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

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


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,(neweconomics@gn.apc.org) 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 (yes@futurenet.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 community".

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 chatting.
  • 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 money.
  • 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


 

ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.

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 guydauncey@earthfuture.com


MEATLESS MONDAY

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, bus, carpool.

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 MONTHLY MEETINGS

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.


ECO-KIDS ACTIVITIES

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.


ECO-DAYCARE

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 separation.

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. 1-800-661-9453

The deadline for gathering approximately 3,000 signatures from each constituency in B.C. is in early December.


CIVIC ELECTIONS

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 FRONT

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 direction.

Practice resurrection.

(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 !


NOTICE

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 !


Click here 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