WELCOME TO SPRING - AND
It's spring ! The crocuses are blooming, the birds are
mating, and the lawn-mowers will soon be out. All over the west coast, gardeners are
getting ready to sow their seeds, and garden supplies stores are full of ....chemicals.
Yes, chemicals, to fight the perennial war against weeds,
moss, insects, fungus, rose-blight, anything gardeners don't like. The average garden
store would probably be classified as a contaminated site if someone took the trouble to
weigh the volume of hazardous chemicals stored in one place.
It's not just our private gardens, either. Municipal parks
departments still use chemicals to control weeds, often without any signs to say so,
irrespective of complaints by people who are chemically sensitive, or who don't want their
children playing in the poisons. Saanich Parks department recently justified spraying the
Galloping Goose trail by saying that "people might trip over the weeds".
What on earth are we doing ?
- Pesticides have been linked to many different types of
cancer, from breast cancer (DDT) to non-Hodgkins lymphomas and soft-tissue sarcomas
- A National Cancer Institute Study in the U.S. indicates
that children are as much as 6 times more likely to get childhood leukemia when pesticides
are used in the home and garden.
- A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Public
Health found elevated levels of cancer in children where pesticides were used in their
homes and yards. They found a particularly high correlation in homes where dichlorovos
pest strips were used.
- Garden pesticides don't stay in the garden, either.
Pesticides that enter the home on people's clothing and shoes or in the air can persist
for years because they are not subject to breakdown factors like rain, sunlight,
temperature extremes and microbial action. Carpets and foam carpet padding act as
long-term reservoirs, and pose a danger to infants and children.
- Dogs from homes with lawns that have been sprayed with
pesticides have a higher than average rate of the canine equivalent of lymphoma. Cancer is
now the number one cause of death in dogs.
Pesticide residues are in the bodies of seals in the Arctic and penguins in the
Antarctic. The whole world is affected - not just our back yards.
Enough ! Enough ! (There's LOTS more where this comes
from. Even the insect pollinators - the honeybees, butterflies and other insects that we
depend on to pollinate our crops are suffering).
The big question is - what can we do to stop this madness
? Almost everyone knows someone who is either suffering or who has died from cancer of one
kind or another. In Sweden, they've set national goals, and achieved a 47% reduction by
weight in pesticide use between 1986 and 1991. They were aiming for a total reduction of
75% by the end of 1996.
The first thing you can do is the most obvious : stop
buying the chemicals yourself, and make the decision today that your yard will be chemical
free, and organically maintained. Plan to build a proper compost bin, and start feeding
your soil organically. The Compost Education Centre (386-WORM) will give you all the
low-down you need, and the Victoria Horticultural Society has an Organic Gardeners Study
Then start choosing organically grown fruits and
vegetables. There are lots available, thanks to stores like Lifestyle Markets and Thrifty
Foods. But if we are to make our cities and neighbourhoods safe for ourselves, our
children and grandchildren (for some of the chemicals are mutagenic), we need to go
further. You could talk to your neighbours, and see if they're willing to declare your
block a 'Pesticide Free Zone'.
A number of communities (starting in Hudson, Quebec) have
passed by-laws banning toxic chemicals used for purely cosmetic purposes. The Hudson
by-law survived a Quebec Supreme Court legal challenge by the chemical industries, and is
now being copied elsewhere. We need to persuade our local municipalities to stop using
chemical pesticides in public spaces, especially near schools. This Spring, the Sierra
Club of Canada is hoping to have 100 communities across Canada which will develop by-law
challenges to the cosmetic use of pesticides (details inside).
Looking back from the 21st century, historians will see
our addiction to chemicals as one of the follies of the 20th century. So let's end it,
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly service, nourishing
the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your
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Development Fund: $180.
Many thanks to this month's angels - Andrew
& Elizabeth Gibson, Maria Abbott, Peter Schofield, Joel Harvey, Aaron Rain, Pamela
Carlson, Ruth Masters, Karen Woodland & Joel Ussery, Kay Wood, Lois Marcoux, Cecilie
Davidson, TL Danlock, Wes Gietz, Dan Pippin, William Cameron, Susan Holvenstot, Janis
Kirker, Gail Schultz, Warren Nickerson and Karen Hope. What would we do without you ?
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
THE BENT NAIL
Another first for Victoria ! For years, developers and
owners have been demolishing houses without a thought to the valuable resources that might
be recycled. Every year, 4,000 tons of demolition waste go to the landfill. No more ! The
Bent Nail is Canada's first used building materials store run by the street community.
Based in Esquimalt at 870 Devonshire Rd, the project will collect, clean and sell used
building materials, from kitchen cabinets to baseboards. The project is run by the
Victoria Street Community Association, and a dozen long-term unemployed people are
training to work there, supported by Environment Canada's ACTION 21 program, the City of
Victoria, the CRD, the Vancouver Foundation, the Ministry of Human Resources and the
Ministry of Empoyment and Investment. Lauren Pheaton, Bent Nail's manager, says the
project aims to be self-financing by 1999. "This is about giving our long-term
unemployed people a chance to break out of the poverty cycle". For details, call
386-2332 - and go visit !
NEWS YOU NEVER HEARD
For two days in February, the International Hemp Symposium
in Vancouver was packed with 2,000 delegates from Canada, Poland, Germany, the US and
Britain and a further 3,000 visitors who came to learn about the future possibilities of
this astonishing crop. EcoSource (who supply the paper for EcoNews) were beseiged with
visitors who carried off everything they could. Watch out, pulp and paper industry !
CAR SHARING IN FERNWOOD
Hot from their successful 20 member launch in James Bay,
the Victoria Car Share Co-operative is planning to open a pod in Fernwood. Here's how it
works. You pay $400 to buy your shares (returnable), a $100 non-returnable membership fee
and $10 a month for admin. Associate members are half price. When you want to use a
vehicle, you simply book it through the answering service, and pay $1.50/hour and 25
cents/km. Future pods will be developed in Fairfield, Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay, Downtown,
Esquimalt, Burnside, Swan Lake and Mount Tolmie. Call Kathryn at 995-0265, if you're
UNIQUE COHOUSING OPPORTUNITY
House (single family dwelling) for sale by owner, 2 doors
up from Cardiff Place CoHousing Community, Fairfield. 2 BR up, 2 down, 1700 sq ft,
$267,000. If you buy, the community may accept your use of our Common Areas in exchange
for our use of the house's yard. INTERESTED ? Call Brad at Cardiff Place, 480-5152.
STREETLIFE in FAIRFIELD
On a peaceful, snowy night's walk in
Fairfield late December, when cars were banished by the snow, Sid Tafler (ex-Editor of
Monday Magazine) had an idea. What if a residential street in Fairfield, two to four
blocks long, was converted into a space that was primarily for pedestrians, cyclists and
shared community living for the residents ? Choose a street with minimal arterial traffic,
no transit routes and adequate off-street parking, expand the boulevard to the centre of
the street, and leave a single, slightly winding lane for one-way vehicular and bicycle
traffic, at 10 km per hour. Restrict on-street parking, and use the newly released space
for mini-playlots, wider sidewalks, frisbee or ball-tossing areas, park benches, bird
feeders, gardens, fruit trees, picnic tables, a community barbeque pit, bicycle stands,
totem poles or sculptures. The idea has been endorsed by the Fairfield Community
Association's Transportation Management Subcte, and recommended as part of the
transportation management plan which to be conducted with the City of Victoria in 1997.
The residents and property owners on a proposed street would discuss the plan and work out
all the details, and only streets with large majority support would be considered. If
you're interested, call Sid Tafler at 381-4244 firstname.lastname@example.org
ECOCITY - WHY NOT ?
On April 1st, Guy Dauncey and Laura Acton will be
analyzing what it would take to turn turn Victoria into an EcoCity - a community of people
living in harmony with each other and with their ecosystem, locally and globally -
followed by critical analysis from a panel of planners and engineers (see Diary). When you
take the various components individually, the vision begins to look possible : the missing
ingredients are the organization and commitment to make it happen. Also, on March 14th
(see Diary) Robert Theobald and Guy Dauncey will be holding a public dialogue on
Revitalizing Communities, looking at what more needs to be done here in Victoria to create
a community that is ready for the 21st century, socially, spiritually, ecologically and
SEARCH FOR COMMUNITY
Do you sometimes wish you enjoyed a stronger sense of
community ? Something more than just waving 'hello' to your neighbours as you drive past
them on the way to work ? Some streets are great - but many are little more than a
dormitory of private souls, who spend far more time with their TVs than with each other.
Heather McAndrew and David Springbett are Victoria film-makers with Asterisk Pruductions
who have just completed a major 10-part TV series called 'Ways We Live - Exploring
Community'. The series comes out of their personal search for community, and takes the
viewer through housing co-ops and cohousing, into remote RV parks and the urban jungle,
behind the walls of wealthy enclaves and inside poor neighbourhoods, in search of answers.
They discovered common themes of belonging, sharing, supporting and giving back, where
people are willing and able to take control and find their own solutions. The series airs
on VISION TV (21) every Wednesday night, starting March 5th. Maybe you should invite the
neighbours in to watch with you ?
PACIFIC COAST SAVINGS
If you bank with Pacific Coast Savings, you have a vote in
their forthcoming elections, starting March 24th. Credit Unions, unlike the banks, are
owned and controlled by their members, and policies are determined by the elected Board.
So here's your chance to cast your vote for change ! EcoNews is endorsing two candidates,
Bernie Jones and Elizabeth Woods. Bernie is well known in Victoria, and has 30 years
background in community development. Elizabeth has been a Board member since 1994, and is
author of 'If Only Things Were Different', a fictional vision of a sustainable society
here in Victoria. Both are committed to taking Pacific Coast Savings down the path of
sustainable, community-based economic development. Voting ends April 12th. If you are
interested in standing for election, you must have been a member for a year. Nominations
for 1998 close in Sept 1997.
ROSS PEROT, ON THE SPOTTED OWL:
"But I will tell you this, I have looked at a few, I
was up in Washington state and the people were so worried about this huge area they
wouldn't let them do any timber cutting because of these owls, and I finally asked a
relevant question. I said 'How many owls are there?' Said '20,' and I said 'OK, I suggest
we send Air Force One out here, transport 'em in absolutely first-class comfort to the
nearest national park. Now the owls can live happily ever after in hundreds of thousands
of acres in some nearby park, as we can go back to work here.' Sept 18th '96, San
YEHUDI MENUHIN, ON LIVING
In contrast, here's the violinist and conductor Yehudi
Menuhi, who is coming to Victoria in May to conduct the VSO. These words are taken from a
prayer which he wrote to accompany an article in the Times of London (Aug 21st & 22nd,
1989) : "Guide me to my better self - help me make myself into one who is trusted by
living things, creatures and plants, as well as the air, water, earth and light that
sustain these. Keep me as one who respects the mystery and character of every variety of
life in both its uniqueness and its mass, for all life is essential to its own survival
[...] Help me to be a good trustee for the body You gave me. No life is to do with as I
will, not even my "own", for it is an object entrusted into "my"
temporary keeping, to bequeath back into the earthly cycle in the best possible condition
for other life to continue."
CRUELTY-FREE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Every year, municipal purchasing departments spend
thousands of dollars on basic cleaning products such as hand soaps and floor cleaners,
many of which are tested on live animals in horribly cruel ways. Collectively, municipal
governments have enormous purchasing power. To help turn things around, the Animal
Alliance of Canada has published a brochure on 'How to Convince your Local Government to
Purchase Cruelty Free Products', based on their experience in working with Toronto City
Council who have agreed to introduce legislation to bring in cruelty-free products. This
is one of those small tasks that just needs someone to say "Yes - I can do
that." For a free copy, write to the Animal Alliance, 221 Broadview Ave, Suite 101,
Toronto, Ontario M4M 2G3. Fax (416) 462-9647 www.inforamp.net/~aac/
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do
everything, but still I can do something. Because I cannot do everything, I will not
refuse to do the something I can do." - Edward Everett Hale, 1822 - 1909
TRAFFIC REDUCTION PARTIES
Do you want to reduce the traffic on your street ? David
Engwicht, an Australian transportation activist, has come up with Traffic Reduction
Parties, which get neighbours together in a street party to identify traffic calming
options, and encourage individual households to reduce their automobile use. Most
residents want traffic reduced in our own neighbourhoods, but to accomplish this we need
to be willing to drive less through other neighbourhoods. The Car Activity Diary allows
you to rank your car trips according to whether they could be shifted to another mode or
foregone altogether. Most residents identify a significant number of trips that could be
reduced with little sacrifice. The Traffic Reduction Kit includes an organizers' manual,
video, instruction sheets, Car Activity Diaries, playing cards, street signs, party hats
and case studies. For details write to P.O. Box 12816, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.
And if you are able to help Doug Koch and Earthworks with
the organizing, give him a call on 383-5765. If you are organizing an event for Earthweek
(April 18th - 27th), the deadline for getting into the program is March 28th. And if you
are young, don't forget that Doug is putting together a collection of your visions for the
future of our community and our world, and the steps needed to be sustainable by the year
2020. There are prizes for both art and for writing - the deadline in March 21st. Go for
WORK IN AFRICA
Group leader, intern and volunteer positions are available
with Operation Crossroads Africa in Africa and Brazil this summer, working on a wide range
of social, environmental and artistic projects. Details (212) 870-2106 email@example.com
MONEY MONEY MONEY !
The Home Depot gave $367,800 in charitable contributions
to 47 non-profit environmental agencies during 1996 to support environmental awareness in
building practices, recycling and solid waste management. Contact Randy Ziffer, (770)
801-5821. And the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line set up the Royal Caribbean Ocean Fund, worth
$1 million over the next 3 years, to support research, education and other projects to
protect the world's oceans. Details Lynn Martenstein, (305) 539-6573.
OF THE MONTH : PESTICIDES
If we all act together, our voices will turn into a song,
which cannot be ignored.
Write to the Mayor and Council of your local municipality,
or your CRD Regional Director, share your views about the use of pesticides and
herbicides, and ask what specific steps they are taking to reduce the use of chemicals in
outdoor areas, and to ban their use near schools.
The addresses are on page 470 of the phone book, and the
post-codes are as follows:
Victoria, V8P 1P6
Saanich, V8X 2W7
Cent Saan, V0S 1M0
Nth Saan, V8L 4C1
Sidney, V8L 1Y7
Oak Bay, V8R 1G2
Highlands, V9B 5T9
Colwood, V9C 1R1
ViewRoyal, V9B 1A6
Langford, V9B 4E4
Metchosin, V8X 3W9
North Cowichan, V9L 3X4
CRD Regional Directors, PO Box 1000, Victoria V8W 2S6
If you want to pursue this properly, and work on the
by-law campaign, the Sierra Club of Canada is coordinating the efforts of the 100
municipal campaigns, and will send you a copy of 'Pesticide Bylaws : Why We Need Them, How
to Get Them'. Write to Elizabeth May, Sierra Club of Canada, 412-1 Nicholas St, Ottawa,
Ontario K1N 7B7 Donations are welcome. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to work with other people in your area
to do a joint effort, EcoNews will publish your name, so that others can get in touch.
Just call me at 881-1304.
This is also a good time to be writing about this to the
editors of the Times Colonist, and our local papers. We only have to put up with the
continued presence of these harmful chemicals in our environment because of our own
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