Elphinstone

Today, there’s no time for quotes or poems…I’ve been weeping inside with pain, rage, and pain again…

woody coast

When I was a girl, my mom (a political and social activist herself) complained that I seemed to feel and care more for the natural world (trees, animals, insects, even stones) than for that of “men”.

That hasn’t change a bit. Yes, I work in the social services sector and I do care for people. But lately, the words “compassion” and “inclusion” have become hard to swallow: I’ve seen the evil in people, an evil that goes beyond any repair, an evil that sometimes looks like aloofness, ignorance, but more and more looks like an almost conscious choice of not to care, not to be involved, not to be accountable…

Those who follow my blog know that I’m all for meeting people where they are; I react against those who defend “choices” as if everyone had the same options: same circumstances, strength, age, status, health, skill or knowledge level, etc. They don’t: you cannot ask someone who is the sole breadwinner of a house, or an old overweight woman, or a chronically ill person to abandon their jobs and city life and run to the land to live off the grid. Period.  And that applies to many others: if nothing else, there is the real barrier of land availability and affordability, along with a wagon of other stuff too long to mention here: those who urge us to live in certain ways and ignore limits as if they were only in our mind don’t seem to see their own level of privilege and how they push people away with that language full of judgement.

Life knows I try to listen and understand, that even when all my soul and Mother Earth are calling me to leave all this and live in a different way, I have consciously chosen to stay in the city and among those who are not “there” yet and may never be until is too late: I’ve justified this choice to friends and others who have asked. “Look”, I tell them “someone has to stay behind, I may be able to be of more good here than leaving to live as a hippy in a faraway ecovillage or farm”. I justify pointing out how my ways and projects have slowly had an effect on co-workers and friends. I also justify it because when the issues become worse (and they will), cities will need armies of caring people who can show others how to live with less, how to travel without cars, how to grow food, how to make do without…

But I’m getting tired (and frustrated). Time is running short; I see things getting worse in spite of all the many wonderful movements, reactions and projects popping up all over the world. I’m getting older, and 80% of my time is spent in the “wrong” place, why? well, because this type of life requires me to earn a living!

But this past weekend something happened and is pushing my own beliefs on what’s compassion and how long we can put up with people’s aloofness, detachment and lack of responsibility.

There are places that become sacred to us. Sociologists call this “topophilia” or “love of place”. Some call it “falling in love with a place”…I have more than one “love” in my life, but one that has gone deep in my heart is the Sunshine Coast, and more specifically, the old growth forest at the Mt Elphinstone and the little town of Roberts Creek.

I have lost many places (and forests and trees) in my life: every time it was due to the greed or plain evil of a group of men (and women) who wouldn’t care less: as a child and after wandering and hopping from rented room to rented room, mom settled and I got to go to her then job’s kindergarten and out of school program. Mom worked as botanist drafter (drawing leaves, seeds and flowers) and the place was in the heart of a huge botany and agricultural research center in Buenos Aires, Argentina: instead of “Barbies” and swings, I had entire forests and flower fields as a playground…I lost all of that suddenly when I was 10 and the military took power of Argentina’s government. Besides becoming refugees and losing all the little we had, my main loss was not being able to even say goodbye to that place and my dearest trees…The place was later ransacked, cut and chopped into pieces for “development” and only a small portion of what it was a paradise now survives. Due to my self-imposed ban on flights, I haven’t been there since 1976, when I was forced to leave all behind.

Childhood forest
The forest of my childhood, now a sort of “park” deplete of its lower layer

In my now half-century long life, I have seen this story repeated too many times: pristine forests, majestic trees, entire ecosystems, all gone or reduced to sad man-made “parks” by the greedy, irresponsible, ignorant, evil people who can’t see beyond their today’s pockets.

I have marched and protested with signs, I have signed petitions, I have wrote letters…and what I see is more and more places go than those which (temporarily) get a respire…

178940_10151199083698898_550400497_n
October 2012, attending “Defend our Coast” in Victoria

And now is Mt Elphinstone: https://vimeo.com/rarities/elphinstoneblockade

And I find myself tied to this “choice” of staying behind, paying my debts (the illegitimate debt we all end up having as a result of living in a city as expensive as Vancouver) and being “responsible” with my family, clients and job…

and I wonder…

I wonder when will come a day when we can’t stand this sadness, this anguish, this rage for what’s being destroyed…

When we will “choose” to be irresponsible towards those we love, towards paying the bills, towards being a good worker…

Will be it when the last tree cries for help? When the last lake gets contaminated? Or when the last salmon fails to return? Maybe when the last piece of land is paved and polluted in the name of “development”?

But probably by that time, we will all be already dead inside.

Please inform yourself about the Elphinstone Park Expansion project here: https://www.ancientforestalliance.org/photos-sub.php?sID=7 , Check the Elphinstone Logging Focus: http://www.loggingfocus.org/  write a letter to the government “authorities”: http://www.loggingfocus.org/loggingfocus/elphinstone-blockade-090916-plus-arrests/ and, if you can and care enough, consider travelling to this place and be there to support this group.

If you live too far from this, I propose to you this: forget the TV, forget any “news” from faraway in the world where you can’t exert any control and don’t do anything but making you feel smaller; instead, start learning about what’s happening in your own background and make a point to support any protest to protect local water, forests or land…

Other things you can do:

  • Forget air travelling unless is really necessary: each time you use a plane, you are making someone or something sick and furthering the emissions that are already out of control: https://silviadiblasio.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/climate-change-is-a-crime-the-art-of-fooling-ourselves/ and http://www.carbonindependent.org/sources_aviation.html
  • Avoid eating meat, mostly industrially produced meat and dairy. The meat and dairy industries are one of the most responsible for not only emissions but forest cut, ecosystems and water destruction and pollution. That without even mentioning the horrendous violence against animals as they are not only killed for our “consumption” but also made live a miserable life: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/
  • Use public transportation, demand better transportation systems and avoid travelling/commuting as much as you can (I’m working on it). You DON’T need a car for everything you do, there are plenty of ways to reduce car use or avoid it altogether. Hybrids and electric cars don’t do it: they still have to be manufactured, require paved highways and maintenance infrastructure. Electricity is not “clean” if is made from coal, nuclear or by damming rivers and lakes destroying entire ecosystems.
  • Reduce waste from its source: avoid buying things altogether! Instead: upcycle, swap, make do without, repair, reuse, etc.: http://storyofstuff.org/ (check on movies and articles for inspiration and ideas)
  • Grow as much food as you can (balcony, containers, yard, community garden, friend’s backyard) or join a CSA and buy local, sustainable food (sustainable food is seasonal, local and organically grown. It does not have to be certified organic, just that you know who is growing it and what methods they use). Sustainable food is also produced by people who do not exploit other people by forcing them to “volunteer” and pay liveable wages…
  • Considering disconnecting yourself from all no-needed, invasive electronics and media: TV, telephone or cell phone, pads, etc. This is a difficult one as we are all “connected” 24/7 now, but if you change your lifestyle you’ll find these things are less and less “necessary” as they were 100 or even 50, or 30 years ago, when some of them not even existed.
  • Consider re-designing your livelihood and life-style so they both follow your values: if you need support with this, consider making an appointment with me through “Ethical Pathways” (Warning: the page is HEAVILY under construction)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s