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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

Newsletter No. 107 - Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - July - August 2001


IN PRAISE OF NEIGHBOURHOODS

All over the world, throughout history, humans have lived in close, safe, pedestrian clusters.

We did it because life was better this way - better for children, better for the elderly, and better for adults, making it easier to work and chat together.

I have experienced it in a village in Senegal where I once lived; in villages I have visited in India; in small towns in rural Britain; on cul-de-sacs in North American cities; and in cohousing projects, deliberately designed to keep the cars parked to one side.

This is a smart way to live; it is a natural way to live, especially for children and the elderly; it is a happy way to live, that enables people to develop a sense of community.

And yet today, when neighbours in the Jubilee area of Victoria seek to close out the cars that zoom through their neighbourhood, trying to cut two minutes off their trips to work or the mall, all hell breaks loose.

Drivers write angry letters to the paper, announcing that these are "their" streets, that they pay taxes for, and denouncing the selfish neighbours who want tranquillity returned to their lives.

When residential neighbourhoods are assaulted by cars, life suffers. The elderly become more shut in, fewer children play together, and fewer people know their neighbours.

By contrast, when streets are protected from cars by cul-de-sacs, traffic closures, traffic calming, or by 30 kph speed limits – which the German city of Freiburg has done since 1990 for neighbourhoods where 90% of its people live – life prospers.

The core of the problem, when you come down to it, is not the neighbourhoods which demand a end to cars beetling through their streets. Everyone would like that.

The core of the problem is not even the cars. Most people drive, because in our city, it the most convenient way to get around.

No – the core of the problem is the lack of an efficient, affordable bus service, and of proper city-wide provisions for cyclists. If these were in place, we could reduce the traffic on all our streets.

So let’s think outside the box, as the people of Boulder, Colorado, have done.

In Boulder (population 100,000), the city’s transport division, Go Boulder, has thrown out the rule book and done away with the big old buses that chunter along the regular routes, as they do in cities across North America. In its place, they have introduced a transit system designed in large part by Boulder’s citizens, who chose the size and design of the buses, and helped choose the routes and pick-up spots. The buses now come every ten minutes – and they are full.

They have done this by thinking about the customers, and responding to their needs. Their main tool is an annual ECO-pass, which sells ….. (drum-roll)…...for $50 US. Now get this: fully 60,000 Boulder residents have bought one. This means the buses are full and the income flows in, covering 1/3rd of the cost of the service. (The other 2/3rds is covered by government subsidy, as it is in BC). Here in Victoria, BC Transit sells its annual ‘ProPass’ ticket for $566; it’s a great service, and 2,000 people have bought one, but we’re just not in the same universe.

In Boulder, the students all buy the passes, for $15 a term. (Victoria students can buy a UPass for $11.75 a month). The Chamber of Commerce has added $50 to its membership and gives one to each member - the downtown merchants love it because their staff come in by bus, freeing the parking spaces for shoppers. Private companies buy them for their staff; all 1200 employees at the city hospital have bought one; 15 community groups have bought one for every household on their block. A city by-law requires developers of new residential subdivisions to buy each household three year’s worth of transit passes. In 1994, Go Boulder sold 4,000 ECO-passes. In 2000, it sold 60,000.

On the buses, the drivers get to choose their uniforms, and the music for an on-board CD player. The kids ride the buses too, building a mindset that will last a lifetime.

We need to plan for ALL neighbourhoods to be quiet and traffic-calmed – and the way to do it is by adopting a completely new approach to transit and cycling.

This means tearing up all the current assumptions for BC Transit, and opening up the whole system for public involvement, to design a completely new approach. We will all be the winners – and especially our children, who will inherit a far more attractive, civilized city – as will the good folks of the Jubilee neighbourhood.

Guy Dauncey

Thanks to Paul McKay, of the Ottawa Citizen, for the Boulder story. For details, see www.ci.boulder.co.us/goboulder


Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a Vancouver Island and a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community & the joys of deep fulfillment.

May June July
Circulation: 2250 2250 2250
By Email: 922 964 986
Print & Post: $949 $942 $950
Editorial: $250 $250 $250
Donations: $1222 $562 ? ? ?
Advertising: $65 $30
Balance: $2353 $1753  

Many thanks to Gail Schultz, Hannelore Ionnides, Joyce Hale, Marian Rowat, Pamela Harbord, Bruce Cooper, Inez Walker, Martha Orr, Green Foundation (Alberta), Stephen & Janet Gray, Jocelyn Floyer, Andrew Beath, Shelagh Levey, Sandra & Ron Jenkins, Ellie Boisvert, Debra Barr & Nattanya Hewitt.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria V9E 2B9. For a receipt, enclose a stamped addressed envelope.

To receive EcoNews by email, send a message to fill out the form at the top of the page!


THE ECO-CORNER

$5 a line (free to non-profits & low-income). 1" box ad $30, $2" $55.

* Fantastic new map of southern Vancouver Island. Hiking trails, mountain bike, kayaking info, wilderness camp sites. Detailed maps of Carmanah-Walbran, Nahmint & Alberni Valley, Juan de Fuca Trail & Ridge. Send $10 to CFS, 1431 Richardson Street, Victoria, V8S 1R1. Can also be bought wholesale, used as fundraiser.

* To let: Small house in Highlands on quiet organic farm. Attached greenhouse kitchen garden, wood heat, propane stove. No pets. $605. Call Peter, 652-2613

* For rent: Cabin in the woods, some amenities. Prefer farm-oriented person. $350 per month. 478-5334.

* Office Paper Buying Club. Join hundreds of businesses and environmental groups who save money on recycled chlorine-free paper. $56/case + taxes & delivery. Pre-payment essential. Deadline July 30th. 250-935-6992, info@rfu.org Reach for Unbleached! + Paper Choice.

* Community Gardens: Wanted - reflections for a publication celebrating community gardens in the CRD. Non-fiction, personal stories, reflections, poems, photographs. 500-1500 words. Call Emily MacNair (250) 721-8193.

* Upset with proposed Middle Schools? Call Families Against Imposed Reconfiguration (FAIR), Trevor 472-4681 www.MoreThanSolutions.com/FAIR

* Web-radio station planned, Victoria based, environmentally oriented. Interested? Dan Rubin dlrubin@uvic.ca


GREEN BOATING

"Ah. the summer. So beautiful. Let’s take the boat out!" Under the water, however, for the fish, whales and sea creatures, its "Uh-oh – here they come. Another summer of diesel and oil spills, dumped bilges and six-pack rings." Careless boaters do a huge amount of damage by little things like topping off the tank, which means spilling 1/2 litre into the ocean. But hey – the Georgia Strait Alliance has published a neat little ‘Guide to GreenBoating’ that will allow you to enjoy a summer on the water without spoiling it for the otters, seagulls and starfish. In Victoria, call 361-3621 for a free copy. Elsewhere, call (250) 753-3459 www.georgiastrait.org/ cleanboatingprogram.html


GREEN DRIVING

Well, that’s a misnomer, really. Even if you drive a fuel efficient Toyota Prius or a Honda Insight, you are still pouring out carbon emissions (though much less than if you’re a proud SUV owner). Summer is a great time for road-trips, but with every gallon of gas, your car releases 20 lbs of CO2 which accumulates in the atmosphere, fueling global climate change. Luckily, there is something you can do about it (as well as driving less). Climate Partners is a Victoria-based organization which enables you to buy "carbon offsets". Here’s how it works. If your car produces 5 tonnes of CO2 in a year (which is typical), your offsets will be used to stop 5 tonnes being released somewhere else by investing in projects such as carpooling, energy efficiency or solar energy, making your car "climate-neutral". For details, see www.climatepartners.com, or call 381-5550 (toll-free 1-877-621-3555)


GREEN FLYING

Ah, to see cousin Betty, and all the kids in Halifax. What fun we’ll have! But airplanes release CO2 too: Victoria to Halifax = 3.4 tonnes. For a family of three, that’s 10 tonnes. How did I know this? I checked a sneaky cool site on the internet - www.chooseclimate.org/flying, which will calculate your emissions for any journey. If you link up with Climate Partners, you could pay $100 in carbon offsets to make this trip climate neutral. Now – how many of those government types and eco-dudes who are flying to the Bonn Climate Summit are going to fly carbon neutral? That’s the challenge. We’ve got to start paying our eco-debts to the planet – our Eco-VISA cards are WAY overcharged.


STORMY WEATHER

How can I resist sharing this? After a year’s hard work, my new book, ‘Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change’ has been published, co-authored with Patrick Mazza, to praise from David Suzuki, Elizabeth May, Amory Lovins and others. (He said, shyly). "A fabulous book. Everybody talks about the climate, but nobody does anything about it. Now they can. Stormy Weather provides a sweeping vision of the issues, and comprehensive practical solutions. A must read for anyone who wants a cleaner, healthier planet." James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. It will be in the bookshops by mid-July ($27.95 CAN; $19.95 US). If you’d like a signed copy, send a cheque plus $4.50 postage (Canada), $7 (USA), or $9 (overseas) to Guy Dauncey, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V9E 2B9. I’m giving a public lecture on ‘101 Solutions to Global Climate Change" on Tuesday July 17th, to co-incide with the Bonn Climate Summit, in the downtown Public Library multipurpose room.


ORNAMENTUM FURNITURE
ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGNS

1780 Vernon Drive
Vancouver, V6A 3T8
(604) 215-7444

FSC accredited certification means that the forest is managed according to strict environmental,
social and economic standards. Chain of custody certified by Silva Forest Foundation.
SFF-COC-005

www.ornamentum.bc.ca

FSC trademark © Forest Stewardship Council A.C.


ECO-TEACHERS

Do you teach environmental classes or organize environmental initiatives in your school? We thought it would be useful for eco-teachers to get together, and West-Mont School in Metchosin has offered to host a BBQ in late August. If you’d like to come, please email me at guydauncey@earthfuture.com, 881-1304


City Green

healthy · wealthy · wise

Pesticide Free Naturally kits,

with lawn signs, now available.

Call 381-9995 or e-mail info@citygreen.ca


THANKYOU, DERRICK

Derrick Mallard died on June 1st, and is now holding hands with Gwen in heaven, where they are probably deciding which projects to support as angels. Derrick and Gwen were active as earth-angels since the late 1960s, during which time they campaigned for many causes, including saving Tod Inlet from development, helping create the Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, preventing the spraying of 2-4D herbicides, organizing an annual butterfly count to measure the impact of pesticide sprays, and much, much more. Right up to the end, Derrick was planning a new campaign, so if re-incarnation runs true, they’ll probably be back soon. For all your good work, Derrick and Gwen, we thank you. May you rest in eco-peace.


SWEDISH ECO-BURIAL

Derrick would probably appreciate this. Susanne Wiigh-Masak, a Swedish biologist, has discovered a more environmentally friendly form of burial, which recycles our corpses quickly into good soil fertilizer. Normal coffin burial takes 50 – 60 years for our bodies to decompose. And incineration sucks, emitting poisonous gases. In the new green method, which has been approved by the Church of Sweden, the body is immersed in a bath of liquid nitrogen, producing 30 kg of pure organic matter, which is put in a thin, easily degradable coffin. Buried near the surface, it enriches the soil just as autumn leaves do, becoming new life the following spring. (Reuters/Planet Ark).


Blackfish Wilderness Expeditions

47-foot Whaling Canoe

Butchart Gardens fireworks Ecotours

Saanich Inlet ecotours – and more!

Based at Brentwood Bay

Al Lubkowski 216-2389

www.coastnet.com/~blackfish


FORGET MAI: NOW ITS GATS

Deep in the heart of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a new initiative is being prepared to do what the defeated Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) had hoped to do. The WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) has been around since 1994. At the moment it only applies to a few sectors, including telecommunications and the financial sector. It the WTO free tradeocrats have their way, it will soon apply to almost everything. What would this mean? The goal of the GATS is to ensure that private corporations have the right to compete for every kind of public service that might currently be provided by a government (health care, water, postal, energy, etc), and to receive financial compensation if the GATS Dispute Panel rules that a law or regulation is "more burdensome than necessary", where ‘necessary’ means "least trade restrictive." (Article VI.4) The Dispute Panel’s hearings are closed. Trade unions, consumer, health and environmental groups are barred from participating. Details of its rulings are not published. The Dispute Panel would not accept the defense of "safeguarding the public interest." The consequences of this proposed trade legislation are shocking. People have fought painful struggles over hundreds of years to win the right to rule themselves through elected democracies – and now the global corporations are planning to over-ride the ability of our elected governments to set their own rules and regulations. The GATS Dispute Panel will have the power to decide whether a nation’s law or regulation serves a "legitimate objective"; the GATS plan will create an international agency with the power to veto parliamentary and regulatory decisions made by sovereign governments wherever these decisions are ruled to be "trade restrictive." Under the current, weaker version of GATS, Japan was forced to tear up its planning rules to let the retail monster box companies in. A similar NAFTA panel ruled recently that a Mexican municipality did not have the planning authority to prevent the construction of a toxic waste dump in its jurisdiction. EcoNews will be following this closely. Meanwhile, these sites have useful background information:

www.canadians.org (CouncilofCanadians)

www.tradewatch.org/GATS/GATShome.htm (Public Citizen)

www.foei.org/campaigns/TES/indextes.html (Friends of the Earth International)

www.wdm.org.uk/campaign/GATS.htm (World Development Movement)

www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/gatswatch


"Activism is my rent for living on this planet."
Alice Walker


FOR THE CHILDREN

Back in 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit, there was much concern expressed to seek out the concerns and opinions of children about the environment they were going to inhabit. As a result, the first International Children’s Conference on the Environment was held in Eastbourne, England, in 1995. The 2nd was held in Nairobi in 1998, and the third in Eastbourne in 2000. Next May, 21st – 25th, 500 young 10-12 year olds from 115 countries will be gathering here in Victoria for the 4th International Children’s Conference on the Environment, sponsored by the United Nations, to be hosted at UVic. During the conference, they will be looking at four main themes: Water, Climate Change, Healthy Communities, and Resource Conservation, combined with workshops and field trips, with recommendations going to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio +10), to be held in Sept 2002 in South Africa. For details, see www.iccCanada2002.org


ACTION OF THE MONTH:

THIRD WORLD DEBT
& THE GENOA G8 SUMMIT

From July 20th – 23rd, the leaders of the G-8 nations will gather in Genoa, Italy. Some of the richest countries have promised 100% cancellation of the debts they are owed by the poorest countries, following the worldwide Jubilee 2000 campaign. $100 million debt cancellation was promised, but only $12 billion has been written off, and most of the ‘heavily indebted countries’ are still paying more in debt payments than on health care for their people. The G8 leaders have the power to instruct the IMF and the World Bank to use their resources to cancel the multilateral debts they are owed by these countries (World Development Movement www.wdm.org.uk/campaign/debt.htm). This is a campaign being waged in 14 countries – but not yet in Canada. So let’s join in, and make sure Canada’s delegation knows that we care too.

Action: Write to the PM, the Right Honorable Jean Chretien, 80 Wellington St, Ottawa, K1A 0A2, and ask him to use all his influence at the G8 Summit to complete the process, and write off 100% of the debt owed to the IMF & the World Bank by the world’s poorest nations. Fax (613) 941-6900. Email pm@pm.gc.ca


The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!

 


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Now Available!
'Earthfuture : Stories from a Sustainable World'
(New Society Publishers, November 1999)
An ecofictional novel

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