Posts tagged ‘environment’

January 29, 2015

Nature makes you a different person: it makes you healthy

Some First Nations wisdom for the rest of us, courtesy of Gitga’at elder and matriarch Helen Clifton (as quoted in Arno Kopecky’s book The Oil Man and the Sea):

When you watch bears and eagles time their cycles with the salmon, when you see whales breaching and sea lions shouting from the rocks, it has a deep effect on your psyche. It makes you a different person. It makes you healthy.

Clifton lives in Hartley Bay, British Columbia, a remote Gitga’at coastal community perched at the mouth of the Douglas Channel, a 90-kilometre inlet stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Kitimat. Clifton has seen these bears, eagles, whales and sea lions, first hand, for all her life. She, too, lives each day in time with the cycles of the salmon.

But all that might change: Kitimat is slated to become the western terminus of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands. Heavy oil from the pipeline is due to be shipped, in massive, hulking tankers, down the Douglas Channel, past the bears and eagles and salmon and whales and coastal communities, on its way to Asia.

An accident or spill is, at some point, inevitable. And that puts the health of coastal British Columbia — and, ultimately, the health of each and every one of us — at risk.

For more information, or to add your voice to those concerned about the health of our coastal marine environment:

December 23, 2014

Thoughts on nature from a wilderness dweller

I’m reading an excellent series of books by Chris Czajkowski, a British woman who has for over 30 years lived off the grid, on her own, in cabins she built from scratch in the Chilcotin wilderness of Central British Columbia. Here are a few of her ideas about the natural world and our relationship to it that I think deserve consideration:

Thoughts on silence, from Diary of a Wilderness Dweller:

Most people will spend their whole lives never knowing what it is to live without human noise . . . . These people, and probably the majority in today’s world, will never know the beauty of silence. And if they were presented with it, it is likely that the first thing they would do would be to destroy it.

Thoughts on how we educate our children, from Nuk Tessli: The Life of a Wilderness Dweller:

People who question leaving the city while their kids are still in school, worried that they might “miss out on something” should think again. To teach a child that he belongs in an interdependent ecosystem that deserves respect is surely the greatest, almost the only, inheritance that he or she needs.

And thoughts on the importance of accepting and respecting all aspects of nature (not just its romantic beauty), again from Nuk Tessli:

Nature is fascinating, beautiful, and uplifting to the soul. It is exciting, exquisite and miraculous. But it is also dirty, uncomfortable, itchy and cold, full of disinterested murder and terror, unnecessary cruelty, misery and waste. To accept the wilderness you have to understand that both sides are valid, both are part of the intricate relationships that give us our water, air, all life-support systems and sanity. To deny one side of nature is to abrogate the other, and to understand the essence of these natural laws provides insight into our own behaviour as a species. We are part of nature and nature is part of us. To ignore that is to ignore reality, and I am afraid that is what most people do.

October 1, 2014

A big perspective on baking and life

Here’s a little mind bender, courtesy of astrophysicist Carl Sagan:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, first you must create the universe.

There is so much natural energy encircling us, quietly supporting us in everything we do. Much of it — air, water, natural resources, photosynthesis, soil chemistry, weather, etc. — we take for granted.

Today, give a little thanks to the universe that surrounds us and supports us.

March 15, 2014

Laugh of the day: All-natural breakfast goodness

Courtesy of Alex Hallatt’s Arctic Circle comic strip on March 13, 2014:

Alex Hallatt's Arctic Circle comic strip from March 13, 2014

(Source link: http://arcticcirclecartoons.com/comics/march-13-2014/)

September 8, 2013

How do you treat your home?

I like this quote from canoeist Bill Mason’s documentary Song of the Paddle, produced in 1978 by the National Film Board of Canada:

Wilderness . . . is a white man’s concept. To the native peoples, the land was not wild, it was home.

 

May 15, 2013

What is Canada Post thinking?

Years ago, I put a “no flyers/junk mail” sticker on my mailbox because I no longer wanted to receive wasteful ad mail that I often tossed directly into the recycling bin.  It has, thus far, worked wonderfully.

Today, however, I received a letter from Canada Post suggesting that I consider removing that notice from my mailbox. . . .

“Dear occupant,” the letter reads, “Your address is part of Canada Post’s Consumers’ Choice database as a result of having a ‘no flyer’ notice on your mailbox. This means you are currently not receiving unaddressed mail delivered by Canada Post. . . .  [You bet!]  We would like to make it easy for you to receive this important mail that includes information and offers that could benefit you and your family.  [Huh?]”

The letter goes on to inform me that by choosing not to receive unaddressed mail, I am missing out on “important” monetary savings, community connections and product samples.  It then suggests that I opt back in to junk mail delivery by 1) returning an enclosed postage paid card (printed on sustainable paper, no less) and 2) removing the “no flyers” notice from my mailbox.  Both suggestions are printed in boldface text, and the latter item is prefaced with the word “IMPORTANT“.  If I follow these two easy steps, I’ll begin receiving junk mail again in just a few weeks.

Well, I’ll be.  What is Canada Post thinking?  In an era where companies are cutting paper and saving money by turning to e-billing, online advertising and the like, here is Canada Post trying to encourage folks to resume the delivery of excess, wasteful paper products to their homes!  It boggles my mind.  I understand that Canada Post deals in the paper-mail trade, and that the corporation is facing financial difficulties, but launching a campaign intended to get people to embrace junk mail seems both desperate and markedly out of touch with the times.

So, Canada Post, I will be leaving my “no flyers” sticker on my mailbox.  I realize, as you point out, that “most unaddressed mail . . . [is] printed on sustainable papers and can all be recycled.”

The point is, I don’t want to receive these unnecessary materials in the first place.

April 29, 2013

Observed on the street: A circle of life, turning, turning

I came across this beautiful rendition of the aboriginal medicine wheel (also called the wheel of life or the sacred hoop) on the outer wall of my local/district community arts council building:

wheel_of_life

 

I love the grounding stones at centre; the depiction of the cycles of nature, the seasons, the sun; the symbolism of birth, growth, death and rebirth — of life itself.  I love how the prints of humans and animals exist together in the soil, intermingled with the roots of the trees, connected to both the seeds of life and the earth to which all living things eventually return.  I love how each component of the circle relies on every other for balance, for continuity, for solidity, for completeness.

We are all one, forever united in the loop of this enduring narrative.  We share the same history; we share the same future.  Let’s take care of one another the best we can.  Peace.

November 25, 2012

Kuleana: where talent and trajectory (responsibly) meet

I’m always interested in notions about personal destiny and life purpose, and recently I came across a new (to me) branch in this tree of ideas:  the Hawaiian concept of kuleana.  Broadly defined as “responsibility,” kuleana is understood to include a deep accountability to several interconnected realms:  self, family, community, earth, etc.

I discovered the concept in the pages of Terrie M. Williams’ book The Odyssey of KP2:  An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species.  She writes:

Kuleana is a Hawaiian word that has no direct translation into English.  It describes the sense of ancestral-based responsibility that often comes with a unique undertaking or experience.  It is destiny with a DNA underpinning coupled with a realization that you are doing what you were meant to do in this life, the harmonization of talent and trajectory.

In my experience, the happiest individuals are those who have discovered their kuleana.  Such individuals weather hardships, challenges and sacrifices not as obstacles or excuses for failure but as a natural part of life’s adventures.  The entire odyssey called life is a joy.

A beautiful concept — and one that gently encourages us to think and act beyond our own small spheres of perceived influence.  There is so much more out there, all around us, and we are accountable to it (all of it) by simple virtue of the fact that we are, at root, a creation of it.

I also find it noteworthy that kuleana has no direct translation into English.  The concept — with its interconnectedness and wide-ranging responsibility — certainly exists within other indigenous cultures, but it is much less prevalent within “modern” white societies, which tend to be driven more by personal gain than by personal responsibility.  If there were words in English to describe kuleana, would our motivations be different? How can we create the words to fill that gap?

I hope you find your kuleana.  May your life’s journey be an odyssey of joy.

October 12, 2012

Book recommendation – “Sleeping Naked is Green” by Vanessa Farquharson

I highly recommend the book Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson.  Farquharson is a twenty-something arts journalist from Toronto who pledges to make one “green” change to her lifestyle each day for one year, and to keep every one of those changes going for the duration.  From switching to recycled paper towels and toting a reusable coffee mug to selling her car and unplugging her fridge, Farquharson shares her experiences — and their impact on her life — on her blog Green as a Thistle.  Her book is a humourous, candid look at what it takes (or doesn’t take) for the average person to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Check out a list of Farquharson’s 366 lifestyle changes here:   http://greenasathistle.com/green-listed/

Cover image of the book "Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged her Fridge, Sold her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days" by Vanessa Farquharson

“Sleeping Naked is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged her Fridge, Sold her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days” by Vanessa Farquharson

What I found particularly interesting was Farquharson’s final assessment of the effects her “green year” had on both herself and the people around her.  Some examples:

  • After lowering her thermostat to 64 degrees Farenheit (18 degrees Celsius) and keeping it there for months, Farquharson soon found herself “uncomfortably hot in most other indoor environments.”  Her body had adapted to the lower temperature, despite the extra blankets and sweaters she had required to weather the change at first.
  • After switching to natural, non-toxic cleaning and beauty products, Farquharson found her body reacting adversely to the run-of-the-mill products she had used before.  “When I was staying over at [a] friend’s place and had to use her concentrated, Clean Breeze-scented, neon green laundry soap as well as the purple lavender dish soap, both of which were crammed full of artificial fragrances, my eyes kept bursting into tears and my nose suffered perpetual seizures,” writes Farquharson.  “I’ve always prided myself on not being one of those flaky, ultra-sensitive types with weak immune systems.  But after making my body adapt to a more natural lifestyle, it’s apparently decided that, from now on, it will accept nothing less.”
  • Finally, Farquharson’s green challenge rubbed off on her family and friends in some unexpected ways.  Her formerly indifferent mother now stocked her fridge with only organic dairy and free-range meat; her SUV-loving father rented only subcompact hybrid cars while travelling; her friends carried coffee thermoses and bought bicycles to cut car use; and her co-workers shunned disposable water bottles and take-out lunches.  “Over the course of a year, I watched my friends and family make changes I never thought they would,” writes Farquharson. “At first, it would often be for my sake, just to accommodate my green restrictions, but now I truly believe they’re doing it for themselves and for the earth.”

Interesting book, and inspiring, too.  In the end, every little step we take towards attaining a more sustainable lifestyle helps!

October 9, 2012

Intentions for the Earth

I came across this blessing of sorts in the first few pages of the book Women of the West Coast: Then and Now by Marnie Anderson:

May we always recognize, and make allowances for, the seemingly diverse needs of man and nature.
May we realize that, in the end, they are the same.