A New Journey Begins


A New Journey Begins

Picture us…lost on the barren wasteland through a cold wet December on a yet to be established living roof, situated somewhere between the solar hot water evacuated tubes and the bank of 16 solar PV panels on our roof.  Ann and I were about to set camp… for a month.  Yup, that’s right, we were going to OCCUPY our roof top equipped with our tent, our home grown food, and our composting toilet bucket from December 1 all the way through Consumptionmas (Xmas) till New Years day.

At the dinner table Emily cringes her eyebrows, cocks her head to one side and asks “Your going to do what?”  Parker shaking his head with a look of great concern resembling a parent upon hearing of their child’s wish to climb Everest… naked…asks “Why?”

Why?  Complete helplessness!  Pissed off!  Sad!  Angry!  Frustrated beyond words trying to make a difference the conventional way via slow incremental change (committee).  Passionately wanting to make a statement, (not that living in a mud house and shitting in a bucket doesn’t), but in respect to the movement to occupy for the change from a corrupt political and economic system, to occupy ‘reality’… not the illusions and distractions that entertain our culture, to occupy truth and fact and to dismantle the false arguments that sustainability is too hard – too expensive – too inconvenient.

The Scar next door (it is now 3 times bigger)

We wished to spend our month to speak truth to the failings of a growth based economy, corporate capitalism, greed, self-gratification, ecological destruction, political dysfunction, regulatory failure… all of which we can see from our roof.  We wouldn’t have to go far with our solar powered video camera to blog on it.  Just peak over the edge of our roof to see the thousands of trees gone on Goodwin Farms, and see what 10 months of dumptruck loads of fill look like (one day there was 120 dumptrucks, but even being conservative at 50/day for 8 months equates to 9600 loads of fill), entombing millions of life forms from bees, birds, fungi, ants, frogs, plants…  and the wetlands which is the local ground water recharge and spring mating ground for countless species; and this all being allowed under the watch and the rules and regulations of our municipality and province.  No Laws were being broken.  Well, the laws are wrong.  This is after all what land ownership means in our culture.

Nature has no rights…it is simply a thing enslaved to those with rights.  Here is a link to a Bioneers program talking about how 12 municipalities in the US have granted rights to nature.  http://www.bioneers.org/radio/series-archives/2010-series/earth-justice

Most of us could point to countless violations of nature which demonstrate the crazy extraction of anything, at any price for the benefit of a few, with the real cost yet to be paid.  Place these actions alongside the efforts for our community whose has produced a remarkable ICSP (Integrated Community Sustainability Plan) that is entirely aspirational… a great plan sitting on a shelf.  Here’s the link. http://www.highlands.bc.ca/sustainability/

Just imagining what Fox news north or the CBC would report on.  “Couple who recently completed building mud house, and whom compost their own BLEEP decide to move to their roof in December.”  The reality is that most of the country would just see the entertainment value of the two eco-freaks, unaware of the reason.  No impact, no information exchange… just two damp cold people more miserable than before, self abusing themselves for the entertainment of the sheeple (sheep people).

What are two conservation minded science nerds, with passions for local food, nature, solar technolgies,  policy, and green building supposed to do?  Well the first step is to not OCCUPY the roof, but rather OCCUPY ourselves.  You might argue that being occupied with a task, a project, will stop the ghosts from haunting you, and Chris Hedges would argue that it is merely more distraction supporting ones illusion… or delusion.  But what if you occupied yourself stirring the pot of Sustainability Soup.  What if you dreamt up a project that in its very concept would fit every aspect of the desires of the Municipal OCP and Sustainability reports, but broke all the “current” rules?  Now things are getting interesting.

Lower Garden Site (permaculture gardens and small Living Building Dwelling)

Imagine for a moment if two people decided to build an affordable dwelling on impacted land, where resources were shared between buildings and ecosystems, where the building needed no combustion for cooking or heating.  Where the house produced ALL of its own energy and water, with no waste, and that attached to the house was the creation of food gardens 10 times the floor area of the dwelling (also on damaged land).  What if this home like its parent (the Eco-Sense Home) had zero carbon footprint, and actually contributed to the community by providing local food, and the occupants could rely less on a car.  What if this building met all 7 petals of the Living Building Challenge, and the very creation of this building led to municipal policy changes to allow such.  Our home is about the reproduce!

Lets face it… a project such as this would make great media.  So pro-active, a model of extreme affordable modern sustainability, a model of all the concepts cities and towns are trying to implement, situated right here beside an ecological disaster.  See map.  Even better would be the stories if the project was stalled and thwarted by a political system that although supports it on paper, disallows it as it is not legal.

Ann and I have decided to push and drive policy by ‘doing’, in an attempt to create the most appropriate example of sustainable community land use planning in the CRD, with the limited funds, skills and knowledge we have at our disposal.  Surely enough if we can do it, then anyone with more means shouldn’t be scared of it.

The new policy we have written by the way… is derived from our idea of the Net Zero Zone, and rather than create a new zone, we have written a policy for an attachment to the property called the NZAD (Net Zero Additional dwelling).  The details of the policy are presented in this PDF. 20120103 NZAD letter

Humans are purveyors of myths to attach meaning to what at times seems meaningless.   We are entering a critical time symbolized and enshrined by the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines attaching the dirtiest of oils to the veins of the culture, pumping heroin into the addicted as our entire cultural myth is unraveled.  The criminal gang pushing this symbolizes all things wrong with our current cultural story.  It shines light on a political system that no longer functions as democracy but as a vehicle for corporations to achieve their desires to extract monies from all those whom have come to believe that money in its very existence is real rather than just a monetary concept that was designed as a tool of trade.  It exposes the huge dichotomy of power, politics and greed from ecology and natural systems, from which natural resources are ripped away.  The pipelines are the divining rod where first nations, climate scientists, fisheries, naturalists, natural capital economists, youth groups and small towns have a platform on which to unite and actually put their lives on the line against big environmentally irresponsible monsters.   This pipeline, the oil tankers on our coast, oil sands, climate change issue makes our blood boil….

The unraveling of our present myth, is lending to the beginnings of weaving new stories and new creation mythologies to provide new meaning to something that is now being exposed as having no meaning.  Excellent talk by Michael Mead here (Bioneers) http://www.bioneers.org/radio/series-archives/2010-series/why-the-world-doesn2019t-end

A few more links:
Chris Hedgeshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zotYU21qcU

A great talk with Werner Simbeck about the radiation from Fukushema meltdown. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_iLsJhzZ7g

Charles Eisenstein (article and short video) on Sacred Economics. http://www.ianmack.com/charles-eisenstein-author-of-sacred-economics-coming-to-vancouver/

if we can't figure out how to live on this planet, nature will send us back to evolve some more

So there you have it.  Welcome to 2012.  It’s going to be very interesting watching much of our civilzation unravel and a new reality emerge.  We all play a role in what that new reality will look like.  Time to get busy…VERY busy.

We will be blogging regularly with our Progress on the NZAD.  Time line so far:

  • Dec 3rd, 2011 corresponded with Jason McLennon from the Living Building Challenge.  Jason is very excited and supportive.
  • The process began on Jan 3rd, 2012 when we officially sent our policy request (see link) into the district of Highlands.  We hope to be on the next council agenda.
  • Jan 6th, we met with Highlands building official.
  • Jan 8th we started resurrecting the old pond (for irrigation water and Net Zero water).
  • Jan 11th started preparing the lower garden site – extensive permacutlure gardens (we have rented a small bobcat)

We’ll keep you posted.

Quick notes:

  • We will be presenting on solar energy on Feb 22nd at 7pm at the Calib Pike Heritage site in the Highlands.  Judith Cullington (from Colwood) is also presenting.  All welcome.
  • Newest Island Gals is out.  Ann’s writes on climate change, how bad it is, and what we can do about it.  see www.islandgals.ca to learn where you can pick up a complimentary copy.

Ann and Gord

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