Sandra Finley

Sep 062019

. . .   spearheaded Sweden’s most feminist foreign policy . . .
The article – short – –  is copied below.  If you want the original, copy and paste the above URL into your browser.  /S)
  • Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the end of a summit, to address Palestinian UNWRA funding crisis, at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy March 15, 2018.

    Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the end of a summit, to address Palestinian UNWRA funding crisis, at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy March 15, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement. “It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.”

Swedish Foreign MInister Margot Wallstrom has announced Friday her intention to resign from her post in favor of spending more time with her family.


Wallstrom, who spearheaded Sweden’s most feminist foreign policy when she took office in 2014, has received praise for her work in the international community, especially at the United Nations.

The Social Democrat politician was also the United Nations Special Representative, dealing with sexual violence in conflicts and served two stints as a European Union commissioner, has been an unapologetic champion of human rights. She has also angered both Israel and Saudi Arabia during her time in office.

“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement. “It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.”

Wallstrom told Swedish radio she expected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to announce her successor on Tuesday when he makes his policy declaration as parliament resumes after summer break.

“It seems like an adequate point in time to also say who will succeed me,” she told the public broadcaster.

The government said Wallstrom had said she wanted to leave her post soon, but did not specify when she would go.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Stockholm after Sweden canceled a defense cooperation accord over human rights concerns. Wallstrom criticized as “medieval” the punishment of a liberal blogger by flogging.

Earlier that year, Wallstrom had to cancel a visit to Israel after the government’s recognition of a Palestinian state. Israel also withdrew its ambassador to Stockholm.

During Wallstrom’s tenure as foreign minister, Sweden has taken an increasingly active role in international peace initiatives, hosting ceasefire talks between Yemen’s warring parties in December last year.

Aug 312019

“DailyGood is a volunteer-run initiative that delivers “good news” to 245,044 subscribers.

Easy to sign up for their news feed; easy to unsubscribe.  When overloaded I unsubscribe for a spell.  I was grabbed by today’s . . .

Wendell Berry on Caretaking

“In 2018, Helena Norberg-Hodge sat down with Wendell Berry for a far-reaching discussion. The two are giants of the local economy movement. Berry is a poet and activist, an author of over forty books. Norberg-Hodge founded Local Futures, which works to renew ecological, social, and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift toward economic localization.Together they touch on human nature, technology, experiential knowledge, agriculture policy, happiness, wildness, and local food systems. Through their discussion, Berry and Norberg-Hodge offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.”

{ the full article is copied below}

Be The Change

For more inspiration, read Berry’s profound piece: What Are People For? { more }


Terry Evans, Earth Quilt, Central Kansas, #1 April 2017 40 x 40 inches

In 2018, Helena Norberg-Hodge sat down with Wendell Berry for a far-reaching discussion. The two are giants of the local economy movement. Berry is a poet and activist, an author of over forty booksincluding The Unsettling of America and Home Economics—and a lifelong advocate for ecological health, the beauty of rural life, and small-scale farming. He is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal. Norberg-Hodge founded Local Futures, which works to renew ecological, social, and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift toward economic localization. She also produced the film The Economics of Happiness and wrote the book Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh. She was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (or “Alternative Nobel Prize”) for her groundbreaking work in Ladakh.

Berry and Norberg-Hodge touch on human nature, technology, experiential knowledge, agriculture policy, happiness, wildness, and local food systems. These are topics on which both have commented widely over the years, but they have taken on a new urgency as of late. The urban/rural divide and colonization of people; mechanization and our globalized economy; democracy and our ties to the earth—these intersections seem as relevant as ever, yet are barely acknowledged by political leaders and thus barely covered by the media. Through their discussion, Berry and Norberg-Hodge offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.


HNH: Your words of wisdom are especially valuable today, when so many people are feeling desperate and depressed. Many are giving up on humankind. They say things like, “Human beings are just ignorant, stupid, and greedy, and we deserve to extinguish ourselves.”

WB: That seems to me to be a cheap way out. I think that there’s some merit to be found among us, and some merit to be found in our history. There’s a lot of bad in it, no question about that, but the interesting thing is to try to solve the problem, not escape it.

HNH: It’s also important to realize that the real problem is not human nature, but what I think of as an inhuman system. One of the biggest problems we’re facing is that the system has become so big that we can’t see what we’re doing and what we’re contributing to. Our economic system is of such an inhuman scale that it has become like a giant machine—a global juggernaut that’s pushing us all into fear and a terrible sense of scarcity.

WB: What one has to say to begin with is that, as humans, we are limited in intelligence and we really have no reliable foresight. So none of us will come up with answers to the whole great problem. What we can do is judge our behavior, our history, and our present situation by a better standard than “efficiency” or “profit,” or those measures that we’re still using to determine economic decisions. The standard that I always come back to is the health of the world, which is the same as our own personal health. We can’t distinguish our health from the health of everything else. And we know enough from the ecologists now to know that health is a very complex and un-understandable complexity of relationships that makes the world whole.

HNH: Rather than those economic measures you referred to, the goal needs to be human and ecological well-being. And when people are more dependent on the living community around them—both the human and the nonhuman—then it becomes obvious that their well-being is connected to the well-being of the other.

WB: It seems to me that it all depends upon our ability to accept limits. And the present economic system doesn’t even acknowledge limits. It is “develop[ing] resources”—which is to say, turning resources into riches (which is to say, money)—which leads almost inevitably to destruction. Money is an abstraction. Goods are particular, and always available within limits— natural limits, and the rightful limits of our consumption.

It’s also important to realize that the real problem is not human nature, but what I think of as an inhuman system.

HNH: And in order for us to see those limits, we need a more human-scale, localized economy.

WB: It would mean even more if we said a community economy, and we meant by economy the original sense of “household management” or “housekeeping.” That would imply taking the best possible care of the life supports of, first, the household economy, then the neighborhood economy, then the community economy. And we can go on from there on the principle of community, if we take it in the sense of “what we all have in common,” and an obligation to take care of all of it. But it will only be manageable locally, and within limits—the limits, among other things, of our own intelligence and our own capacity to act responsibly.

HNH: What I’ve seen in ancient traditional cultures is that even the language reminded people that their experiential knowledge was really the only reliable knowledge. One of the great tragedies has been this shift toward trusting secondhand knowledge more than we trust experiential knowledge, and in fact denigrating experiential knowledge as anecdotal and worthless. And of course, this has been reinforced by numerical, and very reductionist, modern science.

WB: I think what you’re applying there is simply the fundamental rule of all the human disciplines. And that rule is that you have to know what you’re talking about. You have to come with evidence. And this applies across the board, from the court of law to the laboratory of the scientist.

HNH: But of course now we have science and knowledge for profit, which can lead to very shoddy proof. The impact of these new discoveries has the potential to affect all life on Earth—for instance, genetic manipulation.

WB: The issue there again, it seems to me, is the acceptance of a limit. Science that accepts limits would do no harm to an ecosystem or a human body. This is very different from the kind of science that too frequently turns out to be product development, without control of its application. The nuclear scientists who developed the atomic bomb are a very good example. But so are chemists who develop toxic substances for a limited use that they have in mind, but then turn it loose on the market and into the world. So you develop a chemical to control weeds in crops, and you ask only the question of whether or not the weeds are controlled; you don’t ask what happens when it runs off into the rivers.

HNH: This is why there has to be the precautionary principle, as Rachel Carson reminded us. But the only entities really capable of enforcing the precautionary principle are governments—and trade treaties and the globalizing economy have given giant multinational companies more and more power over governments. We’ve seen these last thirty years the enormous damage that this power shift created. And then with the financial breakdown in 2008, it was so clear that we needed regulation; but it didn’t happen.

WB: The global economy is almost by definition not subject to regulation. And this simply means that corporations can pursue economic advantage without limit, wherever in the world those advantages are to be found. And as I’ve thought of it in the last several years, it has seemed to me that we’ve had a global economy for about five hundred years—ever since the time of Columbus. And this allowed us to think that if we don’t have some necessity of life here, we can get it from somewhere else. This is the most damaging idea that we’ve ever had. It’s still with us, still current, and it still excuses local plunder and theft and enslavement. It’s an extreme fantasy or unreality, the idea that if we don’t have it here, we can get it somewhere else—if we use it up here, we can get it somewhere else. It’s the stuff of fantasy.

HNH: What’s very frightening is that from the centers of power in the corporate world there’s a recognition that globalization is not working, and that a shift from global to local is needed—but what they’re talking about is the opposite of what you and I talk about. It’s about giant multinationals using robots to make washing machines in America instead of producing them in China.

WB: This makes all the world a colony.

HNH: Yes.

WB: I’m a rural American, and moreover a Kentuckian. I live in a state that has been a colony all my life, and probably ever since the Civil War, at least. We’re a coal-producing state. Some of our counties are the richest in the world in their natural endowment, and the result of that is that they now have land that is virtually destroyed and some of the poorest people. This is the result of a limitless economy. And the only recourse that we have is to try to understand what we have here that’s worth our keeping, and then to discover ways to keep it — and that is to say that we have to have recourse to this movement toward local economies. We should fulfill our needs and export the surplus. We should never export the necessities of our own lives.

HNH: You also mentioned what might be called a “movement” toward local economies. Are you a bit resistant to using that notion, of a movement?

WB: The word “movement”? Yes, I wrote an essay once called “In Distrust of Movements.” My quarrel with “movements,” and the reason I use it in quotation marks, so to speak, is that they tend to be specialized. For example, there’s a movement now about climate change, and it has become extremely specialized, while the actual solution to a problem like that is to have an economy that takes care of everything—an inclusive economy, not just an economy of moneymaking. And so I’m always a little anxious about movements. They turn into fads, in a way, and then they peter out because they’re too specialized.

HNH: Exactly. And it’s so frightening that the climate movement has become specialized to the point of being destructive, particularly when you have talk of market-based “solutions” like carbon trading and carbon offsets. So my plea is for what I call “big-picture activism,” to support a shift from global to local. When we see the multiple benefits of localizing, it becomes clear that it’s not about specialization: it’s about adaptation to diversity. I often say that localism is “the -ism that could end all -isms,” because it has to entail this adaptation to diversity. This is the opposite of a movement that wants to impose a standard solution or a standard anything. Any kind of monoculture is deadly.

WB: That’s right. Localism would cease to be an -ism just as soon as the local people went to work locally. One of the things that’s wrong with these great movements is that they’re not telling people to go home and go to work in good ways to improve things. They’re movements to bring pressure on political leaders. And to that extent it’s something of a distraction from the real problems, which are all local.

Terry Evans, Another Indiana Prairie, January 2018, 38 x 48 inches

HNH: Here is a point where you and I might differ, because I believe that we need both “resistance” and “renewal” simultaneously. What I mean by “resistance” is, first of all, linking together locally to resist the advances of the top-down global monoculture in all its destructive forms. But it also means linking up with other groups around the country, and even around the world, to push for a kind of democracy where people have a choice. So, in that sense, I do believe that at the same time that we start the work at home, we can also raise our voices to have a unified call to come back home.

WB: You’re really asking me, Helena, whether in addition to my insistence on the importance of the local context and local work, I believe in policy changes. And the answer is, of course I do. And I have done a good bit of that work. Wes Jackson and his people at the Land Institute produced a farm policy called the 50-Year Farm Bill, and what that proposes, essentially, is to convert our agriculture from an 80 percent dependence on annual crops and a 20 percent dependence on perennials to the opposite—an 80 percent dependence on perennials and a 20 percent dependence on annuals. And that change, which would be a policy change, would cure a lot of problems, including to a considerable extent the problem of global warming. That’s a policy, and it’s general, to the extent that it would be a policy that would be in force nationally. However, if it was done rightly, it would have to be applied in different ways in different places. And that would call for a high degree of local knowledge and local intelligence.

HNH: And this knowledge grows out of close relationships to the land, which have been maintained over generations. The deep connections indigenous peoples have with the earth and with others in their communities have come about through daily economic interactions—weaving a fabric of interdependence from which the individual cannot be separated. This generates a deep love for land, for community, and for oneself. And these are the connections that have come under attack from a technoeconomic system that is founded on distance and robotization. Already now, robots are looking after old people, robots are acting as surrogate children . . .

WB: If you love somebody, you need to have ways to enact your love. And that would be in caretaking for the children and the old people. The putting-on of hands. That’s the only way we can do it. We can’t enact our love by hiring a robot to do it. And the same goes for the world. If we let machinery, whether it’s a robot or not, intervene to too great an extent between us and the farmland or the forestland that we’re using, we begin to destroy it. We begin to destroy what economists would call the “resource.” And finally, this has a very practical economic effect. One effect, of course, is disease.

HNH: Exactly. And now the next step is to move into a world of not just robots but 3D printing, driverless cars (which, again, of course are robots). . . . It’s very frightening that people are so locked into the man-made world. And they would tell us, Wendell, that we’re not being realistic. For them, the real world is this commercial, man-made world, which they believe can become utopia.

WB: It’s a strange utopia that depends on people being absolutely passive. And this again, it seems to me, has to do with addiction. Addiction is manifested by much more than dependence on a drug. Our children are dying from drug addiction here in rural America, in my little corner of it. But while the addiction to drugs is receiving some attention, young people are also addicted to computers—it is exactly an addiction, and nobody is concerned about that. Again, that addiction removes the person physically from the life of the world. So it does seem to me to be deathly, suicidal, and absolutely ruinous.

HNH: Did you know that there are also, in some places, clinics where they take screen-addicted youth? I don’t know if they have them in America, but they have them in South Korea.

WB: That’s very profitable of course, and that means that this really helps economic growth. If you can make money by selling an addictive device and then make money by curing people of their addiction—that’s a great business plan.

HNH: Just like lots of cancer and chemotherapy are nicely adding to GDP.

WB: Yes, that’s right. It all depends on unhappiness, sickness, ill health, and the rest of it. Ugliness.

HNH: But isn’t it remarkable that so few environmentalists are joining us to just laugh at the notion of GDP? Once it’s understood that GDP increases with breakdown, it seems we all should be linking hands to demand a fundamental shift in the economy.

WB: One of the roots of the problem is the focus of environmentalists. The conservation movement, for one hundred years, has, at least in this country, focused on wilderness preservation—places of spectacular rocks and waterfalls—at the expense of what I would call the “economic landscapes” of farming, forestry, and mining. The politicians have kept the environmental movement quiet by designating wilderness areas. And in the meantime, they’ve let corporations run completely out of control, and extraordinarily destructively, in the economic landscapes, without any acknowledgement at all that the natural world is out there just the same as it is in the parks.

HNH: At the same time, what I find so inspiring is that, in the localization movement, communities around the world are rebuilding truly healthy economies by diversifying. Those are like little diamonds in the landscape, aren’t they, of beauty and joy.

WB: Those are the examples we need to study and look to. And always that localization depends on a revival of the neighborhood principle. People can only do this if they help each other, and accounts come in my mail of how farmers, for instance, have scaled back, diversified, and increased the number of people who are employed on the land. This, it seems to me, is the incontrovertible answer to these people who say, “We need to give up on human nature and, as a favor to Nature, commit suicide.”

HNH: Another important point is that small, diversified farms always produce more per unit of land, water, and energy than large monocultures. So we have to turn this lie around that there are too many people now to localize, too many people to have small farms. It’s exactly the opposite.

WB: Small farms make economic sense. They also produce more happiness, more beauty, more health—those things that aren’t so quantifiable.

HNH: . . . And more thriving opportunities for wildness within the farm. To change subjects a bit, what do you say when people ask you as an American what you think about Donald Trump and the people who voted for Trump?

WB: Well, there’s far too much generalization now about rural America. Conservatives and corporations have had their eye on rural America all along. And they’ve been turning it into money as fast as they can, which is to say destroying the land and the people. The liberals and the Democrats have discovered rural America now — a place about as foreign to them as it was to Columbus. They don’t know anything about it, and they’ve been condemning it out of hand as if everybody out here in rural America is a racist, sexist, backward, ignorant person. And this isn’t true. The problem is that rural America has been a colony, certainly throughout my lifetime. I don’t think anybody’s paid attention to rural America since about 1945 or ’50. Certainly not since 1952, when Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture said to the farmers: “Get big or get out.” They’ve just abandoned rural America to corporations and technologies. And now, if they would only look out here and try to learn what’s here and the really terrible predicament we’re in, they might be able to construct a policy platform that would be meaningful and would give people a real choice. People voted for Trump not because they liked him but because they saw no hope. They didn’t feel that they could count on the other side. A minister friend of mine wrote me to say that the Trump voters’ grandfathers were priced out of farming. Their parents experienced a generation of union-supported good wages. And they—the grandchildren—don’t have anything to depend on or look forward to. And that’s a bad situation for people to be in, and to expect an enlightened choice from people in that kind of trouble may be asking too much.

HNH: Especially when there is no enlightened offer.

WB: If there was an enlightened alternative, the scene would be different. But I don’t think any presidential candidate has a clue about the existence of rural America, much less the problems that it has.

HNH: Genuine local economies connected to the land have been systematically destroyed in the name of progress and efficiency, and we are now at a point where more than half of the global population has been urbanized. But we do have an opportunity to say in a loud voice, “Let’s push the pause button on this juggernaut that’s pulling people away from real livelihoods, and then start a journey back to the land.” Not everyone has to live on the land, but we need cities that have a relationship with the land around them and that have some breathing space within them so that we regain that contact with nature and with the real source of our livelihoods — with the real economy.

WB: We need people on the land who are capable of acting as a sort of lobby—to defend it, but also to use it well. The terrible humanitarian problems we’re witnessing worldwide have come about because a depreciation of the humanity of great swaths of people has been necessary to their exploitation, to their use as colonies. If you’re going to steal from somebody, you need to convince

yourself that they’re inferior, and then you have to convince them that they’re inferior. I’ve heard too many farmers in meetings who start to speak by saying, “I’m just a farmer and I don’t know much.” They’ve been told that, and it’s false, and it’s a tragedy.

HNH: This is so frightening because throughout the world, in places like China, India, and most of Africa, farmers are being told that rural life and they themselves are backward and primitive, and that if they want to be respected they’ve got to move into the city. And by the millions, they’re pouring into the cities, whether in their own country or in another country, where they’re trying to get a job—but the jobs are not available. And the results include angry reactions that in many cases translate into local ethnic friction, and then into an anger and hatred against the West; even into terrorism. These deepening ideological divides and today’s antagonistic left/right political theater serve to divide us and distract us from the bigger picture of an economic system that is threatening what we all care about: healthy communities and a healthy world.

I’ve heard too many farmers saying, “I’m just a farmer and I don’t know much.” They’ve been told that, and it’s false, and it’s a tragedy.

WB: I think you and I are seeing things from a kind of agrarianism. This has nothing to do with the left and the right. This simply says that the land—the given world—is of ultimate value, and that the caretaking of it is a matter of paramount importance. To argue from those two points puts you outside the current political dialogue. We just have to accept that. But there are more and more people who do understand that. The county governments and city governments are coming to understand that. I don’t think, in America, state governments and the national government can understand it at all. But my county judge would understand our conversation perfectly. The governor of the state would think we were speaking a foreign language.

HNH: Isn’t that so interesting? It’s a pattern that is quite logical, because at the level of the local council the leaders are responding to the realities on the ground: what people need and what the land needs. But when you go up to that higher level, they’re off in their own utopian make-believe world of numbers and statistics. Nevertheless, as you say, there is a waking up—I see awareness trickling upward, and it’s very encouraging—particularly when we know how pressured people have been, and how suppressed. Media, government, funding—it’s not been there to support this agrarian movement and this new farmers’ movement.

WB: But as it trickles up, we just have to make sure that it trickles up from things that actually work: from real knowledge down here at the bottom.

HNH: What we do in our organization [Local Futures] is to encourage people to really understand this global technoeconomic monoculture so that they can be much more strategic as they start these projects. On a policy level, we campaign for a shift in direction to support diversified local and regional economies and for the development of technologies and infrastructure,

which could be useful for those smaller systems. There’s still such a scope, isn’t there, for genuinely appropriate technologies?

WB: Value-adding industries to the products of the land don’t have to be as big as an airplane factory. We now have a very good small slaughter facility, here in our county, again. And this opens up lots of opportunities. My daughter is trying to set up a beef co-op here to market for the farmers—in their interests. And it would be then processed here. Otherwise, it goes out of the community without adding much to the benefit of the community. If our trees leave this community, as raw logs or rough lumber, the community doesn’t benefit much.

HNH: Also, in industrial society the system has driven up the price of human labor and artificially lowered the price of energy and technology, and through that encouraged every single enterprise to use more energy and technology—supporting a system based on speculation in which countries routinely import and export the same products—while throwing more people on the rubbish heap. And if that could be shifted, we would have a completely different economy; we would have a completely different world. The local food movement is demonstrating what can happen when you shorten distances: you encourage a shift from monoculture to diversification on the land; you reduce the energy consumption, the packaging, the refrigeration, and the waste; you provide healthier food at a reasonable price; and you have healthier, more prosperous farming communities.

WB: I was born into a way of farming that used solar energy. And I haven’t forgotten it. We had these solar converters called mules, and human beings, and that’s the way we got the work done.

HNH: Wendell, remind me again how old you are . . .

WB: Well, sometimes, Helena, I think I’m only about twenty. But I’m eighty-four.

HNH: Well, you sound like twenty, and I know you’re strong and healthy like twenty.

WB: I’m not as strong and durable as I used to be by a long way, I can tell you that. I’m perfectly natural.

HNH: Perfectly natural. O


Read more by Wendell Berry.

Wendell Berry lives and works with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky. An essayist, novelist, and poet, he is the author of more than forty books.Helena Norberg-Hodge is founder and director of the nonprofit Local Futures. Her book Ancient Futures has been translated into more than forty languages.


  1. Mr. Wendell Berry, Ms. Norberg-Hodge, well said, and important to hear. My work has been to try to tell as many people as possible that we are under the influence of a deadly, infectious Disease, this disease is called “GREED and the LUST for POWER.” Until, and if, a cure can be found, do what we will, nothing will ever change. It will be business as usual, until the last drop of oil is pumped out, the last cubic meter of gas, the last ounces of gold and copper mined, the last fish in the sea netted, and the last dollar removed from the poor man/woman’s pocket, Greed will continue until in the end it will consume its self, but by then the planet will be a dead, barren rock floating lifelessly around the sun.. During the children’s climate march this Friday, one child held a sign that said: “Soon, all we will have left to eat will be the rich!”I can only hope that these wonderful, brave children keep the pressure on our so-called leaders. I am also calling for a World Wide cleanup, to be paid for by all the major polluters. I am a 73 year newbie on computers, and have a lot to learn, I got it as I went deaf and this is a nice way to communicate. We live very simply, 35 years without a T.V., no microwave oven, washer dryer, water heater,(Wood stove is water heated) humanure outhouse, land line phone, even use a rotary dial during power failures,it is also handy for getting right to a human at Gov’t and business offices as they cannot play the Press 1, Press 2, press 3 and hold forever…..We don’t farm any more, but we did for years raise goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, We miss the animals. Well, I have had my say, any comments appreciated…..Orion magazine-I have been a supporter for years now, because I love your work. We also subscribe to Acres Mag.


  3. Nail on the head! There are examples in Sri Lanka of systems that have survived over the centuries — forest gardens — that have 161 food crops, there is no “hidden hunger” (missing nutrients), and the farmers have been able to adjust to climate change. These gardens are based upon a continual care of the land for more than a thousand years. Then here in SW Virginia, we’re creating agendas at the grassroots and then asking the agencies, politicians, experts at the land grant universities, etc., how they can assist in meeting what is required to move the agendas along. We start with our experts, the farmers, the distributors, and the buyers. There is a demand for grass fed beef? We’re on it and we do a forage management study. If we “bank our grass,” fence part of it off in July, then with as little snow as we’re receiving, cattle graze year round. With the dried hay, farmers purchase corn gluten to supplement the dried hay. The gluten is 24% protein and 70% energy. The banked grass? Twenty-four percent protein and 70% energy. Reduce labor, reduce haying, reduce herd size, and increase profits. Wendell and Helen are right, there are answers on the ground. It’s step by step, we must think in terms of symbiosis. Hi Wendell and Helena!

  4. What a fertile, holistic discussion! Thank you. I have boundless admiration for each person’s work. Wendell’s The Unsettling of America inspired me in the 1980s to pursue and report on alternative economies and small, sustainable industries. The book version of the PBS documentary Affluenza – of which I am a co-author, was partly fueled by Wendell’s ideas about the true economy which lies beneath the so-called bottom line.
    Helena’s work in Ladakh was a testimonial to the tsunami-effect that occurs when media sensationalize the “goods” life. Tradition, craft and place-specific knowledge are swept away in favor of addictive symbols like cell phones and cigarettes. I used her Ancient Futures documentary in a few college courses I taught, with a great, empathetic response from students.

    For twenty-two years, I’ve lived in a 27-household, cooperative neighborhood in Golden, Colorado (based on the Danish model of Cohousing). I wholeheartedly agree with the themes of localism discussed in the article. Our neighborhood shares common land and its maintenance; and importantly, an interest in each other’s well-being. I’m the neighborhood fruit and vegetable grower and I gratefully harvest far more than produce. The community, the garden, and my ability to meet needs within walking distance makes localism a vivid reality for me. I believe that a workable, durable economy can best be created by a more careful look at human needs.

    Living sustainably is the opposite of sacrifice if the sense of mission, the attention to health, and the space for creativity delivers more human energy and less stress than the mainstream lifestyle sometimes called a “Dream.” If meaningful work and worthwhile pastimes make you happy, who needs all the consumer garbage? (Really, does all that stuff symbolize success or failure?) I think a person can either choose passions or addictions as stepping stones. If the overall goal is connection – with other people and with nature – passions like cooking, playing music, or hiking in wild areas can get you there; but addictions to junk food, shopping, or the web will usually leave you feeling like a hunk of leftover meat loaf.

  5. I’ve several used books of Wendell Berry from our local library sales and he has vision of and like those early and great conservationist John Muir and Walden. Your Orion Magazine featured on Living On Earth on NPR is now a new avenue for “rural living fight back” against stupid and selfish profit/productivity freaksand corporations. The new Frankenstein of our Digital Evolutionary time.
    I grew up on a small fruit/vegetable farm and saw my Grandfather and Father change to the trades when blacksmithing and horsepower was surpassed by gasoline cars, cement, and particle board lumber changed the trades.

    I experienced hiring a typist for my college papers to typing my own social work notes on providing services to the disabled for over 20 years after teaching Industrial Arts and drafting houses and machine parts with a T square and using a slide rule for computations in algebra and geometry.

    Reading the thoughts of these two great economic thinkers Helena Norberg-Hodge gives me hope as did Barack Obama and Michelle. Being civil and thoughtful is a skill that must be emphasized so that creativity and effort for community rather than privilege and domination.
    Thanks for being on the radio( my soul listening media) and still free and available to educate while I work around the home and field/forest that occupy my retirement years now.

  6. I love most of what they both said, but one thing seems to be missing, one critical thing. Capitalism is a system of exploitation based mainly on the land exploit. Land is our habitat as humans, and shelter and a place to live are basic needs. Capitalism makes the land too expensive for most people. It end up being the main driver of wage slavery. I am a carpenter to the very rich in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, for instance, and i work all the time in toxic and dangerous environments and my body has been harmed forever by this full time work (sometimes 60 hours a week, even) and yet even at this rate of hard unsustainable work, i cannot afford to buy a small bit of land in this very place where i work for the super rich. Please see Michael Perelman’s book “The Invention of Capitalism” for many sources from the formation time of capitalism about this particular critical relationship between land and the exploitation of the not-rich for labor by the rich. It’s critical to understand this to see the totality of the problem and the dispossession from the land of the majority of people by capitalism. We have here in Berkshire County some of the “Giants of Finance” who come and buy up hundreds of acres and put most of it in “conservation” which actually means it’s locked up virtually forever and people like me cannot afford land and get priced out of the market and end up dying landless. It’s a real tragedy and hurts the land and the people so these rich people can have “glorious estates” in the Berkshires, ego-spreads with orangeries and servants like the aristocracy of old, and yet the very people working to build these pleasuredromes paid by the ill-gotten gains from shell games on Wall Street cannot afford to have a few acres and a homestead with gardens and chickens and a woodshop.

  7. Sage, I think you put your finger on a very key point, and I’m in the same position as you are, though a white collar worker in the NYC area. But at the same time I’m grateful for those conservation areas that have been preserved (especially on Long Island) because they are the closest thing to wilderness I get to enjoy. I don’t think those preserved lands are the problem. Surely we would want both – swaths of parks and preserved areas for everyone’s enjoyment, PLUS the ability for all to own a bit of land or home.

  8. There is ample evidence that it is already too late to prevent near-term extinction of most life on earth. There is also ample evidence that global humanity is pursuing environmental degradation with increasing intensity. Localization has zero chance of saving us, so we need another reason to pursue it. I am pursuing it because it makes economic sense and is simply the morally right and rational approach. Thank you both for making that so crystal clear. Localization is what I want to be doing when the lights go out, and they will go out very soon.

  9. Excellent rapport between these two giants of the cause for wellness! Yeah, those of us awakened see the cause as the unnamed, i.e., neoliberal capitalism. The solution in a word is to “drawback”. Of course, throughout all of this desecration of the natural world, one must look at rapid urbanization as a cause within, or as already stated, the unquestioned, unregulated economic paradigm. It cannot be humanized.

    Yup, The Universe spent 13.75 billion years just to create consumers. hahaha

    The issue with the science telling us we are done or it’s all over for life, is that in order for science to study anything, it must separate the ditty from its component parts. That’s the reductionism. ‘Cept, life does not work that way. It’s all interrelated, all intertwined and it’s all *SACRED*!

Aug 282019

NOTE:  The CIB (Canada Infrastructure Bank) in contrast to the Bank of Canada (BofC), see Banksters: Index.




Canada’s biggest public sector union calls the public-private scheme risky and expensive

August 6, 2019

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is looking to pressure cash-strapped municipalities into using Public-Private Partnerships to refurbish or replace water and sewage facilities, says a new report by CUPE.

The CIB recently pledged a $20 million investment as seed money to “attract private capital expertise” to the restoration of water and waste water service in Mapleton.

The Liberal government’s press release claims the partnership “demonstrates how the CIB can enable the public and private sectors to improve infrastructure delivery in Canada and help the Township of Mapleton continue to provide households and businesses access to clean drinking water using modern infrastructure.”

François-Philippe Champagne, federal minister for Infrastructure and Communities, is quoted calling the public-private plan a “new model” for cash-strapped cities.

But in a critical report, Canada’s biggest public sector union warns deals like the one in Mapleton actually “lock municipalities into inflexible and expensive contracts.”

“We’re very concerned this could be the start of a bigger push to privatize Canadian water and wastewater services,” CUPE president Mark Hancock told PressProgress.

“The risks include poor performance, which we’ve seen internationally and right here at home,” Hancock said, adding “cash-strapped local governments might feel like they have no other option.”

Hancock noted the City of Hamilton, Ontario took back control over its water and wastewater system in 2004 after private providers oversaw drastic job cuts and massive raw sewage leaks for more than a decade.

In one case, in January 1996, a record 182 million liters of untreated human waste, heavy metals and various chemicals poured into Hamilton Harbour and then into Lake Ontario. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists notes the city put the blame on negligent private operators. McMaster University professors Frank Ohemeng and John K. Grant called it an example of the market’s “failure” to deliver essential services.

CUPE further noted, while P3s may ensure investors’ returns, that money doesn’t fall from the sky. “The local government has to pay those profits, which can get passed on to residents through higher taxes or user fees,” Hancock explained.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau previously refused to rule out using such fees to pay back investors.

Although the Federal Infrastructure Minister claims P3s transfers risk from the public, Hancock says that’s not true: “If a private operator fails, or backs out of a project, the municipality must pick up the pieces and keep delivering the service.”

Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, says private interests have tended to put only 15% equity at risk, with the rest being bonds that remain with the project.

Aug 282019

New owners of Revelstoke water bottling plant shipping water to Vancouver facility while they re-build plant


Marke Antonsen

The new owners of the Revelstoke water bottling plant are selling their product in the United States and in town.

Revelstoke Artesian Spring Water can bought at the Esso gas station and Big Eddy Market, said Marke Antonsen, who purchased the plant along with several other investors earlier this year.

It is also being sold in the United States, and Antonsen said they hope to sell bottles in China in the foreseeable future.

The water bottling plant is located off the Trans-Canada Highway, about 50 kilometres east of Revelstoke. It’s been closed since September 2009 and fell into disrepair when the building collapsed under a heavy snow load in March 2012.

“We cleaned it all up, it took $30,000 to $40,000 worth of dump fees to get rid of all of it,” said Antonsen.

While work goes on to re-build the plant, the owners are pumping the water into tanker trucks and transporting it to Vancouver, where it’s bottled. As of last week, five truckloads of 43,000 litres each made the trip, said Antonsen.

The plant comes with a license to withdraw about 1.2 million litres of water per year from 10 springs near the Illecillewaet River.

Antonsen dropped by the Review office with a case of 500 ml plastic bottles last Monday, Oct. 17. He said the bottles are a short-term measure until they purchase their own packaging equipment for the plant.

“We’re going to do bag-in-a-box, and we’re looking at TetraPak,” he said. “The plan is not to bottle there, it’s strictly environmentally-friendly packaging material. That’s the plan.”

He said he’ll be traveling to Pack Expo International in Chicago next month to make a final determination on what packaging equipment to buy.

Once that’s done, they’ll be going into the site in the spring to rebuild the plant and install the equipment.

The water boasts a pH of 8, which some say is better for you, though there is debate about the merits of what is called high alkaline water.

The water currently wholesales for $0.50 per bottle, Antonsen said.

Aug 252019

Return to INDEX

In regard to the “Strathcona Resolution”  to stop the export of groundwater from B.C.

(NOTE:  Links to More history on Water Export is under HISTORY in the INDEX)

As at August 2019:

  • Ontario exports groundwater but is currently under a moratorium, triggered by drought and citizen opposition.
  • Newfoundland did have a moratorium, maybe still does?  – – in 1999, there was to have been bulk export of water from Gisborne Lake, Nfld.  A pipe would run to a proposed tanker terminal on the Atlantic coast.  Public opposition, negotiations with the Federal Govt and a deal NOT to export the water was signed.

I happened to have attended a seminar for entrepreneurs by the Federal Govt, in the middle 1990’s.  The seminar leaders told attendees that if you want to make money, you should get into water; I was dismayed, needless to say.  Gisborne Lake came after that.  So, Govt officials promoted the export of water, and then had to backtrack because of opposition.  But, before that . . .


The Resolution on export of groundwater is central in the history of the Trade Deals.

Canada signed the FTA  “at the 11th hour” because (as was told to Canadians) the U.S. would not sign a Trade Deal that contained an Exemption on Water. Canadians had insisted there was to be no trade in water.  The exemption was in the drafts leading up to the 11th hour.  Gone   from the final deal.

United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

This agreement was signed by President Reagan and Prime Minister Mulroney on January 2, 1988 and, after implementing legislation was enacted in the United States and Canada, the Agreement entered into force on January 1, 1989. Its main purpose is to eliminate all tariffs on trade between the U.S. and Canada by January 1, 1998. The FTA was superseded by NAFTA on Jan. 1, 1994.

Canadians have laboured under the “11th hour” lie.  Today more documentation is accessible.  It was not the U.S. alone that wanted removal of the exemption. The Canadian Government, Chief Negotiator Simon Reisman and business interests were equally part of the force that brought about removal of the exemption on trade in water.


2008-02-17 Water: Highgate Dam in context of water shortages in the U.S.. Includes water under Free Trade Agreement  (Successful battle – stopped the Highgate Dam)

Following the election of Mulroney (1984), Simon Reisman sent the new prime minister a memo advocating free trade negotiations with the United States. Mulroney accepted Reisman’s plan and, in 1985, tapped him to lead Canada’s trade negotiations with the United States.

(Aside:  Mulroney was Prime Minister from Sept, 1984, to June, 1993.   Kim Campbell became leader when Mulroney stepped down, having become “the most unpopular prime minister in Canadian history” according to the Washington Post.  Arguably because of the Trade Agreements.)

– – – – – – – – –

 “To the Last Drop”, published in 1986, author Michael Keating: Simon Reisman was Canada’s chief negotiator for NAFTA under then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.  In a speech to influential business interests, Reisman said that the balance of power on the North American continent would shift because Canada has water that the U.S. wants.  All we have to do is to put a meter on a tap at the 49th parallel, and collect the royalties as the water flows south.  (Those would be dividends if you are an investor.)  The infrastructure costs seem insurmountable, but the Americans want the water; they’ll cover infrastructure costs.

(Infrastructure costs, at the time, for the export of water: “The Grand Canal” to divert water from James Bay (southern appendage to Hudson Bay) down through the Great Lakes to the eastern U.S.;  a series of dams to divert water from Lake Athabasca, northern Saskatchewan, south;  the “Rocky Mountain Trench” for diversion to California and other western states.)

OLDER:   The book, “Water and Free Trade”, excerpts on the internet, provides more details:  page 13,  Prior to being appointed Canada’s chief free trade negotiator, Simon Reisman was one of the most vocal advocates of proposals to sell Canadian water to the United States.

The book appears to cover most of the important bases for understanding the export of water?  The book also describes efforts in B.C. by business people who were opposed to the trade in water.   I did not know about the book until now  (Jan. 2019.  It came up in an internet search.  I haven’t read it.)

Whose interests in water were represented by our trade negotiator, Simon Reisman, and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney?  Monied interests, from both sides of the border.  As I say, this Resolution from Strathcona to stop groundwater export has connections to the first trade deals with the U.S. – – the TRADE IN WATER was to have been exempted.  With fox in the hen house?

Trade Deals have been used to try and leverage water out from under democratic control,

so “equity interests” can be created.

A clause on oil and gas in the Trade Deal applies also to water:

The Trade Deal established that if some percentage of our oil and gas is exported to the U.S., that same percentage has to be maintained, even if supplies are running short in the Canadian market. That’s a chilling thought if you live in Saskatchewan where temperatures can go to minus 40 degrees!  and minus 20 is not unusual.  The  logic?  If heating gas becomes limited, Saskatchewanians will just have to freeze;  the BBQ’s in Florida must perform.

It struck me: that’s not different from the British and French in the 1800’s, and the trading relationship with Indians (First Nations).   The homelands were enriched by that which prairie people were dependent upon for keeping themselves warm, fed and healthy (buffalo and beaver).  In the beginning, the First Nations did not understand that the markets they were supplying could never be satisfied.  The market was simply too large.

We know the results for First Nations people on the Prairies.  Impoverishment.  The same story is repeated time and again through history; only the place and the product are different.

Fast forward: the furs are gone. Then under the Trade Deals, we gave up control of a resource (oil and gas) we are dependent upon in a cold climate.  We are all “the Indians”, in terms of being manipulated by outside powers and their quislings, I concluded.   Then it was oil and gas; now it’s water.

Water export in today’s world, supported and promoted by the Federal Government, means

we lose control of a gift upon which we are dependent.


(For more information, do a web search on “trade deal exemption on water”.)


Aug 242019
Richard Belanger and Sara Ward presented their plans for a new water bottling facility to Canal Flats residents on Thursday August 15th. Photo by Lizzie Midyette

Water bottling facility proposed in Canal Flats

Source of the Columbia Beverages Inc. promises jobs and financial investment into community

By Dean Midyette

Special to the Pioneer

At an open house held on Thursday August 15th, it was clear that the proponents of the new water bottling plant in Canal Flats are focused on realizing an aggressive timeline and are driven to success. CEO Richard Belanger and Director of Sales and Marketing Sara Ward met with residents, presented their plans to the community and answered questions about their new business venture.

The Source of The Columbia Beverages Inc. plans to construct a 7,000 square foot, $3 million water bottling facility that will be situated on the south side of Highway 95 in the northwest corner of The Flats RV Campground and will have the capacity to fill 6,000 500 ml bottles per hour*.

Mr. Belanger is a professional engineer whose resume includes international work with Bombardier and General Electric while Ms. Ward comes from a real estate background as well as having owned and operated an 18 hole executive golf course outside of Edmonton. The bottling plant will create 14 full time jobs initially, increasing to 22 full time positions when the facility reaches full capacity. New wells will be drilled near the facility to supply the plant and the village’s existing water supply will not be accessed.

Production is scheduled to begin in January 2020 and securing a water license is the primary focus for the project.

During the presentation, Mr. Belanger and Ms. Ward were very clear that they were committed to developing a business that is respectful to their employees, promising well paying full time employment, respect for environmental considerations and committing to supporting the community through infrastructure investments and programs like the food bank.

Mayor Karl Sterzer commented, “We were pleased to hear of the proposal by Mr. Belanger and his partner Sarah Ward regarding the water bottling facility proposed for Canal Flats. As we receive applications from their group we will proceed accordingly. In addition to The Source of The Columbia Beverages Inc,. the Village is currently engaged with several suitors for new businesses in Canal Flats and remain committed to engaging with the investors as they work through the approvals process.”

“We are not trying to be a large conglomerate”, noted Mr Belanger, adding that the type of aquifer upon which Canal Flats sits does not lend itself to large commercial extraction. What it does offer, he emphasized, is some of the purest water in North America.

To find out more about the project, visit their Facebook page at The Source of the Columbia Beverages.

Adolfo Hungrywolf

Smooth talking outsiders have been the curse of countless communities throughout the world!
Water and air—what would we do without them?
Stop this!!
Neil Hudson

Another company trying the same thing in Golden–I realize Canal Flats is suffering right now but I hope you don’t allow this industry to set up shop–plastics are an ecological disaster
Patricia Schwartz

They will have an unlimited supply of cheap water which will be a precious resource in future years. Is this really what we want?
Debbie Kilroe Tross

The people in the Valley needs to stop this asap!
Kim Hutton

I sincerly hope it is not going to be plastic bottles…….
Maye Afonso Hollick

Was it not said at the meeting that they would be taking 6000 bottles worth of water every HOUR 24/7 ??
Albert Bond

that is also what I heard.
Kim Hutton

6000 bottles per day…’initially” that leaves the door pretty wide open for much more….
Lorene Keitch

Hi Maye and Albert, thank you for raising this question. We talked to the proponent today, who confirmed they could produce 6,000 bottles per hour, not per day as our story initiallly stated. The Pioneer apologizes for this error.
Maye Afonso Hollick

Lorene Keitch Thank you for calling me back about this.. and for correcting it, the amount of water, as they mentioned at the meeting, of taking 6000 bottles worth of water per hour, is a very major part of the concern I have for our ecosystem.
Craig Johnson

Maye Afonso Hollick you also realize that most of the farms in the Vally far exceed this amount of consumption…. I’m just saying.
Carl Murphy

Craig Johnson hopefully they will be paying more than $2.25 per million litres
Let’s not forget the exploiting #nestlecanada has done for years
Aug 242019

GoldenKey Investment Group is drilling test wells on Fisher Road.

Investment group plans to build water bottling facility in Golden

GoldenKey Investments Group has purchased a 20-acre parcel of land on Fisher Road, and has begun steps toward building a water bottling facility.

The company focuses on investments, specializing in natural resources like coal, iron, gold, and spring water. The 20 acres of land will be divided up, using five acres for the bottling facility, and the remaining 15 is expected to go toward modern housing.

“We plan to use five acres of land to build a state-of-the-art water bottling facility, and to develop the rest of the 15 acres of land for modern residential buildings,” said GoldenKey Investments Group marketing manager Nik Yao.

On July 31, the company drilled a test well on the property to begin a feasibility study of the water source.

“The test well location was determined by our hydrogeological engineer and was approved by the Interior Health Authority,” Yao said. “We are expecting a comprehensive report regarding the water source and the aquifer from our hydrogeological engineer by the end of September. The report will tell us whether the water source qualifies under the provincial government’s regulations or not.”

The well drilling was authorized by the province, and no formal applications have been made to the Town of Golden for rezoning the property to allow for for the commercial business. The developer has been in discussions with Town of Golden staff, who often discuss potential developments before they happen.

“The developer was encouraged to go into the community with this proposal,” said Town of Golden CAO Jon Wilsgard.

After the hydrogeological engineering report is completed in September, GoldenKey Investments Group plans to host a community meeting to inform citizens of the proposed project.

“We plan to host a public meeting regarding the water plant after we receive the comprehensive report by our hydrogeological engineer by the end of September,” Yao said.

Already, GoldenKey has hired local contractors and service providers for the test well, and plans to use local labour in the future, Yao said. Once the facility is built, GoldenKey will hire between five and 10 employees to run the operation.

“We also want to use local contractors for the 15 acres residential development,” Yao said.

GoldenKey investments Group had been searching for a B.C. water source on a good-quality aquifer. The company already has a bottling facility in Toronto, Ont.

“We found the water we were looking for in Golden. And, by coincidence, GoldenKey shares a similar name with Golden. We fell in love with the beauty of Golden and decided [to] have a try,” Yao said. “Our intention is that the project will provide economic and social benefits to the community.”

The aquifer GoldenKey Investments Group is assessing is the same the Town of Golden pulls its municipal water source from, but further down.

“The aquifer is connected to the same aquifer we draw on, it’s at the end of it,” explained Town of Golden planner and development manager Phil Armstrong.

In order for GoldenKey Investments Group to continue moving forward with the project, the company will require provincial approval for using the water source, and Town of Golden approval for rezoning the property, and an amendment to the Town of Golden official community plan.

“Lastly, we understand that the community may have concerns regarding the water plant,” Yao said. “Our goal is to work with the community together and to be as transparent as possible along the way.”

GoldenKey Investments Group will inform the community once it is ready to host an informational session on the project, likely in September.

Aug 232019
Aquifers are not enclosed by impenetrable, water-tight walls.  Water flows, sometimes fast, sometimes slow.
Here’s a good description:
A “septic” aquifer?
Am I too simplistic?
I  think:
  • Who is responsible for protection of water quality?  PINPOINT the answer.
  • Someone’s job is to Identify the source of the “septic”.
  • And Stop the “septic”.
The number of PEOPLE affected is IRRELEVANT.
If the Provincial system is allowed to deliver INACTION then step-by-step things get worse for everyone.  Speak up for others, you are speaking up for yourself.  Easily understood through the First Nations experience.
What Government Department in B.C. is responsible for protection of water quality?
What I know about the answer is not good enough.
The CSRD is concerned for the health of Nicholson residents after septic influencers have been found in drinking water. Black Press photo

CSRD addresses septic aquifer concerns in Nicholson

Water quality in Nicholson has been a concern of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) since 2005.

The Nicholson aquifer is a source of drinking water for around 350 people, including the Nicholson Elementary School, which has been on a “do not drink” advisory since 2017.

Property owners in the area use private groundwater wells to obtain their water. Between 2005 and 2013, the CSRD carried out water quality monitoring of the aquifer, and in October 2014, the CSRD advised property owners that septic influences were detected in the water.

“The first result was horrendous,” said Area A director Karen Cathcart. “Right away, the CSRD and Interior Health went into the community and said ‘this is the result, and here’s what we need to do.’”

The CSRD advised property owners that they would need to create an informal petition to demonstrate support for continued monitoring of the aquifer, providing mitigation measures, and the next steps for developing a local service area. Property owners did not show interest, and to date, property owners in Nicholson have not initiated a petition to put in place service to monitor water quality or to treat groundwater.

“I sat in the Nicholson School gym and listened to those results,” Cathcart said. “I almost fell off my chair. I was so concerned.”

This year, Interior Health met with the CSRD to request financing for two additional sample tests of the Nicholson aquifer. Test results from sampling in May are complete and indicate that the Nicholson Aquifer continues to be impacted by septic influences in the groundwater.

“It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse there,” Cathcart said.

At the June 20 board meeting, the board endorsed CSRD staff’s recommendation to apply for an Infrastructure Planning Grant for a maximum of $10,000 from the province to conduct a community water system feasibility study. The result of the study will outline treatment options, and cost projections for CSRD staff to bring forward to the community.

The CSRD requires a minimum of 60 per cent support from the community, showing there is interest to apply for senior grants for the development of a community water system. The community must also show a 60 per cent supportive interest in groundwater monitoring services.

“The last thing I want to see is folks becoming ill,” Cathcart added.

Nicholson aquifer monitoring completed between 2005 to 2013 was executed as a special project and was funded from the entire CSRD tax base.

The Public Health Act outlines the province’s responsibility for identifying and addressing hazards to public health.

During a discussion in January between the CSRD and Interior Health, the board was concerned with liability implications as a result of Nicholson residents falling ill from contaminated drinking water associated with the Nicholson aquifer. CSRD staff sought a legal opinion on the CSRD’s role in the Nicholson aquifer, which has resulted in the development of Policy W-13, Nicholson Aquifer Water Quality Monitoring.

According to the policy, the CSRD will undertake steps to mitigate effects of poor water quality in the Nicholson aquifer.

Through W-13, the CSRD has concluded that groundwater monitoring will not be funded through the special project fund after the end of this year, and monitoring will only be carried out as a service, with an establishing bylaw, paid for by the property owners affected in the service area.

The CSRD has advised the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health of its concerns with the aquifer water quality and requested that the province undertake water quality monitoring in this area. The CSRD also advised the medical health officer, and requested that they consider if the situation is a health hazard or impediment to public health.

The CSRD plans to publish the historical results of the monitoring on its website,

Aug 232019

British Columbia

Uchucklesaht Tribe launches luxury brand of bottled water drawn from Vancouver Island spring

Thunderbird Spirit Water
The water is drawn from the T’iitsk’in spring located in Uchucklesaht territory. (Thunderbird Spirit Water)

A small First Nation in B.C. is hoping to make a big splash in the bottled water business.

The Uchucklesaht Tribe has launched an artesian brand of bottled water drawn from a spring in its territory on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island.

Thunderbird Spirit Water, sold in sleek glass bottles, is the first commercial venture for the tribe of about 300 citizens.


Uchucklesaht is one of five nations that are signatories of the Maa-nulth Treaty. The move to self-government in 2011 gave the nation control over its economic development and has been critical to launching the new business venture, said elected Chief Charlie Cootes.

“It allows us to go out and look at opportunities that we never were able to look at before,” he said.

Uchucklesaht territory surrounds the pristine Hucuktlis Lake at the western end of the Alberni Canal. Surrounded by mountain peaks, the area is known as Thunderbird Nest and is a spiritually important place for the nations, Cootes said.

Niche market

Thunderbird Spirit Water is drawn from a spring in the area called or T’iitsk’in Paawats.

“We are looking for hotels and restaurants to serve it like the Pellegrino water that people always are drinking at high-end restaurants. So we are trying to get part of that market,” said Scott Coulson, Uchucklesaht CAO and the COO for the new company.

“It’s a niche market. We’re not selling plastic bottles. They are glass, high-end,” Cootes said.

The nation hopes the venture will provide employment through a bottling facility that is planned for Port Alberni.

A lot of work was also done to ensure Thunderbird Spirit Water is a sustainable product, Cootes said.

Giving back

“We have spent a lot of money to ensure that the flows where we access the water … that we are not taking too much water out of it.”

The Uchucklesaht officially launched the product this week at the Assembly of First Nations convention in Vancouver.

The nation says 10 per cent of sales will be donated to help provide safe drinking water to First Nations communities across the country.

Aug 232019

Ron writes:

This may help the current overfishing situation. 

More help will come when the indigenous people are given

back their right to harvest the seals.

= = = = = = = = =

‘I think that’s quite a critical mission for our department and for Canada,’ says federal official

Illegal fishing takes place all over the world, hurts conservation efforts and is estimated to cost the global economy billions of dollars. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will soon be able to find boats in waters anywhere in the world with pinpoint accuracy, thanks to a new satellite system in orbit since June.

The technology will help fight the growing worldwide problem of illegal fishing.

“We’re talking about areas that are potentially hundreds of miles away from land,” said Sean Wheeler, a senior program officer for DFO’s international conservation and protection program.

“These are areas that are vulnerable to exploitation because there’s a lack of traditional resources like patrol vessels and airplanes, so that’s where technology needs to come into play, to support our ability to detect and respond to illegal fishing.”

If the satellites spot something suspicious on the water, DFO can use that information and other data to decide if they need to send out patrols.

Sean Wheeler, a senior program officer for DFO’s conservation protection international program, says technology helps ‘support our ability to detect and respond to illegal fishing.’ (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

It could also save the department money since they wouldn’t have to send out boats or planes to patrol areas where there aren’t any vessels.

The information from the satellites will also be shared with other countries to help them cut down on illegal fishing in their waters, which is especially important in small or developing nations that don’t have a lot of resources to fight illegal fishing, said Wheeler.

“Our oceans are all connected, and illegal fishing and the impacts it can have in one area of the Pacific or the Atlantic could affect our own stocks, so there is a Canadian element here to protect our own stocks,” he said.

Soon after the satellites were launched, the Canadian Space Agency started receiving data from them, says Wheeler. It will be another few weeks before DFO begins to get the information it wants from the satellites. (Canadian Space Agency/SpaceX)

Illegal fishing is a blanket term covering a wide range of illegal activities, including overfishing, disregarding conservation regulations, fishing in restricted areas, underreporting a catch and fishing out of season.

Worldwide, illegal fishing hurts conservation efforts and sucks money from the global economy.

Wheeler said the value is pegged at $10 billion to $26 billion US worldwide, while the estimated quantity is 26 million tonnes of fish.

In May, the three satellites were placed inside the rocket fairing, more commonly known as the nose cone of the rocket. (Canadian Space Agency/MDA a Maxar Company)

Canada has been monitoring oceans from space for years, but the satellites used in the past had a hard time tracking the movement of vessels.

The new government-owned, $1.2-billion RADARSAT Constellation system will change that — it’s made up of three identical satellites that will pass over the Earth more frequently, providing a more accurate picture of what’s happening on the water, said Wheeler.

This SpaceX rocket took Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation Mission satellites into space. It launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on June 12. (Canadian Space Agency/SpaceX)

The Canadian Space Agency operates the satellites and helps disseminate the information collected.

The satellites have the capacity to view over 90 per cent of the Earth’s surface every 24 hours, excluding the South Pole, according to the space agency’s website.

The website also says the satellites are equipped with an automated identification system for ships that can be used by itself or along with radar to improve the detection and tracking of vessels.

Two of the RADARSAT Constellation spacecraft are prepared for vibration testing in the MDA facilities in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que. The RADARSAT Constellation is Canada’s new generation of Earth observation satellites. (Canadian Space Agency)

But detecting boats and ships is just one of the many uses for the new constellation system. It will also be used for ecosystem monitoring, climate change monitoring, agriculture and aid in disaster relief efforts.

The three satellites were launched June 12 and have already started to send back data to the Canadian Space Agency. Wheeler said the agency is still running tests on the system, and expects the DFO will start receiving data from the satellites in the fall.

“This puts Canada in a position of being able to support partners around the world with the challenge of illegal fishing, and I think that’s quite a critical mission for our department and for Canada,” said Wheeler.