EcoNews
Newsletter #184 - September 2008
Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
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EcoNews is a monthly newsletter funded by your donations that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, and the joys of personal fulfillment, guided and protected by our active citizenship.

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews costs $1,100 to produce each month, and reaches around 8,000 people, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation? It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you.

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A big thank you for your kind donations to Christine Tomori, Brandy Patterson, Gerry Howell Jones, Sheila Sayer, Dan Schubart, Joan Tiernan, Paul Gareau, Denise Dickson, Ocean Lum, Nancy Carson, Robin Krause, Katy Bloomfield, Chislett Manson & Co, Gifford La Rose, Ruth Masters, Daphne Taylor, Jean Matheson, Patricia Finlay, Corinna Scott, and Sydney Langhelt.

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ETHICAL INVESTING
The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your values
www.pinchgroup.ca
250-405-2468


SEEDS OF VICTORIA
Certified Organic - Locally Grown
2008 Seed catalogue online at:
www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath
A great selection of
heritage seeds

Contact EcoNews

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

Executive director
The Solutions Project

Feature Story

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

The crunch of fresh buttered sweet corn, the succulent explosion of the first ripe blackberry, the rich, satisfying body of bread from Victoria’s Wildfire Bakery – how sad life would be without these things.

We evolved as a species eating a wide variety of fresh, raw, local, organic, unadulterated food – mostly fruits, leaves, seeds, and roots. Think back 20 million years, when our ancestors lived in the forests of Africa. Our cousins, the chimpanzees, share 99% of our genes, and it is almost certain that we ate what they eat today.

Now realize this: the fact that you are alive today means that every ancestor you ever had since life began 3,500 million years ago has successfully passed on his or her genes to you.

Along the way, all non-effective genes were discarded: you got the crème-de-la-crème, and with the digestive system they created, self-selected to give us a long, healthy life, with shining white teeth – but only if we eat more-or-less what our ancestors ate: a wide variety of fresh, raw, local, organic, unadulterated food.

Alas, that’s no longer what we eat.

Almost none of our food is fresh – it is picked or killed often weeks before, which for fruit means before it is ripe, so it does not contain the anti-oxidants a plant produces to defend itself against fungus, and passes on to us.

Almost none of it is raw, except the occasional fruit or vegetable.

Almost none of it is local – which is one reason why food contributes so much to global climate change, being shipped and trucked so far, burning fossil fuels all the way. Here on Vancouver Island, we get no more than 5% of our food from the Island. In the event of a big infectious epidemic, when no-one wants to work in a public place such as a ferry or supermarket, we’d be out of food within days.

Almost none of it is organic, except for the small minority who go out of their way to buy organic. Instead, it is grown or raised in fields stripped of their soil nutrients, pumped with fertilizers, and sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Since the 1950s, foods grown in non-organic soils have lost half of the iron, calcium, sodium, copper, magnesium, and selenium our bodies need. Studies have consistently shown that conventional farmers develop and die of more cancers than the general population.

Carolyn eating grapesAnd almost none of it is unadulterated. To make up for the loss of goodness, food producers add a huge list of things that nature never put there. Did our primate ancestors eat ethoxylated monoglycerides?

What is the result of abandoning the diet our bodies evolved on? A great increase in chronic sickness, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, food allergies, and obesity, which rob so many of the happiness that comes with good health and poses such a burden on our health care system. As Michael Pollan shows so convincingly in his book In Defense of Food, it is the Western Diet itself, aided by an army of nutritionists, which is making us sick.

Think big. Dream big. Challenge our municipal, provincial, and federal leaders, all of whom are soon standing for election, to think big. We’ve got to pull ourselves out of this dietary rat-hole and get back to fresh, local, organic food as quickly as possible.

We need every school to have access to a working food garden, kitchen, and cooking classes, and a ban on junk food vending machines.

We need local organic food to be served at all public facilities, hospitals, daycare centers, elder care institutions, prisons, meetings, conferences, and in the Legislature itself.

We need every municipality to create an agricultural department and a public committee to guide the development of community gardens.

We need showcase public organic food gardens at the Butchart Gardens, Royal Roads, Glendale Gardens, Camosun College, and proudly on the lawn of the Legislature.

We need investment in farmers markets and pocket markets where growers can sell fresh, organic food.

We need vacant land to be made available on temporary lease for food growing. For how many more decades must the 4 acres of the Hydro lands on Haultain St, the city block at View and Vancouver and the vacant lot at View Street Towers sit empty, gathering needles, weeds, garbage, and sadness?

We need total protection of BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve.

We need a 3-year tax-break for all farmers who choose to go organic, in reflection of its many public benefits.

We need a federal Agriculture Canada and a provincial Ministry of Agriculture whose staff are not in the pockets of conventional agro-business, and hostile or indifferent to the importance of locally grown organic food.

We need to pay an extra $50 annually per household in local taxes to support threatened farmland purchases by The Land Conservancy.

We need to grow more food ourselves, creating new organic Victory Gardens in every backyard, as Carolyn Herriot has been urging and demonstrating, and on some public boulevards, rediscovering the passion and impetus that we had in our last time of crisis, during World War II.

And we need to feast together, celebrating the taste, deliciousness, and goodness of it all.
Now, and always.

Guy Dauncey

The Eco-Personals

$1.00 a word. Max 5 lines; non-profits, low-income free. 1" box ad $50


Victoria-based volunteer needed to prep the envelops for EcoNews each month. 2-3 hours of TV work. Call Guy, 881-1304.


Charming guest room, $30/night. Cook St. Village, ocean. 361-3102

Syd’s Demo Salvage. Quality building materials. We also purchase homes. 381-1141 www.sydsdemosalvage.com


Pacific Gardens Cohousing – a sustainable community under construction in Nanaimo 250-754-3060 www.pacificgardens.ca


Swift Kick Computers. Eco-friendly, servicing local business and personal computers at your location. All on-site transport fueled by used veggie oil. Peter, 514-4815.


Short term rental, prime Fairfield location $30/night. 382-3810.


Couple looking for others to share purchase of land (+50 acres) in Courtenay/Comox Valley area to build natural houses. Steve 744-2244.


Saturday workshops on making raw organic foods: Breads, nut pates & cheeses, soups, sauces, wraps, fermented foods, pies, chocolate desserts. $15/2hrs. Susanne 744-2244.


Volunteers needed for The City Farm in Fernwood. Please contact Angela at cityfarmcentral@gmail.com


Fresh organic nuts & dried fruits - Bulk pre-order. kamelita@telus.net

Green Bites

SEE-THEM-RUN

They’re UVic students from Victoria, they love Africa, and they wanted to support sustainable youth educational projects to help reverse the downward cycle of poverty, famine, and disease.

Erin van Wiltenburg (age 21) and Reuben Jentink (19) also love running – and since mid-April, they have run 100 marathons (4,200 km) from coast to coast across Namibia, Zambia, and Tanzania, inviting friends to sponsor them at $100 per kilometre. At the end of August, they arrived back in Victoria.

What can we say, apart from WAY TO GO!! You can sponsor one of their kilometres at www.see-them-run.com.

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WELCOME BACK

EcoNews returns from its summer break fresh and invigorated to take on the world, breathe hope and determination into every issue, and strengthen our faith that Victoria, Vancouver Island and this whole amazing world can become what we dream it can be. If you have stories to share, events to list, or Actions to feature, please send them over! EcoNews is a small contribution to a better world, but we do our best to connect, comfort, and inspire.

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AVAAZ AMAZES

Personal despair about the growing global crisis is a direct function of disconnection and powerlessness.  Climate change, hunger, warfare, poverty, the Middle East, the corruption of democracy in the USA  - it all seems so overwhelming. Our tiny individual actions seem so pathetic compared to what’s happening, and yet switching off does not make the despair go away. It simply etches it deeper into our souls. Unless we are careful, we risk turning into gloomy or angry cynics.
    
The spirit of life can never be suppressed, however. It’s like a perennial Phoenix, always dreaming up new hopes, actions, and ways to intervene. In January 2007, a group of people who understood the power of the Internet decided it was time global opinion had a global voice. They founded Avaaz.org as a global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want.

The Avaaz community now has 3.4 million members in every country of the world, growing by 40,000 people a week, who have taken 7.7 million actions over issues as diverse as Tibet, the world food crisis, democracy in Zimbabwe, and the Israel/Palestine conflict. They have helped secure a global treaty banning cluster bombs, successfully campaigned for a ceasefire in Gaza, helped bring the President of Sudan to trial for genocide in Darfur, and pushed the G-8 leader to do more than waffle on climate change.

To add your voice to the global chorus, go to www.avaaz.org. And have hope: when it comes to global organizing, we have only just begun. And here’s an interview with Ricken Patel, Avaaz’s founder.

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STUTTGART GOES GREEN

The southern German city of Stuttgart, home to the Mercedes and Porsche motor industries, is about to buy a fleet of 1200 light electric scooters that will be available at 250 charging stations throughout the city. For a monthly subscription of $23, residents will be able to take a 30-minute trip whenever they like. The bikes will go 60 km before they need a 15-minute recharge, and a 30 km trip uses 250 watts of electricity – the same as burning a 100-watt light bulb for 2.5 hours.

The city is buying the bikes from a British company, Ultra Motor, which is negotiating with 23 other European cities. In Phase 2, if all goes well, Stuttgart will buy 12,000 scooters. Germany is moving ahead rapidly with renewable electricity, but even if the electricity was totally coal-fired, a 30 km EV scooter trip would produce only 250 grams of CO2, compared to 30 times as much from burning 3 litres of gas in an efficient car that burns 10 litres/100km. The future is knocking on our door. See www.ultramotor.com.

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THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF NATURE

The creation of democracy has been one of the fundamental breakthroughs for human civilization, and the recognition of legal rights for individuals is one of its foundation stones. Our non-recognition of Nature’s rights, however, is one of the fundamental causes of the world’s environmental crisis.

In Ecuador, south of Colombia on South America’s Pacific coast, a 130-member Constitutional Assembly has just approved a new constitution which (among many other things) grants fundamental recognition to Nature’s rights.

Article 1 states: “Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions, and its processes in evolution.” It goes on: “Every person, people, community or nationality will be able to demand recognition of rights for nature before public organisms (courts and government agencies). 

Article 2 states that “Nature has the right to an integral restoration.”

Article 3 says: “The State will motivate natural and juridical persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.”

Article 4 says “The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all activities that can lead to extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems or the permanent alteration of natural cycles.”

The people of Ecuador vote on their new constitution on September 28th. Even if the vote fails, the flag of a new age has been raised, and the time will come, as a world, when we collectively turn away from our abusive behaviour, and extend to nature, and all her species, the same rights we have assigned to ourselves.

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YASUNI AMAZON DREAMS

In the same land of Ecuador a dramatic story is unfolding which needs all our help. Ecuador has three major bioregions – its Pacific coastal plains, central Andes mountains, and in the east, its vast forested Amazonian lands. It is in part of this region, named after the Yasuni river, that some of the world’s greatest biodiversity exists, where a single hectare of forest contains as many species as the entire continent of North America. This is the “green gold” in which indigenous people pursue their lives, which many in Ecuador are fighting to preserve.
    
Yasuni RiverPreserve against what? Against the “black gold” – one billion barrels of oil – that lies under the green gold of nature. Ecuador gets 60% of its exports earnings from oil, and the oil companies – including PetroCanada, Texaco, and Shell – fight to defend their interests using repression, threats, private armies, even death.
       
The conflict over oil in the region is long and painful, but a new proposal has created a whole new game. The government of Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa since November 2006 - who told the US government it could continue to occupy a military base in Ecuador if Ecuador could open a military base in Miami - has announced that if the international community will pay it $350 million a year for ten years  (half the value of the oil) to create a legacy fund which would be used to finance sustainable development and renewable energy, they would leave the oil underground indefinitely.

The Ecuadorian government is not of one mind, and there are those who think the black gold more important than the green. The deadline for finding the money has been put back twice (it is currently December 2008), and the pressure – and excitement – is building.

The staff of New Internationalist magazine, who produced a special issue on the Yasuni and rushed the book Yasuni Green Gold into publication, have started a campaign for the Yasuni which they hope everyone will join. Ana Rivas, mayor of the local government, says “If we achieve this, not only will we conserve an enormously diverse area, home to the Tagaeri and the Taromenane people, but we will also become a universal symbol that a new world is possible.” Please get engaged. See also www.yasunigreengold.org.
 
PS: One billion barrels of oil is 11 days global supply. Would we sacrifice all this green treasure for just eleven more days of global bingeing?
 
PS 2: Exxon Mobil gathers $44 billion in profit a year: that’s $350 million every 3 days.
 
PS 3: Norway’s Oil Legacy fund contains $363 billion.

Taegiri mom & baby
Tagaeri mother and child

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ONTARIO’S BOREAL FOREST

Just imagine, if Oregon was to announce the protection of almost the entire state. And yet, in terms of land protected, this has just been achieved in northern Ontario, where the Ontario government has announced plans to protect 227,000 sq. km. of Boreal forest from all industry.

The land falls within the traditional territory of 36 First Nations communities, who must provide community support for any future forestry or mining. The success follows a four-year campaign in which the US-based Rainforest Action Network and its supporters worked closely with the First Nations.

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ETHICAL INVESTING

The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your values
www.pinchgroup.ca 
250-405-2468

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COWICHAN CARBON BUSTERS

A small group is going to be meeting in the Cowichan Valley for ten weeks, starting September 10th, to pioneer a 10-week course in personal and household carbon reduction that I have written for my new book. There may be room for 2 or 3 more people – if you’re interested, call Peter Nix at 250-748-7954

Action of the Month

ACTION OF THE MONTH: ECONEWS

I’ve never done this before. There are new people and new students arriving in Victoria all the time who do not know that EcoNews exists. Will you tell five friends about EcoNews? I can mail you extra copies if you ask – just call me at 250-881-1304. Thank you!!

The Wonderful World of Web
Submissions to EcoNews

To buy ad space in the next EcoNews, or to submit your event to next month's Green Diary, please contact:

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

The deadline for the October issue is September 24th.

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