At one level, the actions that are weakening
the world's ecosystems are driven by the corporate desire for profits and the consumer's
desire for material affluence.
Behind those desires, however, is the consciousness that
guides them. And consciousness changes - it is not just a passive responder to whatever
happens to it.
"Without a global revolution in the sphere of human
consciousness, nothing will change for the better ... and the catastrophe towards which
the world is headed - the ecological, social, demographic or general breakdown of culture
- will be inevitable." Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
Recent surveys indicate that this revolution is underway,
with a power and thrust that give it enormous significance:
- 55% of Americans consider nature to be sacred and/or
spiritual. (National Opinion Research, 1994)
- 19% of Americans say they have practiced meditation, 12%
within the last year. (ABC News/Washington Post, 1996)
- A majority of Americans (63%) think that the start of the
millennium should be a time for 'prayer and reflection', rather than for 'fun and
parties.' (17%). (Yankelovich, 1997)
- In 1995, the Merck Family Fund commissioned a major US
study of US citizens' views on consumption, called Yearning for Balance :
- 88% agree that 'Protecting the environment will require
most of us to make major changes in the way we live.'
- 82% agree that 'Most of us buy and consume far more than we
need; it's wasteful.'
- Asked what would make them much more satisfied with their
lives, 66% said "If I were able to spend more time with my family and friends";
47% said "If I felt I was doing more to make a difference in my community"; 21%
said "If I had a nicer car" and 19% said "If I had a bigger house or
- 28% said that in the last 5 years they had voluntarily made
changes in their lives that resulted in making less money, such as reducing work hours, or
even quitting work. When extrapolated, this suggests that more than 50 million Americans
have 'downshifted' to simplify their lives.
The Trends Research Institute of New York described
'global simplicity' as one of the top 10 trends of 1997 : "Never before in the
Institute's 17 years of trend tracking has a societal trend grown so quickly, spread so
broadly, and been embraced so eagerly."
Duane Elgin, author of Voluntary Simplicity and Awakening
Earth has just co-authored a new study called Global Consciousness Change : Indicators of
an Emerging Paradigm, from which this data is taken. ($5 US+$2 shipping. Cheques to The
Millennium Project, PO Box 2449, San Anselmo, CA 94979. It can be downloaded for free from
www.awakeningearth.org). He feels that "a new global culture and consciousness have
taken root and are beginning to grow in the world. This represents a shift in
consciousness as distinct and momentous as that which occurred in the transition from the
agricultural era to the industrial era roughly 300 years ago" - when we first
embraced science, and the objectivization of matter and nature.
This month, Seattle's KCTS Channel 9 is airing 'Affluenza'
(see Diary), which the producers define as 'An epidemic of stress, overwork, shopping and
debt caused by the dogged pursuit of the American Dream,' with symptoms that include 'the
bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from one's efforts to keep up with
Throughout the NorthWest, people are meeting in study
circles to learn about voluntary simplicity. Here in Victoria, Jackie Robson of the
NorthWest Earth Institute (250) 361-9446 is starting a number of new groups this
A revolution is underway. In the USA, 10% of the
population is consciously exploring new ways of living consistent with the paradigm, with
younger women in the lead, and a further 13% have high levels of ecological and social
concern, but give a lower priority to personal growth, either spiritual or psychological.
Something is happening. As Margaret Mead said :
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the
world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." So let's get changing !
- Guy Dauncey
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 to Andrew Laks, Rosalie Beach & Mark
Whitear, Tim Issak, Barbara Hourston, Erin Hollick, Linda Ferster, Ruth Masters, Wendy
Schulz, Gil Parker, Sylvia Stirland, Barbara Benoit, Connie Mungall, Sylvia Foreman,
Sierra Club Victoria Group, Bernie Jones, Marian Rowat, Sandra McConnell, Gail Schultz,
Mel Moilliet, Daphne Taylor, Brian Pinch, Hal Knight, Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society,
Sheila Kertesz, Patrick Fawkes, Virginia & Ray Newman, Michelle Clifford, Elke
Schlufter, Helen Diller, David Leach, Dr Elinor Powell, Kathryn Cholette, Linda Beare,
SPEC Vancouver, Hermine Hicks, Bill Neimann, Laura Porcher, Judith Fetter, Margaret
Thompson, Janet Ray, Nina Raginsky, Maureen Levitt, Donna Dublin, Seymour Treiger, Gordon
Stewart, Sheila Kingham, Robert Milman, Wayne Madden, Marine Ecology Centre, Marlyn
Horsdal & Barbara Julian. Thanks to Roger Colwill's generous donation of $1,000,
EcoNews is now paying a monthly editorial fee, to build long-term editorial stability.
To receive EcoNews by mail, call (250) 881-1304; by email email@example.com
Donations can be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria
V8X 3X1. Do you have any envelopes with an old printed return address ? WE NEED THEM !
HOUSE-SWAP IN SW IRELAND
I'd like to live in Victoria for 3 months this winter -
you can stay in my beautiful Old Schoolhouse (1790) in Bantry Bay for 3 months anytime you
like. For details, call Miranda Russell, (250) 592-2664.
AS SUMMER PASSES....
Amid the kayaking, hiking and lazing in the garden, there
was a lot going on. At Perry Ridge in the Slocan Valley, there were 21 arrests, as the
residents campaigned to safeguard their water supply from clearcut logging by Slocan
Forest Products. Eloise Charet is in prison in Burnaby, on a hunger strike since July
22nd. 79-year old Stan Rowe, one of Canada's most respected forest ecologists, 76-year old
Dr Jack Ross, the Green Party's Andy Shadrach and others have been arrested, backed by 375
people. An Angus Reid poll found overwhelming support in the region (over 90%) for
ecosystem-based planning and community control of forestry and watershed decision-making.
A group is currently on a 'Walk for Water' to Victoria. (Details 250-361-3621).
The summer was hot in the Stoltmann Wilderness too, where
loggers inspired by the Premier's anti-Greenpeace hate-rhetoric blocked the road to the
wilderness area, vandalized Western Canada Wilderness Committee's Rainforest Research
Station in the Elaho Valley and dumped it by the Squamish RCMP station. When the blockade
came down, 50 volunteers worked to carry back into the wilderness and re-assemble it,
piece by piece. WC2's goal is that the whole of the 260,000 hectare Stoltmann Wilderness
be preserved. (604) 683-8220
Here on the Island, alarm bells are ringing on Denman
Island where a company owned by a Gabriola resident has bought a third of the island
(1,750 hectares) and is logging it with a view to cottage development. The Islands Trust,
whose mandate is to 'preserve and protect' the Gulf Islands, has no authority to intervene
over industrial logging on private land. The Forests Minister, Dave Zirnhelt, says that
new rules being negotiated with private forest land owners will be unveiled this winter.
In August, the government released its 2nd annual
Compliance and Enforcement Report about the Forest Practices Code. 34,000 inspections
revealed 2,757 potential and 375 confirmed contraventions, mostly concerning unauthorized
harvesting, and road construction. 598 incidents are still under investigation. Jim
Cooperman of the Forest Caucus of the BC Environment Network responded that the report was
a whitewash, and the whole process is flawed. The Sierra Legal Defense Fund's citizen
audits revealed streams being routinely damaged, unprotected wildlife habitat and unstable
terrain not being properly identified or managed.
The best response to all this nonsense came from Cheri
Burda and Michael M'Gonigle at UVic's EcoResearch Chair, and their report Forests in
Trust. The report recommends a new Community Forest Trust Act, creating an opportunity for
communities in BC to manage local forest land according to ecosystem-based objectives, and
giving communities long-term decision-making authority - exactly what the folks on Denman
and in the Slocan want. For a copy of the report ($15) or a free summary call Liz at
250-721-6388 (firstname.lastname@example.org). There will be a
5-day international conference on community forestry at UVic, next April 5th - 10th.
Here in Victoria, the summer's battle wasn't softball but
shopping malls. (Malls 2 : Community 0). The Tsawout native band's plans to build a
megamall on the Pat Bay Highway on land south of Mt Newton X Road cleared a major
roadblock when the province agreed in principle to build an access lane to the highway.
The megamall doesn't need municipal approval or public hearings, since native reserves are
outside municipal jurisdiction. Meanwhile in Langford, where Mayor Stew Young admits that
he can't tell a deciduous from a fir tree, council is giving the green light for Costco to
build a major wholesale shopping mall on a 12.98 acre site at the corner of Millstream
Road and the TransCanada Highway, with 16 hectares of single family dwellings and duplexes
- right on top of a Garry Oak habitat, with masses of camas and other wild flowers.
Langford Council doesn't believe in things like environmental assessment, but Katie
Stewart of the Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society (250-361-1694) scrambled to get
support for a walkabout to try to rejig the proposal to save as much as possible. The
Public Hearing will be sometime this month, and people in Langford need all the support
they can get. If you can write a letter or speak at the Hearing, call Nitya Harris,
The bigger question is how we can stop the shopping malls
altogether. They just encourage people to drive, while weakening neighbourhood and
downtown shops. The struggle reveals two weaknesses in the movement for urban
sustainability - regional planning legislation that can enforce neighbourhood-based
shopping patterns, and a Greater Victoria EcoCity Society, to act as a focus for vision
and positive action. It doesn't exist yet - but it needs to.
LIVE SIMPLY - SHARE A CAR
Want to help reduce Victoria's traffic, and contribute to
a more sane world ? Sell your car and join the Victoria Car Share Co-operative. It's easy,
convenient, stylish and money-saving. Now in James Bay, soon in Fernwood and elswehere.
Call Kathryn 250-995-0265 for details.
SALT SPRING HERONS PLEA FOR
Dear EcoNews Readers, You may think you see us a lot, but
we are very worried about our future. We are the Great Blue Herons, and there are only
8-9,000 of us left on the entire coast from Alaska to California.
Half of us live in the Strait of Georgia, and our home at
McFadden Creek on Salt Spring Island is our third largest in B.C. You might think we're
solitary creatures, because we like to meditate alone while fishing, but when it comes to
nesting, we're a pretty social crowd - we've built 118 nests in the stand of alder,
trembling aspen, fir, maple and cottonwood at McFadden Creek, on the corner of North End
Rd and North Beach Rd. That makes it all the more worrying when we hear the bulldozers,
which could destroy our nests in one big sweep. Your federal government has just put us on
the blue list of endangered species.
We've already lost two of our heronries on Salt Spring -
turned into subdivisions, with people living where we used to live. The Waterbird Watch
Collective here on Salt Spring has realized that we need help. They're asking everyone to
become a Great Blue Heron Foster Parent, and help them raise $235,000 to buy our heronry
and protect it from the bulldozers. We'd love it if you could become a foster parent;
we've been here for so many years, and we don't want to lose our home. You can write a
tax-deductible cheque to the Wild Bird Trust, and send it to the Waterbird Watch
Collective, 272 Beddis Rd, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2J1.
Thankyou so much. You don't know what this means to us.
With love, The Great Blue Herons.
PS. If you're on Salt Spring between Sept 27th and October
3rd, there's an Art Exhibition and Silent Auction in our honour at Mahon Hall, 114 Rainbow
Rd, followed by a Gala Auction on Oct 4th. Call Nina Raginsky for details - 250-537-4515.
She's our angel.
AYUM CREEK FOREVER !
Put Sundays Sept 14th and 28th in your diary, if you've
not been on a tour of Ayum Creek, where it flows into Sooke Basin. The Habitat Acquisition
Trust has embarked on a $625,000 mission to purchase the Creek, to protect it forever.
They need a further $300,000 by the end of the year, the Sooke Harbour House is hosting a
sumptuous 5-course feast on Sept 19th, with tickets at $150 per person ($100
tax-deductible). Robert Bateman will round off the evenings festivities. There are only
120 tickets, so call the Field Naturalist 388-4174 to book yours now. Details from HAT,
Yuk - who wants those nasty chemicals in their air, food
or water ? Next April, the Skies Above Foundation is organizing a major conference on
toxic chemicals at UVic to focus attention on the need to cleanse our world of the
nasties. They'd love a couple of volunteers to add their shoulders to the push. Can you
help? Call Bruce Torrie, 250-391-9223.
SIERRA CLUB EVENINGS
The Sierra Club's Victoria Group is starting a series of
Community Evenings, every 2nd Wednesday, at Fairfield Community Place, 1335 Thurlow Rd
(next to Sir James Douglas School). Kicking off the season is an evening on the Sooke
Hills - the park and the water, followed by evenings on 'How to Make City Government Work
for Us' (Oct), 'A Pesticide-Free Summer' (Nov) and 'A New Kind of Forestry' (Dec). If you
join the Sierra Club BC Chapter, you automatically receive news about the Victoria group's
activities, as well as news from the rest of the province and North America. For
information on membership, call 250-386-5255.
GREAT CANADIAN PARKS TOUR
Victoria's Rick and Diane Searle are currently in
Newfoundland, on a coast-to-coast-to-coast tour of Canada's national parks, raising the
alarm bells about the crisis the parks are facing with the federal budget cuts, potential
corporate sponsorship, and development pressures. Their tour is being financed by
individual sponsorship, at $.50/km. If you can help, please send a tax-deductible donation
to the 'All About Us Canada Foundation', RR#3, Yellow Point Rd, Ladysmith, BC V0R 2E0. You
can contact Rick and Diane directly at email@example.com.
It's amazing that Canada's parks haven't had a champion before. With luck, their tour will
result in a book, a TV series, and much stronger awareness of what we have.
SAN FRANCISCO CONSIDERS
The Health, Family and Environment Cte of the San
Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously endorsed a Sustainability Plan that would
guide decisions of all city commissions and departments. Mayor Willie Brown supports the
proposal and the Board is likely to pass the package. Air quality, solid waste,
biodiversity, food and agriculture are among the plan's major topics. The transportation
suggestions include creating 10 auto-free zones over the next 4 years, increasing the city
parking tax, raising gas taxes and bridge tolls, and introducing road congestion pricing
at rush hour. San Francisco joins Santa Monica and Chattanooga as the only American cities
with extensive environmental plans, more common in other countries.
Do you have a garage we can use every second month for
delivery and pick-up of our food co-op's order ? With power for a fridge and a lock on the
door ? Greater Victoria Food Exchange Co-operative. Call Alan 478-8056(wk) or 478-6906(hm)
FOR THE SPIRIT : THE AMERINDIANS
In July, more than 400 Amerindian elders and priests
gathered together and flew 400 miles into the Columbia rainforest for a conference aimed
at warning their "errant brother" - the white man - that modern society is on a
suicidal course. Here are some notes from the conference :
"We have not spoken out in this way for 500 years,
but the situation is now critical. Mother Earth is dangerously out of balance. If the
white man ignores us, he will suffer greatly." (Wacatel Utiw, Wandering Wolf, Chief
of the Mayas). "We are calling for a philosophical re-evaluation of what the white
man calls progress. It is progress up a dead-end street. We must work to dismantle 500
years of western mindset, and wake up to a new technology : the technology of
spirit." (Francisco Quiroga, from Bogota).
"Peace between man and Mother Earth is not something
for negotiation and treaties. It is a matter of an individual state of consciousness. They
must stop polluting their minds, before they can stop polluting the environment."
(Marceliano Guerrero, leader of the Amazon Huitotos). According to Mayan prophecies, 2012
marks year zero - the beginning of the age of the fifth sun. "On December 20th of
that year, the sun will disappear for two days. Mother Earth must be in good health to
survive the transition. We have 14 years to prepare." (Wacatel Utiw) (Guardian, UK)
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