Christmas Tree Prostitution

I hate to forever be dumping on the good folks at the Capital Commission, but as they have come up with yet another inane idea to pollute my capital city home, I feel compelled to speak out.

If you take a quick drive or walk down Great George Street this festive holiday season, you will see a new collection of 35 lit Christmas trees. In front of each tree is an incredibly ugly large white placard that says something along the lines of “This Tree Sponsored By…” and then the name of a local business.

In today’s Guardian we learn the following from Kim Green of the Capital Commission:

“We have three main goals: to attract off-Island visitation, to keep people shopping downtown and to keep people from going to Moncton and Halifax to shop. We’ve got it all here so let’s stay home and spend the money on P.E.I.”

Can somebody explain to me why intelligent people from away would travel great distances to shop in downtown Charlottetown this season so as to be able to view generic Christmas trees with giant ugly placards in front of them?

Or, indeed, why I, as a downtown resident, would in fact not want to immediately escape to the quite confines of, say, Ellis Brothers Shopping Centre (not downtown) or, say, Summerside, Souris, Montague or North Rustico — or even Moncton! — none of which, as far as I know, have festooned their Christmas Trees with commercial calling cards.

The Guardian article goes on to say:

The freshly-cut eight-foot trees which make up Christmas Tree Lane were purchased by companies, families and service groups as a fund-raiser for the Children’s Wish Foundation. They will act as the focal point of this year’s Christmas light display.

Supporting the Children’s Wish Foundation is, of course, a laudable goal. Whatever happened to the days, however, when local businesses were quietly satisfied to do charitable good without some mandatory uglification project trumpeting their good works? I’ve got nothing against Christmas Trees — it’s the fact that they’ve been turned into billboards that bothers me.

And one more thing: the Guardian story’s lead says that Great George Street has been, by virtue of the prostituted trees, turned into a “winter paradise.” The Guardian here is either guilt of printing Capital Commission propoganda verbatim, or of abusing the language; a paradise is “a place of bliss; a region of supreme felicity or delight.” Christmas trees might be nice, but let’s agree to keep the work paradise for things that are really, really neat, okay?

Comments

pat's picture
pat on November 17, 2002 - 07:08

Were the placards made of wood? That would be comic, in a twisted sort of way.

lana's picture
lana on November 17, 2002 - 14:28

Keep Islanders shopping at home by…. *I know this is a stretch of the imagination here*… having shops other than Walmart, Zellers and Winners! I know it’s all crazy talk!

Alan's picture
Alan on November 17, 2002 - 18:51

Just for that, I am going to Halifax!

Andrew's picture
Andrew on November 17, 2002 - 20:31

The advertisements really bothered me too. I was actually thinking about going out and taking them down myself, but I figured that would be considered stealing. I guess what they say is true, advertising has every event and Holiday by the balls…

hannah's picture
hannah on November 18, 2002 - 14:28

…and the ultimate joy is living on Great George Street — the day they did the trees they closed the road to cars (with no notice), and blared distorted Christmas music as suited office workers looked uncomfortable draping sets of lights around those damn trees.
I’m still trying to think of something clever to do about those placards — switch them round? remove them completely? (after all, the money has been paid to the charity, so that’s OK..)
suggestions welcome!

stephengood's picture
stephengood on November 18, 2002 - 15:32

8 foot trees? — the placards must be half as tall as the trees themselves!

Judy Bayliss's picture
Judy Bayliss on November 18, 2002 - 18:37

The signs are ugly and inappropriate. The idea to have an avenue of pretty trees is charming. But both?
Remove those signs……..they are crass.
Please Capitol Commission, read these messages and move the signs.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on November 18, 2002 - 18:43

I would be happy with say, one bill board type sign at the top of the street saying “Christmas Tree lane was made possible by:” Then list the people or companies who helped out.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 18, 2002 - 20:32

What kind of charity requires an ad confirming the act of charity?

Lana's picture
Lana on November 19, 2002 - 13:20

For those not-on-the-island… maybe some photo evidence could be of use here!

Andrew's picture
Andrew on November 19, 2002 - 17:54

Well, if Peter does not get around to getting a couple pictures of the bill boards, I’ll be downtown tonight and take a couple pictures for you good folks to ponder over.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 19, 2002 - 19:48

Whatever happened to the days, however, when …`

What turnip truck did you fall off…nothin for nothin in this commecial world…everybody knows that all Christmas is just a marketing tool these days for games, dolls and more STUFF, and has been for a long time. Just think of the signs as another irritating pop-up. Ch`town is just keeping with current Christmas spirit. Humbug!

Alan's picture
Alan on November 19, 2002 - 20:12

…makes you proud to be a CFA…

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 19, 2002 - 20:17

Touch

Ritchie Simpson's picture
Ritchie Simpson on November 20, 2002 - 13:42

This tempest is starting to escape its teapot. For those of you getting too caught up in your superiority (not too mention self-rightousness) Charlottetown and/or PEI didn’t invent crass commercialism. Local businesses supporting the tree program while crass probably allows us to have a “Tree Program” at all.
Christmas is what you make it and if you feel your Yuletide Season would be more meaningful and less crass elsewhere please let me be the first to say “Hope you’re going home for this holiday and many, many others”.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 20, 2002 - 14:04

Classic: “you getting too caught up in your superiority (not too mention self-rightousness…hope you’re going home for this holiday and many, many others”. Friendly. Wayne, I repeat my earlier comment!

Alan's picture
Alan on November 20, 2002 - 15:52

…and furthermore…my review of the post above tells me there was nothing Islandish about the subject matter being criticized, just general commercial oafishness. The dose of hospitality you offer, Ritchie, is off the mark. That being said, good for using your name and post again and again and again. Wayne needs allies against wacko CFA cranks like me.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 20, 2002 - 16:01

Home is where you hang your hat, and I continue to encourage many from abroad to join the large group of outstanding Island citizens, but am steadfast in my conviction that they will always be “from away”. And, I think that “crass commercialism” was invented by some guy from Toronto named “Timothy”, or something like that.
Happy Holidays…

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 20, 2002 - 16:08

Home is where you hang your hat, and I continue to encourage many from abroad to join the large group of outstanding Island citizens, but am steadfast in my conviction that they will always be “from away”. And, I think that “crass commercialism” was invented by some guy from Toronto named “Timothy”, or something like that.
Happy Holidays…

Alan's picture
Alan on November 20, 2002 - 16:37

One of the most interesting aspects of Islanderness is its practical irrelevance to those self-described Islanders deem not of their own. On a grand level, CFA’s like the current premier are elected with logic defying landslides. Most CBC staff are not Islanders as are many print journalists yet they are relied upon to report on and thereby define local life. Every committee working to the betterment of the community I have worked on is populated in large part by folks not born here. The appropriateness of claims to Islanderness can arise in the most curious forums. Once, in my former life at court, the Crown suggested that my persuasive set of cases need not be followed by the judge as we could rely on “local law”, being the few vaguely related cases he presented. Thankfully for the state of justice in the land, the Crown was ignored.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 20, 2002 - 16:54

Contrary to the “irrelevance” theory…Islanders continue to use PFA’s to better the lives of all living on the Island. And, we are sometimes entertained with their perspective of Island life. I am still waiting for someone to publish the book that outlines the significant accomplishments of those “from away”. Would probably be shorter then the one about famous Islanders abroad, but it still would be an interesting, and amusing, read.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 20, 2002 - 17:10

Well, that is interesting to me too, Wayne, as I was hoping to find even an article on famous islanders abroad. Don’t they report back once they’ve “gone to the other side”;-) Remember I used the phrase “practical irrelevance” when last baiting you. The nicest thing about the committee work, the neighbourliness, the media, is that it does not get in the way of things getting done quite nicely. It is more like a gloss than a wall obstructing participation. Of course CFA/PFA most irks me due to its use, as I have said before, in relation to other Maritimers, something which is not only rude but inaccurate.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 20, 2002 - 17:25

Intention is never meant to be rude, just factual. Nor is it inaccurate when defined by Islanders, as opposed to those who still seek assimulation by PEI (Maritime Union).

Alan's picture
Alan on November 20, 2002 - 17:51

You are in a more serious state than I thought. The good people of Cape Breton had the sense to abaondon their dreams of a separate colony. Come back to the golden ers, Wayne: 1758 to 1769…

Erin's picture
Erin on November 21, 2002 - 03:19

As a former Confederation Player shaking the head at the large, ugly placards accompanying the trees, I’d like to share a satirical little slogan which has long been cherished by among us as a truth:

The Capitalist Commission: Doing Less, With More!”

Andrew's picture
Andrew on November 21, 2002 - 03:48

Hey Peter, if you write a letter to the Capital Commission asking them to fix their signs on Christmas Tree lane, maybe they will take them down altogather… Kinda like the BMO clock situation. :)

too-el's picture
too-el on November 21, 2002 - 17:34

Nice cast, Alan.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 21, 2002 - 19:34

Still trawling that one, Mr. double “L”…

too-el's picture
too-el on November 22, 2002 - 00:56

Aye laddie..tis a finely baited hook yer using. Best to throw back though — a catch and release program is better for the next in line.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 22, 2002 - 12:34

Funny, I was thinking the same thing.
I find fish smelly.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 22, 2002 - 13:46

Seeing as Rukavina is not posting new topics, we might as well beat this dead horse if only way of a morality play for the good moderator. UPEI reacently announced a huge grant to establish a chair study the uniqueness of islanders — wherever they are not just on PEI. My first reaction was that the uniqueness lies in the inability to recognize similarity: that a farmer in the Annapolis Valley is pretty much a farmer in Tyne Valley, that Canso is pretty much the same as Souris, Anticosti or the Maggies is pretty much Gaspe). The putative non-islander (Not big “I” but little “i”) see it but somehow by being surrounded by water causes a blindness. Insulation. Given the interest in spending big money on the silly (ATC, the Charlottetown portal, corporate bum welfare, Charter appeals) and little on the important (kindergarden, local doctors, recycling systems that do not create back parking lot trash piles), the creation of the chair of silly studies is not a surprise — but is it rationally defensible?

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 22, 2002 - 14:15

Alan, you gota get out more. World travel helps one recognize similarity by showing diversity. Diversity is everywhere. Vive la difference! Islanders (with a capital I) do not discredit others by recognizing they are unique. But, I agree with you…is such a study really a worthwhile cause? Why waste such a large sum of money in an attempt to educate those “from away” about a subject so clear and obivious to Islanders.

An interesting topic would be about the “Garbage Nazi’s” that have touched all of us.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 22, 2002 - 16:41

Wayne, we are not far apart — I never say there no culture here just that it is inexplicable or as you say “clear and obvious to Islanders.” I have been everywhere man and the only thing I find odd about here is the lack of open pride about the culture. They have been overwhelmed by the lies of Anne, a sort of Disnification of an entire culture [- hits hard against the political strength of the citizenry, too.] I want to hear about the Belfast Riots, the 1800’s song writer who was driven off the island for telling about his view of the truth, the late 60’s early 70’s overcoming of poverty and ignorance, etc., the things that make the difference. Here is an illustration. My wife was at a meeting of somesort that at one point included some sort of song of the Island. When she said to her neighbour, you never told me about that sone she was told “we wouldn’t teach that to YOU”. I deeply believe their is a some sort unique culture (with warts and all) here but until it is revealed, displayed and shared it is a more than a bit useless. [I do also think that a large part of it is the Martime culture but that is another thing.] Why all the secrecy? Being involved with secret societies professionally and by association I fear I might find the hidden content of PEI culture might be equally disappointing. I hope that the fear is wrong. A folk song culture might be a start. Not more “my Island home” namby pamby “red lanes are wonderful” crapola — a lot of poverty, abuse and ignorance lives down those lanes. Real songs. Show me some of those and I will start to believe in your secret society.

Alan's picture
Alan on November 22, 2002 - 17:01

Wayne, we are not far apart — I never say there no culture here just that it is inexplicable or as you say “clear and obvious to Islanders.” I have been everywhere man and the only thing I find odd about here is the lack of open pride about the culture. They have been overwhelmed by the lies of Anne, a sort of Disnification of an entire culture [- hits hard against the political strength of the citizenry, too.] I want to hear about the Belfast Riots, the 1800’s song writer who was driven off the island for telling about his view of the truth, the late 60’s early 70’s overcoming of poverty and ignorance, etc., the things that make the difference. Here is an illustration. My wife was at a meeting of somesort that at one point included some sort of song of the Island. When she said to her neighbour, you never told me about that sone she was told “we wouldn’t teach that to YOU”. I deeply believe their is a some sort unique culture (with warts and all) here but until it is revealed, displayed and shared it is a more than a bit useless. [I do also think that a large part of it is the Martime culture but that is another thing.] Why all the secrecy? Being involved with secret societies professionally and by association I fear I might find the hidden content of PEI culture might be equally disappointing. I hope that the fear is wrong. A folk song culture might be a start. Not more “my Island home” namby pamby “red lanes are wonderful” crapola — a lot of poverty, abuse and ignorance lives down those lanes. Real songs. Show me some of those and I will start to believe in your secret society.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 22, 2002 - 19:25

Any skeltons in ur family tree you wanna share with us? I think you see my point…Dave Weale used to offer some courses at UPEI you might find really interesting.

Hook, line and sinker ;)

Alan's picture
Alan on November 22, 2002 - 20:06

Yah, right…when you recommend a university course as the first step in explaining your culture, look in the mirror…

Kelly Temple's picture
Kelly Temple on May 8, 2004 - 18:11

Two and half years since this chat? Amazing! This is actually an interesting and controversial subject e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e! One American place my family lived in for 6 years exhibited similar thinking. ‘The incoming new citizens will “always be outsiders.” But before the judgmental juices begin running. I challenge you to think! America as Canadians use to know was at one point with culture and a sense of community even though there were differences of opinions in lifestyles and government. Now, the only relevance to America which I can see is behavior reflecting that of a pack of wolves. People are people are people…everywhere. There are obviously different preferences politically and socially. But there is the mentality which exists in some that in order for families and people to survive, they have to keep a wall up for the newcomers permantly or run them out altogether just because they are new and ‘can’t possibly have the skill to learn a new culture, be content and not change it for the world.’ If any province or country in this world of ours who has any ties and/or pride for their culture and respect for the human race, cannot be intelligent and intuitive enough to determine why newcomers want to relocate to a particular country or province from their “born” country, then these mentalities-not people but mentalities- are no different than the paranoia, suspiciousness and hatred that Americans have exhibited outside and inside their country. Culture is very important to the human side of people. It’s people sharing memories within places with the people they have most in common with. This is what America has lost. GREED? Yes! This is what America has gained. So, there are people out there, if you let in, will have something remarkably in common with your culture even though they weren’t born in that particular province or country. Cultures are usually all over the internet. People read and study them. Because people are different regardless of where they come from as well as a very important part of life, then why destroy that rare gift? I love Canada and think that this country has held on to what’s really important longer than most countries. But, to disregard another human being because they were not born in a particular part of the country will only lead to another America. If a family wants to relocate to Canada because of Canadian culture and not to expand their wealth or riches or not change their new Canadian culture to conform to their country-born culture, then why should history repeat itself? Greed comes in many forms-not just money. Any of the human weaknesses are capable of causing self-destruction among communities and even countries until there is nothing left but the animals.
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