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 I’m not the kind of person that goes looking for a fight or a cause. Yes, I am a principled person and have been called “hippie” “tree-hugger” and “environmentalist,” plenty, but I don’t make a point of attending rallies or protests. Yesterday, however, I made my way to Vancouver to stand with thousands of other people that believe the tar sands and pipelines are the wrong choice- now and for the future. Together we stood in solidarity and cried “shame” on our leaders that are choosing greed over good. We listened as thoughtful and passionate speakers, many of them First Nations’ Elders (and one quite well spoke 11 year old!), spoke of the travesty being visited upon the land, and the devastation being wrought in their communities. One Elder said he would never forget something he recalled hearing as a child; “Fish to us is like bread to the white man.” What happens when oil kills the fish or when it makes the fish so carcinogenic they kill the people? Another Elder spoke of the dysfunctional disconnection some humans have (namely the proponents of the pipelines) with the land and the water, but that our movement will protect their kids along with our own. “We are doing this for our children and for Kinder Morgan’s children, so that they may have a spiritual connection with the water.”

It was a moving event. Indescribably potent was the shared sense of purpose in trying to prevent a colossally unjust and brutal assault on the systems that give us life and on the people that have called this place home for thousands of years.

Woman Mourning the Planet

I saw an elderly woman dressed all in black with a black veil over her head. On her cane, she had attached a sign: “I mourn for the planet.” A little while later I met my friends, Jane and Hugh with their perfectly beautiful new baby Audrey. It was one of those piercing moments when the truth that has quietly awakened inside erupts and paints the whole world real. The innocent newly born generation has arrived in the wake of a killing spree and is charged with making the funeral arrangements.  I am an eternal optimist (what’s the point of being anything else?), but I have dark moments when I think thoughts like these. I have moments of feeling so ashamed of my species, so appalled at the greedy ones, angry at the apathetic ones, and terrified for the little ones that I sometimes think we deserve to kill ourselves off.

But I take comfort in knowing that change is constant and the future always unfolds unpredictably. I find hope  in the notion of transformation. That by changing ourselves we change the world around us. We are part of a vast system, intimately tied to the wellbeing of the planet and to one another. Sometimes the immense size and complexity of the system makes it feel like it’s impossible for one person to make a difference, but I think it is quite the opposite. We are all connected, therefore we necessarily all make a difference. Each and everyone of us is working in and on the system. We are all in fact incredibly powerful, it’s often just in ways that are unseen and misunderstood.

That was apparent yesterday.  You could hear the power in the enlightened words of the speakers. You could feel the hope billowing over the crowd, with everyone absorbing it. I know everyone will be taking that feeling with them and sharing it with the people in their lives, inspiring others to take action as well. That is how it will spread.

Ben West said; “If I were Enbridge, I would be shaking in my boots right now.” I couldn’t agree more.

“Running is the Simplest Way Forward…”.

That doesn’t make it the easiest. Not by a long shot. So many of life’s challenges have simple solutions that are incredibly difficult to execute. World hunger, poverty, and war for instance all have a very simple cure- sharing- but this simple practice, taught in kindergarden, for some reason has proven near impossible for our global society.

Hopefully, my plan to run across BC is more tenable. I know it will be, because I can take 100% full control over that decision. Sure I have some big “how the heck am I going to do that?!” questions to figure out, but it is totally happening.

For instance- I need a biodiesel van. I am putting that out there and I have a good feeling the Universe is going to deliver. Two friends have already offered their vehicles, one of which runs on waste veggie oil (Thanks Abma). I need something that I can sleep in (along with a crew) so I am being more specific with my need. I hope the Universe doesn’t find me nit picky. At any rate, I am trying to keep an open curious mind about the whole thing realizing that there isn’t a lot to figure out- just lace up my sneakers and go (and go  and go!). It really is the easiest way forward (thanks to the ever quotable Matt Hill for that gem of thought)

Another interesting moment happened a couple of days ago when I was talking in my apparently loud and animated way over the phone to my Dad. I was getting worked up about the tar sands and this nice woman walks over to me and passes me a note that says she’s a journalist and interested in what I’m up to. Turns out she is the EXACT right person I need to throw some questions at about developing a social media storytelling campaign. (although she might not know this yet).

She also asked a very important question that I am going to answer via video and post HERE very soon.

She asked me what MY personal connection is to the tar sands issue, which is the exact question I want to ask everyone I encounter on my run and am now asking you. Seriously- tell me your thoughts about expanding the tar sands and building a pipeline across BC.

Well I’ve been gone for 12 days which in blog-landia is probably equal to 23 years or something. I’ve come to realize that bloggers, like cats, adhere to a completely different concept of time. They also get notoriously perturbed when you disappear for awhile, so I realize I’ve probably alienated all of my 5 followers. Damn. If you’re still out there somewhere, I’m sorry. I’ll spare you the details of how life stuff upended my priorities-which should of course be 1. blog 2. run 3. work 4. eat. I promise to never leave you that long ever again. Would a Whiskers Tuna Temptation make everything better? Works for Mojo…

Anyway, the good news is that 1) I am writing this on my new computer and 2) I am not writing this from prison for the brutal murder of the UPS delivery guy that despite his job title didn’t seem that interested in delivering my computer.  

The other piece of somewhat interesting news is that I will be running the relay distance. Myself. This summer. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

This thought emerged in the wake of some mega doses of inspiration from Matt Hill-an energetic soul that ran around North America (11,000km!!) raising awareness about environmental issues and actions on behalf of his foundation Run for One Planet (as a side note, Matt’s also a celebrity voice actor, whose cherished cartoon characters included Tenderheart of the Care Bears and Rafael of the Teenage Ninja Turtles?!! How freakin cool is that?!). We talked about the relay idea and he asked me if I had considered doing the run myself and I was like: “um…huh…well…maybe.” And then it just hit me….what better way to meet people in the northern communities fighting the pipeline and to share their stories with the world? I will be armed with a POV camera and can have face to face interactions with the leaders that have inspired me in their stand against Enbridge. In return they can feel that they are not alone in standing up for what’s right.  

Matt told me to ask my body for permission on my long run that day and sure enough my body gave me the thumbs up. I can’t say that it was an enthusiastic thumbs up, but there was a willingness to give it a try.

Fast forward several other conversations with trusted friends and loved ones- and lo and behold I have support. So now all I need to do, is assemble an all star team of volunteer helpers, get myself a bio-diesel RV and run across the province. 1170 km is only 29.25 days of running 40 km /day. Less than a marathon a day. I can do this. Exhale! 

I’ve found that when something is hard to grasp in the mind, (as in it’s hard for me to wrap my head around running a marathon a day for a month), its helpful to ask the heart. So that is what I’ve done and my heart has offered a resounding “YES, let’s do this.” I simply cannot sit back and allow the atrocity that is tar sands expansion to take place without doing absolutely EVERYTHING in my power to stop it. Canada’s democracy is in shambles- Harper has already promised that the Enbridge proposal will be approved (before the public review process has concluded). Writing letters to officials just isn’t going to cut it. Audacious displays of courage are what is needed.

I have been so inspired by the words and actions of the many that are fighting this proposal. There is a massive ocean of resistance to tap for strength. I work with a woman that has declared that she is willing to go to jail to stop this proposal. She’s middled aged and has worked for government for most of her adult life. She certainly does not fit the profile of a radical, although Harper and Joe Oliver would disagree since apparently we are all radicals if we have concerns about a proposal that threatens life on this planet, now and for our children.

So I have begun to train harder. I will start running twice a day. And when my body tires, and doubts start to infiltrate my mind as I know they most likely will, I will consult my heart and push on.

All I need to do is recall the words of this man: Garth Lenz, a photographer who speaks movingly about the tar sands and the plans to expand their reach. 

The True Cost of Oil:

Watch it. Be moved. Take action. 

 

 

 

 

  

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