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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:


In a move as predictable as a victim falling prey to a villain in a slasher film, the Harper government has hacked apart the Environmental Review Process, tossing aside 50 years of environmental development and awareness as Suzuki points out:

Check out this CBC interview with David Suzuki:

Not only is the federal government reducing the number of departments and agencies that can do environmental reviews from 40 to just 3, it is dramatically shortening the review time to just 24 months.

So the Northern Gateway Review Process could conclude in May, a whole year and half earlier than initially scheduled.

It comes as no surprise as Harper is simply making good on his promise to China to approve the pipelines, “radicals” and “environmentalists” be damned. Apparently wanting clean air and water, sustainable land-based livelihoods, respect for the rule of law and First Nations territories and the ability to trust in our democratic institutions makes us “radicals.”

So a more precarious future awaits us. Meanwhile, Harper makes good on another promise he made: “You won’t recognize Canada when I get through with it.”


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. 



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:

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 (

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:

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.(

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.

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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