Newsletter No. 54 - Serving
Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - October 1996
ON WEALTH, WASTE, AND WHAT
WE REALLY WANT
October is Waste Reduction Month - but how about consuming
less, in the first place ?
The journal 'New Economics', from London, England,(email@example.com) reports that for every
tonne of consumer goods we consume, over eight tonnes of original raw material inputs are
required. It takes a while for that to really register.
The journal also reports that in the UK, one quarter of
all food purchased is either left to rot in the fridge, or thrown away off people's
plates. 15% of the garbage being dumped at Hartland Road is food waste, so things are not
much different here.
Another point it makes is that each Briton uses 20 times
as many resources as a person in the third world - and that just since the 1950s, the
world has consumed more resources than all previous civilizations put together.
That takes some thinking about. What is supposed to happen
when the four to five billion people in the third world catch up, and start consuming
twenty times what they do today ? It doesn't add up. We all know it doesn't add up. We
know the consequences. * So where do we begin to turn things around ? It is such a
profound addiction that our culture has : so profound, that we do not even see it as an
addiction, but as something good, to be praised and increased so that we earn more money,
buy more things, create more jobs, pay more taxes, and speed up the whole merry-go-round.
And in the process, destroy the planet we are living on.
But what is really going on, underneath ? What is it we
are really looking for ?
In 1995, the Merck Family Fund commissioned a major study
into the issues of consumption, with focus groups, and a nation-wide public opinion survey
in the USA. If you were to believe the TV advertisements and junk mail brochures, you
would think we were all thoroughly hooked on the "buy more !" addiction. But
what the survey showed is that when people were asked to describe what they were really
looking for in life, their aspirations rarely centred on material goods. (This is all
covered in the Summer Issue of YES ! Magazine - A Journal of Positive Futures, PO Box
10818, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 (firstname.lastname@example.org) - a successor to In Context
magazine - www.context.org).
The things we really want, it turns out, our deepest
aspirations, are non-material. At the top of the list, 66% of the people surveyed said
they would be much more satisfied with their lives "if I were able to spend more time
with my family and friends".
55% said "if there was less stress in my life",
and 47% said "if I felt like I was doing more to make a difference in my
Just 21% answered by saying "if I had a nicer
car", 19% by saying "if I had a bigger house or apartment", and 15% by
saying "if I had more nice things in my home". And yet we all go on buying and
consuming, under some imaginary belief that this will bring us satisfaction : obeying the
gods of our culture who preach to us every night from the little TV box. They're even
pushing four wheel drives as being 'peaceful' and 'harmonious', as they trash their way
through what look to be national parks. They know that what we really want is the peace
and harmony - not the bloody car. It's the car that's destroying the peace and harmony,
not creating it.
So what would a shopping list for our real needs look like
- More greenways and pedestrian-cycleways, like the wonderful
Selkirk Trestle Bridge.
- More traffic-calmed or car-free streets, markets and
neighbourhood centres, where we can regularly bump into friends and spend more time just
- More flexi-work and worksharing arrangements, so that we
can choose our hours of work and work less when we want to, choosing time, instead of
- More ways of sharing things, instead of having to own them
privately, such as car-sharing (Victoria Car Share Co-op, 995-0265), or using local
currencies to trade among ourselves (Victoria LETSystem, 370-2822).
- More voluntary simplicity, using our financial resources to
buy time, relationships and inner space, instead of things.
- More social equity, so that those on low incomes can earn
more, and be less stressed out.
With every choice, we can either add to our material
wealth by continuing the mass predation on Earth's resources, or add to our inner wealth
by priorizing our friends, neighbours and community - and our own peace and harmony.
Maybe we should all make an annual pilgrimage to the
Hartland Dump, to see the shadow of our addiction. And then spend the afternoon just
hiking in the woods, or lazing around with the family.
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your
Many thanks for your wonderful support to Alison Acker,
Vera Calhoun, Diane Thorpe, Ruth Masters, Caroline & Lief Larson, Peter Schofield,
Maria Kruberg, Renee Lindstrom, Henrick Gautier, Alison McEnd, Peggy Olsthoorn & Fran
Thoburn. I am using the Development Fund to pay for bulk drops to alternative stores
around the Island, which are being delivered for free (many thanks!) by Doug Drummond.
PS. After this issue, the bank will be pretty empty. We
also need more envelopes, since we get through 900 a month. If you know of an office or
Ministry which has changed its address, we'll happily use their old envelopes for them !
Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria
V8X 3X1. If you don't want to receive EcoNews, or are going away, please let us know - it
avoids wasting the postage. To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304, or email email@example.com
From south of the border comes this neat guide to
lifestyle changes for a more sustainable planet, in seven easy stages :
Meatless Monday - A meat free day.
Trashless Tuesday - Don't buy anything that creates any
waste. Create No trash this day !
Waterwise Wednesday - Use water respectfully and minimally
Alternative Transport Thursday - Walk, bicycle, skate,
Freelance Friday - Be free today to choose your issue for
change. Write that letter to your MLA, read from an important book, help change the world.
Social Saturday - Help others, join a neighbourhood
clean-up or community potluck, write those family letters.
Sunday is Appreciation Day - Kiss a tree; enjoy a garden;
walk the dog; be positive; pamper your spirit.
VICTORIA SIERRA CLUB
If you live in the Greater Victoria area, have you ever
wished there was a place where you could gather once a month to meet with like-minded
people, discuss things that concern you, listen to a good speaker and generally have a
good time ? Well, your wait is over. From now on, you can book every second Wednesday into
your diary, at the Fernwood Community Centre, 1923 Fernwood Road, for the Sierra Club
monthly meeting. And no, you don't have to be a member - anyone is welcome. The kick-off
is on Wednesday October 9th, when your editor, Guy Dauncey, will be the keynote speaker,
looking at critical issues here in Victoria and on the Island.
This month's Green Diary is so full that there is no room
to list the host of children's activities which the CRD parks people are putting on, from
'Nature's Buffet' at Francis/King Park on Sat 5th (1.30pm) to 'Fine Feathered Friends',
for 3-5 year olds who want to be birders, on Wed 23rd, to 'Nightwalkers' on Halloween
Night (Thur 31st) at Coles Bay Park (7pm). For every weekend, the staff have dreamed up
adventurous schemes. To get their current brochure, call 478-3344.
This year, a new licensed daycare centre opened called
Fairfield Family Day Care, which makes a special point of emphasizing environmental
education. The kids are constantly in and out of the Blue Box, arts and crafts are all
done with re-used materials, and song-time is full of live musical eco-songs. If you want
to learn more, you can call Laura Henderson at 386-KIDS, or attend one of their open
houses at 628 Cornwall St, every Friday.
MOUNT TOLMIE IS 70
YEARS OLD !
Well, actually, make that 14 thousand and seventy years,
assuming Mount Tolmie emerged from the ice when the glaciers finally withdrew. More
accurately, the Park is 70 years old - it was in November 1926 that Saanich Council
approved the purchase of the land from the Anglican Synod of B.C., to establish the Park.
In celebration, there's a lot going on, mostly focused around getting rid of the alien
broom, which smothers the native wildflowers. The Mount Tolmie Conservancy Association has
been working with more than 20 volunteers to remove the broom from the whole eastern side,
a task which is almost complete, after 45 Broom Bashes (3 more in October - see Diary).
The Association has also received funding under the Federal Government's Action 21
Community Funding program to plant 700 native shrubs, to help restore the hill to its
pre-broom days. If you live nearby and want to join in the work, call Paul Gareau,
592-9089, or come to the Public Meeting on the 27th at Swan Lake Nature Centre.
CAN MAD COW DISEASE COME
TO NORTH AMERICA ?
It's a scary thought. But consider this (taken from the
background material for the Public Forum on Thursday October 3rd - see Diary) : Pig, fish,
insect, virus and bacterial genes have already been spliced into fruits, grains and
vegetables, with no means of knowing the side effects in advance. Already in North
America, over 1,500 people have been permanently disabled and at least 37 have died from
the side effects of eating genetically engineered tryptophan in foods that were not
labeled. (Only 8 people have died from the actual mad cow disease in Britain).
Over a dozen non-labeled genetically engineered foods are
already on the supermarket shelves, and 500 more are in the process of approval. Under
pressure from the biotechnology industry, the Canadian government has followed the US in
not requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Leading scientists and
physicians are becoming alarmed at the serious health risks of such a policy, and are
urging the government to take greater caution, and require mandatory labelling. Once a
gene has been transposed, it may behave differently in its new host, and disrupt the
original genetic intelligence. US tests have found that 80% of supermarket milk contained
either medicines, illegal antibiotics used on farms, or hormones, including the
genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Yikes !
If this gives you the genetic heeby-jeebies, come along to
the Forum on October 3rd. Howard Lyman is an excellent speaker.
SACRED ECOLOGY :
DESPAIR TO EMPOWERMENT
Do you sometimes feel hopeless at the immensity of the
suffering and destruction that is going on, and your seeming inability to stop it ? You're
not alone, if you do. All over the world, people are struggling with feelings of
hopelessness, loss and anger at what is happening. It's so easy to become overwhelmed by
the sheer scale of the problems, and lose a sense of hope, and possibility. What Sacred
Ecology does is begin to address these feelings, and allow the natural grief to emerge.
'By speaking out, we can find again a deep connectedness with each other, and in so doing,
find a greater sense of wholeness within ourselves.' The work frees up valuable energy,
which can then get to work as a powerful force of nature. We are nature : there is no
On October 25th, Jackie Robson from the North-West Earth
Institute is co-leading a workshop on this, using experiential exercises, story-telling,
music, movement and guided visualizations to address the hopelessness, reach for
integration, to move into the light of empowerment, where we each have our own dreams and
wishes for the wellbeing of the planet, and then to turn our energies into action. For
details, call 361-9446.
THE BEAR REFERENDUM
The pro-hunting community has been well and truly roused
by work the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is doing to gather enough signatures to
call a referendum on legislation to end the bear-hunting. Among other things, they are
using fear tactics, telling people that once there is ban on bear hunting, next there will
be a ban on deer-hunting, and probably chicken hunting, too. To help the process of
signature gathering, call :
- Liora Freedman (Greater Victoria), 388-9292wk, 389-1920hm.
- Annette Tanner (Qualicum, Parkesville, Nanaimo), 716-9292
- Diane Radmore - Fireweed (Denman and everywhere), 335-1209
- Susan Holvenstot (Courtenay) 338-4182
- BC as a whole - Western Canada Wilderness Committtee.
The deadline for gathering approximately 3,000 signatures
from each constituency in B.C. is in early December.
The municipal elections are coming up next month, and if
you know of good green or socially responsible candidates who are running for council,
anywhere on the Island, please tell EcoNews. Then we can tell you. Locally in Victoria,
Jack Etkin is standing with backing from the local Green Party on a platform of saying yes
to the Sea to Sea greenbelt, no to raising the dam, no to sprawl, no to highway, yes to
LRT, yes to water conservation. More on all this next month
NEW PARADIGM PARTIES
Instead of tupperware parties, new paradigm book parties !
The first such party will focus around the book 'New Paradigms in Business', with ideas
from Willis Harman, Fritjof Capra, and others. 765 Braemar, North Saanich, on Oct 19th,
3-5pm. Call Wally du Temple, 656-1767.
THE MAD FARMER LIBERATION
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profits, the annual raise, vacation with
pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And
you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your
mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy
something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won't compute.
Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love
someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to
live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the
millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is forest that you did not plant, that
you will not harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the
mould. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is
immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not
go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman
satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to give birth?
Go with your love to the fields. Lie easy in the shade.
Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighst your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the
motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you
didn't go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong
(Reprinted from the CBC Ideas Web Page (www.cbc.ca). Thanks to the author, to Peter Ronald,
and of course, to Wendell Berry !)
ACTION OF THE
MONTH : THE SOOKE HILLS
This is it ! Finally, after several years of effort by
people like Ray Zimmerman, and Alison Spriggs and Mistee McDuff at Western Canada
Wilderness Committee, Cabinet will be deciding on the future of the Sooke Hills this
month. Last week, WC2 announced the results of the ecological inventory work they have
been doing, and the stunning variety of rare and endangered species that the hills are
home to. This is an opportunity like the creation of Stanley Park : a chance to create a
jewel that will be there for ever, where your children and your grandchildren will be able
to hike, rest, wonder at the incredible beauty of nature, and let their souls be formed.
This is the time of decision.
The Commissioner on the Water District hands in his final
report on October 15th, and Cabinet will then decide whether or not the land in the Sooke
Hills that is owned by the Water District should be preserved forever as a Provincial
Park. Now is the time for that one final push.
Action : So please, everyone, can you take the time to do
two things ?
(1) Phone, write or fax Paul Ramsey,
Minister of the Environment, 387-1187, Fax 387-1356 (Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V
1X4), telling him why you support the Hills being preserved as a park, and given the
protection it needs.
(2) Phone, write or fax your local MLA at
their constituency office, urging them to protect the Sooke Hills forever:
- Moe Sihota (Esquimalt/Metchosin) 633 Goldstream Ave,
Victoria V9B 2W9 474-1833, Fax 356-6595
- Andrew Petter (Saanich South), 4087 Quadra, Victoria V8X
1K7 479-6148, Fax 952-4400
- Murray Coell (Saanich North & Islands), Ste F, 2412
Beacon Ave, Sidney V8L 1X4, 656-0013 Fax 656-7059
- Steve Orcherton (Hillside), 2736 Quadra St, Victoria V8T
4E6 386-2239, Fax 387-2929
- Rick Kasper (Juan de Fuca), 633 Goldstream Ave, Victoria
V9B 2W9 474-3309, Fax 952-4552
- Gretchen Brewin (Beacon Hill), 1321 Cook St, Victoria V8V
4A3 382-9898, Fax 356-6221
- Ida Chong (Oak Bay), #223, 3930 Shelbourne, Victoria V8P
5P6 472-8528, Fax 472-6163
All together, we can do it !
EcoNews provides this electronic version of
the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel
free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:
EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !
for previous issues of EcoNews.
EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304
Available free by mail or email
Author of 'After the Crash : The
Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)
EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource