3 days until I leave on an epic mission, millions of details still to work out, and here I am in Rhode Island- eating ice cream. I’m chalking it up to one of those moments when life forces you to slow down and have fun against your will. It’s the 4th of July and Nate and I are here, spending the holiday with his family at ground zero of the oldest 4th of July parade in the country. Fireworks, concerts, a carnival and the parade have meant noisy revelry has surrounded us these hot humid days and its been a blast to take it all in. Spending time with much missed family and getting fed incredibly well has also been really nice.

I find it interesting that this experience will in so many ways be the exact opposite of what the next month and a half will be like- I’m anticipating long stretches of solitude, rain, cooler temperatures and a noticeable absence of Americans wearing red, white and blue from head to foot.

I also find it interesting that just this minute Charlie, Nate’s stepdad, has handed me a magazine to read on the road that features 2 poignant articles- one on the Tarahumara people of Mexico that routinely run vast distances and seem to really enjoy it. The author writes: “They are very shy, very serious people, but when they start running everything transforms. They just love running.” And strangely, I can relate to this feeling. I actually do really like that feeling of moving under my own power. Whether I will be able to sustain that feeling remains to be seen, but I intend on channeling the Tarahumara. 

The second article is entitled “Storytelling for personal growth and social change” which is also so eerily relevant to my journey I feel like I just got playfully smacked by some higher power. I just glanced at the article, but a couple of things jumped out at me: “I have the feeling that we want to listen to each other more” says Jay Allison, Director of Atlantic Public Media and Producer of the The Moth Radio Hour. A storytelling show. “When you tap into your own stories, you understand better who you are.” I share both of these perspectives and am looking forward to the insights that emerge about all kinds of alternative energy- from that which we can tap as individuals in our quest for personal growth, that generated by new ideas and systems, and that which we can harness in our homes and communities. At Conservation Leadership Action Workshop, I met one woman that has been living with her family off grid for over 20 years and 2 young people that will be building and Earthship and exploring ways of organizing an intentional community. I look forward to connecting with others that are similarly experienced or passionate about sustainable living and renewable energy. 

Just a couple more days of crazy detail figuring out and then I can get to the good stuff- running and storytelling. 

I hope you will follow me on my journey on The blog entries will appear on the main page and I intend to use it as my primary outlet.   

Me + Delica

Here’s me and the Delica with the big ole veggie tank in the back. Gonna smell like fries…mmmmm!

This past week, I gazed into the eyes of several wise old souls. It is a singularly gratifying and enchanting experience to connect with people that are kindred in both purpose and spirit. It seems Social Change Institute is just the sort of fertile ground to grow such connections. It’s no surprise that many of the people I met at SCI are on the front lines of transforming our world. They offered diamond sharp insights into my own journey, about which I will have much time to contemplate in the coming weeks. I look forward to sharing the revelations that emerge.

It was noted repeatedly that I am about to embark on a journey, perhaps even a sacred journey. On the outside, its an intensely public experience focused on engaging people across the province in fruitful dialogue that trades in the currency of ideas.  On the inside, a deeply personal quest to investigate alternative forms of energy including that which can spur one into action and shift deeply held beliefs about what is possible. An exploration of the inner landscape will fill many solitary hours spent pounding foot to pavement.

Personally, I hope it will help exorcise some of the despair I feel in the wake of Bill C-38 and the aggressive measures being taken to destroy environmental oversight and a vast number of Canada’s democratic instruments. I can only hope that this is a temporary moment of greed overwhelming goodness and good sense, a moment that activates and galvanizes the people and communities that recognize it as such.  I pray that this is the darkness before the dawn of a new age of consciousness; that Harper’s short-sighted and regressive policies are but the death rattle of the fossil fuel driven economy.  We shall see, I suppose.

Running away from a nightmare or towards a brighter future? This is a question that was asked of me at SCI and to which I keep returning…I think it’s both. The reality of pipelines, tankers and other tar sands expansion projects are without question the dark prospect that ignited and to some extent fuels this campaign, but the lure of engaging in a creative and collaborative process to re-imagine a sustainable future is what really propels me forward.  Considering all the damage we are causing to the planet and to our own kind, I think many of us feel completely guilt ridden, and perhaps even paralyzed by that emotion. A great deal of the language and messaging in the sustainability realm is geared at reducing footprints, doing less harm, consuming less which are of course necessary, but in some ways suggests that we need to be less of our selves. Rather than doing less bad, I think we need to consider ways of doing more good by applying our unique human capacity for imagination and creativity to the task of healing our world and society.

Dialogue is an excellent tool for tapping that creative potential and developing a collaborative process that is generative rather than degenerative. I really like Annette Simmons “Guide to Facilitate Dialogue” and she has kindly given permission for me to add it to Band Together BC’s Dialogue Tool Kit.  This kit, available on the Band Together BC website shortly, will also contain Tides Canada New Energy Vision for Canada and a Statement of Support for a National Energy Strategy along with suggested questions and methods of recording the ideas in the dialogue sessions that I hope many people will organize in their respective communities.

I look forward to sharing the innovative ideas that will no doubt arise from these sessions, articulated and expressed through a jambalaya of multimedia- so excited to see how they shape our future.

This is awesome!

Taking it to the Streets: a Guide to Marathon Running is a cool infographic from


I’m sitting on the ferry and my tired mind is trying to calculate precisely what leg of the journey I’m on…I stop because at the best of times, calculating isn’t all that fun.

It began just 6 days ago, when I packed up the Delica and slowly headed to Cortes Island for Social Change Institute at Hollyhock. 

It was her maiden voyage as a new convert to waste veg and I was 2 parts excited and 1 part nervous as I drove to pick up a crew of fellow SCI’ers. I was also several parts guilty as I had not fully disclosed the Delica’s top hill climbing speed of 40 km/ph or the fact that I was completely in the dark with the waste veg fuel thing and if we broke down on the highway my best solution would be consuming the contents of the tank so we wouldn’t starve.

Fortunately, we managed to make it to Hollyhock without incident and without having to learn what cold fryer oil tastes like.

I am still processing Social Change Institute…a concentration of the radicalist of the radicals, environmentalists with hearts so green they made the superb garden jealous, journalists, poets, activists, spiritual warriors, healers, artists, poets, young people and young at heart people in a place where ancient cedars cast shadows on the sea.

The whole experience was a bit like being spun in a cotton candy machine of bright ideas, positive energy, and beautiful connections. I felt like I was spinning and being layered by this sweet ethereal experience. Exhaustion and euphoria made the colours brighter, the voices more melodic.

It seems I had been craving this energy and so I consumed it heartily. I think it was this deep intake of goodness from so many brave and intelligent change makers that propelled me on my run on Sunday. I felt buoyant and moved by something both inside and outside of myself.

I hope I am able to store and harness this energy on my upcoming journey. It is the ultimate form of renewable energy! 

I feel like a bundle of nerves- raw and exposed. My first marathon is one week away and it’s just the beginning of a long road ahead. It’s been an incredible journey so far, filled with the extremes of emotion that come with tackling a huge project and most definitely an accelerated personal growth phase. Organizing a campaign of this magnitude has involved stepping outside of my comfort zone and exploring new territory in the realm of my physical and mental limitations, which has only just begun. There has been a lot of embracing of the unknown..well embracing might be a bit of an overstatement. Perhaps it’s more like giving the unknown a quick peck on the check and keeping it warily in view!

Along the way, I’ve met passionate inquisitive people with insights on my run and campaign. Here are some of my learning moments in no particular order. 

Running with people is actually pretty fun. I wrote a scathing treatise against running partners a while back that I’m going to have to revoke. I just hadn’t had a pleasurable group running experience until I joined Christine Suter’s Saturday morning running group. As much as I like to run in the afternoons, running first thing when it’s super fresh and the day is new is really nice. I experienced new routes and people that could help establish a good pace and afterwards enjoyed coffee with a couple friends- new and old. So delightful that I’m looking forward to some company on my run. Ya Jackie and Martha!!  

If an event happens and there isn’t enough press coverage did it happen? Well, no. This sage bit of wisdom came from a fellow at ECO, a Toronto based communications firm that specializes in marketing for non-profits and social enterprises. It means I need to redouble my efforts to let the media know what I’m up to. Point taken!

There is seemingly no end to people’s generosity. I am blown away by the donations and support offered.

Andy, Jackie, Martha, Julia Jimmy and Shannon (and of course my love Nate) will possibly be driving or running part of the journey with me. Fruv has generously provided Fruv wear and Salomon has hooked me up with a pair of awesome sneakers. Craig at Squamish FM donated his social media savvy and some pins… Laura, Jennie and Susan donated enough Milla for many miles.  James, Jimmy and Amber at Base Roots have donated a healthy energy fruit / veggie puree to support my dietary needs.  Sarinda will also be sending some raw food snacks with me. Kevin Pegg is decking the Delica out in solar panels…the list is very long and it fills my heart to the brim with gratitude! Must give back is the lesson here!

“Everything will fall into place.” This has become a sort of mantra to me, and even though I find my self in the grip of anxiety every now and then, I keep reminding my self to loosen my grip and let myself be caught or grow wings in falling into the unknown. 

There are amazing tools for sharing every sound and pixel one could ever hope to record. So now it’s just up to me to get comfortable with using them and find a system that will work in remote areas. This is still on my “to Do” list. 

Harnessing people’s innate talents, it’s the art of delegation and then some as people reach out to lend a hand I am learning how to ask which had they prefer to use. 

Breathing. So important. 

That’s it for now. I am off to get a run in and hopefully find a bit of calm. 


I just stumbled across Franke James visual essays of environmental issues:

I think they’re really captivating and a creative way of making social and environmental commentary. Something to think about for telling the story of my journey perhaps…

 For more on Franke James check out:

Animated Explanation of Band Together BC

By Wade Davis

A couple of evenings ago, Nate and I attended a sold out presentation by the ever eloquent Wade Davis. He was as oratorically brilliant as the last 2 times I had heard him speak, but this time his presentation carried a sombre message. Shell wants to drill more than 1,000 coalbed methane gas wells in the Sacred Headwaters-a vast alpine basin that is the shared birthplace of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers- which threatens communities, wildlife and wild salmon. His book, Sacred Headwaters is a testament to the beauty of BC’s remote north western corner and an expression of Wade’s true love for the place he calls home. The images and his words convey the wildness, the vastness, and the pristine loveliness of this place- bittersweet now that the Red Chris mine- an open pit copper mine that will result in the amputation of Todagin mountain (home to the largest population of Stone Sheep in the world) and giant toxic waste ponds-  has been granted a permit to operate right in the heart of it.  I was struck by the terrible irony of how its remoteness has up until now preserved it from the machinations of the industrial world  but may now well seal its fate as a site for oil and mineral development as it lays far from the eyes or experience of the vast majority of British Columbians that might otherwise protect it. Those that will suffer the effects of coal bed methane drilling or copper mining are the few that live on the land and to whom their land is their life. Wade described the injustice implicit in land deals that are negotiated in far off board room by executives that have never visited the site in question and yet their decisions to plop a mine or oil well wherever they choose has consequences deeply felt by those that live there and future generations. He wasn’t suggesting that all development is bad- far from it- it’s just that there are some places that are so ecologically and culturally significant that they deserve to be kept intact. Why is that so hard to understand?

I marvel at the fact that those with the common sense to understand this are labeled “environmentalists.” Quite frankly, I’m surprised that the label exists at all. It’s like being labeled a “life-ist” or an “anti annihilationist” and then being forced to defend that position. 


Wade ended on an upbeat by suggesting that we have the power to sway Shell and others in how they manage their projects. It seems now more than ever before grassroots movements have the tools to really effect change-that gives me hope. 

And just when things seemed too intellectually composed, Wade slipped in a few f-bombs, some references to his drug tripping days with the Shamans and how  “Mitt Romney clearly didn’t get laid in college.”

A little something for everyone!




Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-38. I am very sad, because this bill is the worst of all bills of this House, for two reasons.

First, because the government has chosen to introduce fundamental changes to many laws that affect the environmental, social and economic life of Canada, without consultation and in a way that is illegitimate and scandalous. This process is unacceptable and against true democracy.

Second, beyond the process that is so offensive, this bill that purports to be a budget bill is, in substance, something quite different. The substance of the changes is equally alarming.

Laws this bad take some explanation. As I have sat through the truncated debate on this process at second reading, what we have had are presentations from the government side, the Conservative MPs, basically providing lists of things they like in the legislation, and from the opposition benches, lists of things we do not like in this legislation.

I think that leaves out a big piece of the puzzle. We have also been confusing measures that are actually budget measures that are not in Bill C-38, things like fighting the deficit, and things we do not like, like killing the Centre for Plant Health in my own riding which is necessary to protect the health of the economy, particularly in the grape-growing regions and wineries, and killing jobs in national parks, again in my riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, the Gulf Islands National Park jobs in ecological work.

However, again, these are not in Bill C-38. The debate has been combatting lists. We like this; we hate this. I want to step back and try to understand what is going on here. Why do we have this enormous package of measures, most of the substantial changes being those that unravel environmental law in this country?

I have been involved in the development of most of the laws that we now see being unravelled, particularly the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the National Round Table Act, and what I see behind all this is a shift in mindset.

I worked in the Mulroney government. I understood at that point that the Progressive Conservatives understood that conserving involved conserving the environment. This is not necessarily the current mindset of the current brand of conservatism that I find alien from the traditions and roots of people like former fisheries ministers John Fraser and Tom Siddon, both of whom have spoken out against the devastating changes to the protection of fish habitat in C-38, and the unintended consequences that that will surely have.

This mindset reminds me most of what the former senior economist to the World Bank, Herman Daly used to describe as “treating the planet as a business in liquidation”, an everything-must-go mentality and it must be done fast.

He offered the opposite view, again the senior economist to the World Bank said that we need to understand that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. These things are not in conflict, and it is so wrong-headed to say that we will only get jobs if we destroy the environment. It boggles the mind.

When we understand that that is the way this entire omnibus budget bill has been prepared, then it begins to make sense. Then we understand the narrative, and then we can understand that someone in the PMO picked up the phone, called Justice or maybe just sent an email and said that they should find all those things the federal government is responsible for the environment, and find ways to withdraw from them to the maximum extent possible without offending constitutional requirements to protect such things as migratory birds (because we have a convention with the U.S.) or fisheries (because that is in the Constitution).

For example, there is no other way to understand why the Conservatives repealed the Environmental Assessment Act and put in place an entirely new act. Most of what we have heard is that we wanted to have timely assessments. I do not think there would be much debate over that.

As a matter of fact, in 2005, I proposed to the Minister of the Environment that in order to get a review of the proposed cleanup at the Sydney tar ponds, which itself presented risks, a timeline would be a good idea. In fact, they put in place a 12-month timeline for the joint review panel of the cleanup proposed for the Sydney tar ponds back in 2005.

That could be done under the existing legislation. We do not need to repeal the act and start over.

To all these complaints, the Conservatives claim that industry was demanding that this be done, I have in front of me a brief note from the Mining Association of Canada from January of this year in which it praises the current process under Environmental Assessment Review. It says that “the amendments that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act made in 2010 were implemented quickly and competently by the agency”, and that it has “provided mining project proponents with relief.” It says that for the first time, “provincial and federal assessments are synchronized.” This is from the Mining Association of Canada, allegedly one of the interest groups for whom the Conservative government is destroying all of our environmental laws. The Mining Association of Canada says, and I quote:

Our primary interest in the review of the Environmental Assessment Act is to convey support for the new system brought in and to renew funding for the Environmental Assessment Agency. It is critical to understand that the government did not have to repeal the Environmental Assessment Act in order to have a process that worked for all the players. It looks as though this desperate attempt to be in a hurry is where the problem lies. What the government has done is so egregious. The Environmental Assessment Act being repealed and replaced with a whole new scheme that will never get proper review through the process that we have in an omnibus project.

The Conservatives are removing what had always been a federal trigger for a proper environmental assessment, if federal money was being spent. That is no longer there. They are removing comprehensive studies. They are no longer there.

There is no real definition of what an environmental assessment would be. We have a reference in the budget document to something called a “standard environmental assessment”, but C-38 removed all definitions of what the process looks like.

Killing the comprehensive studies and creating panels that can be substituted with the province without criteria, in my view, would have the industry coming to government asking what it has done as the process had been working pretty well. In fact, the Mining Association of Canada says, “very well”. Now we are not going to know what project has to go to review or what project does not; when we go to the province or when we do not.

At the same time, in order to unravel the federal responsibilities that trigger an environmental assessment, we have created a crazy scheme for fisheries. We would still require a permit to add substances “deleterious” to fish, but the protections for fish habitat would be removed.

This means, and as we all know this is a real-life example, that if one wanted to have a large-scale project, for instance, to put tailings into an existing lake, one would be better off, if the lake was in a remote area where no one is fishing, to drain the whole lake, kill all the fish and destroy the habitat because that would be legal without an authorization. Whereas adding substances “deleterious” to fish into a lake currently would require authorization. This is the ultimate example of haste makes waste.

This is a bill that has not properly contemplated the changes to the Fisheries Act, the Environmental Assessment Act, or the changes to the Species at Risk Act. This is a bill out of control through the false notion that we will create jobs through waste and haste.

I remind people that we are now 20 years since the Westray disaster where 26 men died. There was no environmental review at that time, it was back in 1988 when the project was approved, but there were warnings. The experts in the department of mines said that the area was too high in methane. Oh, but no, the local politicians and some federal politicians wanted those jobs. They wanted them so badly that they overrode expert advice. They said: “We have to get that Westray mine built come hell or high water and we are going to do it. We don’t want to hear your complaining about causes or what might happen to get in the way”. So federal money flowed and we created a bomb. We put men in it, and 26 men died.

Now we are creating another kind of bomb. The first speaker on the bill was not the Minister of Finance but the Minister of Natural Resources who brought forward all the reasons to change the scheme. He said that we must hurry as there is no time to waste. He quoted from the International Energy Agency on the current state of fossil fuel requirements around the world, but he never quoted the warning from the International Energy Agency that if we do not act on the climate crisis it will soon be too late. The quote from the International Energy Agency from earlier this year is this:

“Delaying action is a false economy. As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the lock-in of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals.”

We must change direction and this bill is putting pedal to the medal to go as fast as possible to a very large brick wall. Going back to the bomb we built for the men at Westray, we are now building a climate bomb, a carbon bomb. This proposed legislation is so wrong-headed it must be withdrawn in its entirety.

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