Posts tagged ‘sustainability’

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.

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/)

July 2, 2013

How gathering mussels on a beach can fill you up inside

I like this quote from poet Susan Musgrave about the enigmatic lure of life on Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), a wild and sparsely populated archipelago off the northern coast of British Columbia. Musgrave has been a part-time resident of Haida Gwaii since 1972 . Like many local residents, she built her own home, forages for food, and lives according to the rhythms of the land and sea around her. This quote appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of British Columbia Magazine.

If you spend the whole day getting mussels off the beach and you come home and cook them up with some snow peas from the garden, and you’re tired and wet, it’s more fulfilling than buying them in [a grocery chain like] Thrifty’s, because you actually had to participate in the process of your life as opposed to just being a consumer. Haida Gwaii does that for people; it allows them to go back to a time when they were more involved with their own lives, as opposed to when they were just watching or being led.

Would that we all had the opportunity to exist, at least for a time, in such an elemental state of engagement and harmony.

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.

May 7, 2013

The taste of joy

Quote of the day:

If you could bottle joy, it would taste like fresh birch sap.

This from freelance writer and songstress Laurie Sarkadi in her article “Tapping birch” (Canadian Geographic, April 2013).  As for what fresh birch sap tastes like, Sarkadi continues:  “think cold, pure spring water with notes of honeysuckle.”

Sarkadi is lucky enough to live in an off-grid, lake-front home in the boreal forests outside Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.  Surrounded by birch trees, she joined a birch syrup-making co-operative and found herself — a staunch environmentalist and conservationist — confronted with the questionable task of drilling a hole into the pristine trunk of a thriving paper birch tree on her property.

Despite her knowledge that proper tapping techniques wouldn’t harm the tree, Sarkadi still found it difficult to drill that first spigot hole, as if doing so were a violation of both the tree and the natural world she strove so hard to protect.

Her conservation ethic put to the test — and the hole eventually drilled — Sarkadi arrives at this conclusion:

It is the paradox of conservationism that in our desperation to save and protect our natural spaces, we lose some of our own wildness.  We put our trees into tree museums (as Joni Mitchell astutely noted) to look at them — like fine china that sits untouched — instead of building sustainability inside our forests in the spirit of cohabitation.

True balance with the natural world, Sarkadi suggests, sometimes means interacting with it at an intimate, reciprocal level, wounds and all.

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.

December 18, 2012

Live your dream and share your passion

I ran across this bit of inspiration today.  It’s called the “Holstee Manifesto,” and it was created by Holstee, an American company-with-a-conscience that manufactures clothing, wallets, greeting cards and wall art from recycled materials.  🙂

This is your life.  Do what you want and do it often.
If you don’t like something, change it.  If you don’t like your job, quit.
If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.
If you are looking for the love of you life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.
Stop over-analyzing; life is simple.
All emotions are beautiful.
When you eat, appreciate every last bite.
Open your heart, mind and arms to new things and people; we are united in our differences.
Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.
Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.
Some opportunities only come once; seize them.
Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating.
Life is short.  Live your dream and share your passion.