Archive for May, 2010

“Its origin and purpose are still a total mystery.”

By David Parkinson

Blueberry flowers enduring the drizzle

All you want to do is something good,
So get ready to be ridiculed and misunderstood;
Cos don’t you know that you’re a fucking freak in this world,
In which everybody’s willing to choose swine over pearls.
(Aimee Mann, It’s Not Safe)

The path from spring to summer seems to be meandering through winter this year. This past weekend we were treated to weather pretty much straight out of November’s repertoire, although with uncannily long days instead of the usual five o’clock shadow and shutdown. The plants shiver and wait for better weather, but the slugs are in their element. Eventually, though, the record will stop skipping and we’ll go on with the expected progression into the long hot days of unbroken sunshine: tomato weather.

In the meantime, preparations for summer are in full swing. The 50-Mile Eat-Local Challenge will be celebrating its fifth year this year, and of course we will be presenting another Edible Garden Tour on Sunday August 8, 2010, as the kickoff event of the 50 days of the eat-local challenge. (Feel free to contact me if you would like more information on either of these projects, or if you’d like to get involved as a volunteer.)

Closer in, the board of the Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative is getting ready for our first Annual General Meeting, to be held on Wednesday June 23, 2010, at 7:00 PM at Vancouver Island University in Powell River. The preparations means creating a flurry of documents, getting ready to amend our rules, creating reports on our progress and finances, and generally being ready to stand accountable before our membership as their representatives. The best part of the meeting is that we will elect a new set of directors, who will have a democratic mandate to continue working towards our vision, using our values and principles as a compass.

But what is the cooperative actually doing? What is it for? I can tell that people are confused. I know for a fact that some people who hear that there is a cooperative in the region automatically think that we are planning to start a bulk-food or natural-food store. I’ve had it reported to me on good authority that someone out there believes that we are starting up another feed store, like the old Farmers’ Institute cooperative store which eventually became the Rainbow Valley Pet & Feed  Store after the rancorous breakup of the cooperative.

Obviously there might be some confusion about any new organization, especially one with a slightly cryptic name. People see the words “food” and “cooperative” in close proximity, and naturally they think of a food store. And the word “cooperative” carries other connotations for those who remember the demise of the old feed store. What the heck is a “provisioner”, anyway? It doesn’t help that, as I have learned lately, many people really do not understand what a cooperative is and how it differs from other corporate structures, such as the limited-liability corporation or the not-for-profit society. So one of the challenges for Skookum is to spread the word about the structure and philosophy behind the cooperative movement. We’ll get there, but it’s going to be a long process of teaching and learning together.

The main idea behind the formation of Skookum, which is simple but somewhat abstract, is that we need to kickstart many more experiments in strengthening the local food economy. There are many things going on in the region, but many of them are fundamentally working in isolation when they could be working together better. It is our belief that people want to be able to work better together, to share tangible and intangible goods, and to create things which are more than the sum of their parts. But it’s hard to make that happen; it takes a huge investment of time and energy to meet up with the others who have what you need and need what you have.

Without a structure to make this sort of collective effort possible, though, it simply won’t. I don’t know how many times I’ve been involved in conversations sparkling with great ideas and positive energy; but if those ideas don’t get some kind of nurturing support, they just get filed away, along with all the other wonderful things we could do if we had enough time, or money, or something we never seem to have.

So the essence of Skookum is that it’s designed to be a marketplace of ideas about how we can all work together to produce and preserve more food. We have members so that we can crowdsource solutions and so that we can easily gauge the amount and intensity of interest in any project that we might propose. The more members, the more projects we can sustain and distribute among the membership — also, the more easily we can pay for our projects and other expenses.

At its core, it’s a way to organize and connect together the people in the region most likely to have crazy ideas about getting more local food happening. Like a dating service for local-food freaks and compulsive backyard growers.

Let’s take a simple example. Imagine that I would like to grow chickpeas to support my out-of-control hummus habit, but that I don’t have enough space in my backyard garden for any significant amount. So I put the word out through the membership to see who else would be interested in working together to grow a large amount of chickpeas. Two or three people respond, letting me know that they would be very interested and would help with all the soil preparation, tilling, hoeing, weeding, watering, and harvesting. A few others respond to say that they would be happy to participate as subscribers to the harvest, and would be willing to pay extra to support the labour of the three or four people who will be the main workers.

The organizing team goes forth, finds some land it can beg, borrow, or steal for the purpose of growing a little field of chickpeas. Everyone tosses in some money to buy a good amount of chickpea seed, amendments, and whatever else it needs to get from seed to harvest. The project works on a share basis, meaning that whatever the harvest comes to, it will be divvied into equal shares. Some amount of the final harvest is set aside as a community share which we will donate to an organization that deals with people in need; or else we will sell it as a share and donate the money to that organization. (In case they’d rather have money than chickpeas.)

Built into the cashflow of the project will be some kind of payment or recognition for the labour, expertise, tools, etc. contributed by the members who organize the project and ensure its success. Every successful project, no matter what it does, has at its centre a person or a group of people who take primary responsibility: they make the phone calls, organize the meetings, and deal with the crises. Too often these people’s contributions are passed over. One of Skookum’s strong commitments is to provide fair wages for this critical work, because if we are going to have a functioning local food economy we need to find and nurture the special people who go out and get things done (as opposed to talking about getting things done). They deserve a reward for their valuable gifts of initiative and determination.

So the outcomes of this little chickpea project are:

  • more people know something about how to grow chickpeas;
  • more people have some locally-grown chickpeas;
  • some people got paid or otherwise remunerated for spearheading this project;
  • probably some new connections were formed among members of the cooperative and members of the wider community;
  • some members of the community benefited by receiving chickpeas or some equivalent donation.

Nothing terrifically earth-shattering, but if we get enough of these little projects up and running, achieving some kind of self-perpetuation, returning value to their participants and to the community, then we will be sending a message about the power of cooperative effort. And the best part is that all of this activity will be 100% democratic and accountable. There will be no need to rely on the goodness of those who own the business. The business will be owned and managed by anyone in the community who wants to pitch in. And that is the real magic ingredient here: I do not believe that we will organize our way out of the impasse we’re in by retooling private ownership to give it a greenish veneer. There needs to be a much greater degree of public involvement in the food system, or else we’re going to continue enriching the few who make the decisions which generally do not reflect the interests or the will of the people.

It will take some time before this all becomes clear. In a way, we’re fighting our way out of the murk of bad and increasingly outdated ideology. All we can see are problems, and all solutions seem equally plausible or implausible. So we need to keep trying anything but what the rules of game dictate: cooperation instead of competition; collective ownership and management instead of private capitalization and profit-taking; openness and transparency instead of boardroom decision-making and political railroading; togetherness instead of isolation. If we persist, sooner or later something will work. Trust me.


Pondering local government on Texada

By Tom Read

BC's Local Government Act, the Regional District Tool Kit (available at the Texada Library) and "A Guide to Regional District Board Delegation to Committees and Commissions" are some of the information sources about Local Community Commissions in BC.

Last night at the Texada Island Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting we heard a presentation on the possibility of a Local Community Commission (LCC) for Texada. The speakers were Dave Murphy, now in his fourth term representing our island on the Powell River Regional District (PRRD) Board of Directors, and Frances Ladret, the District Administrator.  More in a moment on what they had to say, how some people reacted to it, and what might happen next. Warning: this is a longer-than-usual post; please bear with me.

First, it’s important to note that the Chamber is a private, non-profit organization that serves mainly as an informal forum for Texadans to discuss “what’s happening” on the island. Indeed, at last night’s meeting we also heard local farmer Dave Opko give a very informative talk about recent changes to Provincial livestock farm-gate sales regulations. Those changes favour places like our island, but that’s another story.

The Chamber sometimes sponsors public meetings open to all, such as a candidates forum at election time. But its regular meetings are held at the Texada Legion and are limited to members and guests only, by advance reservation. Seating space is limited to about 50 people for such dinner meetings. In the interest of full disclosure, I must add that I’ve been a director of the Chamber since 2002, and the just-elected president of the Chamber happens to be Linda Bruhn, my wife. Last night’s meeting was her first in that role.

Back to the LCC presentation. The idea of a Local Community Commission for Texada piqued quite a lot of interest, especially from those already involved in local government activities of one sort or another. We had a full house, including several trustees from Texada’s two Improvement Districts, along with past and present members of various committees, commissions and community organizations. Many people in the room wear multiple hats, serving on various community groups and as businesspeople.

Dave Murphy introduced the topic by saying that he wasn’t necessarily for or against an LCC, but he wanted us to be aware of the possibility of such an entity, and he wanted to get an informal idea from our group whether we would be interested in learning more about it through a public consultation process. Then Frances took to the podium and gave a succinct explanation of the LCC concept, how others have used it, and why Texada might want to consider adopting it. I don’t have the space to go through the whole presentation here, but I do want to cover a few highlights, below.

So what is an LCC, and why would Texada be a possible candidate for one? Under section 838 of the BC Local Government Act, Regional District Boards can delegate some of their authority for operating services to an LCC whose members are elected from within a remote electoral area, such as Texada Island. Although it can administer day-to-day operation of local services and can advise the Board on budgets and policies for those services, an LCC can’t pass bylaws or enter into contracts. But, as Frances mentioned, the Board would normally approve the LCC’s budget and policy recommendations, provided there was no additional cost or liability incurred by residents of other electoral areas or by the Board itself.

Local Community Commissions were designed for geographically well-defined remote areas with several local services. Texada happens to support several island-only services administered by Regional District staff who live in Powell River. There’s an economic cost to having our local government administered by people who don’t live on the island. Because of travel time, an administrator may spend five or six hours on a Texada task that would have taken less than half that time on the mainland. And Texadans who want to provide input on policy or meet with administrators have to travel to Powell River to have a meaningful voice in local government.

Frances mentioned that Texada has more services than any other electoral area in the PRRD, but there’s no coordinating body on the island to see that our services are delivered efficiently. Instead, each one acts independently of the others. Take building management, for example: our Recreation Commission maintains certain buildings, our Airport Committee looks after other buildings at the airport, and the Health Services Society advises the PRRD on the building that houses our Health Centre. There’s no island-wide venue for setting priorities or taking advantage of joint operating efficiencies.

About 80% of Texada’s residents also receive services from our island’s two Improvement Districts, one in Van Anda and the other in Gillies Bay. These existing layers of bureaucracy — PRRD and Improvement Districts — don’t coordinate much, either. According to Frances, there might be greater operating efficiency and ability to obtain grant funds by changing the Improvement Districts into Service Areas administered on Texada through an elected LCC. That might eliminate a layer of bureaucracy while still keeping local control of those services in each of the two villages.

There’s a lot more to the story, but the above highlights are enough to indicate that an LCC would represent a significant change for Texada. Not surprisingly, this prospect alarmed a number of audience members.  Objections included the following:

— Since it couldn’t pass bylaws or enter into contracts, an LCC would be powerless, so why do it?

— An LCC would be just another layer of bureaucracy with additional costs, which we don’t need.

— The only reason to even look at this would be to get funding for fixing our water systems, and there’s no guarantee of that.

— Everything is fine with our Regional District services today, so why bother?

There are also compelling arguments supporting the LCC option. Now that the topic has surfaced, I hope Texadans will do some research and learning on their own, not just relying on information brought to them by PRRD. Frances provided a background handout, and a little more delving on the Internet readily yields much more detail about possibilities and options for local influence on a regional district.

The next step, I believe, is for Director Murphy to call a public meeting to present the LCC concept to a wider audience. That meeting could address the objections that surfaced at the Chamber last night, and could also help us decide, as a community, whether to further pursue the LCC concept. We owe ourselves a more thorough and well-informed discussion about this possibility — or even other options.

From a small patch in Wildwood…

By David Parkinson

Oats in the furrow, ready to be covered

One of the main purposes for the Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative is to get us thinking more about sharing solutions, as opposed to the current model, which often has us all off on our own trying to solve the same problems by learning the same skills and using the same resources. If we expect that we’re all going to need to become much handier at producing, preserving, and sharing food, then it makes sense for us to work better together: to share tools, ideas, space, time, and labour.

Our fast-paced and hyper-individualized culture has steered us away from collaborative projects; it’s become possible for almost everyone to do for themselves one way or another, thanks to abundant cheap goods. And we seem to have lost some of the appetite for group projects that characterized earlier generations, with their many service clubs, church groups, and all the other pieces of a thriving community. To be fair, not everyone has punched their cards and checked out of the common effort, but we’re all going to have to get a lot smarter about how we work together to get the things we need.

Skookum was founded on the assumption that we all will need to become better equipped to understand how our food gets to our tables — and that the work of getting the food to the table is going to become more widespread and more local. Although sometimes it seems that our efforts in this direction are puny and never enough, the only thing worse than not doing enough is doing nothing at all. (Or maybe doing something poorly.)

While we run around trying to get the gleaning project ready for prime time, while we prepare for our first general meeting of our members, we are trying to get a few little projects up off the ground. Something that particularly interested a couple of us was the idea of producing some of the grains we eat as part of our diet. A number of people hereabouts have been experimenting with Red Fife wheat and kamut, as well as other more exotic grains such as quinoa and amaranth. (And as my fellow Slow-Coaster Tom reports, buckwheat is another grain that people are growing here, if only as a cover crop.)

One grain I eat a lot of is oats, since I have a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast most days. And, conveniently, Dan Jason at Salt Spring Seeds sells a variety of hull-less oats suitable for our coastal growing conditions. Sharon Deane, another director of the cooperative and an avid food gardener, was interested in working together to grow a pilot patch of oats, if only to see how well they grow, how much they yield, and what the process is for getting from field to cereal bowl.

And so, scrambling right up to the last minute, we managed to find a little patch of shared soil up in Wildwood where we can plant and tend our experimental crop for 2010, in the hopes that we will learn enough to expand the project for next year. This past Saturday we took our five packets of Salt Spring Oats, suitable for sowing approximately five hundred square feet of ground, and spent some time turning the soil, scraping furrow, planting and covering the oats. We’ll continue to visit our little grain patch — and I’ll continue to blog about the progress up there — until the end of season, at which time we hope to have enough oats to share around, roll into flakes, and make into a delicious bowl of local breakfast. (With local fruit, milk, and honey…)

Eventually it would be wonderful to see more people getting together for the purpose of sharing land and labour to grow ever-larger patches of grains, beans, and other storage crops. There is a project running our of Vancouver, Urban Grains, which shortens the distance between grain consumers and farmers by getting city folks to sign up for a share of the grain produced from a farm in Agassiz. This is a classic Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme, and these are starting to catch on all over the place, as regular people decide that they want to become more involved in the production of the food they eat. Passive consumption of foods coming from an opaque and mysterious system of production is looking more and more like a strange aberration, only possible during a time of extremely cheap fossil fuels and a style of imaginary economics that assigns no negative value to environmental destruction and social inequities so long as they are kept well out of sight.

For the three-and-a-half years that I have been living in Powell River, I have seen more people getting more involved with growing their own food and resuscitating the traditional skills of canning, preserving, and storing food. There is a real appetite here for self-reliance at the level of the individual and of the community. It’s one of the very positive and heartening aspects of living here. We need to start taking that energy and focusing it on shared projects which will spread skills, knowledge, and (especially) food amongst as many members of the community as possible. I’d love to see our cooperative work its way up to the point where our members can sign up at the beginning of the growing season for shared grains, beans, oil, vinegar, fruit, winter storage vegetables, and all the other aspects of a food-secure household.

So, even though this humble little patch of oats may not produce any great amount of food, what it will do is get us started on one project among many to bring people together to share land and crops. We will start to learn about the economics and the practical details of small-scale grain production. And we hope that people will be attracted to the idea of experimenting with self-reliance in staple crops.

Stay tuned for updates as the season progresses!

The Long Field, Part 1

By Tom Read

Here’s The Long Field as it appeared yesterday around 7:30 pm. A few new cedar fence posts are already in position, but we still have a long way to go before this field is restored to productive agriculture.

The acreage surrounding where we live, which Texadans have called “Slow Farm” for decades, has seen farmers come and go for about a century. We are slowly, pun intended, joining that farming history by resurrecting the old fields here one by one. Our latest endeavor parallels the High Road; we call it “The Long Field.”

By mainland standards this field would be considered so small and irregular as to hardly qualify for serious agriculture. Allowing for proper clearances from the road and a nearby creek, it’s only about 500 feet long by 30 to 60 feet wide. But it’s all good bottom land — quite rare on Texada Island — and it has a history of growing food. Decayed but still standing cedar fence posts and half-buried strands of wire fencing remind us of our farming predecessors.

During the past several decades, a wall of roadside trees grew up next to the field, casting deep shadows upon it. Reluctantly, we had to remove those trees to bring back the sun. This work was quickly accomplished a few weeks ago by our friends Stump, Warren and Brian at RAW Select Logging. Now comes the hard part: hand labour to pick out odd bits of left-over branches and the occasional rock, plus fencing the whole field to keep out the deer.

We do not plan to rototill this field. In keeping with our desire to minimize fossil fuel use, we will instead hand-sow a cover crop of buckwheat, to be followed next summer by rotational grazing of pigs and chickens. Our choice of buckwheat was inspired by several attributes: Our neighbours to the south on High Road, Brian and Leslie, are using this crop to improve the tilth on their bottom land this year, so we expect it to thrive on our place, too. We also realized that buckwheat makes great honey and can be planted even in mid-summer for a fall flowering, so it will help feed our bees as they’re getting stocked up for winter. And fresh buckwheat pancakes come well recommended, too.

So much for Part 1 of our Long Field story. Sometime in the future I’ll report back on how we’re doing with this project, as our Slow Farm adventure continues.

Chamber of Commoners Redux

By David Parkinson

More gorgeous wispy tendrils of fennel

I’m away in Vancouver this week for a Community Developers’ Conference sponsored by the Social Planning and Research Council of BC, so in lieu of a post I will pass along this important announcement from the organizing team of the Chamber of Commoners, who are putting on another event. I am really looking forward this follow-up evening, since it will be a great opportunity to catch up with all of the amazing and progressive action going on in the region.

Here is the announcement:

Greetings Commoners,

After a long grey winter, it’s time for all of us in non-profit, community, and people-based activities to refuel by coming together at the upcoming ‘Chamber of Commoners’. It’s going to take place on June 9, so save the date. Once again, the evening will be filled with snacks and drinks, information tables, ‘organizational’ speed-dating, door prizes, and even more open time to mingle with new and old friends. In addition, we’ll have a bit of fun trying our hands at some collective song writing. That’s right! We’re going to work together to add a few verses to John Prine’s ‘In a Town This Size’ and give it some local Powell River flavour. Some of Powell River’s very own music talent will be on hand to help perform the final product.

Mark your calendars, and spread the word! Here are all the details you’ll need:

Chamber of Commoners
Club Bon Accueil (French Club)
5110 Manson Avenue
7-9 pm, Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This is a ‘by donation’ event (suggested donation: $5.00). No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

RSVP to to confirm your attendance.

Please let us know ASAP if you’d like to reserve space for an information table (space is limited).

We are looking for donations of door prizes. Contact us if you have something to offer.

See you there!

Searching for a dog

By Tom Read

Rocky knew to smile for the camera instinctively it seemed. One of Rocky’s favourite spots was on this end of the deck where he could look out over much of the property to make sure no pesky deer or ravens invaded his space. This territorial guarding just came naturally!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we lost our beloved dog, Rocky, to cancer back in February. We still miss Rocky, but the mourning is less, and it’s time for another dog to join our rural Texada Island household. When searching for a new canine partner, it helps to create a list of desirable traits. We may not find the perfect dog, but if we could, here’s a short list of what she or he would be like:

—  Beta dogs are much friendlier than alpha dogs (who just want to boss everybody around), so we’d really like a dog who thinks that all the world is his or her friend, including cats. Among other reasons, this is important to Penny, our cat, who grew up with Rocky and is accustomed to having a canine friend and protector.

—  Either a young male or female, but definitely a mutt. We like the steadiness, durability and intelligence that haphazard reproduction can bring. My experience with pure-bred dogs when I was young was mostly positive, but they generally seem a little too precious to me now.

—  We like a big dog — Rocky weighed about 140 lbs — because we’re just more comfortable with large dogs, and we think our property offers lots of room for a big dog to roam. Also, there may be some truth to the stereotype that big dogs tend to be gentler and quieter than small dogs.

—  We’d like a dog whose instincts tend toward herding and protecting rather than roaming, digging or fighting.

—  An outdoor dog is a must. This place is heaven for dogs, with a climate that’s seldom too warm or too cold for a dog with a decent coat. Rocky preferred living outdoors on all but the very warmest of days, when he snoozed in a cool spot indoors during the afternoon heat. As for cold weather, that was his joy. His insulated doghouse that’s on the covered deck right outside our front door kept him safe from cold winds and moisture yet gave him freedom to go roaming in his designated 2-acre guard area when he wanted to. And he frequently wanted to, as we would sometimes know from his “get off my property, you darn deer!” bark in the wee hours of the morning.

So where might such a dog be found? At the “pound?” Our region lacks an animal shelter, with volunteers taking the role of “fostering” unwanted dogs. That’s how we found Rocky 10 years ago. Lately there haven’t been many dogs, let alone large ones, available hereabouts. So we’ve been searching online, and we’ll probably find our future dog soul-mate in the Lower Mainland or Victoria. The search is on.

The levers that guided the signals to the radio

By David Parkinson

Tattered pear blossoms in glorious full sunshine; soon these will be fruit?

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

(Howard Zinn, 1922-2010)

In the past week, I have emailed with two people who are considering moving up this way and met face-to-face with one. This has made me reflect more than usual on the weird meandering path that led us here in 2006. I have often thought that an interesting radio program or podcast would be “Who Let You In Here?”: a series of interviews with recent and not-so-recent arrivals to the Powell River region, digging into the reasons why people end up here, in this slightly out-of-the-way corner of the world. Everyone’s story seems a little cockeyed, as though there is some greater force drawing us all here.

To make a long and not-so-exciting story short: among the features of Powell River that looked interesting back in 2006, when we were doing some research on the internet about possible places to move to, the two that stick in my mind were the 50-mile eat-local challenge and the Powell River Regional District’s declaration to be a GE-free crop zone. Events and campaigns like these two act as beacons, sending a message out into the world: there are people here working against the grain, trying to preserve the special character of this region, trying to build something forward-thinking and new. That’s how it worked out for us. An intriguing signal sent out across the worldwide web; a promise of progressive action, enough to merit a second look.

Now, coming up to four years later, the internet footprint of Powell River is much larger, and it’s good to see the number of people blogging and sharing information about all the action happening in the region. If you look on the right sidebar of this blog, you will see my attempt to list some of the blogs which are in some way about the cultural life of this place. Some are more active than others, but they are all attempts to convey some small slice of the life of this place that might otherwise get lost in the noise. They are all beacons, flashing their message out into the world, seen by who knows how many people? who knows where? to what end?

I met today with one of the two people who were in town this past weekend looking for properties. This person is moving with his wife and two children from southern Ontario, and has decided that Powell River is the right place for his family to settle and begin making serious preparations for the effects of peak oil and economic meltdown. Our conversation wandered off into some very difficult territory at times — by which I mean: territory which is barely even on the map for most people. The possibility of rapid social collapse brought about by any number of threats which even now are visible and getting more worrisome. Things that no one wants to have to imagine, let alone try to plan for. Things that we pray we’ll be proven wrong about.

How many other people are quietly making preparations for a gradual, or a not-so-gradual, decline in our living standards? And looking at Powell River as a good place to move to, considering its relatively gentle climate, year-round growing conditions, somewhat affordable real estate, and its small but burgeoning subculture of activists, foodies, and do-it-yourselfers? And what is the picture they see of our community as they sit in Vancouver, or Edmonton, or Peterborough, scanning the internet for signs of intelligent life?

Climate, food security, affordability, and activist culture are the main reasons that drew us here three-and-a-half years ago. We picked up on the signals and homed in on their source. Now we are here contributing (we like to think) to the constellation of projects and activities which continue to pump the message out there: here is a place with many positive possibilities… we are making things happen… come and join us.

Against a backdrop of extreme uncertainty about the future, many people are starting to tune into new messages traveling on new frequencies. (Or maybe old frequencies now being brought back into commission after years — decades — of disuse.) We are developing new metaphors with which we can shape and make sense of the events taking place around us. There is an atmosphere of portent which like most things has a light and a dark side; although the dark side is carrying the day lately, every positive step forward makes the light more real.

Luckily, the beacons radiating outward from here are mostly very positive ones. I can see why Powell River is building a reputation for itself as a place where citizens are reclaiming the commons, naming the problems besetting the world and developing sensible solutions, and looking beyond the challenges we face to find the opportunities. This all makes a wonderful positive feedback loop: more people catching the signals → more people checking out this region as a place to get involved in a forward-thinking community → more new community initiatives and energy → more signals radiating outwards. And so on, round and round, gathering momentum all the time.

It’s exciting to think about the people we don’t even know about yet, picking up on the signals and deciding to take a closer look at this region as a place to find a community. We need all of the positive, imaginative, hard-working energy we can find. Maybe an incentive program to bring in the coolest, most skilled and knowledgeable doers we can find.  These are your tools: word of mouth, radio, blogs, newspapers, magazines, email. Bring us our apple-graders, beekeepers, and cheesemakers; our reducers, reusers, and recyclers; our brewmasters and -mistresses; our cobbers and thatchers; our spinners, dyers, and weavers; our electrical improv artists and plumbing whiz-kids; our tubthumpers, tailors, and troublemakers; our town criers, navigators, and provisioners; our sowers, tillers, and reapers. Now go forth and radiate!

Post facto

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