Aside from what you read on the internet, life in the Kootenays just keeps on rollin’ on. Who would know that a whole ecosystem was being destroyed in what could be described as a technogenic catastrophe down in Louisiana right now, a nasty byproduct of the lifestyle we’ve pursued as a society. The various bailouts, negotiations and promises being talked about across Europe, first regarding Greece, but likely others soon enough, have literally barely permeated the surface of discussion in this part of the world.
Municipalities across the US are all but bankrupt while they attempt to continue providing services to populations who are likely to start demanding more of everything. The rate of foreclosures doesn’t seem to be slowing, and in any case, these numbers are likely manufactured by banks who really don’t want to deal with the reality of massively depreciated assets clogging up their books.
Despite the persistent belief locally that Canada, British Columbia and particularly the Kootenays is somehow immune from the effects of any of these events – the truth is far more sobering – we are not that far removed from the civil uprisings in Greece, or the massive job cuts seen across the US in recent months. All our efforts of recycling, reducing emissions and changing out light bulbs might amount to one of the most futile efforts ever undertaken, the final realization of a society in overreach mode. It is like we are living within a cone of silence – willful ignorance.
But there are some glimmers of hope.
Recently, the group “Transition Nelson” held a gathering and expo to “celebrate the many efforts already underway to strengthen our local economy and build a resilient community”. These efforts acknowledge that the current patterns of settlement, the economic base, food production and consumer attitudes are all dependent on cheap abundant fossil fuels and a Ponziconomy.
Food has been an issue across many of the communities in the Kootenays since the now infamous Future of Foods Conference, which was the catalyst for many of the amazing projects that are actively addressing the many concerns. Even in Rossland, an alpine community, a group of dedicated volunteers has established possibly the highest community garden in British Columbia.
The City of Castlegar has garnered input from many of the thought leaders in the community on issues of sustainability in preparation for a revision to the Official Community Plan. The City has a great opportunity in using this information to guide decision making on future projects, lets hope they use it.
These efforts show a willingness for community and cooperation, this is an essential component of any local resiliency, open transparent dialog and decision making for the future that respects that the future is likely to be quite different from the past or even the present.
We’re not ahead of the curve. These projects are all currently at a small scale and there are big issues looming on the horizon. The changes required to actually become resilient are massive. As communities face rising gas prices, shrinking fuel availability, market fluctuations, potential food shortages, climate change and anything else that pops up from this crazy world to bite us; our ability to thrive and prosper will be tested. Make no mistake about it – “business as usual” policies will fail communities miserably, the increasing reliance on a saviour state is already showing cracks even here in Canada, where apparently it is different up here (aside from the huge debt ratio, of course 🙂 ).
On a Final Note – I have been seriously absent from my regular writing, some of this is work related, I’m in the middle of a tender process, but also, I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged about what is happening out there and how little impact it is having in Canada, and especially locally. Sometimes when I read this stuff, I feel encouraged to write about it and share the importance of putting it all into perspective, but I have been overwhelmed by the incongruity of headlines sharing the same space that appear to be from two different realities.