By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Glen Pearson is a man rarely at a loss for words and considering how many books he has written, it is clear he doesn’t need anyone’s help in finding the right ones.
However, Pearson uses a quote from writer J.R. Tolkien in his new book on London — A Place For Us: Thoughts On A City In Transition — that might just be the simplest explanation that he is trying to say this time around.
The quote, “a single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities,” in the context of Pearson’s book, is the need for community to become unified if it is ever going to change.
“I think the Tolkien quote speaks to the holistic idea that a community has to generate its own life. That is the whole premise of the book,” Pearson said. “As I say in the very last sentence of the book, we have the answers, but it is in the process of going for those answers we might finally understand the true answer is one another. I believe that, I really do.”
Pearson’s book was released on Amazon.com on Saturday (Nov. 10) for $10 and free to whomever would like to enjoy it through audio book, eBook or iTunes, all of which he plans on making available through his website, www.glenpearson.ca.
When Pearson was the MP for London North Centre, he proved to be — among other things — a fairly prolific author, writing five books in five years. His passion for writing has continued following his 2010 election defeat with four more books being published.
Pearson said this book, however, wasn’t something he had been planning. Ironically, considering the topic, it was about a year ago that the community inspired him to examine the issues facing the Forest City.
“I think part of it was the Citizens’ Panel going around, seeing how citizens felt. Part of it I wanted to give support to ReThink London on some of these subjects,” Pearson said. “But I think overall it was the fact I probably had hundreds and hundreds of talks in that year after I left politics with people kind of befuddled as to where their city is at.”
A Place For Us offers up numerous topics for discussion, including the pursuit of international business at the expense of local opportunities, the frustrations felt by residents who believe the current city council has abandoned them, and the failure by the community at large to convince young adults to remain in the Forest City.
Those looking for answers to these questions, however, won’t find them in the book. In fact, Pearson said he purposely didn’t “name names” or lay blame on whose feet the city’s current problems lie.
After all, the whole idea of the book is to allow the community at large to find the answers themselves. And to be clear, Pearson said, there was no hidden motive to posing those questions.
“I am not looking for a new mandate for city council. I am never running again. That isn’t for me, so I don’t have an agenda to it,” Pearson said. “That is why there aren’t solutions in the book. The solutions are out there; so people don’t need to hear mine.”
Pearson did, however, want as many people as possible to read those questions. The cost for the paperback is just enough to cover the printing cost, but Pearson said the decision not to charge for the other platforms was a simple one.
“Why shouldn’t it be free? It cost me nothing to do a podcast, I already had the computer. So it cost me nothing, why would I charge for that?” Pearson said. “Democracy is the world’s greatest free franchise; you just have to sacrifice for it a lot. Sometimes it is money; sometimes it is time. The ability to put information out and draw a community together, all for free, is wonderful.”
While he chose to keep his feelings about these questions to himself, Pearson was quick to praise those in the community — organizations like Emerging Leaders and individuals such John Fleming (London’s director of planning and the lead voice for ReThink London) — for stepping up to make a difference. And that, said the former firefighter and co-director of the London Food Bank, is what London ultimately needs.
Pearson said he enjoyed writing the book (and is particularly happy with the chapter illustrations provided by his wife, Jane Roy), but he isn’t sure if it will accomplish his goals. That determination, Pearson said, will only come from those who read the book, share it, and discuss it.
“It is coming from a food bank director who doesn’t have a job and lost in the last election. So that isn’t all that promising,” Pearson said. “But if a citizen like me can write a book, if citizens like Shawn Adamsson can do Pints & Politics, other people are doing various things, if we can do that and generate discussion, that is all I am hoping for.”
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