Massey’s memoir, the making of a maverick

Ask author Bill Massey to describe himself, and he’ll tell you, “I never intended to be a maverick, but I am.” In vivid detail, Of Pork & Potatoes describes how that happened. Read how it unfolds in detail, in his newly released and riveting Manitoba-based book.

Of Pork & Potatoes weaves Massey’s personal narrative with rural advocacy addressing child abuse/poverty and agricultural practices into simultaneous side-by-side stories. He accomplishes this and more in a feisty distinctive memoir that tugs you by the hand through each engaging chapter.

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Massey’s personal story covers growing up on the farm, his parents and siblings and school days as a kid. Readers can feel the wind and snow as it blew through the holes and cracks of their house, shiver as he describes he and his sister, Marlene, trembling under a blanket on a winter drive, and smell the turkey and gravy as the door opened Christmas Day when the family arrived for supper at their aunt’s. Massey lived on Manitoba farms at Kelwood, Elma and eventually Grosse Isle.

Abuses and assaults were constants in his childhood. Teaching school and then becoming a school principal at the age of 30, allowed Massey to advocate on behalf of abused children, as well as those in poverty. Beyond being an educator, Massey emerged as a vocal advocate advancing anti child abuse programs within his local school division, and subsequently teaching nonviolent crisis intervention courses to community groups and at university.

Concurrently, Massey also masterfully details his 15-year struggle with a large industrial farm operation, bureaucracy and political interference. His leadership skills found an application addressing unsustainable farming practices, a concentrated livestock operation, and their combined impact on the environment.

Readers are introduced to this crisis in Chapter Seven titled “An Unbearable Stench”: When injecting manure the operation is supposed to have a setback distance from the edge of the field to prevent the manure from going where it shouldn’t. So it was quite shocking to see puddles of manure on the edges of the fields and in the ditch draining into the preserve through the fall of 2005.

Massey describes the research, council meetings, presentations as well as reports to the Manitoba Ombudsman that he and the Concerned Citizens of Grosse Isle Committee embarked upon in an effort to stop the unchecked expansion of a hog barn near their community.

It has been Massey’s contention then and today that the Province’s current Planning Act of Manitoba makes it “virtually impossible for rural people to protect their rights”. He knows the struggle that he and his committee are waging is a microcosm in which many other Manitoba grass-root groups and associations find themselves. His red line – it’s impossible for rural people to protect their rights when the province’s current Planning Act does not provide for those rights!

The book, published by Friesen Press, is available wherever books are sold.

© Virden Empire-Advance