Transition Towns Offer a Collective Option for Real Growth in our Communities

Transition Towns are an outgrowth of the Transition Movement that started in England during the last decade or so and has already grown into 424+ official Transition Town Initiatives in 34 countries including 69 initiatives in Canada, 9 of those being in BC including one in the Powell River area. The main aim of the Transition Movement generally, and echoed by the towns including Powell River locally, is to raise awareness of sustainable living and creating community through information, wisdom and collective action.

Food is a key area that Transition Towns almost all focus on. Initiatives in many towns have included creating community gardens to grow food. Often starting with the simple aim of encouraging more sharing of seeds, plants, and produce. Many of the community gardens begin as overgrown vacant lots full of discarded trash that are either privately owned and contributed or owned by the municipality. Another group of projects often undertaken by Transition Town collectives involves working toward a Zero Waste future for the community by reusing the energy embedded in the waste stream to create green jobs and income. A third project often tackled by Transition Towns is creating a local currency.

Each group has developed unique solutions based on their local situation. One Transition group in Haxby and Wigginton inspired by York in Transition has done some neat things by starting small, like the seed-plant and produce swap mentioned above, and a fruit picking service serving that elderly people in particular who were not capable picking the fruit off their trees.  In 2011 13 volunteers picked 20 trees and managed to make at least two deliveries per week of fruit boxes to the Salvation Army kitchens.

Haxby and Wigginton made the decision not to be a formal legally registered Co-op or Society with bank accounts, minuted meetings, etc etc. consciously. Instead they chose to remain voluntary collective group. A collective can be horizontal in its organization, it is a group that shares a common issue or interest and works together to achieve a common objective. The strength of a collective organized horizontally is that it functions as a partnership of individuals, recognizing them as equals.

The next few Mud Reports will try to combine some of these ideas with the energetic community of Powell River's already widespread efforts in these areas.


The Coast Family Society, A Historic Counterculture Collective That's Now Almost Forgotten

When i first moved to Roberts Creek in the mid-70s there was a thriving rural non-profit collective named The Coast Family Society still alive and well. It had been formed in the late 60's by a unique combination of back-to-the-land Canadian hippies, US draft dodgers and at least one rich benefactor. The fact there was a benefactor who bought and donated the money to buy the original land and structures [recent picture of the original structures above] then paid for the supplies while many the other community members renovated and expanded the buildings was how the collective was born.

By the time i arrived The Coast Family Society was a bit past its heyday having suffered a big loss to its infrastructure in a fire that had wiped out the community garage and much of the marketplace. Of course the loosely organized horizontal collective that had been legally structured as a Society to protect the original benefactor from legal liability had no fire insurance. But the Society continued to own the land and the buildings and it evolved into a couple of rental units, a home for the caretakers and The Goon Saloon - one of the greatest quasi-legal clubhouse bars ever - upstairs above the rental units.

The Society also re-started the tradition of community dances at the Roberts Creek Hall featuring both a variety of talented local musicians and some great touring bands who'd all heard of legendary dances put on by and attended by the underground community in the area. Between the dances, the Goon Saloon and the rentals the Society was able to maintain the property, pay the taxes and make the odd anonymous donation to folks in need of a hand.

One thing led to another and the Society decided to put on a really big multi-day, outdoor, multi band, mini-Woodstock type festival. Everybody in the underground/outlaw community pitched in to build the stage, prepare the farm field that had been rented for the occasion, work on the transportation of expected Vancouverite hordes to/from the venue, provide security, collect tickets do clean-up...you name it everybody was involved and of course we all got in free in exchange for our work. The bands were hired, the advertising was printed and distributed, the rent was paid on the farm. Of course it rained, almost nobody from Vancouver showed up, it was a great show attended and loved by all of us local outlaws but...The Society had gambled everything even borrowing money from the bank which they could do because they were a legal Society. They/we lost it all.

Almost all that is. The Coast Family Society was done and the bank sold the property, fortunately, to a couple of local guys in who's hands it changed into what is now The Gumboot Cafe, the Hair Salon, the woodworking school and a 'cosmic' mini mall named The Heart of Creek. Because the property has had a few different long time locals who've owned it through the decades its has changed but still remains the center of 'The Creek' community just as it was intended by the original Society.

The underground community that formed the Society has changed some over the decades too. But 'The Creek' hasn't totally lost its unique character. The dances which were such a huge central force in the community in the old days still continue though now they sell less beer and the smell of pot drifting in through the doors is far less. The artists, builders and activists that once whirled like dervishes at the hall are now mostly gone to the last roundup or hanging out and tending the garden but others have come, others who each year now paint the mandala down by the pier, others who's kids race and scream around the school yard just like ours used to, others who - whether they know it or not - love 'The Creek' in part because of the energy still reverberating through that began with those almost forgotten old-timers of The Coast Family Society and the community they built.


Co-ops Offer a Broad Range of Options for Living a Co-operative Lifestyle in Vancouver

Co-ops have a long and storied history as an alternative to the capitalist system of worker exploitation. Because of that 2012 is being recognized by the UN as the International Year of Co-operatives. To honour that long history the British Columbia Co-operative Association has published an article on the history of the co-operative movement - which started in response to the rise of the factory system in the U.K. during the industrial revolution and  was part of a broader social movement that included the rise of the trade union movement, the rise of the women’s movement and the rise of the chartis movement - which was an attempt to actually make voting universal for everybody, not just land owners.

Vancouver BC's widespread co-op movement is a successful modern-day part of that long history. One co-op that's been around for a long-time, and that i was an early member of, is Mountain Equipment Co-op. Its trajectory has followed the path from where most modern co-ops start as a small group of buyers using their collective purchasing power, into what is today an international powerhouse. In that time they've evolved from one small Kitsilano warehouse where its mostly hippy members bought good quality road-trip and hiking gear into many huge stores that now serve both the general public and their huge membership and provide high end goods to their more highly gentrified clientele. Still a neat organization but, as with most commercial things -including co-ops - bigger isn't always better and Mountain Equipment Co-op has suffered some losses throughout its decades of growth especially to its funky-ness quotient.

Many of Vancouver's other co-ops still have a high funky-ness quotient. Some of them, like The People's Co-op Bookstore, have been around for a long time too. A few like Vancouver Independent News and Vancouver Co-op Radio which are located in the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and are dedicated to being a non-corporate, non-profit voice for the voiceless as well as striving to provide a space for under-represented and marginalized communities.

Some others are organized to offer co-operative transportation alternatives like the UBC Bike Co-op or the Vancouver Biodiesel Co-op or Modo-a worldwide carshare co-op.

From alternative housing to groceries and organic foods to co-op urban gardening to clothing to entertainment, education and news to transportation Vancouver offers a wealth of opportunities to live a co-operative, non-corporate, lifestyle in one of the world's most popular and high quality cities. If ya gotta live in any city, ya might as well cooperate eh.


Urban Agriculture - Growing Your Own Wherever You Live

Downtown Saskatoon’s 1.5 acre Food Bank Garden Patch

Urban agriculture is one of the fastest growing [sic] avenues that folks all around the world are taking to provide their families with fresh, organic, low-carbon footprint, inexpensive food. No matter what city a person lives in there is a thriving grow your own movement, this article would have to be biblical to cover the topic, so...The very best website for in-depth and up to date stuff is City Farmer News IMO. Please check it out if you have the time, energy and desire to get growing.

Many city dwellers live in apartment buildings where roof-top gardening has become huge for a variety of reasons. Food security, quality, access etc. are why the residents are interested. Reducing the cooling and heating bills in the winter and reduced direct solar exposure leading to far longer life cycles for roofs makes building owners interested. Overall urban island cooling, lower transit costs from less shopping trips and quality of life are a few of the reasons urban planners, regulators and politicians are interested. The National Research Council of Canada's evaluation of roof-top and vertical gardens explains how and why it works to every one's advantage. Even if a person only has access to a balcony they can utilize the vertical concept to help cool their home and produce fresh healthy food in the process.

Vertical gardening is being adapted to indoor food production too. One excellent example from The City Farmer is Ecopia, a state of the art indoor farm that uses LED lighting and organic soil for their specialty produce for chefs, in Campbell, Calif. Founder Ko Nishimura's fennel, red-veined sorrel, Russian kale, Persian cress and other gourmet edibles in miniature form, grown to exact specifications for the Bay Area’s most discriminating chefs flourish in organic soil containers. Indoors, or outdoors including on the roof-top, vertical space is far cheaper than horizontal space in every city - Go Vertical!

Vancouver, BC's urban mecca, has all the above plus thousands of community gardens big and small where so many folks want to participate there's almost always a waiting list no matter how fast new areas are created. Another cool option is Sharing Back Yards here's a map of all those who officially participate in the program in the Vancouver area, but there's also the more informal co-operation between neighbors through word-of-mouth or signs put up at the local community center. There are thousands of unused or under-used garden areas who's owners may not have time but would love to barter/share with someone who does.

There's also public-private partnership projects like SOLEfood's new downtown Vancouver site which is doing its best to grow food, jobs and the business case for urban agriculture. There are 'issues' with this type of idea, including tax subsidies that end up supporting competition for Agricultural Land Reserve farmers and in SOLLEfood's case it being built over the top of toxicologically questionable land. But there are other places, non-toxic municipally owned places, like in Saskatoon where the Food bank is using Urban agriculture as a new way to supply nutritious emergency food while addressing underlying causes of hunger and food insecurity, so there are solutions.

There's lottsa solutions and lottsa great folks working within them as well as inventing new ones. My last example is a story that's gone viral up here in Canuckistan about the family of Michel Beauchamp and his wife;Josée Landry;of Drummondville Quebec who tore out their front lawn and planted a veggie garden in its place. Of course, the by-laws enforcement types began to circle like vultures, but so far at least, the ground breaking couple are holding the forces of evil at bay in large part because of the huge internet and media support they've received. My advice, if you live in a subdivision and wanna have healthy, inexpensive, organic food growing as close to the kitchen table as possible copy Michel and Josée example, turf your turf,  plant a garden, and 'Give Peas a Chance'.


Vancouver BC's Food Co-ops Offer a Variety of Alternatives to the Corporate Capitalist Model

First off, the best food anybody anywhere can eat is organically grown food they themselves produce from their own sweat as close to their kitchen table as possible. More on this tomorrow. But for today The Mud Report will focus on some of the co-op alternatives to the corporate capitalist model available in the Vancouver BC area where many folks, including two of my kids, live in apartments, work full time and have no real access to the earth.

The NOWBC co-op offers an excellent online ordering and widespread distribution system with many depots throughout the greater Vancouver area. NOWBC is a small co-op formed in the fall of 2008, an idea spawned out of what was originally a buying club. It is a 50% volunteer run co-op working to bring food from local organic growers and producers to local organic eaters around Vancouver, BC. To start ordering from the  NOWBC co-op folks can either become a full-fledged member or open an online account.  This small initial cost, In either case, is totally refundable at any time.

Organiko is another, smaller, non-profit organic food co-op located in North Vancouver. Their sorting & pick up location is Agathe's carport - 583 Elstree Place - just a few minutes from Westview Plaza, east of Delbrook 6 blocks north of highway #1 in North Vancouver so they are obviously more convenient for north shore residents. Organiko is a true co-operative that relies on its members to perform the various tasks necessary to bring organic food to its member's tables. Members pay a surcharge of 5% that is redistributed at the end of each month to those who have been able to volunteer their time during that month.

The East End Food Co-op offers a different model in that they have a store located at 1034 Commercial Drive, between Parker & Napier Street in Vancouver that is open to everyone - no membership or account required. The East End Co-op was founded in 1975 and was initially a volunteer-run buying club in a warehouse location a bit like Organiko is now. The members of the East End Co-op own the store, may serve on the Board of Directors and committees, attend member meetings, give direction to the Co-op, and – of course! – shop at the store.

Then there's the Otter co-op in Aldergrove which is located at 3600 248 Street Aldergrove, BC. They've proudly been serving the whole community for 90 years and offer a huge range of goods from groceries to hardware to animal feeds to...well, just check out their website and you'll see just how wide ranging the co-op alternative to the corporate capitalist model can evolve to given enough time, space, energy and demand from the community.

Each of these alternatives started small and evolved to meet demand. This, along with hard work and dedication by their members of course, is the secret...demand leads every economic exchange. Successful alternatives to the large-scale corporate bank financed interest paying business model start small and grow in response to the demands of their community. Supply side economics is a lie, demand can be manipulated by slick advertising campaigns only as long as people have excess  disposable income - whereby they consume in accord with their wants instead of their needs. The sun is setting those days and those ways but it's rising on conscious consumers who are interested fulfilling their needs with healthy foods that increase their quality of life as well as that of the community they are immersed in.


Co-ops and Collectives are Creative Housing Solutions in Urban Areas Like Vancouver BC

Any group of people can form a co-op, There's lottsa kinds of co-ops: food co-ops, daycare co-ops, retail co-ops, worker co-ops, credit unions, and housing co-ops. What defines a co-op is that its members own the co-op. Some co-operatives provide a service - a housing co-op provides housing, some produce and/or distribute products and some are groups of consumers pooling their resources. For today's topic, co-op and collective urban housing solutions, The Mud Report is going to focus on Vancouver BC because it's the largest city by far in our bio-region and one of the world's most expensive cities to live in. If folks can find solutions to living frugally in Vancouver, and they have, some of those solutions should be applicable in other cities.

There's reasons why two different terms, co-op and collective, are used. Housing co-ops in BC are a structured setup that federal and provincial governments have funded through various programs to help Canadians create non-profit housing co-ops. Co-ops developed under these programs provide good quality, affordable housing. There are more than 261 non-profit housing co-ops comprising more than 14,500 units in British Columbia. Of course government programs never come without strings attached and legal requirements and bureaucrats whose hoops must be jumped through. These BC Housing Co-ops work great for some folks, not so great for others.

Collective housing solutions are far less structured and each has its own individual flavour. There is a loose structure through the Vancouver Collective House Network which provides an overview of the different types of creative housing solutions folks have evolved in Vancouver. The Vancouver Collective House Network's Facebook page has up to the minute information on availability at different collective houses, some details about the different flavour of each house and contact info. The Vancouver Transition Society also has contacts with folks who've figured out other creative housing solutions in and around Vancouver.

Back about 40 years ago in Vancouver lots of us hippy types lived collectively in big houses around Kitsilano and in the West End. Many of those beautiful old houses were torn down by the developer types, whadda shame. Fortunately the crazed developer types didn't see big bucks in the East Side of Vancouver and a few other areas so there still are pockets left.

Awhile back The Tyee ran a great article titled, 'Living is Expensive, Live Collectively' that flashed me back to those good old days living in Vancouver during the late 60's and early 70's. The strength of our collectives back then was that each house's occupants were self organized into agreeable groups, many shared the same political opinions, enjoyed the same music or the same types of 'recreation'. Here - common purpose - lies the strength of today's housing collectives too. The Tyee article focused on The Beehive House, a collective near Commercial Drive where organic gardening, communal vegetarian meals and a sliding scale for room/board based on ability to pay almost made moving back to Vancouver sound good - almost.


The Success of Spain's Mondragon Co-operative Shows That There are Alternatives to Capitalism

Yes, there is a successful alternative to capitalism thriving around the world - co-operatives - and Mondragon, Spain's amazing co-op is living proof. Given the performance of Spanish capitalism these days – over 25% unemployment, a broken banking system, government-imposed austerity, and rioting in the streets - Mondragon is a welcome oasis in a capitalist desert.

The Mondragon Co-op was founded in 1956 in the Basque region of Spain when 3 metal workers from a small technical college started a decade earlier by a young Catholic priest named José María Arizmendiarrieta co-operatively opened a small workshop producing paraffin heaters in the town of Mondragón . At the end of 2011 it was providing employment for 83,869 people working in 256 companies in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail and Knowledge. Scholars such as Richard D. Wolff, American professor of economics, have hailed the Mondragon set of enterprises, including the good wages it provides for employees, the empowerment of ordinary workers in decision making, and the measure of equality for female workers, as a major success and have cited it as a working model of an alternative to capitalism.

The Mondragon seed has sprouted in many areas around the world including here in Canada where the thriving Mondragon political bookstore, vegan restaurant and Sacco + Vanzetti’s organic grocery store operates. Located in Winnipeg’s historic exchange district, it's inspired by Mondragon Spain and organized as a workers collective. They have no manager, and all worker members, regardless of starting skill or seniority, earn the same rate of pay. Mondragon has been a focal point of friendly anarchism in the city of Winnipeg since 1996.

Closer to home here in Powell River is the Peninsula Co-op, a Vancouver Island based co-operative, who's core businesses are grocery, petroleum and convenience stores.  Peninsula Co-op is entirely owned by its members who share in the financial success through an annual rebate. In addition they proudly share their profits with their member/owners, their community and their staff.

We are constantly being brainwashed by the corporate owned lamestream media into believing that there are no alternatives to the lifelong slavery of debt generated by interest payments, to the inequities of resource distribution, to the capitalist model - but there are. As the Mondragon website says, "We are not some paradise, but rather a family of co-operative enterprises struggling to build a different kind of life around a different way of working."


Those Conditioned by Ignorance and Fear Freely Choose to be Docile, Compliant and Obedient

We all have free will. Whether we're born into privilege or poverty, feast or famine, we all end up worm food. Along the way we make a million little choices, each choice leads to another and another. Along the way we learn from the results of choices past so as to make better choices, according to what we each value as better. So then our choices are determined by our values, as our values evolve so do our choices which in turn informs how our values will evolve and what our next choices will be.

External forces like culture and climate can appear to limit the scope of our choices but never the freedom to choose. We are each of us where we are in this life as a result of the choices we've made up until now and each of us will be in the future where our present choices lead us. As Chris Hedges points out in his recent essay 'The Careerists' the greatest events of human history are  made possible by individuals who do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems a reality. We, through our individual choices, either carry out the minute tasks that allow complicated systems of exploitation and death be - or not. We have the freedom at every turn to be docile, compliant and obedient - or not.

Exercising free will happens between one's ears and is only constrained by an individual's values and worldview. Therefore manipulation of information and the emotional context it's viewed in is imperative for any type of culture to control the individual choices being made by its members from moment to moment. Why do many people 'freely' choose to continue to participate in a game like globalized capitalism that is so obviously not in their best interests? Ignorance. Why do many others, who have turned on to the 'truth' about their plight still choose to continue to participate, to be docile, compliant and obedient? Fear.

Ignorance can be overcome by information only after an individual is emotionally able to overcome fear enough to allow that information through the intricate veil defending his/her present worldview. Facts, like how the rich have trillions of dollars hidden in offshore tax havens - enough to solve many of the problems causing their plight, have no effect, even on those struggling to survive, until they are ready for them. The richer a person becomes the less empathy they have for others. But we all have choices and chances to exercise our free will. Choices and chances to overcome the ignorance and fear, to live emphatically and co-operatively.

There are great co-op solutions big and small, urban and rural being chosen in this wide world as an alternative to the limited future offered by the right-wing scum. That, the world of co-operative living choices, is what the next few posts here at The Mud Report will tune into.


Powell River's City Council Votes Against Wheelabrator Garbage Incinerator Proposal

The July 19th vote by Powell River's City Council on a motion to oppose the building of a garbage incinerator on the Catalyst Paper property passed 6 -1 with only Councillor Maggie Hathaway voting against it. This was good news for the entire Georgia Basin air-shed and the talk of the rabble-rousing community here in PR. It's definitely a step in the right direction, but only a step. The council apparently heard from a lotta community groups who were strongly opposed to the incinerator.

There's still cause for concern as the article at the Powell River Peak website titled 'Council extinguishes incineration proposal' [and many of the comments below it] points out, "According to Section 21, a provision in the city’s charter that has been in place since Powell River incorporated in 1954, “no by-law or other law or regulation of the council [shall restrict commercial activity] or…fumes, gas, vapour, smoke, dust, cinders, vibration, electricity, noise, or explosion,” on mill property. Wheelabrator’s proposed site for the waste-to-energy facility was to be on Catalyst Paper Corporation Powell River mill land."

It sure looks like the next big battle in the march toward a Zero Waste future in Powell River must be over this 'section 21' in the short term. 'Section 21' is a  corporate mandated remnant from a bygone era when the forest industry oligarchs ruled BC without opposition. Today, things have changed, for many reasons including the fact that tourism now brings in twice as many dollars to the Powell River area as the combined forest industry of which Catalyst is but a fraction, and that there is a growing awareness that Powell River's future is in expanded tourism and as a retirement community not in heavy industry or resource extraction.

In the longer term Zero Waste is the objective Powell River will be marching towards and the fact that the City Council acted as they did reflects that they can be 'persuaded' by community input and the fact that the community did act to persuade them once they became well informed about the garbage incinerator issue tells me that the next step toward a green future in PR is an information campaign about 'Section 21' designed to raise the community's awareness of its existence and danger. IMO, once PR's residents are fully informed about 'Section 21' their pressure will again create the necessary changes.

Zero Waste can and will create quality jobs in the community as well as an environment we can all be enjoy. Zero Waste will save tax dollars now being spent on sending barge loads of resources that we should instead be reusing to make into products down to Washington State. Zero Waste isn't some tree-hugger's wet dream it's the future everywhere. In fact another aspect of this story is that Vancouver has, through its own Zero Waste Plan, reduced its waste footprint so quickly that it'll probably not even need Wheelabrator, or anyone else, to deal with its refuse. Let's hope we, the Powell River area residents and politicians, keep building the brighter, greener, less wasteful lifestyle that will be the key our community's healthy future.


Within Every Person's Heart Who Lives Freely, Defiantly, is the Lodge of Crazy Horse

A couple of weeks ago i watched 'Dances with Wolves' for the third time. It seems to move me more each time. It's the 1990 epic western film that tells the story of a Union Army lieutenant who travels to the American frontier in the 1860's to find a military post, and his dealings with a group of Lakota Sioux. It's beautifully shot, historically accurate, and depicts the majesty and pride of the Lakota Sioux culture. Seeing it again started my recent exploration of 'defiance'.

After watching the movie it was easy to empathize with the great tribes of the plains and Tȟašúŋke Witkó - Crazy Horse - {1840 – September 5, 1877) who was the Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota that led a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. As author Chris Hedges says in his recent article 'Time To Get Crazy', "There are few resistance figures in American history as noble as Crazy Horse, his ferocity of spirit remains a guiding light for all who seek lives of defiance."

Another great resource for learning about what has been lost by our western 'civilization's destruction of the Native Americans in the American West  is the book 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' by American writer Dee Brown. It's a history of the Ghost Dance and the Native people's displacement of the late nineteenth century through forced relocations and years of warfare waged by the United States federal government. Wounded Knee, (a village on a reservation in South Dakota) was the location of last major confrontation between the U.S. Army and Native American. The event is known formally as the Wounded Knee Massacre, as more than 150, largely unarmed, Sioux men, women, and children were killed that day. Crazy Horse's secret burial site in somewhere in the vicinity.

Pony tribe warriors from the Apache and Comanche to the Zuni to the Hopi to the Navajo to the Ute; from the Shoshone to the Flathead, Crow, Nez Perce and the Sioux defiantly died standing up to the onslaught of European colonization and their 'War on the Wild' which carries on to the present. Today remnants of the pony tribes still live in the place where they were once wild and free. But their sacred land is now fenced, the bison live only in small reserves and the rivers are sucked dry to make ice sculptures in Vegas.

Those few pony tribesmen still standing know in their hearts that history is long and wide. They know, as do we all, that as Touch the Clouds, Crazy Horse’s seven-foot-tall Miniconjou friend, said when he pointed to the blanket that covered the chief’s body and said, “This is the lodge of Crazy Horse.” that within every person's heart who lives freely, defiantly, is the lodge of Crazy Horse.


Diggers, Activists and Landless Peasants Around the World Demand Their Right to Grow Food on Un-used Land

Yesterday's article, by George Monbiot, titled 'After 800 Years, the Barons are Back in Control of Britain' was a re-introduction to Britian's Modern Digger Movement and the young men and women camping at the water-meadow at Runnymede where in 1215 King John sealed the Magna Carta.  Their motto: 'This Earth divided we will make whole, so it can be a common treasury for all' reflects their request for access to disused land for ecovillages to grow food.

Each Saturday the Diggers 2012 at the Runnymede Eco Village warmly invite everyone to an open day of workshops, discussions about freedom and the right of people around the world to shelter and grow food on disused land. This Saturday, 21st July, is no exception. This week's meeting will be at the Magna Carta Memorial from 1pm – 2:30pm with a picnic and an open discussion on ‘Land Rights and Civil Liberties’. Runnymede and the Magna Carta play a historic role in the ideals of democracy, limitation of power, equality, freedom under law and the rights of the commons and so are the perfect setting for the Eco-Village and discussions.

Then there's the flashback to the Counterculture Diggers of the 60s and early 70s who combined street theater, anarcho-direct action, and art happenings in their social agenda of creating a Free City. The SF Diggers, and Diggers of 2012, took their name from the original English Diggers (1649-50) who had promulgated a vision of society free from private property, and all forms of buying and selling. In Haight-Ashbury they opened a Free Bakery and the first Free Medical Clinic as well as being the being central to building the revolutionary community through their manifestos and miscellaneous communications, through broadsides and leaflets distributed by hand on Haight Street.

The Digger ideals are alive and thriving still in the Bay Area through the 'Occupy the Farm' movement there which is fast becoming the model of the next Occupy incarnation everywhere. Throughout Latin America and beyond La Via Campesina is often found leading the charge in the battle of equal rights for the landless peasants be it on the ground in tiny villages or at huge international conferences. Right now La Via Campesina is leading the way in support of the campesinos in Honduras where the rich land barons are relentless in their violence toward the poor. So too in Paraguay, where the recent coup by the rich soy growers who own both the government and the land has shown that until the demand of land justice is realized, there will be no peace, regardless of who sleeps in the presidential palace.


Why Anti-Authoritarians, Free-Thinkers and Outlaws are Dangerous to the Status Quo

Reading the enlightening article by PhD. Psychologist Bruce Levine titled 'Why Anti-Authoritarians are Diagnosed as Mentally Ill' was like looking in a mirror. There's no doubt in my mind that having always been an anti-authoritarian malcontent it was only by being born in '48 that was it possible to have avoided being diagnosed by the 'professionals' with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder or some other psychiatric illness. In today's world they have my kind drugged into compliance early in life.

As Levine says, "In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”

Doctor Levine goes on to point out that, "...anti-authoritarians labeled with psychiatric diagnoses usually don’t reject all authorities, simply those they’ve assessed to be illegitimate ones, which just happens to be a great deal of society’s authorities." That they first use reason to evaluate the validity of the an authoritarian's agenda and argument is why anti-authoritarians, free-thinkers and outlaws are so dangerous to the institutions of the status quo that the authoritarians are blindly in service to.

Defiance is a verb, defiance evolves, defiance is active not passive. It sprouts from a glimmer of insight into the true nature of the crap one is being forced to swallow then branches out to more broadly evaluate the logic and morality underlying the authoritarian's demand for unquestioning compliance to their edict, finally - if the free thinker's crap-o-meter goes over the line - flowering into active defiance of and non-compliance with the institution who the authority figure is serving.

Getting into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD requires compliance with authorities. Degrees and credentials are badges of compliance. Thus for most all MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world - a diagnosable one. In an earlier dark age, authoritarian monarchies partnered with authoritarian religious institutions to control the dangers to their status inherent in freedom of thought. Now we are in another dark age, the institutions have changed but the ability of individuals to see, evaluate and defy illegitimate authority is still dangerous to them. As Walt Whitman said, "Resist much, obey little."


Question - Why Have More Than 50 Horses Died in Chuckwagon Races Since 1986? Answer - Profits!

Last night, another tragedy at the Calgary Stampede Chuck Wagon Races as 3 more horses died and another is in critical condition. MSM outlets are all running stories about it but refuse to take a stand on the moral implications of running these wonderful loving animals to their deaths for profit and prestige. The MSM articles all mention that animal rights groups oppose the senseless deaths and also quote the profiteers as though they have an equally valid perspective.

Last night Vancouver Humane Society spokesman Peter Fricker said in a statement. "Now is the time to take real action to stop these horses from dying. Clearly, the Stampede's much publicized safety improvements have failed to make the race any safer. Horses continue to die needlessly. This has to stop. The Stampede has run out of excuses. Now is the time to take real action to stop these horses from dying."

Of course, The Mud Report totally agrees with the Vancouver Humane Society except that they stop short of calling for an - absolutely justified - full-fleged boycott of this and all rodeos because of the inhumane treatment of animals in them all. Every watched calf roping, every watched as they cinch up the strap around the bulls balls so he'll buck? It ain't just chuckwagon racing that uses immoral and unethical treatment of innocent animals to generate profits for the capitalists.

It just about makes me puke to hear Stampede spokesman Doug Fraser say as he did last night, " We know there is a love for this sport. We turn around and see the full grandstand that we had last night, we look at the probably millions of people we had in television audience." Undoubtedly that's the exact sentiments that the Roman emperors had about watching the Christians being fed to the lions. As time went by our ancestors realized it isn't moral to feed Christians to the lions in an arena for our perverse gratification even if it's 'profitable'.

It's time for us to realize the same thing about rodeos. These noble creatures are our cousins, they will give everything - including their lives - for us and deserve far more humane treatment than they get in return.



The Inspiring Story of The Crazy Horse Memorial, Along With Its Native American Museums, Educational and Cultural Centers

The Crazy Horse Memorial is the world's largest mountain carving project and is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculpture, when finished, will depict Crazy Horse, the famous Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. The project is operated by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation who's mission is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. It is a remarkable and sometimes controversial project who's story is as monumental as it's scope. The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still far from completion. If completed, it will become the world's largest sculpture

When sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski - Story Teller in Stone - arrived at Crazy Horse he was almost 40. He willingly dedicated the rest of his life to keeping his promises to Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear the American Indian people. Korczak arrived in the Black Hills on May 3, 1947. He worked on the project until his death on October 20, 1982, at age 74.

During his nearly 36 years of working on the mountain, he refused to take any salary at Crazy Horse Memorial all the while enduring the decades of financial hardship and racial prejudice he encountered trying to create an American Indian memorial in the Black Hills. Without Korczak, his wife Ruth and others of his remarkable family, who continue to carry on Korczak’s work to this day, there would be no Crazy Horse Memorial, where, since 1947, the construction has never stopped. Korczak Ziolkowski's life and work are an inspiration to many, especially to young peoples and to mr. mud.

The Indian Museum of North America, designed to complement the story being told in stone on the adjacent mountain, is home to an extraordinary collection of art and artifacts reflecting the diverse histories and cultures of the American Indian people. Korczak and his family designed and built it during the harsh winter of 1972-73 when no work was possible on the mountain. In keeping with Korczak’s do-it-yourself philosophy, the family did all aspects of the construction, holding cost to a minimum.

Because education is the key to future success of Native American youth The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is committed to taking an active role in their educational endeavors by providing educational and cultural programming throughout the year. In addition, Crazy Horse University opened on June 9th for its third summer session. Endowment gifts privately fund the university’s operation, maintaining the Memorial’s goal to not use government money. The university has a unique academic partnership with the University of South Dakota who's staff recruit and educate the students.

Ariel view of the Crazy Horse Memorial campus and mountain carving project


Mr. Mud Believes in Life Before Death

Living every moment fully, as the Dalai Lama reminds us above and as Crazy Horse's defiance teaches us, requires that each of us do what we believe in, that we each stand tall in every circumstance - every moment. Instead, far to often folks 'go along to get along' with their neighbors - near and far - who are just 'going along' themselves. The consequences of people living all their moments paralysed in this collective hypnosis is the subjugation their individual values and deepest beliefs in order to attain acceptance into a consumptive/destructive culture they privately despise.

The materialist culture is at war with the wild. We all know it, but it's far easier for most folks to just not make waves, to carry on, to go along. It's much easier to make believe that the economic system somehow serves their individual and collective self-interest even though it's reverse Robin Hood effect is obvious. Even as every bit of wealth earned by our labor is being robbed by, as The Toilet Bowl Theory of Economics explains, the gravitational effects of interest and regressive taxation millions of folks still line up at the mall for another hit off the crack-pipe of retail therapy.

This war against the wild, against the living Mother that sustains us all, against the perennial grasses killed by herbicides and replaced with petrochemical fed GMO bio-fuels, against the forests where now monoculture 'tree farms' stand, against the tiny pollinators poisoned by pesticides, has no better symbol than North America's last mustangs. "Today, North America's mustangs are running for their lives in a drama that echoes the final stages of the Indian wars. In fact, once the Native American was no longer a threat and the buffaloes were gone, attention was focused on the one animal that most represented freedom." - Deanne Stillman

Freedom from the judgements of what others think of us, freedom from advertising industry induced wants, freedom to be who genuinely are, freedom to stand up straight for what we believe in is a dangerous thing to those who's goal is to dominate and control everything around them. Freedom means living one's life fully in the here and now not being controlled by fear, living freely like the wild mustangs in the high mountains and valleys of the North American west. Freedom means believing in life before death.


Die On Your Knees or Die Fighting

A pile of American bison bones and skulls, circa. 1870s, amassed during height of slaughter.

Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the late 19th century in the pursuit of 'profit'.  Bison populations plummeted from many millions almost to extinction in less than 50 years. They were hunted for their skins and tongues, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. The US Army sanctioned and actively endorsed the wholesale slaughter of bison herds to allow ranchers to range their cattle without competition and primarily to weaken the North American Indian population by removing their main food source and to pressure them onto the reservations.

Today i read an article by Rafe Mair at The Tyee, titled, 'If the Dollar Rules, Let's Dam the Fraser' that reminded me of the Bison slaughter because it too points out what a powerful and pernicious enemy greed is. Please read it. In my opinion, Rafe's style and historic perspective will lead you, as it did me, to his last paragraph: For those who really care about the environment there is a compelling spiritual argument that deserves our full attention. Salmon and other fish (indeed the entire environment) have a value that transcends commercial interests. We're talking the very soul of our province, and Jesus's poignant question hits the heart of the matter in Mark 8:36. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ...What indeed?

i'm not a christian, maybe i'd be called a pagan or better yet a pantheist, but the message still rings true. What difference is there between the bison slaughter and the slaughter of the salmon, or any species or the very web of life that supports us all in the name of profit, possession and power is the question the culture of 'profit' refuses to answer as it marches collectively toward self-annihilation.

Last week in another moving article, that one by Chris Hedges, titled 'Time To Get Crazy', Hedges wrote, "There are few resistance figures in American history as noble as Crazy Horse. He led, long after he knew that ultimate defeat was inevitable, the most effective revolt on the plains, wiping out Custer and his men on the Little Big Horn." The next few Mud Reports will try to answer  the question "What would Crazy Horse do, if he were alive today, when faced with the destruction of not only the material and spiritual basis of his Lakota way of life but the very underpinnings of the web of all creation?

Crazy Horse remained defiant, he knew back then that his choices - even in the face of overwhelming odds, much the same as our's now - were to die on your knees or to die fighting. His ferocity of spirit remains a guiding light for all who seek to live lives of defiance.


Smoke Over the Malaspina Strait, Forestfires, Heat Waves and the New Dust Bowl

Smoke from the huge wildfires burning in nine western US states - Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, California, Nevada, Oregon and Colorado - has been blanketing southern BC today and yesterday. This morning here in Black Point along the eastern side of the Malaspina Strait just south of Powell River we can only see the outline of Texada Island just a mile or so away. Satellite images and meteorologic conditions are clearly showing that the pressurized hot air sitting under the huge high-pressure dome covering almost all of the US is rushing toward the big stationary low-pressure depression circulating in the Gulf of Alaska.

Winds always blow from high-pressure domes, and this one over N. America right now is one of the largest ever in recorded weather history, towards low-pressure depressions. Always have, if you want proof just as ask the locusts who always fly with them or the smoke from a forest fire. The extreme heat and drought we've seen from this huge high-pressure dome over most of the US and parts of Canada is leaving parched fields and desperate farmers throughout much of North America's heartland.

In fact, more than 2,000 U.S. heat records - the highest temperatures 'ever' recorded in that area not simply the highest on that date - were broken just in the past week. Most of these records being broken were previously set in 1936 at the height of that 'Dust Bowl'. The hot summer of 1936 was preceded by long-term normal temperatures - nothing like the present, where the current hot spell has been preceded by persistently hotter and dryer years.

In addition to heat, drought and wind the 'Dust Bowl' of the mid-30s is also ascribed to poor farming practices, excessive tillage in particular. Modern farming practices, industrial agriculture 'experts' assure us, now safeguard us from suffering the same fate despite the unprecedented heat, drought and winds we're seeing. Others, particularly organic farmers, disagree. They point out that the widespread use of chemical fertilizers has destroyed most of the humus that once held the the continent's soil in place.

On top of that, the total war on the indigenous perennial grasses that industrial agriculture calls 'weeds' has obliterated almost all of them that still grew in the hedgerows and ditches back in the 30s' So are we, and the central North American farmlands, better off now that we've bought into the 'better living through chemistry' mantra that Dow chemical fed us back when i was a kid? Or are we "heading for hell in a bucket" as my grandfather who lived through the last 'Dust Bowl' was fond of saying?

Climatologists argue that while there's certainly nothing unexpected in periodic record-breaking temperatures. But with over 4,500 records having been broken in this heat wave, and still counting, the rate records are being broken can't be explained away by coincidence."There's a randomness to weather, but what we're seeing is loading of the weather dice to the point where sixes are coming up 10 times more often," says Michael Mann, director of the Earth Science Center at Penn State. "If you were gambling and you saw sixes coming up 10 times more often you'd start to notice." So i might as well just enjoy the smell of smoke over the Malaspina, it's the smell of progress eh.


We Are All In This Together

When i look at the whole earth image above the first thing i notice is the lack of political borders. There's ocean and deserts, there's mountain ranges and rivers, grasslands and glaciers, watersheds and wetlands but there's a definite  dearth of political borders. The surveyor's lines are invisible to the salmon, mussels, oysters, cod, shrimp and orcas, among the countless fauna and flora that have long thrived here in the little corner of paradise sometimes called the Salish Sea.

The truth is there are no borders, we are all in this together. There are watersheds who share a common karma so might qualify as boundaries of a sort, there are shorelines where land and ocean meet, there is the surface of our tiny common planet where the solid and the liquid meets the gaseous but even along these lines everything is constantly in flux.

"There is no there out there", as a friend of mine said the other day, "everywhere is here". As the earth rotates the jet-stream and other high atmospheric winds assure that both the life giving rain and Fukushima's fallout will too along with the nano-sized dioxin particles that are distributed everywhere. Because everywhere is 'here' there is nowhere to escape the pollutants produced by mankind's materialistic madness.

This is the last in a series of Mud Reports that started out talking about a garbage incinerator scheme that the corporate colossus wants to build in our Powell River paradise. Who knows if it'll ever come about, it's already sounding more and more like Vancouver is moving towards generating far less waste through its own Zero Waste programs and consequently may not need to replace their current Cache Creek land-filling scheme with any other than waste reduction itself.

Of course that, waste reduction, is the real key, the only 'real' solution to our waste management problems here in Powell River, or Vancouver's, or yours - wherever you live. It only makes sense that the best way to reduce waste is to reduce our consumption of crap in the first. The crap, the pollution, the by-products of our collective wants know no boundaries. It's in our common air, our common water, it's on our common land. We breath it, we drink it, we eat it, we feed it to our kids everyday because everywhere is 'here'. We are all in this together and the only escape is to 'want-less', to consume less, to create less waste.


Recycled Tire Derived Products is a Big Business

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #8

My daughter and son-in-law who live in Edmonton are considering installing and recycled tire derived patio. They seem most interested in the Eco-Flex system. So today, as visions of recycled wonders have been dancing in my head recently anyway, i started looking into recycled tires and the products they are being made into.

It's staggering, over 80% of the scrap tires collected are recycled into products. Most are recycled into crumb rubber, which are granules of rubber with the steel and fibre removed. Crumb is then used to create a variety of products including athletic tracks and synthetic turf fields; non-slip pavers for patios, walkways and playgrounds; colourful, resilient flooring in recreational facilities; flooring and mats for agricultural and industrial use; and asphalt rubber. Turns out recycled tire derived products is a big business.

Out here on the left-coast in BC almost all of our tires end up being handled through Tire Stewardship BC and have been for the last 20 years or so. Tire Stewardship BC is a not-for-profit society formed to manage BC's tire recycling program. The program collects an Advance Disposal Fee, commonly referred to as an eco fee, on the sale of every new tire. The fees are used to pay for transporting and recycling BC generated scrap tires ensuring that the tires are disposed of in environmentally responsible ways instead of ending up in our landfills. In fact, despite the ongoing tire fire in the Simpson's home town of Springfield, tires have been banned from landfills in almost every jurisdiction in N. America.

The process of shredding of tires is similar to that of mixed plastics except in scale. Tires seem to be handled almost exclusively by big-time operators perhaps in part because of how government regulations have tended to create centralized handling facilities [ours is in Richmond BC] that then, because of their size, tend to make deals with other large volume potential clients.

Anyway, every tire sold here in BC gets a $5 eco-fee added to its price at the point of sale to pay for its recycling. None-the-less for some reason Harold Long, owner of our local facility of Augusta Recyclers here in Powell River, charges an additional $3 fee for each tire brought to his place. A self described cynical friend i talked to about Harold's fee called it double dipping. There is definitely a program that is part of the Tire Stewardship Program that pays for tire 'generators' like Augusta but maybe poor ol' Harold just needs a few extra bucks, who knows.


Local Ideas and Solutions to Powell River's Plastic Waste Futures

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #7

The Powell River area, like every area, is awash in a sea of plastic. All of it goes through the hands of Augusta Recyclers on Hwy 101 just south of the city limits sooner of later. Augusta offers 'free' disposal of all types of plastics. From there the tonnes of plastic crap that are the by-product of our combined consumer culture's consumption get bundled up and barged off to another waste management and recycling company in and around Seattle named Rabanco. Most of it is then goes through the plastic shredders and becomes a product that gets sold to one of the hundreds of other companies making stuff like plastic lumber out of it. The rest, along with tonnes of other waste we generate goes on to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill.

The Powell River Regional District has as its 'vision' a goal of Zero Waste. They plan  to allow no plastic or paper bags in the future – bring your own - and to negotiate with local businesses the reduction of and outright ban on plastic packaging then to have the retailers back-haul the glass and plastic that remains. Excellent ideas because reduced consumption and waste production is the only way forward out of the sea of crap we're all drowning in. There is an important role for government regulations in this area, but each of us plays the biggest role because it's our choices, as individuals, that determine the overall size of our community's footprint.

Meanwhile, as we roll on toward our 'vision' of creating zero waste by reducing our consumption in the first place, barge loads of our plastic waste are being wasted. We could and should be actually recycling our plastics and re-manufacturing them into local products and materials that create local jobs in the process. Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastic and reprocessing the material into useful products, it's not rocket science. There are many companies that produce and sell plastic shredders and melting vessels of all different sizes. Just as the  'Let's Talk Trash' group is now studying the viability in-vessel community size composters they could be looking into the viability of small business/regional government partnerships in plastic waste futures.

A few days ago i went to Rob Higgin's place down on Donkersley Rd. Rob is a long time local entrepreneur and man of many talents. One of his very neat businesses is artistic concrete products made from molds he has designed and built. Check out some of his stuff here. Rob is very interested in adapting his process to make recycled plastic products. Rob can be reached by email at [ art.in.concrete @ gmail.com ] he will be only to glad to explore your ideas and solutions to our local plastic waste futures.


How Composting, Especially Vermicomposting, Can Turn Garbage Into Garden

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #6

Research shows that 40% of the average person's garbage can be composted. Composting will save you money on garbage bills and create rich, fertile soil to add to your garden or houseplants at the same time the environment also benefits by recycling valuable organic material instead of dumping it in our landfills or burning it in incinerators. Composting in the Powell River area has the potential to divert approximately 4,100 tonnes of waste from the landfill each year.

Vermicomposting is the process of having redworms and other decomposer organisms process our organic waste and turn it into a great natural fertilizer. Vermicomposting, like all composting is easy, requires very few supplies, and can be done by anyone. A simple box or container makes a fine worm bin and keeps worms and decomposing food scraps in one area. i've been a vermicomposter for over 35 years, fed my family and sold produce from the organic garden nourished by my composter's output during much of that time. The first thing i built after moving up here to start my new life in Powell River was my dual chamber composter. It's already, one year later fueling the produce i'm eating everyday from the new veggie garden.

Powell River has a wealth of resources and people dedicated to composting and hands on organic farming. Yesterday i visited the Powell River Regional District Compost Education Centre located in the community gardens of the Community Resource Centre [CRC] at 4752 Joyce Ave. It's a great place to see composting in action and learn various ways to turn food waste into food plants. Among lottsa other things they have a converted freezer composter which is an invention by Bert Baillie. There is a Career Link Jobs Option group, employing 8 local folks, who will pickup your old freezer for free, safely dispose of the compressor and gas, then convert it to a modified in-vessel composter. Please check it out, talk about a win-win situation.

The Regional District's 'Let's Talk Trash' program and website's goal is getting to zero waste through action and education. They are also studying the prospect of building a larger in-vessel composting facility in the area soon, good on 'em. Another neat thing the CRC produces is the Calender Guide. The Powell River Farmers Institute is another great local group dedicated to the well-being of us all through its support of the Farmers Markets every weekend, Its Seedy Saturday seed savers exchange and other projects.

The fact is there are many ways you and i can make a difference to the quality of our lives and the environment we share with the larger community we are immersed in. One of easiest, most productive and enjoyable of them is growing our own food from the energy contained in the compost we generate from our kitchen and garden scraps, the circle of life, while at the same time keeping waste out of our landfills and creating local jobs. Win-Win-Win-Eh!


Deconstructing Buildings Instead of Demolishing Them Saves Money, Saves the Environment and Creates Local Jobs

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #5

Deconstruction is the process of carefully dismantling a building in order to salvage components for reuse, as opposed to demolition, where buildings are smashed with wrecking balls and bulldozed, leaving components in bits and pieces.

Having spent 30 years working with a group of great people from the Roberts Creek area building and renovating homes around there and down in California i and the homeowner friends we worked with and for can testify that deconstructing and reusing materials along with buying used building materials is the key to cost effective construction. Demolishing, destroying and dumping the valuable materials that already have embedded within them all the energy it took to produce and ship them then to go buy new materials that themselves must be harvested, manufactured and shipped [and profited on at each step] is not only a waste of money, it's dumb.

There are so many social and environmental benefits to deconstruction it's hard to list them all. The first reason after the overall cost is jobs, local jobs and money spent locally benefits local businesses and manufacturing. That money stays in the community where it's re-spent again and again. Next would be all the crap that's kept out of the waste stream, out of the landfills, out of the damn incinerators [the basic topic of these recent posts] and the tax money involved. Next would be quality. The lumber in an old house is so superior to what's being produced today there is no comparison, just ask any carpenter.

There are no more first growth trees to produce doors and windows out of and the crap being harvested today twists and checks in no time at all. Consequently these old high quality materials have been replaced by plastics and other unnatural crap that doesn't expand and contract or resist the elements the way natural products harvested in the environment they are used do. Homes in the rain-forest should be made out of the wood growing in that type of forest, those in the desert should be made of sand and cement, etc.

We need to rethink what we’re throwing into our landfills. There are many useful online resources full of information about deconstruction. The article 'Building Jobs By Tearing Down Houses the Green Way' is a great place to start. It centers on Vancouver's aims to boost a new employment by recycling buildings. The BC Deconstruction website also has many resources. Metro Vancouver is a leader in Canada's evolving waste management and recycling efforts. They have a number of very good ideas and initiatives connected to their Zero Waste Challenge, Buildsmart Sustainable Buildings and Green Spaces programs.


Zero Waste is the Only Real Solution to Our Incineration and Landfill Problems

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #4

Everyday each of us exercises our free will as we make decisions that determine how much garbage we send to the landfill, or ultimately on to an incinerator. So we, as individuals, are both the problem and the potential solution to our overflowing waste stream. The concept of Zero Waste, which first came into public awareness back in the 70s, is both an excellent goal and catch phrase that governments and businesses have adopted for years.

We here in Powell River are no exception. Our Powell River Regional District, who is in charge of waste management, has a 'Sustainability Charter' that who's goal is Zero Waste and who's committee is made up of dedicated and knowledgeable folks. The goals therein are very important for us as residents of the Powell River area, especially right now, because of the garbage incinerator being proposed by Wheeabrator on the paper mill site. There are alternatives to incineration such as recycling, repair, reuse and composting that can create far more jobs and small business opportunities for Powell River and the Zero Waste movement is a tool to get us there.

Their are a number of great Zero Waste resources online. Metro Vancouver's Zero Waste Challenge has a great website full of excellent/practical ideas about how to reduce waste including their Six Great Ideas for how to reduce waste in our homes section. The Recycling Council of British Columbia [RCBC] also has a great site full of wonderful information.

Implementation of the the various tactics and strategies of the Zero Waste philosophy inevitably boil down to us as individuals and the choices we make everyday. As in so many things including garbage, the first steps toward effective action are turning on to the situation's existence. Then tuning into knowing the how's and why's of it. Then acting consciously to be part of the solution. Only by realizing that is in our self-interest to empathetically include the flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and faeries that share our existence is it possible for us take action, to change our habits and to create the world we want here in Powell River and beyond.