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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

Executive director of The Solutions Project



Newsletter No. 80 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - Feb. 1999


A few years ago, while organizing a local get-together, an elderly neighbour told me this story. She had woken up one morning to see a furniture truck parked opposite her house, with lots of comings and goings. Full of good intentions, she went across the road, and welcomed the new arrivals to the neighbourhood.

"Oh," the woman said, "that's very kind of you - but actually, we've been living here for seven years - we're just moving out."

For millions of years, we have lived in clans, communities and families. Except in the rarest of situations, we lived surrounded by people we knew fairly intimately. We joked, teased, played, co-operated, argued, worked and even fought together - both against our enemies and among ourselves. When a crisis hit, such as a child dying or some other kind of disaster, we would be there for each other. We shared in the births, marriages and deaths - and all the wonderful chatter that accompanied them.

It is only in the last 50 years that we have begun to lose this sense of connectedness. The change began with the coming of the motorcar. As long as we were walking around, we met our neighbours regularly - but once we started driving to and from our homes, no longer meeting at a neighbourhood pub or café, we started ignoring them.

The instinct to look out for each other is so strong that once we have met someone, it is almost impossible to walk past them without saying hello. But if we never formally meet, we can go for years without acknowledging their existence.

Here's how it happens. A new person arrives on your street. During the first 3 weeks, you have an opportunity to go over and introduce yourself. If you miss that opportunity, however, the unspoken assumption is established that you don't speak to each other. To the ancient self, they are still 'strangers'.

The instinct for neighbourly support is still there, however. When the big blizzard struck Victoria two years ago, people on many streets spontaneously worked together to shovel driveways, clear roofs and fetch shopping for each other.

Now we face a new crisis, called Y2K, which stems from the inability of the world's computers to understand '2000'. Since most were programmed to read two digits for the date of the year, '99' is followed by '00' - and all over the world, date-sensitive microchips which have not been changed or upgraded in everything from nuclear missiles to wristwatches to traffic lights to offshore oil platforms will not know what to do. By one estimate, if only 5 out of every 10,000 microchips fail because of Y2K, the result could be 12.5 million to 35 million critical computer failures worldwide. (Utne Reader Y2K Citizens Action Guide).

On Kauai, the beautiful Garden Island in Hawaii, the Mayor's Task Force on Y2K is advising everyone to lay in one month's food supply, as a sensible precaution. At a meeting I attended, representatives from Safeway, the hotel industry and the food bank shared their ideas on how to ensure that there would be enough food on the island, if critical supply lines broke down. (Like Vancouver Island, they import 89% of their food). They are also looking into the security of their oil-fired power utility, and other issues.

Here's the situation. On January 1st, 2000, there is going to be an earthquake, metaphorically speaking. What we don't know is whether it will be a 2.5 or an 8.5 magnitude - whether the Y2K bug will produce a few inconvenient disruptions, or a major breakdown of our food and power supplies, followed by economic confusion.

In response to this looming concern, a new initiative is being launched in Victoria and the CRD called the Street Volunteers, as a program of United Way. We will train people to become street volunteers on the streets or in the apartments where you live, giving you the skills and support you need to set up a local street circle, so that you and your neighbours can work together to prepare for whatever Y2K might bring. (Details inside)

But the Street Volunteers program is about much more than Y2K : it is about reviving the old instinct for community in general. It is about holding street parties, and sharing skills and knowledge. It is about working together to look into things such as traffic calming, backyard gardening, community parks, neighbourhood wildlife programs, creek restoration, children's activities, caring for the elderly, supporting single parents and helping neighbours with disabilities - whatever is relevant on your street.

We see the Street Volunteers as a wonderful birthday gift to the new millennium - a way to reclaim our instinct for self-help and co-operation, a way to build a more healthy, sustainable community - and a way to turn this strange little millennium bug into a beautiful butterfly

- Guy Dauncey

Please note:  the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.


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A very big thankyou to Tony Law, Fireweed, Windwalker, Alan Austin, Mark Dussealt, Kathleen Gibson, Daniel Harper, Nina Raginsky, Stuart Wulff, Roger Colwill, Blaise Salmon, Mike Cregan, Diane Lade, Daphne Taylor, John Lammers, Thelma MacMurchie, Donna Mclaren, Ida Robertson, Jane King, Ian Moul, Valerie Douglas, David Greer, Sheila Haegedorn, Barbara Benoit, Susan Holvenstot, Pru Moore, Michael Clague, Unitarian Church Social Resp Cte, Warren Nickerson, Noel Taylor, Audrey Woodward, Paul Gareau, Kelly Wilson, Unlimited Possibilities & Peter Kofler.

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EcoNews Delivery : In recent months we have been using the Garth Homer Centre's bulk mailing services. With Canada Post's new rate structure, publications are rated higher than admail, so we are reverting to the regular mail. Apologies for recent late deliveries, which were due to the bulk mailing system.


* There are new Study Circles in Voluntary Simplicity and Deep Ecology starting the week of Feb 8th. Call Jackie 361-9446 or Carolyn 388-9993 (North West Earth Institute).

* Vacancy : Executive Director sought for a new community forestry and tenure reform campaign, run by the Institute for New Economics and the Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy. Contact Cheri Burda (250) 721-8193.

* Volunteer Naturalists sought by the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, to help with school programs. Joan 479-0211

* Master Composter Training Program. The Victoria Compost Education Centre is enrolling new recruits for its program, which takes place on Saturdays March 13th, 20th & 27th and Wednesday evenings March 10th, 17th & 24th. The program includes training in practical composting, building worm bins, hot composting, presentation skills, organic gardening, waterwise gardening, CRD recycling initiatives and a tour of the Hartland Landfill & composting facility. Call 386-WORM for details, or visit the Centre, 1216 North Park St, Fernwood.

* Paper - Reach for Unbleached! and Paper Choice's Office Paper Buying Club are preparing to place a new order of Office Paper at 20% below retail prices. Available by the case (5000 sheets) - Rolland New Life Dual Purpose, Canadian made, 100% processed chlorine free, 80% post consumer paper, suitable for copiers and printers. $58 per case + GST, PST, freight, pre-payable. (Delivered to your door in Victoria). Other sizes also available. Call Alice, 598-5526 in Victoria, or Delores (250) 935-6992 Deadline March 1st.

* Calling all Schools ! The Sierra Club invites you and your class to step out of your familiar surroundings to imagine the cool, moist world of the temperate rainforest. Their Environmental Education Outreach Team wants to visit a school near you - offering in-class programs that explore the ecology and importance of the coastal temperate rainforest. Jenn Hoffman (250) 386-5228

* Spring is coming, and so is the EarthWalk 1999 (April) - if you would like to learn the skills of how to organize this kind of big event, and join a fun team of volunteers, call Peter Ronald 361-3621

* Volunteers are needed to help stop the destruction of BC's rainforests, wild salmon rivers and grizzly bear sanctuaries. The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is a great team of people, and they need additional volunteers to help with office reception, in their store, setting up displays, coordinating volunteers, and sewing the unique hand-crafted bags which are used to raise funds. Call 388-9292, or drop in at their office, Suite 507, 620 View St, Victoria.


The Veins of Life Watershed Society is proposing a Federal Millennium Project to restore the Gorge waterway to the recreational and ecological jewel it once was, providing access for all citizens of the area, whether or not they own waterfront property. The project will reclaim public access points, restore water quality and create a Gorge Interpretive Centre. It will also create an educational resource to teach watershed stewardship skills and ethics to the decision-makers of the future. If you enjoy the waterways as you walk along the Gorge, bike over the Selkirk trestle or row or canoe past Aaron Point, now's the time to make your voice heard to your Municipal Council and to the Province. Tell them you support the Veins of Life Millennium Project. Together, we can show that a clean waterway and an abundant watershed are top priorities for the new millennium. To join the Society, call Hilary Buri at 383-2086.


I am told that it is becoming a common practice for the parents of young children to warm their bottled baby's milk up in the microwave. Please don't - you are taking a terrible risk with your children's future. Among the new toxic pollutants scientists are worrying about are synthetic chemicals which mimic natural hormones, upsetting the normal reproductive and developmental processes. These hormone impostors are being held responsible for birth defects, sexual abnormalities and reproductive failures in wildlife, a dramatic drop in human male sperm count (up to 50%), and a rise in female hormone-related cancers and other disorders. One of the places these chemicals come from is some plastics, especially when the plastic is heated or microwaved. It's probably ok to heat the bottle in hot water, the old fashioned way - but don't use the microwave. PS show this to your friends ! (Our Stolen Future, by Theo Colborn)


Hey - it's that time of year, when the bulbs are telling us spring is just around the corner, and it's time to be planning the gardening year. For this year in particular, because of Y2K, it is important to be planning a good-sized food garden. If you feel like some guidance, Carolyn Herriot, host of 'The Garden Path' on AM 900, is offering 3 organic gardening workshops, starting Feb 11th, continuing in March (see Diary). Carolyn is also the organizer of Seedy Saturday, with its proliferation of displays by local seed suppliers, its famous Community Seed Swap, and workshops by people such as Tina Fraser on 'Extending your Season of Harvest with Winter Vegetables'. So whether you are after locally grown organic seeds for flowers, vegetables, beans, herbs, medicinals or ancient grains, head on down to South Park School in James Bay on Saturday Feb 20th. It's truly a Seedy Celebration ! Details from Carolyn at 592-4472. If you live on Salt Spring, you can visit your own show on Feb 13th.


Would you like to become a Street Volunteer (see cover story) and set up a Street Circle on the street or in the apartment where you live ? We will be running 6 Study Circles in March, and are looking for 72 people to train as Street Volunteers to set up your own Street Circles in April. Are you interested ? If some go on to lead Study Circles, we'll be able to run 18 Study Circles in April, 45 in May, and go on all year long. This is the way to build a dream ! To find out more about the Y2K concerns, come to the government's Town Hall meeting on Feb 17th, and the Street Volunteers meeting on Feb 25th. Whether Y2K turns out to be a mouse or a monster, the Street Volunteers will live on as a permanent new level of community participation, and a wonderful birthday gift to the new millennium. For details, call me, Guy Dauncey, Street Volunteers Director, (250) 881-1304.



While we are busy worrying whether our computers will blow a collective fuse on January 1st 2000, the world's poorest are struggling to repay the debts that our western banks talked them into taking back in the '70s and '80s. Between 1981 and 1997, the less developed nations repaid their creditor countries over $2.9 trillion, twice the amount originally loaned to them - loan repayments which are contributing to Canada's massive bank profits, stolen from the hands of the poorest. In this wretched parade of sorrow and hunger, this is a miserable stain which should be on the conscience of every prosperous nation. The debt is strangling the 40 poorest countries in the world; the effort to repay the debt is distorting their economies, making the poorest even poorer. In response to this enormous injustice, a global initiative is building to make 2000 a year of Jubilee, when debts are forgiven and forgotten, and foundations are laid for a more prosperous and sustainable future. On Salt Spring, the group '10 Days for Global Justice' recently organized a day of International Solidarity (537-9804) with Bishop Remi de Roo to focus on these goals. In Canada, the Halifax Initiative is a coalition of environmental and social justice groups committed to debt forgiveness, fundamental reform in the world's financial system, and the introduction of a Tobin Tax on global financial transactions. This is hot and topical, because NDP Member of Parliament Lorne Nystrom has introduced a Private Member's Bill (M-239), proposing Canadian support for such a tax, and Parliament will be voting on it this month. So call your MP ! (David Anderson, 613-996-2358, Fax 990-7292). The regional coordinator for all this is in Vancouver, (604) 915-9600  

When history writes its verdict on the achievements of the first year of the new millennium, Debt Jubilee could be the biggest of them all. It just needs us, to push it forward.


A Panel Discussion
exploring Regional Growth
in the Victoria Area

Deborah Curran, Gene Miller, Mark Hornell, Rob Wickson & Todd Litman

Wednesday February 10th, 7:30 - 10pm
Fairfield Community Place
Garry Oaks Room 1335 Thurlow Road


Want a place to live in the Parksville-Qualicum area, with environmental and social aspects rarely seen in conventional housing, contact Andy Telfer or Po Wan at (250) 752-4486, or


Every aluminum can that is recycled saves .718 kilowatt hours of energy, .231 kilograms of water, and keeps .162 kilograms of C02 from entering that atmosphere. Recycle that can !


"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

- Albert Einstein


HEMP will be a billion dollar industry. Isolate yourself from the volatile markets.

• Invest in a company with a strong management team and the world's leading hemp experts.
• Invest in a product that has over 25,000 uses. We have worldwide demand for hemp products.

Canadian Hemp Farmers Assoc
Assoc. (250) 656-4490
Fax (250) 656-8860

Min investment $25,000



In 1995, the BC government imposed a moratorium on salmon aquaculture due to the risks of escaped farm fish and diseases transmitted to BC's wild salmon. Since then, we have learnt a tremendous amount about the dangers of salmon farming. This month, the government will decide whether or not to lift the moratorium.

The government faces tremendous lobbying from members of the aquaculture industry, keen to expand their operations. But what of the other side ? Most farmed fish are Atlantics, which have immunity to diseases that Pacific salmon do not have. One fear is that fish farm escapees will transmit their diseases to the Pacifics, just as the early whites transmitted smallpox to the natives. In Norway, a parasite from farm salmon infested 24 rivers so badly that the government had to poison these rivers several times, wiping out all life. In New Brunswick, infectious salmon anemia has wreaked havoc in the fish farm industry, forcing the government to order the slaughter of half a million fish and to pay $10 million in compensation. In BC, Atlantic salmon have been found in the Tsitika River, and at Gold River.

The fish farms create as much sewage as a city of 300,000 people, poisoning the traditional shellfish beds; and they drive away the whales, seals and dolphins by the use of 'acoustic harassment devices' - many operators view marine mammals as a pest. The antibiotics which are routinely fed to the fish add a growing concern about the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. A 1994 study found that 74% - 100% of wild fish caught near fish farms contained antibiotics in their flesh - some above a safe level for human consumption. There is no food sense in it, either - farmed fish are fed 3 times as much protein as they produce : globally speaking, they are a net food loss. The sensible solution is to end all marine-based aquaculture, and to allow only land-based, enclosed aquaculture in ponds - as the Chinese have been doing successfully for 5,000 years. We face a critical choice - do we want wild salmon or farmed salmon for the future ? What do we want our children to see, and eat ?

Action : Write to Glen Clark (Tel 387-1715, fax 387-0087) & Moe Sihota (  Tel 356-9819, Fax 356-9830) urging that the moratorium not be lifted until the industry moves to a fully enclosed or land-based system. Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC V8V 1X4. Don't delay - the decision is to be made very soon !

Deadline for March: Feb 25th

The Green Diary has moved!  Click HERE to see whats happening!



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 !

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Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.

EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Sustainable Communities Consultancy

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

Forthcoming  'Journey into the Future : 2000 - 2015'
An ecofictional novel

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource

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