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On the Line

 An eco-adventure documentary like no other. Follow Frank Wolf and Todd McGowan on a 2,400 km journey by foot, bike, raft and kayak as they seek to uncover the truth about a proposed 5.5 billion dollar oil pipeline.
 
In honour of Earth Day yesterday, Whistler Watch, Whistler Earthsave and I teamed up to screen the documentary film On The Line. Cliff Jennings kindly offered his home as a venue, which was soon filled with people bearing delicious vegan dishes. On offer was lasagna, Mexican 3 layer dip, salads of kale and broccoli, pizza, and an assortment of dips. Dessert was an extravagant affair of chocolate (carob) chip cookies that I made, mini cupcakes, and a banana cream layer cake covered in fruit that well took the cake. Visit Earthsave’s website: http://earthsavewhistler.com/ for photos!
 
After feasting, we soon settled into the impromptu movie theatre to watch the film, shot by Frank Wolf about his journey across BC with his friend Todd McGowan, following the precise route proposed by Enbridge for the Northern Gateway pipeline. They trekked, biked and kayaked, and interviewed people along the way to get their perspectives on the pipeline. Not surprisingly, the few supporters of the project that they spoke to lived in Alberta, primarily those that worked in the oil patch. Many Albertans conveyed that oil and gas is so ingrained in their economy that another pipeline is no big deal. Others, conveyed that they wanted the tar sands development to slow down, at least until solutions are found for potential problems like leaks. BC residents interviewed largely expressed grave concern for their livelihoods (related to commercial fishing) if the pipeline were to ever leak. Many stated that the risks just weren’t worth the few economic gains that their community would accrue with a pipeline. 
 
The countryside that they hiked through, especially as they approached the Coast Mountains was as wild and pristine as it comes. They followed ancient moose trails and swam in crystal clear streams while ascending some steep terrain. Weather socked them in a few times on their trip- meaning there was little to no visibility- and it became apparent that running a pipeline through this area, let alone finding a leak and fixing it, would pose considerable challenges. A leak would certainly go unnoticed until it was affecting people quite a ways down stream, so the damage would already be done. 
 
To my surprise and delight, a tree planting buddy, Rebecca Reeves, was interviewed in the film!  She was the only Albertan they interviewed with a strong voice against the project- ya Reba!! Her parents have a farm that they will most likely sell because of the proximity to the tar sands development. 
 
At the end of the evening, Sara Jennings had us draw the Earth Day commitments we had written on a scrap piece of paper. I had written “Buy Less Stuff” and drew “Visit the David Suzuki website.” Very cool idea- thanks Sara!  
 
Hoping to screen this film again soon, to an even bigger audience. Any suggestions on an inexpensive venue?
 

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It’s been days and many musings since I last wrote. Lately, it feels like I’m being served up a huge buffet of tasks, with left overs that I just can’t seem to finish; blogging being one of the most lamentable. You’d think my hunger would’ve diminished by now, but I feel like taking action to find alternatives to the tar sands is feeding my soul. Here’s a bit of an update in case you haven’t heard the latest…   

For the past year and half, I have been following the tar sands developments with mounting concern. It began as a distant storm on the horizon of my consciousness that moved in quickly and grew to be a torrent of conviction. Conviction is when the mind and the heart agree upon the truth, and when there is a tsunami of conviction swirling in your gut it wants OUT real bad!! It simply became impossible for me NOT to do something, and that is when this blog was born. 

I began reading more about the impacts of an oil spill, not just on the land, but on our economy and communities. I started listening to TED talks, reporters and analysts all stating in nearly perfect unison that the tar sands are a disaster- literally the largest industrial complex in the world that is accelerating climate change, destroying the boreal forest and causing rising rates of cancer in neighbouring communities.  

It also became abundantly clear that our government has absolutely no intention of listening to the legitimate concerns being raised about the tar sands atrocity and pipeline projects like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and the one that Kinder Morgan is quietly trying to expand. It became crystal clear that I needed to do more.  

Conversations with thoughtful and compassionate friends helped to reveal my path. I would run across BC this summer, connecting with others to find alternatives to the tar sands. The campaign is called Band Together BC.

Piping and shipping crude from the tar sands threatens so many of our values as British Columbians- clean air and water, pristine ecosystems, vast wilderness and recreational areas, traditional livelihoods, First Nations’ culture and beliefs, tourism and land-based industries, even our democratic process- that many people are taking a stand against building pipelines and allowing oil supertankers to enter the inside passage.

But there are those that work directly and indirectly in the oil and gas industry and are understandably protective of their jobs. There are others that may not know much about the issues and are confused by conflicting reports in the media and statements provided by government spokespeople.

Regardless of my personal standpoint against expanding the tar sands, I think it is critical to hear and share other perspectives with the world. The tar sands is a project that has huge ramifications for all Canadians, therefore it is a conversation to which we should ALL contribute.

So this summer, I will run through the communities located along highway 16 (communities that will perhaps be the most directly impacted by the Northern Gateway pipeline) to capture perspectives via film and social media that will hopefully foster a dialogue (on the ground and virtually) on how we can transition from mining the dirtiest oil in the world to building an economy based on clean renewable energy. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I believe it begins with dialogue. 

Canada currently lacks a national energy strategy. The dearth is being filled by a get rich quick scheme that is stealing our future and pawning it to China (and other eager markets). We need a plan that leads us towards a clean energy future- one in which all of us- including our kids-can prosper.  I believe we all need to be part of creating that plan, to make sure that it truly serves EVERYONE’S needs. 

Together we can and must find ways of creating jobs and revenue that don’t rely on the wholesale destruction of our land and communities. 
 
There is much to be done. Fortunately, there are many passionate, unstoppable people that are doing everything they can to raise awareness and engage people on the tar sands issue. It’s been an affirming, heart expanding experience to connect with total strangers on an issue that is one of the most critical of our time. Everywhere I go, I find my tribe. And while sometimes my heart aches at the dark prospects and the terrifying trajectory we humans have set ourselves upon, I am joyously inspired by the people I’ve met and keep meeting that are envisioning a bright future and taking action to realize that dream. 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

  

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.”

 

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!

 

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)

It never failed. Whenever I was studying for a test, my Dad would ask me if I knew the definition of the subject. So there I would be madly cramming and stressing out about the intricacies of social contract theory or constructivism vs deconstructivism and my Dad would be like: “Do you know what politics even means?”

Um, not what I need right now, Dad.

But, I have to hand it to him; looking up the meaning of a subject provides contextual information that can come in pretty handy (and occasionally get you bonus points on exams!). So while I am all too familiar* with what a marathon is in theory- a whopping 42.195 km distance that you run, walk (or crawl)- I knew nothing of the origins of the word or history behind it until I looked it up. (Thanks Dad).

Allow me to share a little bit about this incredible tradition.

The modern Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., bringing news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the momentous message “Niki!” (“victory”), then collapsed and died, thereby setting a precedent for dramatic conclusions to the marathon. (Source: http://www.athensmarathon.com/marathon/history.html)

Here’s hoping that my own dramatic conclusion to the race isn’t death. Although being able to exclaim “Victory!” over Enbridge and the forces that want to bring oil tankers and pipelines into the Great Bear Rainforest-one of the most pristine places on earth would be amazing.

Sadly, it feels like a marathon, though a tremendous personal goal, is not newsworthy enough to gain the  the necessary publicity. I’m starting to think I need to run a longer distance, maybe 1177 km- the same length of the proposed Enbridge pipelines? This may be a bit ambitious for my little legs. But maybe it could be done as a relay race?  30 people each running 40 km across the province of BC? Enbridge sponsors “Ride to Conquer Cancer.” This could be a “Run to Conquer Enbridge.”

I wonder if there is anyone out there who would be willing to join me? Seriously.

*Since signing up for the marathon, I feel like the number 42.2 km has been burned into my cerebral cortex. Quite frankly, I’m just in awe of running that far. My brother Derek said he was driving the other day and measured the distance.  “That’s really far!” he exclaimed. “You’re like a super hero!” Which is just about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

Amazing documentary on the Great Bear Rainforest. Watch it here or come to Whistler and watch it tomorrow night (Jan. 23) at 7 pm at the Library. It’s free!

Since deciding to run the Edge to Edge marathon, I have been contemplating my motivation and real reasons for doing it. It seemed like a whim at the time I signed on, but I’m pretty sure it was cooked up by my sub-consciousness for some deeper purpose.

I’ve been thinking about intention-setting. Awhile ago, I stumbled across this amazing blog by Steve Pavlina called, “Personal Development for Smart People,” (because I’m good enough, smart enough and doggoneit, people like me”) that talked about intention-setting. I have a sneaking suspicion that Steve is of the self-help ilk, but I found some of what he had to say, well, helpful. Pavlina’s premise is that you have to be crystal clear about the polarity of energy behind your intentions. In other words, you must decide whether the outcome of your intention to meant to benefit yourself or to benefit the world around you. He makes a pretty good case for choosing one or the other explaining that the interconnectedness of all  beings means that benefitting the self will benefit the whole and vice versa. Interesting stuff. Check out: (www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2007/02/the-1-mistake-people-make-when-using-the-law-of-attraction)

So the question is: is this marathon about me working towards a personal goal or is there a way for this marathon to forward a cause that I really care about? Personally, I feel that intentions are stronger when they are directed outwards and goals easier to achieve when they are devoted to something bigger than myself.

For some time now, I have been following the developments of the oil sands expansion proposals submitted by Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and CNRail. I am deeply concerned with the prospect of any of these going forward, particularly the Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport bitumen from the Alberta tar sands across the vast province of BC exiting in Kitmat, the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The proposed Enbridge pipeline would cross some 1,000 streams and rivers, including sensitive salmon spawning habitat in the upper Fraser, Skeena, and Kitimat watersheds. Five important salmon rivers that would be impacted are the Stuart River, Morice River, Copper River, Kitimat River and Salmon River.

The likelihood of a spill is a near certainty; “The National Enery Board estimates large petroleum pipelines will experience a spill every 16 years for every 1000 kilometres in length.” [National Energy Board, Analysis of Ruptures and Trends on Major Canadian Pipeline Systems, 2004].
The consequences of tanker traffic in the Douglas Channel near Kitimat (disturbing marine life like humpback whales) let alone a spill at any point along the massive pipeline would be monumentally disastrous. It would be devastating for not just the environment, but for the First Nations and BC communities that rely on the integrity of the natural environment for the sake of their health and for their economic livelihoods. Wait- that’s virtually all of us.

The prospect of such a project and similar tar sands projects  being approved despite the tremendous outcry by First Nations and other BC communities has struck at my heart and I have been seeking out ways of supporting groups opposing it.

It occurred to me (on a run of course), that I could create a blog that would detail not only my running progress and epiphanies (of which there are many), but would also serve to raise awareness about this issue. And voila, kimnsrunningmonologue was formed. I am still trying to figure out how I can raise funds for protecting the Great Bear Rainforest, but I feel like this is a good first step. In the posts to come, I will write more about this issue and how it is progressing. Hopefully I will get some feedback from you good readers as to how I can raise funds and further increase awareness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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