No. 136 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
THE CORPORATION – PART 2
Well, it seems I got it wrong. I criticized the
film The Corporation last month for being too negative, and not
focussing enough on the solutions, and I certainly heard back from
Here’s Andrea Goldsmith, from the Sunshine Coast: "I
have to tell you, you are dead wrong about The Corporation. The
reason it's important is that most people HAVE NO IDEA that corporations
are doing what they are doing. Of course, we need solutions, you
and I know that, but 99% of the brainwashed consumers don't know
that. Just walk down Robson Street one day, or Metrotown, or go
into Costco, and you will be reminded of that. And that is why
The Corporation is so important, and why it's so important coming
from Mark Achbar. He has the profile, from his Noam Chomsky work,
to get profile, to get coverage, and to get into the mainstream.
Mark and his gang have pulled off an amazing feat. They are getting
this extremely subversive message out to a huge audience!! They
are winning awards from mainstream film festivals and mainstream
audiences. You can like his movie or you can hate it, but please
recognize the importance of his achievement."
From Philip and Marya Nyland, in Victoria: "Could
there have been more solutions proposed? Of course, but then the
film would have been even longer. We have to hope that the film
has sensitized people, so that when they hear the solutions, they
will be receptive, and know why the solutions are so badly needed.
One thing at a time!"
From Chris Bullock, in Ladysmith: "The film
presents many different perspectives; it's a complex film, not
a simple minded diatribe. Because I respect your views I almost
didn't go and see it; and what a lot I would have missed!! So I
hope you're getting a bit of flak from your friends out there..."
From Norm Reynolds, in Courtenay: "Following
the film I opened up the Action Centre for those who felt compelled
to talk about what they had just experienced. There was, of course,
a wide variety of opinion, but the consensus that included almost
everyone was the overwhelming sense of relief, joy, satisfaction
to find that so many "other" people shared an interest
in coming out to see a film on this topic. The 550 seats for the
Saturday night showing sold out on Thursday afternoon."
"The Corporation is a fantastic film because
it is the first time a wide audience has been asked to consider
that this thing we have been nurturing so fondly may be a deadly
virus or a noxious weed. When you look at the American administration’s
plans for corporate control of all of the Earth and the Earth’s
people, when you look at Martin’s plans for "deep integration" of
the US and Canada, when you look at our seeming inability to turn
down the heat on a burner that is cooking our atmosphere, when
we see democracy coming to mean nothing more than tyranny of a
propaganda machine and the abandonment of compassion as a principle
in human organization, I think it is a tremendous thing when a
film comes along and accurately diagnoses the agent that is so
effectively spreading such a pervasive disease."
And finally, from Mark Achbar, the film’s producer: "From
my exposure to thousands of people who have now seen The Corporation,
and from dozens and dozens of Q&As with audiences, Guy does
indeed seem to be in a small minority who take offence because
their particular solutions to the world's corporate ills were not
specifically put forward in the film. Or that this issue or that
was not addressed. Or the emphasis was wrong. Or the film is otherwise
imperfect. As if the film should have been encyclopedic and despite
the vast resources and prescience of the filmmakers, who initiated
the project almost 7 years ago, we still somehow managed to leave
out what they consider to be essential. (…) We worked hard to keep
the end of the film from being a turgid shopping list of prescribed
actions. Joel Bakan's book is more prescriptive, as lists lend
themselves more readily to print."
"It is Ray Anderson, CEO of a billion dollar
plus carpet manufacturing corporation who gives us at least the
beginning of a vision of a sustainable future. "I visualize an
organization of people committed to a purpose," he says, "and the
purpose is doing no harm. I see a company that has severed the
umbilical cord to earth for its raw materials, taking raw materials
that have already been extracted and using them over and over again,
driving that process with renewable energy."
"One thing I would like to say is: it's only
a movie. If it has sparked debate, it has served its purpose. A
great place for the debate to continue is in our web forum at www.thecorporation.com.
I would also like to say to readers of Guy's critique: Do not despair,
because the film is NOT generating despair."
Well, thankyou, everyone! It is still on in Victoria
and elsewhere, so if you’ve not seen it yet, do go.
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A big thankyou to
Lois Marcoux, Casey Twedell, Katey Bloomfield, Michelle Grant,
Lenka Dumitrescu-Pelikan, Jean
Baskin, Harold King, Pat & Barbara Barron, Troubador Music,
Barbara McDavid, Helen Furnes, Nigel Seale, Nina Raginsky, Robert & Hildegard
Matsuo, CA Browning, Ed Matthews, Patricia Irwin, Ray Zimmeman
and Mary-Wynne Ashford. Also to Ian Barclay and Laura Anderson,
for prepping the labels and the envelopes so faithfully!
Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd,
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Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send
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* Wanted. Unused expired or dead return
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* Recycled, chlorine free paper The Copy
Paper Buying Club provides monthly orders at 15-20% savings. A
joint effort of Reach For Unbleached & Paper Choice. See www.rfu.org
* Tax returns done by Financial Professional
including self-employed. Great rates. Roxanne Brydges, CFP, 360-6284, email@example.com
* Garden designs with nature in mind by
Stewardship Natural Landscape Design. Christina Nikolic, 382-4450 firstname.lastname@example.org
* Beautiful quiet live/work space available for
rent in Victoria. 1 room, kitchen etc. plus sunny 600 sq ft room
overlooking garden. 385-9029 email@example.com
* Abkhazi Garden, one of Canada's
most significant garden creations of last century, now open Wed–Sun,
1-5pm. Tea room, gift shop. $7.50, to support the restoration.
Guided tours 598-8096.
* Wanted Cutting edge NGO seeks Victoria
volunteers to coordinate fundraising events; lawyer for occasional
advice. We use economics tools for environmental and social justice. www.integraleconomics.org 885-0700
* Pam Morninglight call Guy 881-1304
* Wanted: voluntary computer help for GE
foods customer survey, Nanaimo area. Call Barbara Graves, 390-4750.
* Room available May 1 or June 1 in James
Bay eco-friendly heritage house, shares with 4 women. $319/mo +
utilities firstname.lastname@example.org 388-9993
* Good Neighbourhoods Project, Garry
oak ecosystem and species-at-risk education. Interactive and informative
geared for K-7. Indoor and outdoor programs available. Free! Pauline
Habitat Acquisition Trust, 995-2428.
* Partial work-trade scholarships available
for PLAN-B: Practical Leadership and Natural Building 2004 Program
at OUR EcoVillage. Natural building, community, permaculture, sustainable
land management. Brandy, (250) 743-3067 www.ourecovillage.org
* Gypsy Moth Spraying
Katey Young writes: The BC Government is planning
to spray Saanich families and homes with pesticide Foray 48B (btk
formula) this spring. We are told the spray is safe, but the formula
contains bacterial toxins, mould-like spores and chemicals. Drift
from aerial spray extends far beyond the published boundaries.
Should the spraying proceed, people in the spray and drift areas
who have allergies, asthma or sensitivities should be away from
the area. Even previously healthy people have reported health effects.
This aerial pesticide can make people very sick!
Contact the Ecological Health Alliance (250) 658-2027 email@example.com
Rest peacefully, my dear friend Tooker. Tooker
Gomberg was one of Canada’s brightest eco-activists, always ready
with a smile, a laugh, and a bright way to draw the world’s attention
to what really mattered. For the past two years, Tooker suffered
persistent depression (triggered in part, maybe, by being tear-gassed
at the Quebec Summit of the America’s protest). On March 3rd, he
parked his bike on the Halifax-Dartmouth bridge, and jumped off.
His body has not been found. All across Canada, people who have
been inspired by Tooker and his many colourful activities are grieving.
Activist, writer, broadcaster, organizer, global cyclist, photographer,
educator, Edmonton city councillor, challenger to Mel Lastman as
Mayor of Toronto, his exploits are legendary. See www.greenspiration.org,
to enjoy his life. On Sunday April 18th we’ll do a bike
ride and picnic in Beacon Hill Park to share memories, and bid
him farewell. Let’s meet at the GVCC Cycling Resource Centre, 1056a
North Park, at 10:30am. Guy, 881-1304.
Tooker would love this, since he campaigned successfully
for the Toronto green boxes that now collect household compost.
Tooker wanted to use methane from the compostibles as a clean fuel
source, instead of letting it escape from landfills as a powerful
greenhouse gas. This is exactly what’s happening in Europe, where
18 Kompogas plants turn kitchen scraps into compost and fuel. In
Zurich, Switzerland, 1200 cars and trucks run on the climate-friendly
gas, producing 80% fewer smog-forming chemicals then regular gas.
Even McDonalds runs its vehicles on Kompogas. Analysis shows that
if all the world’s organic wastes were treated this way (instead
of rotting in landfills), 10% of the world’s vehicle fleet could
run on Kompogas. Now there’s a thought. See www.kompogas.ch/en/
Residential – Commercial
Indoor – Outdoor
Carpentry – Painting – Flooring
Composters – Creative storage
& much more
Harald Wolf – 250-882-9653
The rise in global CO2 levels is increasing sharply,
say the scientists who monitor the atmosphere from the Mauna Loa
Observatory, in Hawaii. In the mid-1990s, the CO2 was increasing
by 1.8ppm a year. In 2004, it is increasing by 3ppm a year. The
causes of the sudden increase are unknown. It may be more coal
being burnt in China; it may be more forest fires, or the failure
of forests and oceans to absorb CO2 due to higher temperatures.
Either way, it’s alarming
COMPRESSED AIR CAR
For several years, people have been talking about
the compressed air car, which the French racing car test driver
Guy Negre has been developing (see www.theaircar.com). The idea
is simple: the cars uses compressed air at 5000 lbs per square
inch to drive its pistons, using a small amount of electricity
to refill it. The prototype CityCAT has been on the road, and investors
have put up $13 million US to build 35 manufacturing plants around
the world. It sounds exciting, but in real life, the car only goes
37 miles before it runs out of air. For local city use, 37 miles
would be just fine, and a recharge could be done commercially in
3-4 minutes (3-4 hours at home), but the limitation is enough to
put a hold on production. Guy is now looking at redesigning the
car as a gas/compressed air hybrid.
WORLD’S BIRDS IN CRISIS
We all love the birds, whether they are twittering
around our feeders or honking overhead on the way to their favourite
waterways. Globally, there are 10,000 species (they say a really
keen birder can recognize 9,998 of them). Some are in big trouble,
however. In 1994, 100 conservation groups got together to form
BirdLife International, and they’ve just held a big conference
in South Africa, where they released the State of the World’s Birds
2004 Report. Out of those many species, 1,215 are threatened with
global extinction; that’s one in eight. This includes raptors in
Africa, vultures in India, and albatrosses throughout the southern
hemisphere. The wandering albatrosses are losing 10% of their population
a year (41% since 1974) due to long-line fishing. Species are also
disappearing because of the growth of industrial monoculture in
Africa, the tropical deforestation, the spread of roads, dams and
power lines, exploitation for food and the pet trade, and global
climate change. 82% of the threatened species are in the developing
world. The birds have been happily passing on their genes for hundreds
of millions of years, without interruption. Now they face sudden
The solutions lie in much better protection for
critical areas of biodiversity, strengthening international conservation
agreements, changing the long-line fishing industry’s methods,
changing forest management practices, and so on. These (and many
success stories) are all detailed in the report. They say birding
is the #2 hobby in North America, after gardening. It is estimated
that the amount spent by Americans on birdseed and feeding equipment
exceeds $12 billion annually. The current global funding for all
protected areas is $7 billion, of which less than $1 billion is
spent in the developing world, with most of the world’s biodiversity.
Expanding the network of protected areas to safeguard biodiversity
for birds and many other species would cost another $21.5 billion.
If just some of North America’s birders were to form groups to
adopt a particular species, and go to bat for it, that would help.
If the sellers of bird food and feeders were to place a 10% biodiversity
levy on their products, that would help. If we all woke up to the
devastating ecological impact that our modern lifestyle expectations
have, that would help. Birders of the world, your help is needed!
To download a copy of the report, go to www.birdlife.net .
THE GARDEN PATH
ORGANIC PLANT NURSERY
~ The Home of Happy Plants ~
Open Daily 10am – 5:30pm
395 Conway Rd, West Saanich
(off Interurban by Camosun College)
Carolyn Herriot 250-881-1555
Sixteen months ago, a US coalition of dozens of
citizens groups called The Paper Campaign started a campaign against
Office Depot, demanding that the company stop selling products
from endangered forests, and adopt more environmentally responsible
practices. The campaign included more than 100 demonstrations,
thousands of postcards, hundreds of phone calls to Office Depot’s
headquarters, an international coalition letter signed by over
200 organizations, a 20-city campaign tour, and shareholder activism
from several socially responsible investor groups. On March 25th 2004,
the campaign ended, following Office Depot’s announcement that
it will phase out all paper products from rare and vulnerable forests,
forests containing exceptional biodiversity values, forests subject
to unsustainable management, and forests that have been illegally
logged. This includes the forests of British Columbia, of Canada’s
Boreal forest, and of the south-east USA. Office Depot also agreed
to achieve an average 30% post-consumer recycled content in all
its paper products. Canada’s Boreal forest, which is being destroyed
to make paper products, is the breeding ground for 30% of North
America’s songbirds, and species including caribou, wolves and
bears. The success of the campaign comes 16 months after Staples
adopted similar policies. It shows that with persistence, excellent
organizing, and the combined use of different tactics, the big
corporations can be turned around. See www.thepapercampaign.com
doubt that a small group
of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the word. Indeed,
it’s the only thing
that ever has."
– Margaret Mead
For the past 10 years, whenever an environmental
issue came up in Liberal caucus meetings, former PM Jean Chretien
would turn and nod toward a trio of tenacious, sometimes contrarian
backbench MPs who formed the Liberals’ ecological conscience. Charles
Caccia, Karen Kraft Sloan, and Clifford Lincoln have fought, and
sometimes won, battles over pesticides, endangered species, environmental
assessment, toxic chemicals, and the laws that govern these issues.
But after the next election, the green threesome will disappear
from the Liberal benches. Lincoln and Kraft Sloan are leaving politics.
Caccia was ousted as his riding's Liberal candidate by Mario Silva,
but may run as an independent. "All three of them, for me, are
real eco-heroes," said David Suzuki. "I don't think the general
public ever realized the role they played." (Ottawa Citizen).
CHINA’S GRAIN HARVEST
Signs of Trouble, #375. China’s grain harvest
has fallen in four of the last five years, dropping from 392 million
tons in 1998 to 322 tons in 2003. The drop of 70 million tons exceeds
Canada’s entire grain harvest. The reasons are varied: loss of
irrigation water; desert expansion due to climate change; the conversion
of cropland to non-farm uses (every 20 new cars require an acre
of land to be paved), the shift to higher value crops; and a decline
in double cropping due to the loss of farm labour in prosperous
coastal areas. Meanwhile, China’s population is still growing,
and eating more pork and poultry, which require grain to feed them.
To make up the shortfall, China has drawn down on its grain reserves,
and bought 5 million tons in Australia, Canada and the US. The
rice shortfall of 20 million tons is close to the entire world’s
rice exports of 26 million tons. Global grain stocks are at their
lowest for 30 years, so there’s little spare capacity. Hmm!
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB
Some noteworthy sites that have passed my way
Peace, Earth & Justice
Al Rycroft writes: "I am proud to announce
that the Peace, Earth & Justice News has now opened a second
web site, dedicated to allowing you to read the news online anytime,
Sierra Club of BC Environmental Story Contest
Calling all activist writers! The story must be
one in which the author was somehow involved. You don't have to
have been the front person, but we're looking for stories told
by the grassroots movement itself, not by third parties. No more
than 1,500 words; must be an original work; must be true and reasonably
accurate, and must have taken place in British Columbia.
The Freeway Blogger
"In light of recent disclosures and testimony
by Richard Clark, I have no recourse but to call for the immediate
impeachment of George W. Bush. This is not something I take lightly,
particularly since it will require the painting and posting of
many, many signs like the one shown here": www.freewayblogger.com/weblog.htm
Equinox New Moon
Fiona Crofton writes: Here's a lovely little film
I hope you'll enjoy
What’s Your Ecological Footprint?
Calculate your ecological footprint and find out
how many Earths it would take for everyone on the planet to live
the way we do:
Share a Ride!
CarpoolTool.com helps you find other people who
are commuting in the same direction at the same time: http://CarpoolTool.com
Not Another Valdez (Nifty flash film):
Canadian Peace Alliance
The Canadian Peace Alliance is excited to announce
the launch of its new Website, to serve as a central resource for
the peace movement in Canada, providing information and helping
coordinate action across the country. Its launch is part of the
CPA's urgent campaign against U.S. Missile Defense.
George W. Bush’s Resume
"I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine,
in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty,
paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days.
My Texas driving record has been lost" and is not available."
Leonardo di Climato
A powerful little animation, by Hollywood’s heartthrob
There’s Bikes, and there’s Danish Bikes
Local Currencies in the 21st Century: Understanding
Money, Building Local Economies, and Renewing Communities, an E.
F. Schumacher Society conference at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson,
New York, June 25-27. Speakers include Margrit Kennedy, Edgar Cahn,
Bernard Lietaer, Richard Douthwaite, Mary Beth Raddon, David Boyle,
Thomas Greco, and Dwarko Sundruni.
Tom Greco writes "The mission of this site
is to demystify money by presenting the best leading-edge ideas
on monetary and non-monetary exchange. It is a resource
devoted to the advancement of economic democracy, self-determination,
and global harmony."
The Cascadia Scorecard
For all of us here in the Pacific Northwest, a
new index of regional progress that monitors seven key trends:
health, economy, population, energy, sprawl, forests, and pollution-critical
to our region’s future, including time-lapse maps of 30 years of
clearcutting in five forested areas.
The Real State of the Union
How are our friends doing, south of the border?
ACTION OF THE MONTH
THE SOOKE POTHOLES
You’ve read the debate. The Land Conservancy wants
to buy the land around the Sooke Potholes to preserve forever as
public space, while three of Sooke’s five councillors want it used
for private development. The TLC needs our donations towards the
but it also needs your letters of support, to persuade the CRD
Directors to use some of the money in the Land Protection Fund
that we all voted for a few years ago to help with the purchase.
Action: Write to the CRD Chair and Directors,
supporting the TLC’s purchase of the land for park space.
Mail: CRD Chair and Directors, PO Box 1000, Victoria
Fax: 250-360-3023. Email addresses:
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