Objects appear clearer in the rear view.

employment, library, LNG, mining, rabideye, spezzacatena


Seem it’s about time to document the past year, at least for myself, before it all blends into a fuzzy pink cloud.

A year of provincial and federal governments’ rubber stamping of very probably damaging projects like LNG and dirty coal transport over water, the Site C dam drowning some of the best agricultural land in Northern BC, and continuing to throw all our money, hopes and energy into the bottomless pit of oil sands, and its transportation across land and water that we consider ‘ours’ (and of course exporting this to our southern neighbour). The propaganda we pay for as taxpayers is thick on all these. Meanwhile no mind is paid to alternatives, least of all a reduction in the excesses we feel are part of being human in the richest countries at their apex.

It’s all very logical, after all. Why promote ideas that don’t pay off multinationals and give people with all levels of education and skills the feeling that, yes, they too can earn $200,000+ a year just like those in the lower echelons of the financial sectors, by working in remote camps 14-in, 7-out; fly in-fly out, extract the living daylights while the going is good. And this is the hope; never mind what it is doing to our air, land and water. But as 2014 ended, the price of oil having declined sufficiently to bring into question the ‘full speed ahead’ ethos, those always-already temporary jobs are being threatened, or at least postponed as the high cost of extraction presses down on the whole project.

Oh, and there is a federal election coming up on October; my guess is that this too will reflect how we shouldn’t wait for elections to do something, and expect nothing but contempt.

Locally, the big story this year was (drum roll) the library (of all things). I suppose that it’s a good thing that it appears that we’re all aflutter over books and learning, but it was really about was money and location, with a really positive undertow of ‘what is the function of a library in 2014?’. We are very lucky to have had a lot of really smart, talented, generous and dynamic volunteers who compiled the information on library usage while maintaining  a positive outlook during a time when it could have turned nasty, with many counsellors essentially over-ruling years of research, disregarded the thousands of taxpayer dollars spent in investigating and developing plans for one, then three, then more locations (most notably the most preferred Willingdon South location). Of course, we owe a lot to those who actually make our library work: our librarians, the Library board and the Friends of the Library.

Ultimately, a big old compromise to keep an excellently located empty lot, empty, accompanied by an amorphous 11th hour deal with local mall owners to transform an ex-furniture store behind a gas station into a public library. I know many of us (me included) went into this with clenched teeth and pinched nose, because the community needs a functional library more than a beautiful space that would have reinvigorated the actual heart of the city, providing an anchor for locally-owned small businesses in favour of enhancing a private strip mall. It is that urgent. 75% of the population voted YES to a referendum question on permitting the City to borrow up to $3.5 million, and the gods were apparently appeased. I guess that’s the nature of compromise and democracy: an urgent need made clear to the public, and a choice that makes it very difficult for any one party to vehemently oppose its advancement. I am hoping that the lack of real clarity on how the old Brick location will be updated to create a functional and beautiful, well-lit space, will not bite us in the ass.

Oh, and congratulations especially to our new and progressive non-slatey-at-all City Council members who, with Russell Brewer, may encourage the re-elected to start to think about what a post-mill town could look like (the Catalyst Paper mill workforce just shrank by 45 jobs). May the talk lead directly to the walk. I think it will.


Rear view mirror


imminent crossover

2011 ended up being a charged up, go-go-go kind of year for me and for many around me. Personally, it was a year incredibly busy with the continued development of CJMP Community Radio and Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative, that developed my technical and interpersonal/managerial skills and a somewhat steadier (and busier) work situation than in the past four years. Globally, lots of social change and much-raised awareness of the challenges we have in the face of levels of unimaginable inequality (the Occupy Movement), the lack of democracy (The Arab Spring, and its repercussions throughout the world) and facing up to the lies our governments and corporations tell us (Wikileaks). In many ways, these are inter-related in a general theme of reckoning– an awakening of the masses to ‘what’s really going on’. Add to this, the  further awareness of the environmental destruction we knowingly just keep heaping onto the planet through billions of tiny actions (and several huge actions– like our lovely full-steam-ahead Tar Sands projects); these addictions that we can’t seem to wrap our head around. We’re in a strange place where we know what we do cannot be sustained and we carry on, not in a (more honest) spirit of ‘live and let die’, but this is where it leads. We put on an extra sweater in the house to reduce the heating bill, while planning our next trip to Mexico or wherever… carbon footprint/climate change be damned. We’re convinced that the time for change was yesterday.

Sometimes I think of our society as really stuck in the past, where dreams of 60’s era expansion and the hope of the return to resource extraction-based ‘prosperity’ (while stage-managing a photo-op with Miss Millennial Sustainability) can get you elected, in desperate (and embarrassing) Reagan-era style.

There is an unspoken shrugging social agreement that says “ok, we’re screwed, and everything is obviously wrong, and we keep going in the wrong direction, and so many people are so unhappy; but what else are we going to do?– we’ve invested too much to change now”. The first part of this is where the Occupy Movement is now, I think. The lament is widespread and vocalizing it horizontally— without a top-down structure, and leader-less — makes it all the more potent. The disappointment (with Obama, with corporate responsibility, with all levels of government and their corruption as they respond to corporate wealth and power and not to the people) is very real. It’s the first step but it can’t stop there; next comes the restructuring of the widespread complaint into real action beyond politics and beyond petty changes to the system to make it just a little fairer. Major structural changes are coming.

There is no doubt in my mind that 2012 will bring a lot of change, and my hope is that the people who’ve been working on the sidelines, building local communities economies where people work together to serve a common end benefit, will see a lot more people on their side. 2012 is the United Nations year of the Cooperative — a viable alternative to the pyramid schemes the planet’s ‘99%’ have suffered under for decades. The mind-shift that has begun in the realm of ideas needs to be reflected by the marketplace, where the concept of ‘value’ itself needs to explode and include instead value to the society, to the environment, and even value as an intangible benefit to the future generations alone– way beyond the dollar and instant personal gratification on a material level. This change may bring lots of residual conflicts as the 1% are revealed as sociopaths rather than our supposed role models.