above has collapsed. The water that is pulled from the ground does not go to the people of this country and it does not go to the crops that feed these people. It goes into forced agricultural industries that continue to be exported throughout the world. I was amazed to learn that the largest producers of roses is this country. They produce massive quantities of these flowers for the sole purpose of export. It requires 17 gallons of water to produce one dozen roses. Once these roses have been exported, so to has all of this water that is stored in the pedals and stems.

Just when I was beginning to feel so overwhelming depressed, the film began to showcase many examples of heroes that have won battles to preserve and protect this most valuable resource. Most of the heroes were children!!!

There was a story about a young boy – now a teenager – who became concerned when he learned at school, that thousands of children die everyday because they don’t have clean water. This just seemed ‘wrong’ to him. He wanted to make a positive difference. He initiated a fund raising campaign – with the help of his family and teachers – and they raised enough money to build a water well in a community that had no clean water. To this day, he continues to be a shining example for the rest of his community.

There was another young boy that became concerned when a large company built a water bottling company in his community. The water levels in all the surrounding lakes had dropped – thus affecting all the plants and animals that lived in these waters. The pollution that this company created in manufacturing their product did nothing to enhance this region – quite the opposite. And – as was the case with the rose company – this industry was making money by exporting this resource thus changing the shape of this environment. This school boy created some signs in protest and education. He wanted people to realize the harm associated with drinking bottled water and the cost to our environments when the plastic bottles were disposed of in landfills, thus polluting the water that would eventually end up in the bottles for export. A local newspaper encouraged his actions and more and more people became involved. It’s hard to believe, but this young boy started a process that stopped a very powerful company from harming this Earth.

At the end of this film, the audience was asked to help with a local action that is now being decided by London’s city council. There is a law being passed that could see bottled water removed from our schools and city buildings. We were simply asked to raise our voice and share our concerns with the city council members. I did just that. I spent about half and hour writing a short letter and then I emailed it to over ten council members – the email addresses were given to all of us. I think that a decision will be made public, very soon.

People seem to talk a lot of talk about how they protect the environment by recycling and all of that, but so much more needs to be done. I want to inspire everyone to become more involved with understanding the problems that are facing us – both locally and globally – so that we can begin to unite in positive action to create a better world for our children.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Spring Everyone!!!!

Winter had a hard time accepting that Spring now has the centre stage, so we had one final blast of snow and cold on the eve of March 20th.

I spent our first spring morning – as I usually spend my mornings – with Koly, outside in our backyard. The last dusting of winter snow was shining in the morning sun. By noon, this snow would be gone. Koly was making his rounds around the yard, sniffing where all the squirrels and raccoons had been, the night before, and I was enjoying a warm cup of tea.

A sharp ‘tat-a-tat-a-tat’ started sounding off in a neighbour’s yard as a colourful Woodpecker searched for food. Then a small group of Starlings landed in the back of my yard to look for bugs in the sprouting grasses. Just a few seconds later, a small Chickadee whirled right past my head and landed a few feet away, in my garden flowerbeds. I watched as it plucked dried grasses out of the ground, getting ready to build its nest. A short moment later, my eyes were pulled in the direction of another chirping sound and I noticed that a bright red Cardinal had just landed on my cedar hedge. It was fantastic to be sitting in a chair, drinking my tea with an entire backyard full of so many different entertainers – putting on this show for me!!! And then there was the finale…

I looked up and saw my first Robin of 2009. Now, I knew that Spring was here!

I’ve always regarded the Robin with respect and I’ve always thought of them as ‘the bringers of glad tidings’, but a few years ago I became aware that they are now ushering in a new age in our world – one that will be filled with much hardship and challenge.

In August of 2006 I spent two weeks in Canada’s arctic. I was visiting Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to complete a portion of my National art project ‘Canada: Glorious To Be’ ( During my stay, I had arranged to go on an afternoon adventure with a local guide.

Our mode of transportation was a four-wheel ATV, which allowed us to go anywhere there was solid ground beneath us. We visited many interesting places and he shared stories about the history of the Inuit people – as they had been told to him, by his elders. At one time, we were at a lookout point and he was telling me about how the herds of caribou and polar bears migrate through this region. Then he started telling my about his passion for understanding birds.

He explained that all Inuit children learn to have one specialty, when learning about ‘the wild lands’ of the tundra and that strong hunting groups rely on the combined knowledge of ‘the group’ for successful hunts. He shared with me stories about how understanding birds can tell hunters about the animal herds that are in the area. Then he told me a story about a bird that had brought a great mystery to this arctic region.

The first time that he had ever seen this new and strange bird was in 2002. He and many others were filled with wonder as this exotic species appeared for the very first time. I asked him to describe this bird to me and he did, with great detail – he was also a very talented artist. I listened to his description and I smiled with a knowing… he had seen a Robin! He was very interested to learn all that I could share with him, about this bird – which wasn’t very much and he nodded with understanding that this was a very unusual event.

Our conversation drifted naturally, to the topic of global warming and climate change and he shared many other stories about occurrences that were beginning to change in this northern environment. We both agreed that the appearance of the beautiful bird, simply known as the Robin, could be a warning of disaster on our horizon. We looked at one another and smiled faintly, cleared our throats and then peered off into the distance for many minutes of silent contemplation.

+ + + +

In the mid-nineties, when I was begining to understand the problems facing this world’s first global civilization, I had the ideals that we could change the world to stop the acceleration of environmental climate change. It is becoming more and more obvious that the changes cannot be stopped and now my ambitions are more focussed on learning about and preparing for these changes. Although the solutions that are needed are still very unclear, it is important to know that these solutions will be realized once a deeper understanding has been established between humanity and our Earth to recognize the value of our mutual relationship.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My First Rock Video

When I was putting up my art display, in February, I noticed that I had forgotten to finish painting the bottom border on one of the canvases. A few days later, I went back to the library with a container of the colour that I needed and a brush. While I was painting this bottom border a young lady had come by to view the other paintings. She was very surprised to learn that the painting that she was admiring was created by grade two students – as a part of my ‘Art For Earth 2008-09’ program. We had a great conversation about art, the environment and sharing inspiration with the youth.

Melissa had shared with me that she, too, was an environmental activist – of sorts – and that she was working on a film that was aimed at exploring our environmental neglect when building new subdivision developments within London. She had asked if I would be interested in sharing some of my thoughts – on film – for her movie. We met a few days later to do that interview.

It’s always interesting when unexpected situations arise due to chance meetings.

A week or so had gone by and a thought popped into my head… I had some stock footage on a dvd that I had filmed last October, at my parent’s house, while Joanne and I were visiting for Thanksgiving weekend. Here’s a link to that story: . Joanne and I had taken my dad’s camera and my guitar out into the back hills and we recorded two of my songs, plus some extra footage. My thought was to ask Melissa if she would assist me in editing one of these songs – my first Rock ‘n Roll video!!! She agreed.

We met at the downtown library, just yesterday, and two hours later the video was done. The video is very simple. All we needed to do was create an introduction and a conclusion for the video while the main body was simply a one-camera angle of me playing my song. Melissa had brought her laptop computer and we sat in a quiet corner of the library to do our work. We both had a lot of fun and my excitement was continuously building as we got more and more done.

Since I am a man of little money, I often use my artwork as a bartering tool to get things done. Melissa was very happy to exchange her time and expertise for one of my artprints. I chose for her, one of my earliest and most cherished images, ‘Dreaming of a Better World.’ (


to introduce my first music video on the world stage of Youtube…

World On A Chain



Saturday, March 14, 2009

In The News....

I was really happy to see such a wonderful story in today's London Free Press. This is the link to the story online (might be easier to read than the scan above):

I was surprised when the reporter showed up with a film man and not a photographer. I soon learned that the online newspaper will also have a 2 minute video of the interview. How cool is that!!??!!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sharing Canadian Music

In a few of my blogs, I’ve mentioned how interesting it is to be on Facebook – connecting with people from around the world. 60% of my fb friends are from different continents and this always proves to be very unique. I see many languages – that I don’t understand – printed across my computer screen. I’ve had conversations with people from many different countries… and that’s always been fun!!!

Just recently, I was sharing stories about rock bands with a friend living in the Middle East. I had asked if he had heard of The Tragically Hip before and my reply was “No”. I popped onto Youtube and I found a video for one of my favourite Hip tunes and I sent it to him. That gave me an idea…

Later, I went back to Youtube and I searched for more Canadian Rock ‘n Roll videos. I found links to:
Our Lady Peace – Starseed .

After a few searches I finally selected a live recording of Tea Party’s – Writings On The Wall .

I searched for Barstool Prophets videos and I only found four selections… luckily I knew (and enjoyed) one of the songs available . Unfortunately, there is no video. Fortunately, it’s a great song!

And, the band that started this whole ‘Canadian Music Theme’ on my Facebook page is The Tragically Hip – Ahead By a Century !!!

So, for the last week – every second day – I’ve been adding a link to one of the videos mentioned above. It’s been a lot of fun to read comments posted by people who have never heard of these bands before – saying that they enjoy the Canadian spirit in Rock ‘n Roll!!!

“I feel that the world grew a little bit smaller, today.”


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vancouver Island – Summer 1992

With another cold chill to the air today – to remind us that it’s still winter – I decided to dig thro’ some old hiking photos to make us all feel a little warmer.

Ahhhh! Summer! With a T-shirt and a blue sky… There, I’m feeling a little bit warmer already.

A few weeks before this photo was taken in the mountains of British Columbia, I had graduated from a Toronto college, sold almost everything I owned and bought the camping gear that I would live in for the next few months. I went wandering…

It’s a little hard to notice, but the T-shirt that I’m wearing in the above photo is from a restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan called “Bilbo’s” – inspired by J.R.R. Tolkiens novels. Menu items included the Tom Bombadil Sandwich and Ent-chiladas! This photo always reminds me of what a landscape might look like in the Shire. I’ve always called this photo ‘My Hobbit Trail’.

It took many hours to meander alongside a mountain trail to reach it’s upper plateaus, and the distant vistas made it all worth while.

This was the area where I saw my first-ever Bald Headed Eagle. I knew that any attempt at taking a photograph would prove unflattering (who wants to see a dot in the sky) so I simple soaked in the scene with my mind and imagined what the eagle might be looking for as it was whisked away by the breeze.

Throughout this mountainous region there is so much to see. I’m sure that I could have taken the same trail, day after day, for my entire life and still see something new, every time! Occasionally I would stray off of the path to investigate sounds that I would hear in the forest. This photo is of one of my discoveries. I was walking over a small bridge that crossed a calm stream, yet I could hear the sound of falling water. Just a small distance away this waterfall was hiding.

It’s hard to say which I like better: 1) The view from the top of a mountain or 2) The view from the bottom. LOL!

This is the one-and-a-half man tent that has spent many nights under the stars.

This is the same lake as the above photo and this lake is on the top of a mountain. You can tell because there are no mountains to be seen at all – just clear blue skies for miles and miles…

I hope that you’re feeling a little warmer, now, too!!!!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Listening To The Growing Grass

We had our first thunderstorm, last night, and boy oh boy! did it come down. Joanne and I opened the curtains in our living room so we could watch the bolts of lightning as they streaked across the sky. I guess that this was our first sign of spring.

When I took Koly outside, this morning, I noticed that almost all of the snow was gone. Just a few very small patches remain and one large patch on my front lawn…

… the remnants of ‘Mount Jim’! In January I told you that story – . Every time I had to shovel the driveway, I would pile the snow onto Mt. Jim – to make this tobogganing hill higher and higher for my neighbour’s children. With all the tobogganing that went on here, the snow became more and more compact and now it’s like a big block of ice, slowly melting…

When Koly and I made it to our backyard I noticed that I could now see the mess that I will soon have to clean up. It’s always a little messy in the spring, with fallen branches and what not.

It’s hard to believe, now, but in another month or so this patch of brown dirt will be full of life and colour. After our first summer here I quickly learned not to plant any of the vegetables that I love – the squirrels just destroyed them. Last summer I changed my plan and planted just a small amount of root vegetables – carrots, radishes, parsnips and potatoes. With the remainder of the garden I began to expand the flowerbeds – day lilies, bleeding hearts, hollyhocks, lily of the valley, peonies and many different species of hostas. Last fall I planted several small patches of spring bulbs, in between the summer perennials so I’m really excited to see how the garden will look this year!

With spring in the air, I wanted to share a story about something that I learned about Nature – just a few years ago.

Joanne and I were living in Nova Scotia in the spring of 2003 so that I could work on my cross-Canada art project entitled ‘Canada: Glorious To Be’. This is a link to that project on my official website - . This is a link to my youtube video interview from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, 2006, which explains this project very well - .

We were living in a small house that was built into the side of a hill. The rest of the hill was covered with trees and it was a very peaceful place to be. It was about this time of year and I was taking Koly outside for his morning walk. It was a very quiet morning and I was enjoying the silence and freshness of the spring air. Then I began to hear some strange noises…

At first, I could hear a few noises coming from here and there along the forest floor, just outside our house. As I began to look for the source, I focussed my listening even more and soon it sounded like the entire forest floor was alive with a symphony of strange sounds. It got louder and louder, as the morning sun rose into the sky. My eyebrows danced across my forehead with wonder – I still couldn’t see where this noise was coming from. It sounded like thousands and thousands of little ripping noises – like an entire school full of children, all ripping pieces of paper at the same time. I had to investigate further.

I walked into the forest, sat on my haunches and listened. The noise grew ‘til it was like thunder in my ear and then I saw it. At first, it surprised me, but after a few moments I noticed this phenomena surrounding me, with movement all around. The forest floor was coming alive and it moved in steady patterns. I was listening to and watching the grass grow!!!

Let’s think about this for a moment… Think about a forest in the autumn season. The leaves are changing colour and falling off of the trees. The leaves fall to the forest floor. Then winter arrives with several feet of snow piling up through this season. Spring brings warmer weather and the snow melts, leaving a very flattened layer of pressed leaves on the forest floor. These leaves are damp with the melting snow, at first, but as the sun dries the ground these leaves begin to dry as well, creating a thin solid layer on the forest floor. Underneath these leaves are all the grasses and spring flowers that will soon blossom and during this time they are reaching up for the sun’s light. They have to push their way through this layer of dried leaves and as the dried leaves are moved aside they begin to make small ripping noises as their surface is punctured by the growing grass.

It doesn’t seem to be much of a mystery, now that it’s solved, but at the time it seemed very new to me. I had simple never noticed this natural occurrence before. Since that time I have been able to hear the grass growing every single springtime.

It’s amazing that there are so many wonders that surround us every day that go unnoticed until we take the time to listen and learn.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

What Is Love – Continues…

A week or so ago, I shared a story and pictures about my newest art project. I’m creating a painting that will eventually be a portrait of my wife, Joanne. The progress of this painting will be very slow because I am only applying small bits of paint at one time. After each ‘phase’ of painting is complete, I take a photo of the whole canvas, before I continue to the next phase. In the end I will have taken many hundreds of photos – each photo sees a few more bits of paint being applied. I will be able to sequence all of these photos to create an animation film of the painting being created.

If this seems difficult in itself, I will have to agree, but I’ve made it even more challenging…

As I’m applying these small bits of paint I am also – very slowly – going to be spelling words that will eventually create a poem – within the painting. This is where I will stop with the telling of my plan (cuz it does get even more complicated) to show you what I mean.

One of the reasons why I’m ‘going over this again’ is because one of my blog readers made a funny comment when I first explained this process. He said that the project sounded very ambitious, but he had no clue what I was talking about! LOL!!!

So, here we go….

First, I start with a blank canvas (except for my construction guidelines).

Then a few bits of paint are added.

Then a few more bits of paint are added.

After the first two weeks – and about 8 photos later – you can see a ‘gathering’ of small bits near the top of the canvas.

After another week has gone by, I managed to take another 7 photos, which brings us to where I am now. The first word in my poem is beginning to take shape – LOVE.

As the next several months go by, I will continue to add more bits of paint in this seemingly random fashion until the whole poem is clear and visible. Then I’ll explain the next phase of this project. For now, I just wanted a chance to explain this process again so that everyone has an understanding of what the heck is goin’ on! LOL!!!

Until again…


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Art For Earth 2008-09 Year End Exhibition

My warmest thanks to the principals, teachers and especially the students for making this a very successful year. I had a great time working with all of you!

As a part of this program, I had the students create their own poem to express how they felt about this wonderful world of ours. To conclude with this whole program I thought that it would be appropriate if I created my own poem to express my newfound inspiration while thinking of our collective future…

P eople from around the world are uniting to protect our home
L earning about the history of environmental responsibility is the first step
A waken our spirits to discover who we really are
N ever feel that we are not strong enough to overcome these challenges
E veryone has a part to play – no matter how big or how small
T ake the time to listen to your heart when you need direction

E ventually we will all realize the joy that comes with love and peace
A live is our consciousness – and growing everyday
R eflex with a gentle hand to help others
T ruth is found in the breeze that whispers in our ear
H ome is a planet that provides for all of our needs (not wants)

March 03, 2009

Jim Kogelheide

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Final Preparations

I’m really excited about the upcoming art classes that I’ll soon be teaching, starting next weekend. Just today, I finalized the flyer for these workshops…

Over the next week or so, these flyers will be distributed through many London elementary schools. I hope that we get a great response!

I met with my assistant, this afternoon, to continue our work. The canvases have been primed and Chris is spending today transferring our designs onto the canvases. I spent about an hour with him, explaining and showing him how this is done.

Chris and I will be getting together this coming Tuesday to finish this work and to mix all the paints that we’ll be needing.

If there are any Londoners reading today’s short blog, that would like to share this information with anyone that they think may be interested in painting with me, please feel free to… and thanks!