Wednesday, September 30, 2009

green Vancouver vs. black-as-coal Prince George

was very happy today to see the excellent write-ups about the Peace Summit in Vancouver attended by the Dalai Lama and some other very high profile people - a real focus on youth and the young generation being "Generation Fix." I must admit, I do know some cool kids. . . there definitely seems to be a special kind of energy about this growing up now generation -- and they sure need it to delve into the challenges facing them!

I could not help but note the contrast today in the newspapers - on the cover of the Vancouver Sun was the coverage about the Peace Summit & how the mayor of Vancouver is making great strides in trying to develop/ promote a green economy for Vancouver. . .

lying beside the Vancouver Sun was the Prince George Citizen, and on the front cover a story about how Western Coal is planning to expand their operations north of Prince George and a copper/gold mining company wants to put in a mine west of the city. Oh great - we get the expanded coal extraction & mining. . . Vancouver gets the Dalai Lama and a green economy. . .

perhaps this focus on the mad rush toward resource extraction & exploitation of the natural world of northern BC explains why our MLAs hold the following portfolios in the BC government - Pat Bell (Prince George) - Minister of Forests
- Shirley Bond (Prince George) - Minister of Transportation & Highways
- Blair Leckstrom (Peace River) - Minister of Energy and Mines

Does anything other than resource extraction & building mega-industrial infrastructure to support same matter up here?
I say it does, but it sure is not easy! Sometimes in fact, living in northern BC, retaining one's heart and soul can be challenging . . . I mentioned last entry the sustenance that is to be found in nature (and thank goodness we still do have miles and miles of it all around to enjoy) but the focus of the politics (and much media) in the place seems to be all about continued large scale industrialization.

Whereas a mine or a sawmill of yesteryear may have been a small community-based business, not so these days with the mega-corporations moving in. I wonder about the price of gold (hovering around $1000 per oz. last time I checked) and what it could mean for northern BC's environment should the major gold companies (Gold Corp for one) decide to cash in on their significant holdings. Already gold mining is starting to kick back into gear in the historic area of Wells/ Barkerville (built on 1800s gold mining legacies), and the mines produce quite an eye sore and strange looking tailings ponds.

I am uncomfortable with mining & the legacy that large scale mining can leave after my work down in Bolivia - while there, I travelled to Llallagua, a former (silver) mining town in the mountains. In fact at the time Canadian mining companies were responsible for much of the large scale mining that was undertaken. When the silver (or profits) were gone, the companies pulled out, leaving massive environmental devastation (huge tailings piles the size of mountains) and social decay behind them. People's houses are literally falling down, and they are desperately trying to scratch out a living for themselves on the tattered dregs they have been left with. I constantly see such risks facing northern BC which is both vulnerable and stunningly beautiful. It is vulnerable because few people live up here.

I want Prince George and area to be developing a green economy too. I want us to be putting in bike trails and modelling this place after the magical & healthy Scandinavian winter cities (Copenhagen, Stockholm) I have been reading about. . .

am I living in a fantasy world? Probably, but nothing a bit of broken glass, cigarette butts and screeching trucks won't fix. I am going for a run amidst the potholes, visions of the Dalai Lama and Eckhart Tolle dancing in my head.

Monday, September 28, 2009

some inspiring events this week in Prince George

Green Drinks Tuesday Sept. 29th at 421 George St (Raven's Haven), 7-9 pm
("Green Drinks" is a monthly event & provides an opportunity for people concerned about environmental issues to meet & discuss).
This week, Steve Helle from UNBC will be the speaker on Bioenergy. Green tea and cookies available. This event organized by all-round environmental & social advocate Hilary Crowley.

The same evening, at UNBC Canfor Theatre, (Tuesday Sept29, 7-9 pm) the Prince George based Northern Uganda Development Foundation ( presents a report on the recent trip of 7 people from Prince George to Northern Uganda. Sustainable development is possible in Africa. Come and listen to the results of 2 years of development in Uganda and see how you can and have made a difference. Free public lecture.

4th Annual Aboriginal Writers & Storytellers Festival, runs Sept. 30- Oct1, at UNBC. Details are posted by Rob Budde on

The 2nd Sisters in Spirit Vigil this coming Sunday October 4 at 1:00 pm at the PG Courthouse Plaza. This vigil (there are vigils being held across the country) is sponsored by Amnesty International, Native Women Association of Canada and KAIROS ..a nondemoninational faith group) will feature aboriginal women speaking about women relatives/friends they have lost....that is the remember missing/murdered aboriginal women from across the country. Aboriginal dancers/drummers will be in attendance. Prince George RCMP Superintendent Brenda Butterworth-Carr (the first female aboriginal person to be promoted to RCMP Superintendent) will speak. Amnesty International Prince George is supporting aboriginal and non-aboriginal women by helping organize this event. Information provided by Prince George Amnesty International organizer George Harding.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

walk at harvest time

we did go for a walk in nature yesterday - a much called for reprieve from life in Prince George. That is the greatest thing about this town . . . in any of the 4 directions out of town, it is possible to be in some very lovely places in natural settings in very short order.

What a cozy walk. The chill of autumn we know so well is certainly in the air and walked with us through the forest near Nechako River just west of town. I wore a knitted purple sweater under my windproof jacket and huddled into its warmth. The trails were lined with bright red rose hips and high bush cranberries. The high bush cranberry bushes turn a crimson red with the first light frost, and the berries become sweeter. Just before Thanksgiving then is when the cranberries in the forest are at their best, and so it makes absolute sense to have cranberry as a side dish at the banquet dinner in thanksgiving for the harvest time of year. Sometimes thoughts of huddling together in warmth with friends, having delicious pies and warm drinks is a cozier thing than the very gathering itself. Out here, walking amidst the cranberry bushes and rose hips, thoughts of banquet dinners with loved ones become delicious and are uncomplicated still. The interpersonal nuances that will inevitably complicate the mashed potatoes and turnips do not walk here through these trees with us.

And speaking of dinners, I did have opportunity to attend a harvest (100 mile) dinner this past weekend. Much shepherd's pie was on hand some with bison meat, other with locally grown beef, but there was a lovely assortment of locally grown vegetables too. It is an exciting time of year, bustling around, bringing things in and squirreling them away into cold storage for the coming winter. Food harvesting brings one in closer touch with the earth and cycles of life and celebrating the harvest together brings us closer to community & each other.

Definitely optimal highbush cranberry picking season right now. I ate many handfuls along the trail. Mushrooms abounded on our walk yesterday. I would not dare pick any - I would leave that to my good friend Sarah deLeeuw who is actually quite the mushroom expert & quirky mushroom harvester (although she moonlights as a university prof and award-winning Canadian writer).

The walk was just what I needed. I always feel so refreshed by a walk through nature. To be in the forest puts everything back into perspective for me, makes everything ok. . . Mother Earth's healing pouch contains some beautifully simple remedies.

So here's to the harvest and the golden harvest time of year.
Please, pass the turnips.

happy rivers day

Happy (BC) Rivers Day, a provincial day in recognition of our rivers.
There is a Rivers' Day Event being organized here in Prince George.

9th Annual BC Rivers Day Music FestivalSunday, September 27, 2009, 12:00-5:00Kiwanis Bandshell, Fort George Park, Prince George, BC. This year's theme will feature 'Our Local Fish' and we've assembled a line-up of all local talent to help celebrate.

Performers are:
Marcel Gagnon with a traditional Carrier welcoming
Out of Alba:
The Pucks:
Rick Stavely:

Here in Prince George, we are fortunate to be located at the confluence of Nechako & Fraser Rivers, 2 major rivers for the province. There is a brilliant chilly nip in the air & the leaves are turning golden with the coming autumn. It is a perfect day to join with others in honour of our rivers. These gatherings are important. They become a type of ritual bringing community together around issues that are significant to us.

I have attended the rivers' day festivities the last several years - some years I have known of locals who have organized canoe fleet trips down the Nechako on this day in honour of these rivers, the true lifeblood of this land.

While I want to acknowledge the hard work & dedication of the organizers of this event, I cannot help but wonder at a couple of things. . . .

respect for & protection of the rivers will not proceed so long as major potentially destructive industrial projects such as the Enbridge crude oil pipelines are in the works. It is very easy indeed for politicians on the one hand to pay homage to the rivers and all they provide to us and on the other hand, acquiesce to or develop public policy that would see these waterways be severely compromised. BC Hydro's destructive (supposed 'green') Run of the River IPP projects are another public policy case in point. . . . It can happen that these special days - these events - become mere token gestures, places where we go, hang out for a bit and listen to a couple of songs then tell ourselves we have done something for the rivers merely by attending.

Canfor is one of the sponsors of the rivers' day event -- for the last several years they have had a booth with information about themselves at rivers' day (shall we call this propaganda?)

What I cannot help but wonder about is the effluent that comes out of the local pulp mills. Their effluent ponds are in very close proximity to the Fraser River - what leaches out? Not only that but they are actually allowed to dump effluent into the river, the largest salmon-bearing river of all of BC. A zoom-in search on "google Earth" shows the visual of what is happening with the river in close proximity to the mills (zoom into Fraser River by Prince George). What exactly are those black smudges going into the lighter coloured river right beside the pulp mills? (by the way there are 3 here in town. . . all owned by Canfor). I have never quite understood what exactly Canfor Pulp and Paper has to do with protecting BC rivers?

This question became even more pressing the year PACHA (people's action committee for healthy air) requested to have a booth at the PG rivers' day and was turned down because it is an air group, not a river group. . . did not know the environment was cut up into these little pieces (or shall we say, siloes?)

It was years ago, I do not fully understand the rationale of the organizing people at that time, and I still believe the rivers' day and the corresponding celebration is a very worthy cause indeed,

and I am glad to see the focus on the fish this year.


just back from Rivers' Day. . . I lasted about 15 minutes. Not only does Canfor has a booth but Enbridge (pipelines) does too. It felt corporate. I don't know about this rivers' day thing. . . don't they have any screening criteria in determing who the corporate sponsors will be?. . . I don't get it.

No, better to be home this sunny afternoon & dig some of my scrawny potatoes out of the gravel soil. Later maybe we will go for a walk at Wilkins Park beside the Nechako River. . .

Happy rivers' day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mr. Blue Man PG

I today happened by Mr. PG at the corner of Highways 16 & 97 by the Treasure Cove Casino in Prince George. He is our town mascot and has welcomed many a weary traveler en route to Alaska or Prince Rupert on the northwest coast.

Right now, his face is definitely bright blue, looking some big blue balloon or maybe a blueberry-flavoured version of PacMan out of those old computer games (so simplistic compared to what kids have nowadays!) My first questions to myself were -- is his face blue because:
a) he is planning to be an alien for Halloweén?
b) he is suffering from lack of oxygen?

c) in honour of the Blue Man Group who will be coming to the CN Centre in Prince George on October 7? ('c' is indeed the correct answer).

Guess this is a pretty big deal for the likes of PG. . . even bigger I suppose for Mr. PG than when Canada Post (this past year) decided to give him his very own stamp. But I mean, this guy is the consumate lumber jack or at least, lumber jack's dream - used to be made out of wood and still looks like he is (that is when his head's not a big blue balloon). And how's he gonna get his regular Pinocchio-esque face back? Someone need to cut this blue head off with a chainsaw & return the other. Not that there is anywhere near a shortage of chainsaws in PG but really, we would need the world's largest chainsaw (hey not a bad idea. . . it could stand right by Mr. PG, sort of a twin to world's largest tree crusher up in Mackenzie).

but. . . .these 3 dudes with blue faces who Mr. PG is copying. . . who the hell are they!?

Well truthfully, the first I heard of them was in my Common Ground magazine, believe it or not which featured an article about an international peace summit in Vancouver September 27-29, 2009 to be attended by the Dalai Lama and other internationally renowned luminaries, among them Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala . . . and there sure enough, amidst the peaceful luminaries, the Blue Man Group there with their blue heads standing boldly and baldly beside the Dalai Lama.

Truthfully, my first impression of them is that they look like 3 blue inkblots. And my 2nd thought: man, if the concept of world peace rests in the hands of 3 blue inkblots, we are truly in trouble. Then I decide to do a bit more internet research about them. Actually truth be told, their website does not inspire all that much more confidence initially, "an organization dedicated to creating excitement-generating experiences for themselves and the audience." Still doesn't make a lot of sense. . . wikopedia describes blue men as individuals who communicate with intense eye contact and simple gestures in a group of 3.

OK, here it is, their saving grace - a youtube video entitled "Earth to America" prompting the US to take action about global warming. . . almost 3 million hits.
OK Mr. PG, I get it. I'm with ya man, I'm with ya (although I am not entirely sure I am gonna spring for a ticket for this concert. . . )

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

oil pipelines

Great address by President Obama to the United Nations this morning. I am not going to read the media reports (haven't all day), simply form my own opinion. I like this guy.

In today's Prince George Citizen newspaper a response by Enbridge to my so-called "spewing about spills" article last week about their proposed crude oil twin pipelines through this area of BC. Here's their response:

Enbridge committed to safety

Written by Steven GreenawayVice President, Public & Government AffairsEnbridge Northern Gateway
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Re: “Spewing about spills,” Sept. 17, 2009

As a company, Enbridge’s very success depends on our ability to operate in an environmentally safe manner. In 2008, we shipped close to 800 million barrels of oil through a network of pipelines stretching over 13,000 kilometres. We spilled 2,668 barrels of those 800 million barrels or 0.003 per cent. The majority of the spills occurred without our own facilities. Of the product spilled, most was recovered and re-injected into the pipeline system. We feel that our commitment to safety is what has allowed us to operate our pipelines responsibly for over 60 years, and it is why we are constantly investing in new leak-prevention technology.We share the concerns expressed over the environmental impact of our project, including shipping safety in the Douglas Channel.This is why we will ensure a comprehensive marine strategy is in place, including having tankers carrying product tethered to powerful escort tugs throughout the Channel, installing radar, and vetting the tankers before they are permitted to enter our terminal. We will build upon the best practices that have allowed over 1,500 deep sea tankers (including some carrying condensate and other petroleum-based products) to safely enter the port of Kitimat over the past 25 years.Your readers should also know that there is an extensive regulatory process in place to review the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. It will be led by the National Energy Board (NEB) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). This independent, quasi-judicial process will include public hearings at locations along the route with witnesses providing sworn testimony that will be tested by cross-examination.This is a tried and tested process that will result in a concrete decision - either the project will be approved or denied. A public inquiry does not offer the same guarantees.We are also committed to ensuring that people have the opportunity to have their say. That is why we held 18 community open houses in 2008 that were attended by almost 1,000 people. We recently held five Community Advisory Board meetings where nearly 200 people participated in full-day sessions. We believe this level of interest and participation speaks to the importance that residents across the North place on the future of their environment, economy and quality of life.Our goal is to bring employment and economic development opportunities to the communities in which we operate.Northern Gateway will create over 4,000 construction jobs and 200 long-term operational jobs. These are real jobs that will support local families. Northerners have watched as a lot of major projects have been built in the southern part of the province in recent years.But now it could be the North’s turn to host one of Canada’s largest projects on the books today.

To this letter I say: only 200 long term jobs !? And at what long term cost !? The thought of crude oil from the tar sands coming through this area where never before have there been oil tankers on the west coast truthfully makes me want to spew! Aah, but Enbridge is good with the rhetoric, they really are.

One of the rivers that would be crossed by these twin oil pipelines is the Stuart River which is a major tributary of the Nechako River which in turn is a major tributary of the Fraser (the biggest salmon bearing river of all of BC). The Stuart River is only one of many along its proposed route that would go through all sorts of pristine wilderness areas. I know the Stuart because it runs down from Fort St. James, the historic fur trade capital of New Caledonia. As I grew up in nearby Vanderhoof, Stuart River has always been an intrinsic part of the local landscape. Once upon a time it was a thriving trade centre for fur trading. Long before that, the Stuart has always been very important for the First Nations people of the area as they and their culture have always been very dependent on fish, particularly the annual salmon runs coming up from the Fraser watershed.

In this letter and on the Enbridge websites I researched before writing my letter, this company admits to having oil spills as an "inherent risk of doing business." Is this some kind of lunacy we are allowing to happen with some kind of blinders on? Why would this project even be on the table as a possibility?

There is an anti-Enbridge group now starting to take shape in Prince George - that seems to be the way it is around here - get angry about issues, find some like-minded people and start a group. More lobbying power that way. . . also generates much more energy to be connecting and sharing ideas with others.

Have discovered -- it is something paid for and organized by Enbridge to look like some kind of community-based grassroots movement in support of them. The PR machine running around these pipelines is absolutely unbelievable. . . with opening up a trade route for tar sands oil to the waiting huge Chinese markets (and with PetroChina now in a couple of billion in investments in the tar sands), much money is at stake for these big companies.

We are living in very strange times indeed, and many people simply say "who cares" or more often than not, they are simply overwhelmed with the demands of their daily lives and don't have time to research a pipeline to the extent that would enable them to be able to counter the likes of mega-multinational pipeline company Enbridge.

I am having difficulty reconciling Obama talking about the world needing to seriously address climate change with the very incongruent plans over here to punch twin oil pipelines across the northern BC landscape to promote further tar sands expansion & oil trade with economic super power China. I fear Canada is really starting to slide, and it is too bad, because we have so very much to lose if we don't stand up for it, "stand on guard for thee."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

a tale of 2 cities - and Guatemala

Before commenting on life in Prince George, an interesting excerpt from Action News Detroit (ABC) today. . . sound familiar?. . .

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Neighbors in southwest Detroit are calling for an investigation claiming the air they are breathing is toxic.The area smells like heavy industry, but people in the community knew they needed more than a smell to prove the presence of toxic chemicals.So the worried neighbors decided to test their own area quality using buckets and plastic bags as part of the independent yet scientific "Bucket Test."The test showed high levels of chemicals."It's a little scary, how long has it been going on? Are there other chemicals in the air that we don't know about?" asks one concerned neighbor.Some people living in the area believe the emissions from the industrial companies are making them sick.“The toxic air is affecting the health of our community,” said Jayne Mounce, the southwest Detroit resident who collected the first air sample. “On the day I collected the sample, the chemical smell was so strong it gave me a headache. Sadly, no one wants to be held accountable for the poor air quality, but now that we’re testing our own air, we’ll be able to connect the dots and begin to take action and fight back.” They are now armed with a report from the Bucket Test company and plan to ask the Department of Environmental Quality to duplicate the test. Neighbors hope maybe then the DEQ will crack down on the problem.

Back in Prince George, we had a smelly morning this morning and the first bucket of foul air was collected in the Millar Addition & shipped off to California for testing. PACHA will be accepting donations as the tests are rather costly. For the first time ever since starting PACHA (people's action committee for healthy air) it really feels like we are getting somewhere. All the difference rests in empowering ourselves - not waiting for industry or government to act and to tell us the way it is and what's what.

It is all in the construction of the narrative isn't it? What story will we choose to accept, to believe? And even more than that, what story we choose to create. . . From where do we gather and construct our understanding of reality? What is our frame of reference? Thinking about the construction of narrative is one of the things that led me to thinking about creating this blog. . . last letter to the editor of the Citizen I wrote last week was given the title "spewing about spills" which set a rather negative context for my words about the perils of oil spills should the construction of twin oil pipelines (Enbridge) be authorized to proceed through the Prince George area. . . more on Enbridge later!

At that point, I made a decision to turn away from sharing my thoughts in letters to the editor of the Prince George Citizen, and decided instead to create a blog so here it is (much funner & freer so far!) We need to be able to define for ourselves our own titles to our thoughts. . .

And speaking of different stories, here is something from UNBC geography professor and steadfast advocate for the rights of people in Guatemala, Dr. Catherine Nolin

Emilie Smith
Title: "Gold Lust: Canada and Mining on Sacred Land in Guatemala"
Date/Time: Friday, September 25th, 12:00 – 1:30
Location: UNBC’s Senate Chambers, Rm. 1079 in the Administrative Building at the Prince George campus

At present, a mostly unacknowledged yet world-wide conceptual struggle for the understanding of what Earth *is*, or what Earth is *for*. This struggle is essentially a theological issue, based on a conflict of deeply differing world-views. Emilie will explore this struggle though the story of one community, San Bartolomeo Sipakapa, in the department of San Marcos, Guatemala, as they faced historical forces of domination and how Canada has taken the role of the most recent dominant oppressive power in the community. How does this geographical site manifest varying constructions of what *Earth* is, and what human relationship to *Earth* should be?

Emilie Smith is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Canada (2004) and recently completed Master’s in Theology at the Vancouver School of Theology based on her research and solidarity connections with the sacred theology of land in Guatemala.

Emilie is a founding member of the Guatemalan-Canadian women's group Nuestra Voz based in Vancouver. Emilie's published work includes "The Granddaughters of Ixmucané: Guatemalan Women Speak" (1991) and three children's books. "Viva Zapata" was published this summer by Tradewinds.

Here's to creating a new story for our earth.

Monday, September 21, 2009

memories & shadow dancers

rainy afternoon in Prince George BC, only 13 degrees, on this the day of falling into autumn. Before I turn to thoughts about alzheimer's disease and the Prince George symphony orchestra, I am in the mood for a poem by Prince George poet Ken Belford so here it is:

physical moments

Whenever an onstage dancer is rehearsing,
a shadow dancer is somewhere behind -
learning the dance, just in case.
It seems there's a turning point
when the director calls the women in.

Shadow dancers get the call after the injury
or if the lead isn't good enough.
Or if she's tired and can't finish the rehearsal
or falls and can't do the number.

She's had enough, the pail's full,
and she's happiest onstage
where she comes to life.
Backstage isn't interesting;
loves that don't mean much
other than the fatuous sense of feeling safe
for a few minutes in another's arms.
Whose arms doesn't matter.

There, she doesn't dance very well at all.
Her body seems heavy, it's too big
and her loves are addicts or drunks
like she is and now that she's old,
she's angry at the world, the way
things just don't seem fair

from ecologue (2005)

Sometimes, a Ken Belford poem is one of very few things that make sense to me in this old world, and this poem - today on this chilly rainy afternoon in Prince George - is one thing that makes sense. Thanks Ken for these words and for the stirring & haunting image of the shadow dancer waiting backstage.

A World Alzheimer Report released today tells us that 35.6 million people already suffer from alzheimer's disease, a condition that has no cure, and by 2050, these numbers are projected to reach 115 million worldwide. It will be an interesting world by then, and I may be one of those numbers, if I am still around. I suspect the numbers are very underreported - I know someone near and dear to me (my mother) who is having major memory problem and whose doctor is taking an extremely hands off approach to care. . . we have not received a diagnosis. In the small towns of northern BC, there is not a lot of emphasis on specialized geriatric health care. We can only surmise what may be happening. In a certain sense, I feel I am watching as my mother becomes a kind of shadow dancer of who I once knew her to be. The Report speaks to the significant depression & burnout that caregivers experience - I have been asked to speak about caregiver burnout (and self-care) at the Prince George Council of Seniors Wednesday, September 30, at noon.

I hear today too that the Prince George Symphony Orchestra faces risk of shutting down due to government funding cutbacks, and they desperately need people to fill the seats at their concerts so they can keep going. We are so fortunate to have an orchestra of this calibre in this town. The season starts this coming Saturday with the Classics September 26, Vanier Hall at 7:30 pm, featuring Beethoven's mighty 5th, Mozart's overture to the magic flute & Saint-Seans cello concerto.

I will be there, with my mother. She loves the orchestra. These days she may not always remember what I told her 5 minutes ago, but she certainly remembers her youth in a European city, attending the orchestras in the grand and elaborate concert halls, and the beautiful emotions that these songs evoked for her. Let's hope for my mother's sake and for all of us, that this city's orchestra will be able to remain onstage where they are happiest and the players' music together comes to life like the dancer in the poem. . . where all of us who listen can be whisked away to those magical places of the imagination where we feel we can dance.

Let the show go on! . . . while memories and reason may fade with time and age, feelings never die.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

tis the season of the mousketeers

question of the day: why does Mr PG now have a blue face, and do we like it ?
(more on this guy later. . . )

tis the season of the mousketeers . . . not the cute little types who hang around Disneyland and the like, but rather the rough-shod lot careening down Highways 16, 97 and the multitudes of logging roads that cut up the landscape for miles & miles around Prince George at average speed of 200 km/ hour in Chevy, Dodge, GMC or Ford F400 trucks or whatever truck they can get their hands on really. These are the hunters of the north, moose and deer racks roped to either side of the truck cab roof like 2 mouse ears silhouetted against the northern horizon. OK seriously, I have nothing against hunters. In fact I have heard it said (and don't disagree) that hunting is a cornerstone of the 100 mile diet (or 200 mile diet as the need may be) of this part of the world & certainly the meat is probably much more "organic" than any of the antibiotic hormone filled stuff at the average supermarket these days.

I think a freezer full of moose steaks is probably a very comforting thing indeed for the protein-diet dependent ones among us. . . and I too have been known to partake in a piece of moose on the odd occasion

BUT what I do have a problem with is hunting that would include taking, taking, taking from the forests in a disrespectful, entitled and wasteful way. What I do have a problem with is the kind of hunting that involves sitting in one of the large aforementioned pick up trucks on the side of a road and guzzling copious amounts of beer and chucking the cans out onto the ground while waiting for a poor old innocent moose or deer to be unlucky (or foolish? or suicidal?) enough to come walking out across the logging road from one side of the bush to the other. Not to go on too much of a rant about this but I have heard mention of dudes driving their 4x4 pick-ups through such gorgeous local rivers as the (still somewhat) salmon-bearing Torpy and taking pot shots at the passing salmon (Dunster documentary Journey Home of the Chinook Salmon by Leon Lorenz contains more information about this issue). Hello!

And I am not even talking about the bear hunt. . . yet.

Back in town, a good line-up of some cultural events this week - think I will start the week with Vancouver poet Marguerite Pigeon's reading from her book of poetry Inventory tomorrow evening at CNC (7pm, Room 1-306) - thanks to Graham & Rob for the info about the event. Her poems are studies of the subjective significance of the objects that surround us. . . "the unique way that objects appear in an individual consciousness. Each object in this Inventory exists on its own and also reflects the author’s experience, from the mundane stapler and tea bag, to the mysterious, extinct dodo bird, to entities that blur the line between person and thing. In this way, the collection highlights the often hidden dimensions of the objects we encounter, including their temporal, political, locational and psychic aspects."

I am definitely in the mood for some reflections on the cultural & philosophical significance of the paperclip. . . OK, a stapler will do.


The above post is not about the hunters who are ethical & respectful of the environment & who hunt to feed their families. . . I know there are many in northern BC, and I am not talking about these folks. . . but I believe it is important to speak out about this other more exploitative form of hunting which I have witnessed directly during my years of living in northern BC. . .

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sauerkraut & democracy

a week that involved Stephen Harper making a big "green" announcement in the form of power to highway 37 so the mega-mines can go in up north. hmmm. . . interesting distortions of language.

Spent some time today pondering whether or not to purchase Alice Wolczuk's Discovering Sauerkraut (she was one of the great farmers around here, even had a column in the Citizen) but there are only so many sauerkraut recipes I can take. Better I think to wait for local farmers & owners of P&R Organic Farm Robert and Prisca to have their sauerkraut-making workshop this fall. Good time of year for local produce. . . Old Town Farm Market has Prince George beets, carrots, turnips & cabbage right now. Also lots of good locally grown food at the PG Farmers Market where local artists (in the arts various forms) Rob Budde, Hardy Friedrich and Denielle Wiebe are gathering community photos for their Democratas show which is not only a powerful piece but also an exercise in democracy. Get your photo taken and hold up your favourite word. Mine was kind of geeky with my outdated bike helmet perched atop my head - love the pic with "mother" word.

Am debating whether I should part with the $32.99 for Margaret Atwood's hardcover Year of the Flood - heard her on the Q today -- she figures books will be around for quite some time yet despite all this electronic stuff. . . I tend to agree with her -- wouldn't be able to take a laptop into the mountains or bush around here. . . and who would want to !? Something to be said for old fashioned books and sauerkraut (just not too much of the latter!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

just got back from an evening PACHA meeting with this guy Denny who's up in Prince George from California for a couple of days. He is gonna help us do a community-led "bucket brigade" to sort just what the hell is in that weird-smelling air that hits our lungs here sometimes. Denny works with Global Community Monitor out of California, a human rights & environmental organization that has worked with grassroots organizations all around the world to assist them to clean up their industry-caused toxic environments. Tonight he was showing us how to build the special bucket - he is providing the bags that the smelly air from the worst parts of PG will go into (you know on those mornings that virtually kill you they are so obnoxious with stench) -- these bags we''ll have to ship across the US border so I guess we will have to tell the custom officers "PG smelly air" (geez I hope they don't think we are terrorists or something!). Denny will be interviewed on CBC Daybreak North tomorrow morning & will be present at an ODOUR PUBLIC MEETING, 7 PM, COAST INN OF THE NORTH tomorrow night to talk to the public.

Interesting how there seems to be a trend of citizens having to pursue studies on their own & take action. Where exactly is government in this equation? - their role appears to be morphing into something pretty weird these days. Just this week I heard about fish biologist Alexandra Morton taking legal action on her own about a fish farm on the west coast when Dept Fisheries & Oceans failed to act. I heard about the Dogwood Initiative taking legal action to save an orca whale. Down in the states, an environmental organization is leading a legal action to get an Enbridge pipeline (Alberta clipper line) stopped. . . wow! Things are happening! I am optimistic that at a certain level, grassroots are really starting to unite. . . sure as hell need it!

TckTckTck International Event September 21/09

check out to sign on to an incredible global climate wake up call campaign - well over a million people have already signed on from around the world. . .

the event being organized in anticipation of the UN Climate Change Conference December 7-18 2009

featuring the premiere showing of the movie The Age of Stupid

Welcome to Pine Needle Knit

I am starting to think I am one of those annoying spammers who sends emails about absolutely everything that interests me. . .

well starting today, I have decided NO MORE EMAILS.

Instead I am going to use this blog space to share ideas, poems, photos, quotes, whatever strikes my fancy really, about this and that. . .

When I am in Prince George, I will regularly add stuff of interest.
Themes will likely be: environment, social justice, writing, northern BC so here goes. . .

once again, welcome to my rambling thoughts (or maybe I am talking to myself in which case: welcome to myself . . . at least it is an outlet!)