Newsletter No. 64 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - September 1997
GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS CHANGE;
THE BIGGEST STORY OF ALL
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the bad news if you're concerned about the world and its environment. Everywhere you look, the signs say 'Trouble ahead', from the continuing assault on forests and fish stocks to the steady increase of climate-changing greenhouse gases.
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 apartment."
- 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 the Joneses.'
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 September.
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.
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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 (email@example.com). 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, 250-478-6330.
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 HOME
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, 995-2428
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 SUSTAINABILITY PLAN
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 SPEAK
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)
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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)
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