"Do unto others
as you would have them do unto you."
In this issue:
1. A Personal Word
2. Help for Katrina
3. Vanishing Languages
A Personal Word
Some of you noticed there was no issue of Editor's Notes in August. It was nice to be missed and for those who like the human touch, this section explains why. For the rest, please just skip down to the other sections.
I had a topic boiling on the back burner and I wanted to write two Web pages to further develop what would be in the newsletter. I also had a full plate of writing and editing deadlines. That I could have dealt with.
I could also deal with the scheduled trip to Alaska. That I could really deal with. I haven't had a holiday in so many years I can't recall the last time I took serious time off from work. And I've taken only one other holiday in my life that had no purpose other than to go somewhere and forget that I work for a living. (Don't feel sorry for me about this. I'm just a compulsive worker who actually likes to work so much that I usually forget to play in the more traditional sense. I'm working on it. There's the W word again!)
Things went pear-shaped when my cat began to look poorly just before I was to leave. By the time the vet could see her, she was definitely a sick kitty that needed injected fluids and antibiotics. The medication needed to continue while I was scheduled to be away.
The student I had hired to feed her while I was away announced that he would not be available for the whole time. So, instead of finishing up my writing and editing, I spent three days frantically looking for suitable care for my cat.
What the student didn't tell me until the day before I left was that he and his family had also found suitable care for Sandy, but by then I had used up all my time.
If I had not been taking my mother to Alaska with me, I would have cancelled my trip, but although I'd do almost anything for my cat, I couldn't put her ahead of my mom.
Editor's Notes came somewhere farther down on the list of things to do.
Sandy the cat is fine. In fact she now refuses to eat anything except freshly cooked and carefully chopped chicken with the occassional bit of pork chop for variety. The local cat shelter will be getting my stockpile of canned cat food.
Alaska was wonderful. We walked on glaciers and got spoiled by Holland America staff. I was so dysfunctional when we disembarked that I found it difficult to load the suitcases into the car to come home. I expect to write a teeny bit more about that trip in my next newsletter.
Help for Katrina
We have all been moved by the reports of devestation by Katrina. When a disaster like this is far away, we feel so helpless.
That's why I was thrilled to discover that the Red Cross provides banners to Web site owners that link to their donations page. I've put one on my home page right at the top in case anyone wants to make a donation to an agency that is already on the ground doing what it can. As I write, CBC radio reports that Sri Lanka is sending $25,000 to the Red Cross in the USA. You know it's bad when third world countries send help.
I invite you to use the banner on my home page to make a donation if that meets your needs.
I also challenge each of us to use our skills as writers to do what we can to help.
- Offer your skills to a non-profit organization.
- Put the power of your words to work now and in the future to focus attention on how situations like this can be handled better.
- Choose one of your writing projects and give the proceeds toward relief of human suffering.
Of course, loss of human life calls for immediate action. What about loss of culture?
I was impressed by the following press release and give Trafford publishing full marks for being good corporate citizens. Two years ago I visited Trafford's offices. At that time they had just produced the first book for a vanishing language and they gave me a copy.
I have no idea who you will find to give this information to, but if we really are only 6 steps from each other at any point, I'm sure that at least some of you know someone who can use this information.
Global effort needed to halt loss of priceless cultural knowledge
for immediate release -- Sept. 1, 2005
(Victoria, Canada / Oxford, UK / Gaborone, Botswana) Over 6,500 indigenous languages around the world are severely endangered. With the last remaining native speakers of many dialects dying each year, one publishing company is pledging over $1.6 million to help in the global race to document and teach these languages to youth.
The donation by Trafford Publishing is being announced today to over 800 delegates from over 80 countries gathering at WITFOR 2005, a UNESCO- and European Union-sponsored conference in Botswana, convened to discuss ways to give access to technology to those in the developing world.
Have them write books, urges Trafford Publishing, an innovative company which revolutionized the publishing industry when it created a process known as 'on-demand publishing' ten years ago. Now over 3,000 independent authors publish their books each year with the company whose main offices are in Victoria, Canada and Oxford, England. Books are printed 'on-demand' one at a time to fill orders from bookstores and individuals, with most orders placed on the Internet.
Trafford is pledging to underwrite approximately $1,600,000 in publishing costs over the next ten years. The programme will make available primers for school children, dictionaries and local stories -- one book will be published in each of 650 endangered languages.
"When a native language dies out, we've lost forever our chance to learn cultural truths," says Trafford CEO Bruce Batchelor. "Philosophy, lifestyle, science, healing -- all the nuances are tied up in the grammar, vocabulary and way of speaking. It is a tragedy if a language that encapsulates tens of thousands of years of a group's culture is lost forever. It's like standing by watching the destruction of the ancient library at Alexandria, without trying to put out the fire."
Trafford has already published primers in 10 Canadian aboriginal endangered languages, and is sponsoring urgent work to document an endangered language in Namibia.
Batchelor hopes the magnitude of Trafford's pledge will bring attention to the situation and encourage donations in equipment from hi-tech manufacturers.
"Some communities really need a few key tools to document their language and then plug into the best revival practices. An iBook, iPod, microphone, digital camera, solar battery charger, a week's on-site technical training -- those would be part of the most basic linguistic rescue kit," says Batchelor, listing the sponsorship possibilities.
Trafford's gift was prompted by a request by Bothas Marinda of Namibia to have a book published in his community's language. Peter Brand of First Peoples' Cultural Foundation, a Canadian non-profit which will be helping Marinda, passed along the idea to Batchelor who didn't want to limit this to only a few first nations or tribes.
"It is ironic that most of these languages have been almost wiped out because of 'modern' culture," notes Batchelor. "Now we can use innovations in publishing and technology to enable and empower locals to document and then teach their languages."
Brand and FPCF Executive Director Tracey Herbert are making the pledge announcement on Trafford's behalf at the conference during a presentation about FirstVoices.com, pioneering language revitalization technology developed by the foundation. Aboriginal groups from 5 continents are using or preparing to use web-based dictionaries that hyperlink to pictures and the sound of each word being pronounced. Brand's team can convert standard PC keyboards for typing aboriginal characters which can be printed on most laser or inkjet printers in the international Unicode font standard.
Trafford Publishing (www.trafford.com) is one of the world's most prolific publishers, releasing over 3,000 new titles in 2005. It was the first company in the world to offer 'on-demand publishing' services for business, agencies and individuals. Trafford's services are now being used by independent authors from over 105 countries. Its books are sold through major distributors and retailers around the world, with printing done in Canada, USA and UK. Trafford uses 'green' energy from solar and wind to power its own print shop, which uses recycled paper. Some titles are also available as eBooks.
FirstVoices.com is a set of web-based languages archiving and teaching resources, developed by First Peoples' Cultural Foundation -- a Canadian-based Indigenous non-profit society, based in British Columbia. Recent exposure for FirstVoices.com at international conferences in Canada, Japan and now Botswana are raising the profile of the unique language tools, originally developed for the 198 First Nations in BC. The invitation to showcase FirstVoices.com in Africa acknowledges the successful development and implementation of a made-in-Canada technology solution developed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.
The Government of the Republic of Botswana, in collaboration with the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), will host the second World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR) in Gaborone, Botswana from August 31 to September 2, 2005. The meeting will address issues critical to developing countries, such as the application of information/communications technology (ICT) in fighting HIV/Aids, poverty, access to education, environment, as well as social, ethical and legal consequences of IT. It will also showcase leading-edge ICT solutions for economic development, as well as best practice projects from around the world. The conference takes place at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC) in Botswana. www.witfor.org
Based on retail pricing applicable to the various currency zones, Trafford's pledge is worth approximately $1,656,850 Canadian dollars or $1,266,850 US or 1,202,500 euro or 876,850 UK pounds.
Indigenous language teams can access publishing services by contacting Peter Brand at email@example.com. The First People's Cultural Foundation is developing criteria to determine which groups will benefit from Trafford's donation of 65 publishing packages per year for 10 years.
To arrange interviews, contact:
- Annette Humphries, Trafford Publishing, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Peter Brand, email@example.com (Please note that Peter is working in Africa until mid-September, so may not reply immediately to emails.)