Saturday, April 13, 2013

art "speak" on pipelines

Currently underway in Prince George BC, two art shows depicting artists' perspectives on pipelines, with a specific focus on the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline proposed to cross this part of northern BC, the condensate bitumen tar sands oil destined for massive oil tanker ships that would enter the tight fjiords and inlets in and around Kitimat BC. 

The thought of this big oil-backed project breaks the hearts of most people I know who reside in northern BC and knowing that the current Canadian ("Harper") government backs this project all the way, even to the extent of rewriting our federal environmental and review process laws in order to facilitate this project going ahead, devastates many of us, shaking our confidence in what we understood as Canadian democracy. 

To live on this land and by its flowing waters is to love it from the core of our beings.  Currently many of us feel under direct attack by outsiders led in large part by big oil companies operating in and around the devastating Alberta tar sands, and, the "Harper government."  Federal documents gained under a freedom of information request reveal that the recommendations of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers were closely reflected in this government's most recent omnibus budget bill which removed many environmental protections and did away with many administrative fairness review processes.  Once upon a time, I believed these protections were sacred in our country, the administrative fairness reviews protected in our very Constitution.

In the past couple of days, the media has reported that the 3-person National Energy Board Review Panel (none of the 3 members from British Columbia) has released a number of conditions that Enbridge would need to abide by should the project be given the green light to go ahead.  It should be noted that over 99 per cent of public participants in this process said NO to the project and many of the First Nations groups chose to boycott the process entirely as it did not constitute adequate consultation with them.  The Joint Review Panel claims they are not saying yes yet to the process, merely stating the conditions that Enbridge would be expected to abide by should the project be approved.

WHY would you go to all the trouble of constructing a list of conditions if you do not intend to approve it?  It seems, this would be just what a project proponent would want.... a review process which on the surface looks as though due process is being served, but if you scratch the surface even a little, you can find serious defects with the fairness of the process and the lack of impartiality at so many levels.

And meanwhile, the poets and artists are stepping forward, showcasing their sentiments in the most powerful way they can:  their art.    The Two Rivers Art Gallery in Prince George is currently hosting a show, Pipeline: A Line of Division, many of the beautifully executed pieces rendering depths of despair and profound concern about this particular project and the broader theme of how Mother Earth is being treated these days in the pursuit of money. 

Also, currently at Artspace above our beloved Books and Company bookstore on 3rd Avenue is a show entitled Pipe Up.  

I am proud to say my 8 year old son is displaying his art work in this show; it is the first exhibit he's ever participated in.  His work is simply entitled, "Before and After the Pipeline."

Other exhibited art includes the following:

"Crossing our Borders," by Pat Gauthier ($750) - Pat is a rancher whose land borders on the Necoslie River, Stuart River and Pitka Creek, three waterways that would be crossed by the Enbridge pipeline - the piece speaks to the devastating impact the pipeline would have on the ranch, particularly if there were ever a spill.

"The forgotten promise," a series of three paintings by Laura Chandler ($600)

"Protest Posters" by David Voss and "The Pipeline People" by Rob Ziegler

These are only some of the powerful works showing people's responses to and emotions around pipelines that outsiders seek to put through this area.... the Artspace Pipe Up show runs until the end of April. 
How are these artists' voices heard? 

And I cannot help but wonder, do the National Energy Board, Enbridge and the Harper government even know anything about these artists' expressions of concern? 

And if so, does it matter at all?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

planting new seeds

the grungy underside of Prince George, the massive potholes, the pick-up trucks drag-racing through town, the logging trucks blasting down Highway 97, carrying the logs of our remaining forests in both directions...

in the midst, a cool subculture is taking shape and growing here....this past weekend I headed downtown to Ohh Chocolat, a locally owned cafe / chocolate shop on the corner of 6th and George... a big steaming mug of coffee and a chocolate truffle, before heading 1/2 block down the street to the all-year Farmers' Market which is constantly expanding and improving ...  local potatoes, other veggies, fresh salad greens grown down the road in wood-heated greenhouses, wheat from Vanderhoof, baking, preserves, leather craftsmen, a local jewelry designer who works with gold and silver.... awesome place.

From there, it was a quick trip to Seedy Saturday at Exploration Place.  This annual event is also significantly growing in popularity, many people interested in self-sustainability, growing their own food, saving seed, protecting the environment from poisons of pesticides and pollution...

It is interesting how the political and big business leaders seem to have a vision of northern BC as a place to be industrialized and exploited for its natural resources but meanwhile a growing number of locals are forging ahead with creating a new way of being, planting new seeds... 

Here's to the future and the (r)  evolution...!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

a new tune

so... after much deliberation, I have decided to change the focus of this blog... whereas the past saw me ranting about the constant barrage of threats to northern BC, I now realize that most people would rather focus on the positive, what is possible and beautiful.

Otherwise life and its many challenges can simply feel too overwhelming...

Having lived most of my life in north central British Columbia, Canada, I can tell you I dearly love this part of the planet.  Whereas outsiders sometimes view the northern areas of Canada as mere places with resources to be exploited, we who live here longterm can't help but fall in love and become thoroughly enchanted by magic of the land up here.

This weekend, I was out at our cabin at one of the local lakes.  With my family, I snowshoed across the lake with the crunch of snow underfoot, and when we arrived, we realized by the many hoofprints and indentations in the snow that a couple of moose had paid us a visit and slept overnight in the front yard.  During a solo snowshoe across the lake later on, I was fortunate enough to observe the 2 visitors who appeared to be a mother and large (yearling) calf.  When I spotted them, they were casually sauntering along each other, enjoying the peaceful surroundings just like I was.  It was a beautiful moment of harmony with them. 

I am often reminded when spending time out in the great wilderness found all over this area that humans are not necessarily the top of the food chain out there.  No, I realize when in the wilderness, we are merely one strand of a great and complex web of life.  Out there, ego does not matter so much.  What matters is the great life energy that surrounds and is everything.

On my way back, I needed medicine.  I followed the moose tracks in the snow and they led me to the prickly stalk of a piece of devil's club that grows prolifically throughout the old growth forest at the lake.  It was just what I needed.  I cut it and although it is the middle of the winter, the medicinal scent of the plant was strong as I boiled it into healing tea.  At night, Chinese new year, new moon, the stars were the brightest I'd ever seen out at the lake.  Ours was the only inhabited cabin, the only light the soft glow from the flickering woodstove and the sole flickering candle on the table.

.... I was reminded during this sojourn of the power and magic, the strong medicines, that north central BC hold for us.....

So in the future, I am going to shift the focus of this blog to the beautiful, inspiring and thought-provoking of northern BC.... sure sometimes (especially in this day and age) there is a need for a rant but happy thoughts are good too.

Here's to peace and love on this beautiful planet.