No. 115 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
VICTORIA BE A SLOW CITY?
It started in
Italy in 1989, when a group of food lovers decided to protest plans
for a McDonalds in Rome's Piazza di Spagna. The Slow Food movement
was born, to celebrate the joy, the culture and the ecology of local
food - eaten slowly, at leisure. A large table, friends and family,
fascinating conversation - isn't this is what our culture is all
about, they said, not junk McFood? Today, the movement has 65,000
members in 45 countries, including many here on Vancouver Island.
And now the
idea is spreading. Paolo Saturnini, mayor of Greve-in-Chianti, a
hilltop town in Tuscany, wondered if Slow Food's principles could
apply to other aspects of life - to protect and cherish local traditions,
to celebrate diversity, and to resist the bland invasion of globalization's
forces. Thirty Italian towns joined in, and gave birth to the Slow
to protect real cities. Specialty and particularity are our wealth.
They enrich our civilization, they enrich our time, and they enrich
our cities. We need to defend them. We need to preserve us from
the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.
This is what real culture is about - developing taste, rather than
Becoming a Slow
City is a process, they recognize, with a whole list of goals to
be aimed for. These include producing more local organic food, protecting
more green spaces, loving our city trees and gardens, improving
public transport, and opportunities for walking and cycling, promoting
eco-friendly architecture in new developments, calming the traffic
on residential streets and in neighbourhood centres, reducing light
pollution so that we can see the stars at night, controlling noise
pollution, building the local service and arts economy, and promoting
an appreciation for your town or city, so that people know what
a Slow City is.
What do you
think - is Victoria not ideally placed to become a Slow City? People
come here to stay, and put down roots. We love our ambles along
Dallas Road, our hikes through East Sooke park. We love our gardens,
and we are gradually learning to use more native plants and less
grass. We love the music that fills the downtown in summer, and
the neighbourhood centres where you can linger while you shop.
So how are we doing?
Is Victoria turning into just another fast McCity, where there is
no more "there" anywhere, or are we building a culture,
an architecture and a rural countryside that will cause future poets
and singers to celebrate this place as Virgil once did the hills
It is possible to see
it both ways. On the one hand, we are building more out-of-town
shopping malls that will weaken and destroy our local shops; we
are cutting back on transit when we should be expanding it; we may
be about to lose the E & N railway, which has to be the epitome
of "Slow Travel"; and we are buying more cars, too many
of them SUVs, and driving them further.
On the other hand, thanks
to the work of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, we are expanding
our cycling network; we are introducing more traffic calming and
reclaiming our residential streets from speed-aholics; we are growing
our community markets and urban farms. We are slowly breaking the
habit of parents always driving their kids to school, thanks to
the work of the organization 'Way to Go!' (see www.waytogo.icbc.bc.ca).
We have even, after several
grinding years, drafted a Regional Growth Strategy that supports
'complete communities', says all the right things, and does its
best to follow up with action. It is weak because it has no teeth;
and not all our municipalities on board. Some are just so reluctant
to think regionally. Langford appears to have defined its urban
containment boundary (so essential to protect the forests and farmland)
so as to include almost its entire territory.
Set against that, Victoria
City Council has understood the need for higher density, and creative
infilling; if they would only turn Lower Government Street into
a car-free zone, at least for the summer months; (for the petition
to close Government Street, see www.petitiononline.com/vicbike/petition.html)
the experience in Europe is that the merchants will come begging
for more when they see how popular the car-free areas are. The Fairfield
Community Association has the right idea with its Fresh Air/Car-Free
day on Dallas Road (Sun April 14th).
A Slow City is about
the feeling that we have in our city. Does it nourish our hearts?
Does it make us want to slow down, and appreciate the spontaneous
eruptions of beauty that fine design and greenery can create? Life
in the fast lane is fun, and there should be space for it, but we
do not live only to run. We also live to breathe in the satisfaction
of a place well-loved and well-designed, where moments of the eternal
can co-exist with everyday life. A city must have a soul, and a
soul is generally slow. That's why a beautiful city must also be
a slow city.
- Guy Dauncey
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.
to Sue McManus (in memory of Keith Miller, who kept me apprised
of global concerns and healthy dialogue about sane, humane and ecological
paths), Ed Dyatt, Gary Greenstein, Stan Tomandl, Emile Lacroix,
John Bowers, Kathleen Woodley, Denise Dickson, Joan Waddell, Jim
Hackler, David Stott, Louise Taylor, Gay Wise, Warren Nickerson,
Mel Moilliet, Kay Look, Jan Zwicky & Katey Bloomfield.
be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a
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* Soft plastic recycling
comes to Fairfield on Sat April 20th. Styrofoam & other soft
plastics can now be recycled along with hard plastics at all five
sites. The sites open for 90' each in rotation, starting at St.
Matthias 9:30am, closing Chapman Park 3:30pm. Neil 382-7627
* Journey to Cuba. "Cuba for Beginners" (April 29-May
13). Join a million Cubans on May Day; overview of social, political
and economic lives. "Social Justice in Cuba" (May 13-27).
$2,350 Canadian www.canadacuba.ca
* Beautiful main-flr, 2-BR suite in house on quiet Vic West street
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* Taxes done by qualified financial professional, $35-$75. Roxanne
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* Office Paper Buying Club Deadline April 30th. When you use chlorine-free,
recycled paper, you save trees, water & energy, and cut garbage,
air & water pollution. The Buying Club makes it easy: pre-pay
your invoice and it's delivered by May 15th. Delores firstname.lastname@example.org,
CIRCLE OF COMPASSION
human being is part of the whole, called by us the 'universe', a
part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts
and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical
delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for
us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for
a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves
from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace
all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
THE GARDEN PATH
ORGANIC PLANT NURSERY
organic garden, guided tours, workshops and afternoon teas
Plants at Great Prices
Labour MP Graham Allen wants the rules changed so that the public
and MPs can join together to provide alternatives to legislation
drafted by civil servants and ministers. He is proposing that MPs
should examine new laws for eight weeks before they go before Parliament,
enabling the public to e-mail in suggestions for improvements. MPs'
discussions would be webcast, and the public would be invited to
email in their ideas. "For a Child Support Act, You could be
sitting in York with fellow fathers or mothers or whatever group
and watch MPs question important witnesses, then e-mail in your
thoughts." Officials would put serious suggestions in front
of the MPs. (BBC)
The Cycling Horticulturist
Eco-friendly Lawn Care, Landscape Maintenance & Design
Your sustainable landscaping alternative
call Constanze @885-1771
BAGS ARE SMILING
an estimated 1.2 billion plastic bags are handed out at cash registers
each year - that's 325 bags per person, and all across the country,
plastic bags billow in the breeze on fences and hedgerows. So in
March, the government started charging a tax of 20 cents (Canadian)
per bag for all except the small bags used to wrap fresh fruit and
vegetables. "We need to end our addiction to these wasteful
bags, which we use for minutes but which survive for decades,"
said Environment Minister Noel Dempsey. The two biggest supermarkets,
Tesco and Dunnes Stores, have started selling a range of semi-permanent
THE FACE OF OUR WATERS
Take a moment
to meditate on the state of the world's water supply.
Displays, booths, action opportunities. Get information; be spiritually
Saturday April 20th 2-4pm
Garden City United Church
4054 Carey Rd, Victoria 479-3430
What to do
about the Referendum on the First Nations Treaty process we're being
asked to vote on? There's a very useful "Treaty Injustice"
website at www.treatyinjustice.org
which goes through the eight questions, pointing out the pros and
cons of a YES or NO answer to each. If you want to cast a protest
vote by writing anything except the answers, or leaving it blank,
it will be recorded in the result as long as you complete and sign
the certification envelope. If you boycott the process, your opinion
will be ignored, and your "non-vote" will lower the threshold
needed for 50% +1 approval.
WONDERFUL WORLDWIDE WEB
* There's an
online petition o save the E & N Railway, hosted on the web
the free online petition service, at: www.PetitionOnline.com/SaveEN/
* Imagine Government
Street full of pedestrians, rollerbladers, cyclists, pedicabs, horse-drawn
carriages, bustling cafes, street stalls, buskers... and no car
fumes. Ask the City of Victoria to close the busiest part of Government
Street to private motor vehicles during the busiest part of the
Submitted by Andrea Tischhauser
* Here's a new
goverment website for anyone interested in the conservation
status of species in BC: http://srmapps.gov.bc.ca:8888/apps/eswp/
* For your amusement:
Guerrilla Media (GM) has relaunched it's GlobalBS internet parody
portal at http://GlobalBS.8k.com.
The GlobalBS site has previously been shut down twice by CanWest
lawyers. "The online lampoon delivers timely, over-the-line
satire which ridicules the self-interested follies of BC's elites,"
said GM spokesperson Ann Onymous. "Especially Gordo's Liberal
junta and their CanWest cheerleaders."
: TOP TEN REASONS
for Proportional Representation, a more fair system of voting. If
the Pink Party gets 20% of the vote, they get 20% of the seats.
In a Mixed Member Proportional system, half the MLAs are chosen
in the normal way to represent their constituencies, and the half
are chosen from Party Lists, to ensure there is proportional balance.
This is a hot subject, and everyone is looking for change, including
the NDP and the Liberals. Adriane Carr has launched an Initiative
to adopt the Mixed Member Pro-Rep system for BC. To succeed, the
campaign needs to collect 255,522 signatures between May 13th -
August 12th. (There's a 4-page supplement on Pro-Rep in the April
issue of Common Ground Magazine). On April 11th, an all-party panel
in Victoria will debate the issue, including Rod Donald, the New
Zealand Green Party MP who spent four years campaigning for electoral
reform. In 1993 New Zealanders voted to scrap their "First
Past the Post" system in favour of Mixed Member Proportional;
Rod is now co-leader of the Green Party, which forms part of the
government. So here are those Top Ten Reasons:
1. More people
vote - voter turnout increases to 80-85%.
2. Twice as many women become MPs.
3. More minority people become MPs.
4. More young people register to vote.
5. There is no more need to vote for a party you don't like to stop
a party you like even less from getting elected.
6. There are no more governments that are opposed by 60% of the
7. Political parties show less antagonism towards each other and
develop a more cooperative attitude.
8. It encourages more citizen participation, and better media coverage.
9. It reduces public cynicism about politics and politicians.
10. It's fair. Everyone's vote counts.
And PS - see
the current issue of Common Ground magazine, which has a special
supplment on Proportional Representation.
Systems Index (ACE Project): www.aceproject.org/main/english/es/es.htm
* Fair Voting BC: www.fairvotingbc.com
* Fair Vote Canada: www.fairvotecanada.org
* Free Your Vote!: www.freeyourvote.bc.ca
* Geoff Plant (BC Attorney General) speech on the Liberals proposed
Citizens Assembly on electoral reform: www.fairvotingbc.com/Pages/Archives.html
* Is it Time to Reform BC's Electoral System? (NDP): www.bc.ndp.ca/issues/pr.html
* Lorne Nystrom (NDP MP) on Proportional Representation: www.lornenystrom.ca/reform.htm
* Proportional Representation - the Cure for an Ailing Democracy?
* Proportional Representation (Green Party of Canada): www.votepr.org
We need to gather 225,522 signatures
between May 13th - Aug 12th.
Could you help collect signatures?
Call Toll-Free 1-866-PROREP-9
At a time when
the US government is preparing to use nuclear weapons not as a deterrent
but for the purpose of waging war, it is heartening to learn about
Peaceful Tomorrows, an advocacy organization founded by family members
of September Eleventh victims, who seek effective nonviolent responses
to terrorism; to identify a commonality with all people similarly
affected by violence throughout the world; and to promote US foreign
policy which places a priority on democracy and human rights. (www.peacefultomorrows.org).
Among other things, they want the US to create an Afghan Victims
Fund. In the US, where 2,900 people died on September 11th, each
family of a victim is getting around $1.5 million. In Afghanistan,
where between 1,000 and 4,000 civilians have been killed by the
US "precision" bombing, the victims' families are getting
nothing. Peaceful Tomorrows is asking for $10,000 per family to
help them rebuild their homes. If 2,000 families seek compensation,
this would cost $20 million - less than one day's military expense
during the bombing campaign.
If you are
wondering about volunteering with an organization that's making
a difference, there's no shortage of opportunities right now:
* The International Childrens Conference on the Environment (May
22nd - 25th) is looking for a host of volunteers to help when 800
children arrive from all over the world next month. For full details,
* The 14th Organic World Congress, happening in Victoria August
21st - 28th is also looking for many volunteers. Call 655-5652 for
details, and see www.cog.ca/ifoam2002/volunteer.htm
* The Global Walk for Justice, on April 27th, would love more help
- see www.justicewalk.ca
or call 592-8307
* The Land Conservancy has a wide range of practical volunteer openings.
Call 361-7693 www.conservancy.ca
OF THE MONTH:
THE ROMANOW COMMISSION
Commission on Health Care is collecting people's responses - see
But are they
hearing about the need to reduce chemical pesticides, and air pollution?
Are they hearing about junk food? Write to them, and let them know:
PO Box 160, Station Main, Saskatoon, S7K 3K4.
this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though
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