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One person’s moving experience with the destructive power of the oil industry.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/earthmatters/2012/02/20/oil-executive-sons-testimony-prince-rupert-northern-gateway-pipeline?page=0,1

“We are destroying future generations for now, and forever.”

 

I’m a little ashamed, but this past week featured a whole lot more wine-ing and dining than running and yoga-ing. So I was really glad to get in a sweet run today (back on the program baby!) even if it was only for an hour. I’m in Vancouver for a couple days so it was a great change of scenery from Whistler where the mountain panoramas, massive cedars and lakes can get really really boring. Kidding. But Vancouver is a spectacular place to run what with all the bike paths, pedestrian-friendly traffic lights and gorgeous gardens sprinkled liberally throughout the city. And its got mountains and ocean vistas which is a pretty great combination. Today I followed my Running Buddy’s advice and worked my way from her house on East 11th to Queen Elizabeth Park-“Vancouver’s Horticultural Jewel!”- a gorgeous park featuring ducky ponds, delicate stone and wooden bridges and an observatory where you can catch a glimpse of both mountains and ocean in the distance. I of course was running WAAAY too fast to really see the view, but I could tell it was there.  I really wish my Run Keeper had not decided to go completely haywire because it would be nice to know exactly how far and fast I am running. I have to say my experience with Run Keeper has led to a distrust for these apps in general. Nate (my hub-ster) has an app on his phone for when we’re snowboarding on the mountain and it shows our route and speed. Yesterday it said that our top speed was 71 km which I just found a little hard to believe. I mean we’re going fast, but that seems WAAAY too fast! Nate of course found it completely believable so we had to find a non-partial 3rd party- enter Google (I mean is there any other reason to have a smart phone?) A quick google search for average snowboarding speed came up with a range of answers but my favourite by far was a best answer on Yahoo Answers:

Question: How fast on average do snowboarders go?

Answer: About half as fast as they think they are going.

Exactly. So today on my supposedly 16 km run that only took me an hour to complete, I had a choice:

Assume I was running WAAAAY fast or consider the possibility that the distance was a titch shorter than   initially thought. I don’t have an app to prove me different, so I am claiming WAAAY fast 🙂

 

 

 

 

I’m talking about between my toes. It was a tip I read on this running site: http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/beginners/your-first-marathon-words-from-the-wise/2800.html

…and I have to say it’s an excellent one! Toe chafing is highly uncomfortable as is any kind of chafing for that matter so I have begun using vaseline strategically for all my long runs.

I also had to do some research on the delicate matter of my lower intestines violently trying to escape my body (I think you know what I’m getting at here) at about the 2 hour mark of running. It’s an extreme situation that I’ve come to learn is whimsically referred to as “runners trots.” Having grown up around horses, I find this term highly amusing…What’s not amusing is actually having a fierce case of the trots descend upon you, forcing you to frantically scurry into the bush for what can only be described as a mild exorcism.

Once the shaking and sweating subsided I found myself a little worried thinking about race day and how awkward the “trots” would be. Apparently, too much fibre and caffeine could be to blame (guilty on both counts) and just having “novice” bowels as it were. I actually read that it is an affliction that happens to novice runners…It seems my bowels have some maturing to do. I’m delighted that this marathon is supporting personal growth on so many levels.

Other than this super personal stuff that I’m sure everyone finds fascinating, I’ve really been lucking out with the weather for my long runs. Monday was a gorgeous blue bird day that looked right out of an ad for Whistler Blackcomb, much like these:

http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/photos/index.htm

(I figure if I don’t take pictures, I can at least show some that others have taken)

Better still, check out the work of local photographer legend Blake Jorgenson:

http://www.blakejorgenson.com/photography/

So that’s about it. I am off to do some Fartleks at the gym. I sure hope they weren’t named after someone. That would have been one awkward childhood.

I feel guilty that I haven’t posted any photos to keep yall from falling asleep… I’m working on it, but in the meantime you can check out PhotoBotos totally amazing photos. They publish one awesome pic a day…Check out this one from the salt flats in Bolivia. 

http://photobotos.com/2012/02/12/storm-over-the-salar-de-uyuni-salar-de-uyuni-bolivia-nicholas-leslin-featured-photographer/

Tee rif ic!

This is what I’m listening to right now:

John Butler Trio- you are ruling my living room right now.  And it is especially sweet sitting in the afterglow of a quick 9.5 km run. It is freakishly warm right now with just a bit of drizzle so the run was fine, but it’s nice to be finished and soaking in the endorphins! Running is becoming a sort of meditation and I’m beginning to realize that what I really love is not so much the running itself as the space the run creates. Space in the day to just be. Time to contemplate without doing. A time to reconnect with the earth and the atmosphere.

I even got a couple of nods from fellow runners today (I wasn’t wearing my blue leg warmers today so I probably looked more normal). It’s amazing when you connect with perfect strangers and feel part of a newly discovered community. And did I mention the dogs? Just a bunch of really great dogs, out with their people and their toys. There is one little border collie puppy named Osh that seems to know me now and always comes running over to give me a tongue bath. Her owner is this nice man who always asks how my run is going and it’s just a lovely experience.

So that’s my short but sweet running reflection for today.

 

 

 

 

 

20 km and 2 coyotes…. pretty much sums up my run on Monday. Throw a little sunshine into the mix and it was a fantastic run.

You know what else is great? These guys:

Nathan and Sam “walked, swam, and paddled about 450km of pristine coastline totally devoid of trails, visitors, and just about everything else from the modern world. The hike took six weeks and showed [them] both that the title “Galapagos of the North” is apropos for Haida Gwaii.”

Pretty inspiring….http://www.tankersnothankers.ca/

Also, Frank Wolf and Todd McGowan who “biked, hiked, rafted and kayaked the GPS track of the pipeline in order to uncover the truth about the proposal.”

http://www.frank-wolf.net/p/upcoming.html

Then there’s the protest in Prince Rupert that took place over the weekend.1000 people expressing their disapproval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline- yesss! Just need to keep and build this momentum…

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/319060

Then there’s today’s run? Wet, cold, no coyotes.

Still good stuff to share though. Like:

Hollyhock: Canadian Lifelong Learning Centre mobilizing social change agents and giving them the tools to do BIG things. My momentum is building just thinking about the amazing things they’re up to. Check it out:

http://www.hollyhock.ca/cms/

Also inspiring friends with great ideas to share and willingness to act as a sounding wall. Thanks Kevin, Sylvie and Ben- love you!

 

Taking dumb quizzes is just one of the many procrastinating tactics I use to put off going for a run. And it’s a good thing I took this one because it turns out that there is very good chance Mojo is trying to kill me.

http://www.heyquiz.com/quiz/cat_kill

Taking that quiz invariably led me to look for other “kitty porn” (um, not to be confused with kiddie porn!), which is basically super cute cat related stuff that cat lovers insist on sharing with a world less enthusiastic about cats. Here’s a few of my faves:

Cats on treadmill. I gotta say- I sympathize with these little guys. When I find myself on a treadmill, I often feel like there is some devil women cranking up the speed and laughing hysterically at my attempts to keep up. Falling off the back? I wish I could say it hasn’t happened…

Cat vs internet: funny because it’s so so true. After killing me, the internet is next on Mojo’s hit list.

p://theoatmeal.com/comics/cat_vs_internet

Actually a lot of the The Oatmeal’s stuff is pretty funny. I especially appreciated “Horrible Valentine’s Day Cards” http://theoatmeal.com/horrible2

And I had to revisit the 25 Awkward Cat Sleeping Positions which has been making its way around Facebook land, because when isn’t a good time for a “soooooooooo cuuuute!!!!!!!!!!!” moment?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/animals/awkward-cat-sleeping-positions

Ok, I think I am done here. Going for a run now.

 

This guy is cool. 

Blog

Last night, I watched Luna’s (http://www.lunawhistler.com/) screening of Weibo’s War, a provocative documentary directed and produced by David York (released Oct. 2011, http://www.nfb.ca/film/wiebos_war_trailer/).

The film features Weibo Ludwig and his small community’s battle against the oil and gas industry. Ludwig, his wife Mammie, 2 other couples and all their children form the community of Christian fundamentalists that settled in the Grande Prairie (northern Alberta) region about 3 decades ago in the hopes of getting away from a world that didn’t share their beliefs.  They had peace for about 5 years. Then they were informed that they only owned the top 6″ of their property and that the subsurface mineral rights belonged to oil and gas (Encana). A sour gas well was situated a stones throw from their farm and that’s when the trouble began. Their animals began to die and abort their young and so did the women on the farm. Mammie had a miscarriage and then a few years later gave birth to a still born baby (of which they show graphic images). They suffer inexplicable illnesses and violent skin reactions, oh and they can light the water coming out of their kitchen faucet on fire! Their attempts to write letters to decision makers and the media were futile and their protests at the well sites fell on deaf ears. Shortly after, the pipeline bombings and vandalism began. Ludwig and his cohort never admit to the acts, but the wry comments and direct support for them makes it pretty clear that they are involved if not wholly responsible. The bombings continue for many years, but the oil and gas industry continue to set up wells around the property. The community is observed and periodically searched by the police, but no direct evidence is ever discovered nor charges laid. Throw in the shooting death of a 16 year old girl that was trespassing on the property (again with no charges left) and you have a bizarre twist that further compounds the tragic nature of this story.

Ludwig was invited by Luna to attend the screening and lead a discussion. He wrote a letter declining on account of having developed cancer and not being able to travel. He said that hoped he  would live long enough to write a book, that he would nonetheless publish posthumously so that he wouldn’t be thrown in jail for its contents!

So I led the discussion instead. I asked the audience what their reactions were to the film and there were some really insightful comments offered. My favourite came from a women who said she sympathized with Weibo, but felt he didn’t do what was best for his family- she felt he should’ve moved them so that they wouldn’t have suffered as they did. She thought he was trying to be a martyr and wondered if martyrdom was an acceptable way of effecting change?

It begs the question, if citizens are being harmed by corporations supported by government what are acceptable courses of action? Are there sufficient mechanisms for having one’s voice be heard and for actually changing the system?  Was there a different approach Weibo could’ve taken to influence the powerful oil and gas industry that was harming human health and the environment with impunity? Was war his only recourse?

Is war ever justified? Pacifists aside, our society as a whole generally subscribes to the notion that is some cases war is justified.

St. Augustine said there were three just causes of war:

  • defending against attack
  • recapturing things taken
  • punishing people who have done wrong
So was Weibo’s war just? According to St.Augustine, yes it was. Weibo could invoke all three of these justifications for the pipeline bombing activities he perpetrated and /or supported: 1) the encroachment of sour gas on his property causing animal and human deaths certainly constitutes an attack; 2) acquiring property with a reasonable concept of ownership that turned out to be a sham seems like his property was taken from him (not to mention his right to clean water); 3) a government supporting the interests of corporations over the health and well being of citizens is tyranny and about as wrong as it gets.
Yet only countries can wage wars. Individuals that do so are called terrorists. Indeed, Weibo has been called an eco-terrorist by some, which is the same language invoked by the Harper government to describe Canadians that oppose the Enbridge pipeline and other tar sands projects.
On January 24, Andrew Frank, until recently the Communications Director of ForestEthics blew the whistle on threats made by the Harper government in an open letter he wrote. Here’s an excerpt:

As I have detailed in a sworn affidavit, no less than three senior managers with TidesCanada and ForestEthics (a charitable project of Tides Canada), have informed me, as the Senior Communications Manager for ForestEthics, that Tides Canada CEO, Ross McMillan,was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office, that ForestEthics is considered an “Enemy of the Government of Canada,” and an “Enemy of the people of Canada.”

This language was apparently part of a threat by the Prime Minister’s Office to challenge the charitable status of Tides Canada if it did not agree to stop funding ForestEthics, specifically its work opposing oilsands expansion and construction of oilsands tanker/pipeline routes in Canada.

I can’t help but think of the Universal Declaration of Human Right that states: “Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”
In denying the democratic right to freedom of speech, our government is significantly limiting legitimate courses of action and opening the door to so called acts of terror and, yes, martyrdom. Weibo’s Way is not the answer- the rule of law is.

Have you ever had one of those days where your body just couldn’t keep up with your mind?  Today was one of those for me. You could say my body was running a steady 8 minute mile, while my mind was zooming at about a million miles an hour.  Here’s why.

This morning ultra ultra marathon runner and all round inspirational human* Ray Zahad called me up to tell me he was excited about my project. He wasn’t talking about the teeny tiny Edge to Edge marathon I am training for (still a formidable task for this little runner), but the idea I had for a relay race the length of the Proposed Enbridge Pipelines. Here’s an interactive map of the proposed pipeline route: http://pipeupagainstenbridge.ca/index.php/learn/map

Not only was he supportive, telling me it was doable (yes!), but he also wanted to meet and discuss the details- when he gets back from running across South America. I’m not kidding, he’s really going to run across the continent of South America (about 1700 km, no bigee) in the AndesRun (http://andesrun.com).

He already has many suuuuuuuper long runs to his name, including the 111 day non-stop run across the Sahara that was documented in the film Running the Sahara (produced by Matt Damon) (“I’m Matt Damon”). The best part is that he uses his running to raise awareness about important issues, like water and health or sanitation, that impact the areas he visits on his runs, AND he involves youth in learning about those issues as they run with him. Amazing.  (For more on Ray, check out: http://rayzahab.com/adventures/upcoming)

Quite frankly I was blown away to hear from him. I had heard him speak at a sustainability-oriented event here in Whistler in November. He was funny and captivating, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that his story had planted a seed in my subconscious imagination. It made me think about running in a new light; how running can be a vehicle for effecting change. Running as transformative action- it works on so many levels- the personal, the communal, the planetary.

So I wrote him an email explaining as much and thanking him for providing the seed for my brain child (Don’t worry, I didn’t quite phrase it like that!). It was one of those ‘message in a bottle’ emails, the kind that you toss out on the sea of possibilities without any real expectation that it will come back to you.  Well it came back, in a big way.

Now my brain child won’t give me a moment of rest and though my exhilaration is quickly turning to  exhaustion, I am still madly plotting its future (not unlike a real infant and hopeful parent).

The thing that is so wonderful is that it isn’t just Ray that is supportive. It’s virtually everyone to whom I’ve mentioned this idea. Husband, Running Buddy, Family, Friends and Colleagues, most are non-runners that instantly say “sign me up” or “how can I help?” then proceed to offer the most brilliant suggestions for making it a success. It’s just incredible.

Building a pipeline that will carry the world’s dirtiest oil, in the absence of a national energy strategy, in violation of First Nations’ rights and wishes, that threatens our climate, our water, our air, our communities, our economy, livelihoods, natural areas, biodiversity, endangered species and our reputation as a democratic nation that acts in the best interests of its own citizens not oil companies or the foreign oil markets they depend on is many wrongs rolled into one mega offense to Canada (and really Offense to the World). No wonder this is an issue that people care deeply about.

And it’s about even more. Despite the Joint Review Panel Community Hearings that are taking place across BC and Alberta, there is a general sentiment they are mere tokens. There is a sense of desperation that regardless of the public outcry, this proposal is as good as approved. Why?

Let’s look at the Review Panel. The official party line on the Review Panel states:

The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel will assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act.(http://gatewaypanel.review-examen.gc.ca/clf-nsi/nwsrls/2012/nwsrls01-eng.)

This sounds nice and impartial except that in actuality the panel consists of 3 individuals, none of whom reside in or represent BC. See a profile of each in this article in the Vancouver Observer.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/01/30/enbridges-northern-gateway-pipeline-joint-review-panel-explainer

And just 3?! I had more people evaluating me at my last job interview.

The strong stance of the Federal government in support of the tar sands and all of its attendant infrastructure projects is most troubling of all. The fact that anyone opposing that stance has been labeled a “radical” or “environmentalist” (oh the horrors, the horrors) shows how little Harper and his cronies care for true public dialogue and the democratic process.

If we as Canadians have no mechanism to change a system that panders to industry- industry that is hell bent on destroying our natural and social capital-what are we left with? The gripping realization that we have become a Petro State, “where the price of oil and the pace of freedom always moves in opposite directions” (Thomas Friedman, The First Law of Petropolitics. 2006).

Running is a pure expression of freedom. Let’s run to make our commitment to freedom be heard.

Who’s with me?

 

(* though perhaps something of a freak of nature for his endurance capabilities)

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