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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Contact Econews

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. 154 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - December 2005


THE SONG OF THE SPIRIT

All life needs a home, an ecosystem of which it is part. And this includes the spirit, that invisible aspect within each of us that seeks kinship with the greater whole, by whatever name we call  it.

Some find their home in religion; some in art or music. Modern secular culture has made materialism its home, but it makes for the lousiest of homes, since it has no values above personal gain, and the endless accumulation of stuff. Step by step, it is turning Earth into a garbage heap.

Colin Macleod died in Scotland in November, at the age of 39. He was a dreadlocked eco-warrior who won the hearts of thousands. On the day of his funeral, 600 people followed his home-made coffin through the grey wet streets of Govan, near Glasgow.

Colin was born in Australia, of Scottish Hebridean roots. After a brief training as a forester, he went to America, where he volunteered with native Americans, and learnt about the Rediscovery movement, in which native youngsters learnt about their roots, spent time alone in the wilderness, and rebuild their self-respect, often in the face of problems with drink and drugs. (See www.alastairmcintosh.com/colin.htm)

Returning to Scotland, he threw himself into the protest against the M77 motorway, chained  himself to the top of a crane, and established a protest village where he used discarded construction timbers to teach woodcarving to the local youngsters, as well as Gaelic arts, storytelling and music. The camp was highly disciplined, with drugs and  heavy drinking being outlawed, but the ancient Gaelic tradition of non-judgmental hospitality was fiercely enforced.

The gathering tribe went on to build the first full-sized Hebridean war galley that had been built in Scotland for 400 years, along with wooden rowing skiffs, and a timber framed barn. Soon, this clan of long-term unemployed people were learning to sing Gaelic rowing songs, and spending weekends on deserted Hebridean islands, sitting around campfires, telling stories or reciting poetry under the stars. Back in mainland Scotland, his Gal-Gael movement has laid down roots because it has spoken to the spirit, and given it a home. (www.galgael.org)

South of the Scottish border, in the Lincolnshire village of Spilsby (pop'n 3,000), local residents used to be afraid to go out after dark because of the loutish behaviour of the teenagers, who would hang around at the bus shelter, drink lager, and swear at passers-by. The scene is common in parts of Britain - and Victoria.

Gary Brown is Spilsby's village police sergeant, and he is also fascinated by all things medieval. Troubled by the growing youth crime, and by stone-throwing at local churches, he developed an idea...

He formed the Knight School, a course for 5-9 year olds that instills a chivalrous code of courtesy, respect, and pride. Modeled on the Knights of the Round Table. He takes groups of 12, who are recommended by their primary school teachers because they are close to becoming unruly and disruptive. The course includes learning about chivalry, health, nutrition, safety, and taking part in community projects. At the end, they are knighted by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire at a ceremony at Tattershall castle, and given a set of armour, with a wooden sword and a shield. They all make a pledge: "We knights of the Knight School pledge that we will treat everybody with courtesy and respect."

So far, more than 130 children have passed through the Knight School, and there has been an enormous decrease in petty crime in the town. The course is massively over-subscribed.

On one level, it is just a small program for children. But on another level, like the Gal-Gael, it speaks to the hunger we have to serve a higher purpose, for our spirits to find a home which gives us pride, and a reason for existence.

"You who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself, because the past is just a good-bye. 
Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by,
 and feed them on your dreams, the one they picks, the one you'll know by."
(Song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

The ancient Gaelic and medieval cultures achieved this in response to the challenges of their time. Today, we face our own challenge, which is clear and omnipresent: all around us, our Earth and its ecosystems are in peril, and in need of our support.

In response, we need a vision as strong and compelling as any Holy Grail or Gaelic longboat. And the vision is this: to give birth to the age of planetary wisdom, and seek the restoration of all living systems.

It is a task for our spirit, as well as our labour and skills. What better home could we ask for?

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, & the joys of personal fulfillment, protected and guided by active citizenship.

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

Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send to GuyDauncey@EarthFuture.com, be sure to 'earmark' it to EcoNews.

The Money

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A big thankyou to Judy Gaylord, Tricia Carpenter, Nadia Ariff, Lois Thompson, Rose Evans, James Thomson, Lynn Daniel and Peter Lamb.


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* The CRD Roundtable on the Environment seeks new members to represent academic, scientific & research institutions; citizens-at-large; and conservation and environmental groups (www.crd.bc.ca/rte). Two year voluntary position to advise the CRD on environmental matters; meetings 3rd Monday every other month, at 524 Yates Street from noon-2pm. Send resume by December 5 to Chair, CRD Roundtable on the Environment, c/o Tom Watkins, 625 Fisgard Street, P.O. Box 1000 Victoria, V8W 2S6 360-3197, Fax: 360-3079 E-mail: twatkins@crd.bc.ca

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HABITAT JAM

From December 1st to 3rd, the 72-hour Habitat Jam is lining up to be the world’s largest global Internet discussion forum, with 100,000 participants from as far away as Antarctica, the Solomon Islands, Cape Verde, Iraq, and Afghanistan discussing urban sustainability, from cycling, food, and slum-dwellers to water, energy, and security. The moderators include renowned architect Bill McDonough, film-maker Deepa Mehta, biomimicry author Janine Beynus, and BC’s own Raffi. The JAM is part of preparations for the World Urban Forum in Vancouver next June 19-23. The goal is to gather your input, and add it to thousands of others to turn ideas into action. To join: www.habitatjam.com.

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ECONEWS WINTER APPEAL

Dear Readers,

As winter begins to stretch her toes, and our thoughts turn to holidays and cozy hearths, the EcoNews bank account would love to feel the same cozy feeling, since she’s getting rather empty. Would you help to fill her up?

EcoNews has been financed by donations from its readers ever since it started in 1991, 154 issues ago. It costs $1,200 a month to produce, and for this, we reach around 7,000 people, including every B.C. MLA and CRD municipal politician. We aim to keep you informed and inspired, as we persist with the much-needed vision of a more just, sustainable world.

If you enjoy reading EcoNews and value the information that it provides, would you consider making a donation? You can send a cheque to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V9E 2B9. (Not charitable, but it you’d like a receipt, please send a stamped addressed envelope.)

Many thanks! Guy Dauncey

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FREE BOOK
If Only Things Were Different: A Model for a Sustainable Economy
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NDP PROGRESS

Deep within the pile of rock known as the Provincial Legislature in Victoria, the New Democrats, freshly energized with 35 members, have been beavering away. Here are some snippets that give a hint of the way they’re thinking.

Maurine Karagianis MLA plans to introduce a motion to give PST exemption for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Shane Simpson MLA has introduced a motion to appoint a Sustainability Commissioner to certify the environmental sustainability of the government’s actions, and ensure that development doesn’t compromise our ecological resources or their ability to sustain current and future generations.

And Carole James has tabled a campaign finance reform bill that would limit all campaign contributions to individuals only, and set up a comprehensive review of the way the political process is financed in BC, leading (she hopes) to a "fundamental shift in our democracy back to individual citizens."

Don’t hold your breath, since the NDP is not the government. To track their activities, see www.newsroom.bc.ndp.ca

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GARRY OAKS PROGRESS

Victoria has more than 150 environmental non-profit societies, which is just amazing, and a credit to everyone involved. One of these is the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERTS), whose 100 members seek the long-term recovery of Garry oak trees, and their associated ecosystems. In Canada, the Garry oak ecosystem is only found in BC; it now exists in only 1% to 5% of its original range, pushed out by agriculture and development, and compromised by invasive species such as broom. In their undisturbed glory, they are intoxicatingly beautiful.

Over the past five years, the GOERTS team has acquired several sites for protection, such as the Matson Lands in Esquimalt, and undertaken the management and restoration of 23 further sites. They’ve developed a stewardship manual, and surveyed the species at risk. (119 species of plants, mammals, reptiles, birds, butterflies and other insects are listed as at risk of extinction in Garry oak ecosystems.) They have educated tens of thousands of people through their website and outreach programs, and completed four draft recovery strategies for some of the vulnerable elements in Garry oak ecosystems: maritime meadows; vernal woods; woodlands; and the rigid apple moss.

Our Garry oak ecosystems are so lovely, but they are threatened, and the folks at GOERTS are working to ensure their long-tem recovery. On their website at www.goert.ca they list 18 ways that you can help. The 18th is financial: if you’d like to support them, call their financial administrator at 250-383-3447, or email info@goert.ca

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LET’S NUKE THE TAR SANDS!

Here’s one for the history books. During November, I was speaking on a Gulf Island where I met a retired exploration geologist who worked on the Alberta tar sands in the 1950s and ‘60s. Separating the oil from the sand needs a lot of heat, which makes it expensive and difficult. Early attempts used steam, but some of my friend’s colleagues had been involved with Project Gnome, to develop peaceful uses for the atomic bomb. This had one member of the team, Dr. M.L. Natland, thinking about using bombs to free up the tar sands, and the idea got approval as "Project Oilsand".

The plan was to detonate 9 kiloton "thermal devices" (ie bombs) 380 metres underground, 7 metres below the base of the tar sand. Each bomb would cost $350,000, which was cheaper than drilling a deep well. At 2 million barrels of oil per bomb, 400 bombs (one every 18 hours) would release a billion barrels of oil a year. The US AEC did radioactivity studies at their Oak Ridge laboratory, and assured them that the released oil would contain "no more radiation than a wrist watch dial".

By July 1959 the project had all the relevant approvals, but as the cold war got going, John Diefenbaker (Canada’s PM) and other world leaders were pushing for a nuclear testing ban. In April 1962, Howard Green, Canada’s Minister of External Affairs, said "Canada is opposed to nuclear tests, period", and that was the end of Project Oilsands. By 1974, it was resurrected as Project Athabasca, under different sponsors, but then the trail goes cold.

With or without a bomb every 18 hours, the tar sands pose an enormous global threat through their released greenhouse gases. The extraction processes produce 100 MT (million tonnes) of CO2 a year, partly from the natural gas that is used to heat the tar sands; the oil itself (a million barrels a day) releases a further 136 MT of CO2 a year when it is used (372 kg of CO2 per barrel).

Total: 236 MT a year. Canada’s Kyoto target: 270 MT a year.

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SWEDEN TO END DEPENDENCE ON FOSSIL FUELS

The Swedish government has determined that as a society, they will solve all their environmental problems within one generation, so that they are not passed on to the next generation. They have set 15 national policy targets (and 70 indicators), one of which is that they will eliminate all use of hazardous chemicals by 2020. But get this! On October 1st, the Minister for Sustainable Development, Mona Sahlin, announced that because of global climate change and oil supply uncertainties, the government is adding a 16th policy target: to create the conditions necessary to break Sweden’s dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. "By then, no home will need oil for heating … no motorist will be obliged to use petrol as the sole option available." They will encourage more use of biofuels, biomass district heating, hybrid and ethanol cars, and renewable electricity, and increase their energy research commitment to CAN $118 million a year. (Sweden has 9 million people, to BC’s 4 million.)

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A GIFT OF NATURE

If you want to give your loved ones an unusual gift this Christmas, then check out The Land Conservancy. You could give them an overnight camp-out at the Sooke Potholes, or a summer Nature Cruise; a conservation holiday week, or Tea for Two at the Abkhazi Gardens. Or you could Adopt an Acre in their name. 250-383-4627 (1-888-738-0533) www.conservancy.bc.ca The Western Canada Wilderness Committee (651 Johnson St) has the stunning-as-ever 2006 Wilderness and Wildlife calendars, along with cards and eco-more, as do Granola Groovy, Narnia Farms, Hemp and Co, and Fibre Options, all in downtown Victoria. For a different surprise, how about a Gift Certificate for the delivery of fresh organic food from Small Potatoes Urban Delivery (www.spud.ca), Share Organics (www.shareorganics.bc.ca) or Saanich Organics (544-4807)? Or a certificate for cycling gear? Or a certain best-selling organic gardening guide, by your illustrious editor’s wife!

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Great Gift Idea!
A Year on the Garden Path : A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide
by Carolyn Herriot

Visit your local bookshop/order online
www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

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CANADIAN EARTH INSTITUTE

Add one more to that list of local environmental organizations! The Canadian Earth Institute’s mission is to motivate individuals to examine and transform their personal values and habits, to take responsibility for the Earth, and to act on that commitment. It is partnered with the Northwest Earth Institute (www.nwei.org), and follows a similar approach, using Discussion Circles. These bring people together on a weekly basis for 7-9 weeks to study a topic such as Voluntary Simplicity, Deep Ecology, Choices for Sustainable Living, or Globalization. I’ve been in one, and they’re a great way to study among a small group of friends. The CEI is training new volunteers, seeking funding, building partnerships, and getting ready to launch new study circles, both locally and across Canada. If this intrigues you, or you’d like to help, call Beth Cruise at 250-727-9163.

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some sites that have passed my way:

Message from the Wombat: www.globalcommunity.org/flash/wombat.shtml

Elizabeth May’s Climate Change Blog from COP-11 at Montreal: http://citizen.nfb.ca/blogs/emay

Guy Dauncey’s Climate Change Blog from COP-11 at Montreal: www.bcsea.org/blog

National Geographic’s Global Warning, Signs from the Earth: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0409/feature1/?fs=www7.nationalgeographic.com

Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning: www.gicel.ca

The Little Earth Charter for Kids, sung by Victoria’s Rosie Emery: www.littleanimation4kids.com/EC.html

Little Animation for Kids: www.littleanimation4kids.com/

Toxic Nation: Pollution, it’s in you!: www.environmentaldefence.ca/toxicnation/landing.htm

Peace, Earth and Justice News: www.pej.org/html/index.php

Mr Floatie’s very own POOP site: www.poopvictoria.ca

CBC Ideas, to enliven your evening: www.cbc.ca/ideas/

Comondi, for green earth-friendly products: www.comondi.com

Caribou Nation: www.caribounation.org

And finally, a softy for the holidays: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/singingman7/Twinkies.htm

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ACTION OF THE MONTH: THE GREAT BEAR RAIN FOREST

It is dark, damp, and wet in the Great Bear Rainforest as winter wraps its misty fingers around the silent trees, the wetlands, and the hibernating bears. In the silence of the days, the forest knows its ancientness. The rivers run clear, as they have done since the end of glaciation, ten thousand years ago, and a host of species live undisturbed, including Northern Goshawks, grizzly bears, Marbled Murrelets, and tailed frogs.

The lands are huge, running from the tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border; they are one of the largest contiguous tracts of coastal temperate rainforest left anywhere in the world. Right now, only 7% of the land is protected from logging.

For many years, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and Forest Ethics (let’s call them the Green Team) have been in negotiation with the 17 First Nations for whom this is traditional territory, five major multinational logging companies, the government of BC, and private donors who want to support a sustainable future for the rainforest.

A consensus package has been negotiated which the Green Team supports. This includes 33% of the forest being given full protection, including 55% of the estuaries, 54% of the wetlands, 34% of the remaining oldgrowth forest, and 40% of all documented salmon-bearing streams. It makes a commitment to ecosystem-based management for the entire forest by 2009, and sees $60 million in private and philanthropic funds being given to assist ecologically sustainable business ventures, matched by $60 million from the province and the feds to flow to First Nations based on the ecological results of land-use plans, plus $80 million further investment. See www.savethegreatbear.org

Action: Please write to the Premier of BC, asking him to ratify the Great Bear Rainforest consensus package. The time to act is now.

Rt Hon Gordon Campbell, Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4. premier@gov.bc.ca 250-387-1715


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
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