Earth Day 2020: We’re in this (and on her) together
It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22!
Due to the pandemic, Transition Sooke’s plans for an interactive celebration at the Sooke Community Hall have necessarily been cancelled. But our hearts are still with Mother Earth, as we also care for our family, neighbours and friends.
We are facing two worldwide threats today: 1) the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which, to date, has infected over 2 million people, killed 145,000 and thrown millions of people out of work; and 2) the dire consequences to our earth if we do not act now to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, twenty million people took to the streets to protest the environmental damage made by humans to Mother Earth. Earth Day launched the modern environmental movement.
Earth Day 2020 was going to be extra-special and extra-urgent. Events were being planned around the world involving over 1 billion people in 190 countries. And then we were hit by COVID-19.
On the positive side, our response to COVID-19 has created some temporary easing of greenhouse gas emissions as coal-fired factories are shut down, air transport is grounded and cars parked at home as non-essential businesses, schools, parks, sports and entertainment centres closed their doors.
Our air is cleaner. The haze of pollution over our skies is lessening. Wildlife is starting to return to natural habitats. And people are walking more, bicycling more, eating more home-cooked meals, gardening, and taking the time to talk with each other. We have been made even more aware and appreciative of the people who are working to keep us safe: health care workers, the grocery clerks, the cleaning staff, the garbage collectors, the police and first responders.
In Sooke, we are seeing the best side of people. Neighbours shopping for those in self-isolation. Musicians hosting free on-line events. People cooking free food to distribute to the community. The nightly 7 o’clock cheer for health care workers. Drive-bys by friends, relatives, and the Sooke Fire Rescue Service to cheer house-bound children celebrating their birthdays. Family and friends reconnecting using Zoom and other social media.
The kindness and respect that people are expressing to each other is helping to sustain us during this pandemic. And this is exactly what Mother Earth needs too. When this pandemic is over, let’s not return to business as usual.
We know that, by working together, we can not only beat the pandemic hitting us today; but also tackle climate change to create a better, healthy Mother Earth for generations to come.
It’s time for a global re-set!
Please join us to mark Earth Day virtually! Globally, Earth Day Network has a number of virtual events lined up for Earth Week. Locally in the Victoria region, Creatively United is hosting “EarthFest Live: Creative Solutions for a New World” throughout the week of April 19-25.
Climate Emergency: What Can We Do?
From Green New Deal Town Hall to Community Action
Sooke Community Taking Action on Climate Emergency
Following a successful Town Hall in June, on September 29, 2019, Transition Sooke hosted a Community Action Workshop titled “Climate Emergency: What Can We Do?”
“Participants at the Green New Deal Town Hall identified issues they think need to be addressed in our community,” said Jo Phillips, one of two coordinators for Transition Sooke’s Climate Emergency Action Group. “We invited everyone from Sooke Region to join us to form teams to take action on these issues.”
“Sooke region residents are anxious about the impacts of climate disruption on their cherished West Coast environment, on their family’s health and on the local economy,” said Susan Clarke, the other coordinator for the group. “Many members of our community have indicated that taking action reduces their anxiety and sense of powerlessness. They have also made it abundantly clear, particularly with provincial and federal inaction on climate change, that we need to take local, meaningful action as soon as possible.”
More than 75 participants attended the Workshop, which took place in the downstairs dining room of the Sooke Community Hall from 10 – 5 on Sunday September 29.
The morning featured two short, keynote addresses — one on “The Future of Forests” by J. Ocean Dennie of the Sooke Hills Wilderness and the second on “Building Community with Neighborhood Pods” by Al Wickheim of Otter Point Emergency Services and Ron Bilinsky, Sooke Emergency Planning.
The afternoon featured facilitated action tables that focused on specific issues. The goals of the small tables were to hear from a number of different resource people in the community already working on these issues, build teams and start to build action plans for the upcoming year.
The issues at the action tables focused on the big themes identified at the Green New Deal in June 2019.
- Food security and local agriculture
- Rainwater harvesting
- Forest and ocean / habitat and species protection
- Divestment from fossil fuels
- Zero waste
- New economic model
- Emergency disaster planning
- Green energy
- Climate angst
- Green lifestyle
- Direct action
Over the next few months, the teams that emerged from the workshop will begin taking action. Anyone interested in getting involved on the teams should contact Transition Sooke or Susan Clarke or Jo Phillips directly.
Conversations with the Federal Candidates
The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sooke Multi-Belief Initiative hosted an All Candidates Event for the federal election on Friday October 11 from 7 to 9 pm at the Edward Milne Community School Theatre in Sooke.
The event used a unique format that is not commonly seen at all-candidates debates. Instead of engaging in a political debate, the candidates at this event were asked to explain their visions for the future in a non-confrontational way.
“Federal election politics has become a battleground of antagonism and personal attacks rather than a clear conversation on issues and opportunities that matter locally and nationally,” said Don Brown of the Sooke Multi-Belief Initiative. “The presentation format that we used enabled the candidates to share their personal visions for the future of our riding and our country. We wanted to hear substantive answers to important issues from each candidate, not campaign slogans or attacks on each other’s party platforms.”
The candidates were asked to respond to questions on the following issues: Social Inequality, Affordability and Taxes, Climate Change, and willingness to work with the other parties in government. The discussion were moderated by Maja Tait, Mayor of the District of Sooke.
Green New Deal Town Hall Sooke
It was a powerful and inspiring stage one lift-off for Green New Deal Town Hall, Sooke on Saturday, June 22 at the Sooke Community Hall. More than 50 concerned locals gathered in break-out groups under the direction of our facilitators and emerged with strong, clear, progressive and positive ideas aplenty about how we can navigate the climate emergency.
This wealth of material will now be collated by our Susan Clarke, Jo Phillips and Wendy O’Connor before being forwarded to The Council of Canadians as it prepares a national report from 100+ such town halls across the country.
We’ll be back in the fall with stage two — a barnstorming session at which we’ll identify truly localized adaptations and mitigations we can tackle right here in #Sooke.
Our Jo offered introductory comments about The Pact for a New Green Deal, and we share them here:
“What is a Green New Deal? It is taken from the New Deal that US President Roosevelt started during the Great Depression of the 1930’s that incorporated economic management and public work projects to try to stabilize the economic and social collapse which was seen as an emergency situation requiring a concerted effort by everyone to resolve. It was done from the top (government) down.
The Green New Deal was started in the US by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a “democratic socialist.” It is a bottom-up movement, i.e., created by The People.
The idea is that the climate changes and eco-destructions that we have seen over the past 70 years have created a Climate Emergency that requires, in the words of the IPCC report “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes.” We have all heard about glaciers melting, species becoming extinct, coral reefs dying, the Amazon (lungs of the Planet) being mowed down, all at unprecedented rates. Locally we watch as grand polluters and eco-destroyers such as mining companies, fish farms, oil and gas corporations, forestry operations – basically everything that we call “resource extraction” – are allowed to carry on operating without any real controls and, often with tax breaks and government hand-outs. We persist in building complex highway interchanges instead of light rail, stalling on protecting Indigenous rights and animal habitats, permitting tens of thousands of mostly untested chemicals to be added to our environments and promoting a “throw-away” culture.
In response to the climate emergency and governments’ continued response of “business as usual” the GND is being proposed to bring all sectors of society together to create an action plan to a) do what we can to stop and, where possible, remediate the eco-destruction of our planet b) build resilience so that we can maintain, not our lifestyles, but our very lives as the abundance we have known for the past half-century dissipates and c) create a more just, inclusive, peaceful and cooperative society while we’re at it.
In Canada the GND is supported by over 100 organizations such as the Council of Canadians, The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Sierra Club, 350.org, Rise and Resist, Surfrider Canada and many churches and unions.
The GND also recognizes that economic inequality (46% of Canadians are within $200 of insolvency while 2 billionaires control as much wealth as a third of the population), increasing hate, racism and addiction and housing unaffordability are not separate crises. It is all tied together. We are at a point where we have to restructure life as we have come to know it. Change is not something we do well, but think of being called upon to dismantle: hierarchy, inequality, disregard for nature and the ecosystems that have sustained life forever, consumerism, greed, self-centeredness, worship of the elite and caving to “authority” (instead of trusting ourselves) as a chance to rid ourselves of all of these social precepts that definitely no longer serve us. It could be seen as a golden opportunity rather than something to fear and dread. And it could be fun if we all work together.
And this Town Hall is a great example of working together. We had only 9 days to organize this event and lots of people pulled together to pitch in where they saw a need in order to help Transition Sooke make it happen.
Most of the town halls across Canada have been done in urban centres so we especially want to focus on the rural perspective at ours. And we are also focusing on community. The Council of Canadians asks: “Why focus on communities? Municipal governments are responsible for the majority of local infrastructure and public services. They control roughly 44 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Municipalities can also play a key role in rejecting new fossil fuel infrastructure in their jurisdictions.”
The pact for a GND is stated as follows:
– Rapid, inclusive and far-reaching transition to slash emissions, protect critical biodiversity, meet the demands of the multiple crises we face, create over a million family-supporting jobs, full implementation of UNDRIP (UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People). It is a huge mobilization calling on the creativity and participation of all of us.
– It must meet the demands of Indigenous knowledge and science, cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years while protecting cultural and biological diversity
– It must leave no one behind.”
All photo credits (above): Alan Dolan
Dahr Jamail: Addressing Climate Disruption is a moral imperative
On June 4, Sooke residents filled the Holy Trinity Anglican Church to spend an evening with celebrated author Dahr Jamail talking about his new book: The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption .
Jamail has travelled the world to witness the effects of climate change first-hand.
“My book and my talks provide a full and comprehensive overview of how far along we are on this runaway climate disruption path,” said Jamail. “Then I take a deep dive into answering the question: ‘How, then, shall we live?’”
“I don’t peddle hope, but offer a mature perspective on the need for a deep morality, a conviction and commitment to doing all we can,” said Jamail. “I believe we all have a moral obligation to limit greenhouse gases and find ways to adapt to this unknown world we are moving into.”
The talk was part of a four-stop Vancouver Island tour, organized by Transition Sooke’s Susan Clarke. Sponsoring organizations included Transition Sooke, Sierra Club of BC, Council of Canadians, One Cowichan, KAIROS Victoria, and University of Victoria Social Justice Studies.
Jamail, who is based in Port Townsend, Washington, is an independent, award-winning journalist and author of four books as well as more than 100 articles on what he prefers to call “climate disruption.” He was one of a few unembedded journalists in Iraq during the 2003 invasion. His stories have been published in The Guardian, The Nation, Huffington Post, The Independent and elsewhere, and he is a full-time writer for Truthout. For more information on our Jamail and his latest book, click here.
PS Check out a 52-minute recording of Jamail’s June 5 talk at the University of Victoria here courtesy of Chris Cook, host of 101.9FM Victoria’s Gorilla Radio.
PPS Jamail noted several times how touched he was by our Susan Clarke’s introduction, so here are her words in their entirety:
“It is my pleasure to introduce our guest and fellow planet dweller Dahr Jamail.
He’s an ordinary enough person, living just over the border in Port Townsend WA. He loves nature, growing food, going on long treks, living in community and cherishing solitude. He writes a lot, and has earned many distinguished awards.
You might already know that Dahr is someone you want on the planet. Or you might meet him on one of the billions of paths you cross in a lifetime. And you might pass him by, until he slips you a note. Dahr is a messenger. He takes this mission to great heights, and depths.
Dahr sees what is here, then asks questions, unafraid of the answers. He is your eye witness, your contact with reality.
And did I mention Dahr is an ordinary guy? His easy and natural style is unnuanced and open, as he speaks about his journey of deep passion and heart-wrenching grief.
This book is extraordinary. Captured within its pages is the breath-taking beauty and diversity of our home planet. In the pages of discovery, there’s a wealth of knowledge and a humility of spirit.
The vastness of ecosystems, as we have known or imagined them, are diminishing rapidly — leaving token islands of habitat — stranded assets—glimpses of former abundance.
What does it all mean? Where are we going? How do we pack for the trip of our lifetime? It is our lifetime.
Please encourage this extraordinary, ordinary being to share his insights and explore with us the path of joy through loss.
EV Extravaganza Success!
More than 200 people flocked to EMCS on March 23, 2019 to learn about electric cars and see the many different models available.
The event began with a panel discussion of EV owners and then everyone went outside to look at the cars and talk to their owners.
Thanks to Transition Sooke volunteers extraordinaire — David and Carol Mallett — for spearheading this exciting event.