Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Peacebus In The News

It’s hard to believe that something as simple as The Peacebus should gain sooooo much attention – but it’s true. Maybe because The Peacebus is not so simple.

Just last month, a photo of many of The Peacebus students surrounding an amazing peace of artwork hit the pages of The London Free Press…


… and just yesterday, an article about my adventures on The Peacebus made headlines again!

This time appearing in London’s second daily newspaper The Metro. Jill Ellis and I had a great chat about The Peacebus, Meadowlily Woods, protests surrounding the Mega-Quarry in Melanthon township and of course, my vegetable garden. All of these subjects have also been written about in this blog, over the last few months.

I just found this link to the above newstory, as found in the online version of London Metro - http://www.metronews.ca/london/comment/article/925413--a-new-peace-of-artwork-hits-the-road#commentbox - so that you can read the story about The Peacebus and the many other exciting events happening throughout the city. But for those of you who want to continue reading on this page, I’ve copied the story for you here. I’ve also added a few other artworks created by my students to add a splash of colour to your computer screen…


Written by Jill Ellis

Greenwashing has become vogue in these days of nearly universal concern about global warming. There’s a lot of talk, but not many who walk their talk. One of those who does is Jim Kogelheide.

Known to his thousands of Facebook friends as Peaceman Jim and to hundreds of London school children as Mr. Jim, Kogelheide is a peace activist, artist, art teacher and environmentalist all wrapped up in the guise of a bus driver.

For the past couple of years, he’s driven the ‘peacebus’, which is a regular Murphy Lines school bus decorated with art created by the kids who ride it every day to and from school.

Having studied graphic design at Fanshawe College, Kogelheide traveled around the country for five years with wife Joanne Custy, working on the Canada: Glorious To Be national mural project. The duo spent their time creating their art and talking to school kids and community groups about art, peace and the environment. Kogelheide and Custy returned to the city they loved and settled down here in 2004.

Though his Stikman series (stick figures spreading the peace message) has enjoyed some notoriety as he distributed it through the country during his travels, Kogelheide realized that being a full-time artist is a hard way to make a living. But a serendipitous moment came when he was gazing out the window of his Byron home one day, contemplating his next move down his winding life’s journey, when a school bus passed by. An epiphany occurred: as a school bus driver, he’d make a steady income and still have time for his twin passions of gardening his veggie patch and volunteering in community organizations that promote sustainable living and environmental causes.

After driving his plain bus for a while, Kogelheide noticed another driver had butterfly drawings all over hers. After checking with the boss, he posted some of his own peace-based artwork. The kids were intrigued. He threw it out as a challenge and got the kids excited about making art about peace and the environment. He offered a contest to up the ante a bit.

The kids love having their artwork displayed on the windows and ceilings of the peace bus, but none are displayed on windows that obstruct sightlines.

The peace bus rocks with kids’ voices raised in song and is one of the most colourful on the road. Give it a wave or thumbs up next time the peace bus rolls your way.

_ _ _ _ _ _

I wouldn’t even want to guess how much it would cost if I had to pay for one third of an entire page of newspaper, so I’m very grateful for this free publicity. It brings a smile to my face thinking that a few of my students and co-workers will see this story and keep it as a wonderful memory. It also makes me smile to think that many other bus drivers may read this story and be inspired to have their kids decorate their buses.

If I had to guess conservatively, I’d say that over 40, 000 Londoners read this story yesterday, seeing the words ‘peace’ and ‘environment’ used together in several sentences. I hope that this story sparked open a few of those minds to realize that these two words may be the most important words for this century!

Mr. Jim

Friday, July 22, 2011

God’s Glue

About fifteen years ago, I was gathering and organizing my thoughts to understand why our world is in such a dilapidated state of environmental care, so that I could best choose my path forward in such a way that my actions would help to create a better world for future generations.

I started defining words like karma and destiny. Somehow or other I came across the word ‘providence’ and I included it in an essay I was writing. I wrote, “When a person has made a decision to act as an inspiration or true steward for the Earth, providence will move!” This is similar to the philosophy of ‘Positive Attraction’. If one is dedicated to positive action then positive results will prevail. Providence is – according to my dictionary – ‘God’s protective care’, and with providence one will achieve positive results.

Over time, I’ve come to notice that providence seems to thread its existence through synchronistic occurrences. Synchronicities may be involved in karmic activities that will aid in one’s pursuits to flow through life as one embraces destiny, but sometimes synchronicities just happen – with no apparent affect on a soul other than simple appreciation for this phenomenon.

Today’s story revolves around this idea…

This is one of the Red Currant bushes that I planted in my berry patch, last spring. You can tell that this photo was also taken in the spring cuz the ground is littered with freshly fallen Maple tree keys. You’d be correct in thinking that this is not a very big deal – it’s just a berry bush, but let’s take a closer look…

Hmmmmm… what’s this? I can see one or two Maple keys stuck to one of the Red Currant bush’s leaves. Interesting! Let’s take a closer look…

Oh! In fact there are three Maple keys somehow hanging on to one of the berry bush’s leaves. Unbelievable… but true!

It’s really hard to see this clearly in a two-dimensional photo, so I took a few pics from different angles. While I was moving around the bush, snapping these photos, my mind wandered around – wherever it tends to wander – searching for an explanation.

In slow motion, my mind played back for me a possible scenario that could have happened to create this natural phenomenon. It was a very rainy Spring, here in London, Ontario and so the Red Currant leaf and the three Maple keys – along with everything else in my garden – was covered in tiny beads of moisture. The wind might have been blowing a slight breeze through the air at the time when these three individual Maple keys had fallen off the tree to begin their swirling decent to the ground. In my mind I could picture these three keys swirling about as they descended, drawing ever closer to each other and to the very small leaf on the berry bush. Then, in one flash of an instance all three keys magically touched – each other and the leaf on the bush! Synchronicity!!!

Had there been no breeze – these three keys would have never met. Had there been a stronger breeze – these three keys would have never met. Had it been a wetter day, the keys may have had too much moisture on them and again, they would not have met. Had it been a drier Spring, then there would have been no moisture and these keys would not have been able to stick together. See the magic, now?!

Thousands of different variables came into action throughout the brief history of this event and had one single variable been just slightly different then this phenomenon would not have happened.

While I marveled at this, a song started playing in my head and I could hear Bono singing, “Stuck together with God’s glue”. I smiled as I appreciated this most excellent tune drifting through my mind as I appreciated this most synchronistic Earthly phenomenon!!!

Nature is continuously swirling around us and if we had a way of identifying the millions of synchronistic Earthly phenomena that are continuously occurring I’m sure that we would be awestruck with lack of definition. I think that this is a good thing!!! Nature should always delight us with fascination. Nature should always thrill our investigative minds. Nature should be honoured for its fierceness and gentleness…

… but it sure is hard to do these things while we surround ourselves in technologies that have become blasé. So, get off that couch, put down that remote and go for a walk in a park full of grasses, bushes and trees and you, too, may witness a most synchronistic Earthly phenomenon that was created just for you.


PS – For your enjoyment, I have included a link to the U2 song mentioned above, as well as a Beatles classic that elaborates on the subject matter of this short story…

U2 – Staring At The Sun

The Beatles – Within You and Without You

Here’s a little treat for my newest readers, who don’t know that I have a few (5) Youtube videos of my very own….

Jim Kogelheide – The Bricks of Love


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gifts From The Earth

Over the last many months I’ve been happily snapping lots of photos of the flowers that I’ve planted around my house. Instead of telling the stories about how I planted them and the things I’ve observed during their growing and flowering stages, I thought that I’d do something a bit more fun. For today’s blog I’ll simply be showing my favourite garden photos in and around the lyrics of a song that I wrote a few years ago.

Please enjoy!

Our Only Friend

Can you feel my heartbeat
Pounding thro’ the strings

Of my guitar?
Oh! The joy it brings.

I’m singing simple songs
For the world to hear

About ‘Peace and Love’
Laced with a little bit of fear.

Can you feel your spirit
Raising in the air?

As you’re floating above life
You can go anywhere.

You can scale a mountain
Or forge the great divide.

You can dive in with the whales
And now you’re coming out the other side.

You can hug the moon
And kiss a brand new day
Cuz you’re young and wild.

Could you be a tree
With branches waving at the sky?

Once you were a seed
But then, you grew so high.

You’re changing with the weather
And the seasons, too.

White is your winter crown
And the summer brings the morning dew.

When you hug the moon
The night dissolves away,
Then your heart can smile.

Can you see the sunshine
Through the acid rain?

Dark clouds usher in
Ten thousand years of pain!

It’s not to late
If we find a peace to lend

We’ve got to learn
That the Earth is our only friend

You can hug the moon
And kiss both night and day
Cuz you’re Nature’s child……

Until next time – see the Earth, smell the Earth, touch the Earth and love the Earth! Appreciate all beauty that she brings into our lives and look for ways to share this inspiration with others!!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Spirit Soon To Breathe

Way back in February I wrote a story that described the conflicts that had arisen in my mind concerning my employment, and the struggle that I went through to find peace in the lifestyle that I wanted to create with my wife Joanne.


After many deep searches within my heart, I realized that I had to go back to being the driver of the Peacebus. My first day, back to work, just happened to be February 14th – Valentine’s Day – the day of love and peace!

The evening before I went back to my previous job, this beautiful sunset graced the skies and I knew that I had made the right decision.

My first day back with the Peacebus was a great one, filling me with many positive thoughts; about myself, the future of the world and my part in it! That evening, after dinner, Joanne and I were relaxing in our living room, before it was time for bed. Joanne leaned in close to give me a kiss and said, “I have a very small Valentine’s present that I’d like to give to you.” And then she told me that I was going to be a Daddy!!!

This day had changed the direction of my life in two ways! We were – and still are – very excited!!! Babies see the world as new and grand and great. They recreate for us all its possibilities and give us the inspiration to believe again.

We kept this news quiet for a few months, because – although it is painful to think about it – the fact remains that many pregnancies end up being miscarried. But, soon enough, Joanne gave me the ‘thumbs up’ to share this news with my friends.

I used Jo’s first ultrasound picture to create this image for my new profile picture on Facebook. It was great reading so many positive comments that were left for me, from people from around the world.

We’ve had a very busy year, so far, and I expect that it will continue to get busier and busier for the next seventeen years or so! LOL! Joanne has been spending her time reading all sorts of books on babies – to learn about things that can be expected during this time. My first job was to move all of art supplies, tables, computer, etc out of ‘the babies room’. My ‘art room’ is now cozily situated in the basement of our house.

Since Jo’ and I both believe in supporting a localized economy, most of the items we have purchased for our baby have been used. At first, we spent our time looking for items that we knew we would need no matter what sex our baby turned out to be: strollers, playpens, changing tables, cribs, etc.

Then we had another ultrasound and were delighted to learn that we were going to have a boy. It was time for me to change my profile picture again!

There are many wonderful used baby clothes stores throughout London and now that we knew our little munchkin was going to be a boy, we could start preparing early. A few weeks ago, one of the stores had a huge sale. Joanne spent most of her time selecting clothes. Most of the clothes are decorated with images of animals and fish and several items had ‘environmental’ messages written on them.

I headed straight for the toys department! When we got home, Guido helped me to inspect this big bag of oversized Lego blocks. He approved!

I got busy creating a peace of art inspired by my love for Joanne!

I also selected a few really cool books that Jo’ and I will be reading to our baby over the next few years. You can also see some of the small rocking toys that I selected, in the back of this photo.

Joanne asked me if I chose the books for our baby or for myself! Just look at this cool watercolour painting that I found inside one of these books.

Since musical creativity is an area where children excel in learning, I knew that I just had to buy this small drum. Joanne cringed!

It wasn’t until we got home, and I had a chance to check it out more closely, when I discovered that the drum was also filled with other musical toys, like this bee shaker…

… and this caterpillar tambourine. Joanne cringed again!

But wait! What’s this, way at the bottom…? Ah! A ladybug xylophone!!!! I started playing a little tune for Jo’!!

I looked up at Joanne and asked her why she didn’t seem as delighted as I was. “I can just imagine you, our son, and all the other babies in our neighbourhood having ‘jam’ sessions in our living room. I have a feeling that the two of you are going to drive me crazy!” We both laughed cuz we both knew that this would probably be the truth!!!

This will be a mostly ‘stay at home’ summer for us. We have a lot of work ahead of us, getting ready for the big day. Joanne just recently finished painting the baby’s room – after weekends of wallpaper striping, hole patching and priming. I’m just starting to prepare a design for a fun wall mural for this room and I imagine that will take me some time to complete that task.

We usually do quite a bit of camping, but Jo’ and I both agreed that sleeping on the damp ground will do her muscles no good at all, especially now that her back causes her a bit of discomfort.

So we’ve agreed that a few day trips to the beach will have to suffice, instead. Of course, Koly was in total agreement!

I think that Jo’ was thinking of the beach when she bought this rug for the baby’s room. I just love it! Buying used items does not mean that you have to buy poor quality. In fact, we are both discovering that we are able to purchase many top-end products for very reasonable prices. You just have to take your time selecting the items that you want until you find what you are looking for.

It really brings me a lot of joy to see Joanne so happy. She will be the best mom in the world!!! The first month or so, saw Jo’ experiencing a lot of fatigue, but lately she has been glowing! I can tell that she is enjoying being pregnant!! I just hope that she continues to feel this way when we hit the peak of summer’s heat in a few more weeks.

But that is still a ways off, so for now, we’ll continue saving our oceans from pollution by buying high quality used items, we’ll continue to grow and harvest organic vegetables in our gardens for next spring’s baby food, we’ll continue to enjoy day trips to the beach where mommy can relax so she can build a healthy baby and we’ll continue to enjoy trips to Toronto to see world famous Rock’N’Roll bands! Ummm… well, we’ll enjoy at least one trip into Toronto anyway… I think it may be a while before U2 comes to town again!

But that’s another story….


Saturday, July 9, 2011

If Enough People…

The majority of the world’s population believes that they vote only during elections. They fail to realize that we all vote many times each and every day of our lives. Every time we purchase a product or service we vote.

When we go to the grocery store and buy an imported pear from India or Spain we are voting to support an industrialized global society that is doomed to fail. This vote ensures that pesticide companies continue to manufacture harmful poisons to spray onto foods in countries that have lenient regulations. This vote ensures that trucking companies, distribution centres and overseas transportation companies continue to consume vast quantities of fossil fuel products. This vote ensures that army forces and munitions manufactures continue to thrive to ensure that these resources continue to be available. I hope that it was a good… no, no… a GREAT pear!!!

It sure is hard to see all of these interrelated connections that keep Industrial Man going (if just briefly - in relation to even our own history), but they are there!

If enough people were able to make these connections then our world would surely be a happier and healthier place.

If enough people were able to understand the destructive nature of McDonalds and how they are destroying the Amazon Rainforest and treating millions of God’s creatures in inhumane ways, then we could vote to eliminate this plague from the world, buy not voting with our purchases in their business outlets.

If enough people were able to understand how Walmart’s low, low prices are having grave environmental consequences in our oceans and in foreign countries, then we could vote to eliminate another world plague. As we continue to shop and vote in other stores – smaller, more unique and locally owned stores - we will see the reconstruction of localized economies and localized manufacturing that will ensure employment and prosperity in the places we call community.

If enough people were able to understand that supporting local farmers inevitable creates a more peaceful planet, then there would have been more families picking Strawberries with Joanne and myself, a couple of weeks ago!

We had a very wet Spring, here in Southern Ontario, and this meant that Strawberry season started just a little bit later than normal. Which ended up being a good thing. Last year, Joanne and I had to scavenge through many Strawberry plants to fill our baskets…

… but this year, we stayed in one small area and filled our baskets quite easily.

Errrr… did I say ‘fill our baskets’ or ‘fill our faces’???

I’ve always felt that the healing of the Earth will only happen when we open our hearts and minds to realize that we are connected with the Earth. The best way to connect with the Earth is by touching her and we can do this quite easily when we grow and harvest our own food.

Once we have learned how to connect with the Earth, we can then share our experiences with others and include them into our lives!

HEY! WHAT’S THIS!????? Ha – I’ve been wondering how I would share this delight with the world. Yup! Joanne and Jim are gonna have a baby!!!!

You can bet that this new development in our lives will give me a lot of material for future blogs, but those will have to wait until after I get my Strawberries home and into my freezer, so that I can enjoy them with our ‘soon to be’ son all through the next Winter!