Sep 282021

“… nonviolent resistance as a political force is still young, its possibilities not yet well enough known, and is thus seldom an incitement to the masses and is seldom encouraged by the media. For all that, those striving for human rights are dependent on our solidarity and the feeling is growing of an ever increasing threat through the power of dictatorships, the armaments race and the immobility of bureaucrats.    (I photographed these words in 1999!)

Gandhi presented the principles of nonviolent resistance to the world, but the methods – corresponding to the various hierarchies – have to be very different, should they lead to success. Through the multiplicity of nonviolent resistance, so rich in ideas, it can be demonstrated that the most powerful effective opposing forces can be mobilized against every form of violence …


The Berlin Wall and the Communist regime in East Germany came down. The non-violent resistance that brought them down is graphically recorded in this homey, old, cramped museum. (The Museum of Non-Violent Resistance is housed in the building known as “Checkpoint Charlie” of Cold War fame, on the demarcation line in Berlin between West and East Germany.)

I first visited the Museum in 1999 at a time when NATO was bombing Kosovo.

This poem was penned by an unknown East German.   It was simply presented.   Fortunately,  the picture I took turned out.

The poem spoke to me then, and always will:


The red-painted tyranny was not

The worst about our tyrants

The worst thereby were we ourselves

All our cowardice and servility

And that we also were the evil ourselves

Just that is the chance and our luck

You see: It works! We also take back

The everlasting human right ourselves

Now we breathe again, we cry and we laugh

the stale sadness out of the breast

man, we are stronger than rats and dragons

– and had forgotten it and always knew.”


Understand the relationship between citizens and democracy.

Jun 102007

 This book Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken will give you a high that lasts.  Cheaper than anti-depressants and with no side effects.  Call it up from memory anytime you feel yourself being sucked low in pessimism about the future of human society on Earth.  

The Earth has an immune system:  it’s us!  In the millions and from all around the world we are mobilizing. 


(1)  FRANKE JAMES IS PART OF “THE MOVEMENT” DESCRIBED IN BLESSED UNREST, ­ How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming












(1)  FRANKE JAMES IS PART OF “THE MOVEMENT” DESCRIBED IN BLESSED UNREST, ­ How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming  

Our network is part of the movement.

Elaine Hughes with her information service and web-site, “Stop the Hogs” is part of the movement. 

Franke James (Ontario) is an amazing part of it.   Wow!


Hi Franke, 

Blessed Unrest  is the best book I’ve read this year.  Mainly because it provides so much hope along with a realistic statement of the knife’s edge that we’re on.  I needed an injection of that hope.  (Some people know of Paul Hawken from his book “Natural Capital“.)  

After viewing your work, To My Future Grandkids in 2020 I’ve posted a note to your web-site: 

There’s a book published this year by Paul Hawken, “Blessed Unrest“.   Your work is part of the “unrest”, and a wonderful contribution to the movement that has no name.  Individuals and organizations from around the world are the immune system of the planet, kicked into action by the threat to the survival of the organism (the planet). 

The web-site  (Wiser Earth) is being used to create an idea of the magnitude of this immune system.  Thousands of organizations,  tens of thousands of individuals.   There is great hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable environmental odds. 

You are an inspiration to others to become involved, each of us to become another activated cell in the earth’s immune system. 

Re your statement:  I plan to do one on the Tar Sands…   That’s terrific.  I live in Saskatoon and run an activist email network.

Both the governing NDP and the opposition Sask Party (Conservatives) promote tar sands expansion and development of the nuclear industry with glib reassurances regarding the impact on human health and the environment.  In desperation I’ve been driven into politics (!) and am currently leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan.  We hope that informed people here will at least have a place to register their vote (they will if we can line up 58 candidates). 



Sent:  June 6, 2007

 Dear Paul (Hawken), 

I doubt you can know the gift that Blessed Unrest is to me.  You articulate what I “kind of know” but at a pre-verbal level.  The book is extremely well written.  When I can see me confirmed as an organism that is part of this larger body my sometimes faltering hope surges again.  It makes me happy, even joyful.  (I’ve told people that I’ve become an evangelist for Paul Hawken & Blessed Unrest!) 

I was going to register on Wiser Earth.  As an individual isn’t quite right because of the others who are involved with me.  As an organization doesn’t quite fit either because we aren’t really an organization!   How many are we?…  Who knows?  For seven years I’ve encouraged people to set up their own network, to pass information along.  Some participants have gone off and set up a network similar to mine and better (especially when it comes to a web-site!). 

Well it’s serious yet fun, and you meet the best people.  Easy to become fearful when you’re working against the interests of the Monsantos of the world, the pharmaceutical companies and now the petro-chemical and nuclear industries.  But connected we are strong. 

We have the world’s richest deposits of uranium here in Saskatchewan.  And tar sands.  Corporate interests working with our governments are destroying our health and environment.  If they have their way, northern Saskatchewan, a beautiful land of lakes and trees will be a raped wasteland.  Indigenous occupants who rely on the fruits of the land will be driven off to the dysfunctional portion of the native communities in the cities.  Already and just since 1980, soil and water acidity levels in some places are past “critical load limits”.  Expansions are nonetheless to be four and five times on the Alberta side of the border alone.  Nuclear reactors, deep geological depositories to welcome  to Saskatchewan high-level radioactive waste from across the country and probably parts of the U.S…. 

Thank goodness there are many organizations with which we are in the process of building coalitions to stop the madness, the poisoning of our land and water supplies. 

Thanks again for your contribution.  Blessed Unrest is fuel for our persistence.  I will be sending information on your book into the networks, my own and those I feed into.   There are large water, GMO, Food, etc networks in Canada.  I’ll point those I’m familiar with to Wiser Earth.  I believe that you’re right:  there are millions of organizations and people all busily working to bring about a new vision of what life is about. 


 Sandra Finley 



Dear Sandra 

Thank you so much . Your comments are much appreciated. I just got back from BC last night and hope I can return to Canada again to talk about the book and Wiser. 

I have forwarded this to Peggy Duvette, director of Wiser, who I think can shed some light on your queries and ideas.  

Again, thanks so much 



³Evolution is not about design or will; it is the outcome of constant endeavors made by organisms that want to survive and better themselves. The collective result is intoxicatingly beautiful, rife with oddities, and surpassingly brilliant, yet no agent is in control. Evolution arises from the bottom up ­ so, too, does hope. When fire destroys a forest, the species and plants that were lost will reassert themselves over time. Seeds that have lain dormant for decades and that germinate only when subjected to intense heat will come to life, and bloom in the spring. These plants may have deep taproots that bring up minerals, or broad leaves that create a canopy to help preserve topsoil from sun and rain. The older the forest, the more resilient its capacity to regenerate. Humanity is older than the oldest forest. Its capacity to adapt and restore is vastly underestimated.

Evolution is optimism in action. Being compelled to make more of ourselves is the human lot  Š²  ­   Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest, ­ How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming.



I suspect there may be a web-site that is devoted to information and a listing of organizations who are working on the tar sands / nuklear power plants. (The latest word is that the nuklear plants will go into northern Alberta, not Saskatchewan.  Decision would be result of polling.  Where is there the least resistance?). 

I have no idea how all this will fall into place, but let me throw out the pieces: 

I came back from Ottawa Conference (Prevent Cancer Now – activists) with more excellent contacts and information.   The health ramifications from petro-chem industry in southern Ontario (Sarnia down to Windsor) are frightening.  Childhood leukemia,  male birth rates down from where they should be at 51% of new births, to 35%.  Tar sands is petro-chemical industry.   New documentary on Sarnia-Windsor aired at Conference and will be very useful information here.  Also, some of the people in the documentary are willing to come here to tell their story.  

I telephoned Wiser Earth.  They have a web-site on which they’re building a data base of organizations from around the world, grouped by area of work. The new book “Blessed Unrest” is about it – this “movement” around the world to correct these things that are killing the planet and us..  It’s really quite exciting.  The web-site is a place to register our own organizations but also a place to find people who are working on the same issues.  

Tar sands, oil shale, uranium mining, nuclear power plants, tritium in the water, depletion of the water resources ….  Sask and Alberta, Ont, Nunavut.  There are many connections.  At the nucluar workshop at the Conference there were people who are very concerned about the proposed new reactors (10 or 15) slated for Ontario.  I proposed that they work with us – Saskatchewan will be supplying more and more fuel, if the Sask Party has its way.   It will help people in Ontario if the provincial election in Saskatchewan can be fought on nuclear and greens pull off a substanatial portion of the vote.  It might help some politicians to get the message.

Help to break the government-business partnerships in which we lose the actual role of government which is to protect “the commons”, that upon which we are dependent for survival. 

You may have heard about the people who have organized a bicycle ride for this summer (see Boiling Frog below) that starts at the border with the U.S. in Alberta and  goes through to Ft McMurray – a protest over what’s happening with the tar sands.  It’ll be great fun!  Get your bicycle out; if you can’t, send some money to Shawn – he needs $500.  You’ll get excellent return on your dollar. 

Is there a web-site that connects all these various efforts?  If not, we can start making those connections ourselves.  Maybe use “Wiser Earth” to do the connecting.  I think we can (have to) make this “The issue” of the upcoming provincial election.  The establsihed parties are all in agreement with expansion of this incredibly destructive activity in the north.  Without regard for the fact that once it’s thoroughly poisoned, it’s a little hard for people to live there, or to eat money.  With no regard for the fact that it is because of the Tar Sands rapacious exploitation that Canada can’t meet Kyoto targets. 

Anything and everything that all the various players do is helpful to us all.  Lots of people have left Saskatchewan but maintain relationships with people here.  Maybe they’ll help.  Some of them have cottages in the north.   Won’t be worth much by the time the acid rain finishes the deadening of the lakes.  (reference Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Report.  Parts of the north are already past “critical load limits”.) 

Support for the Green Party in the election won’t be built by a large advertising campaign.  (Hah!  we have $2000 in the bank account.)   It’ll be built through networks.  I think people will understand that a good showing in the election for the Greens in Saskatchewan will be another piece of the non-violent resistance that is aimed at creating a changed and new vision for what we want and will have. 

There are a reasonable number of people from Manitoba connected to our work here.  The ties have been strengthened in the last year because of the preliminary feasibility study for the High Gate Dam on the North Sask River near North Battleford.  We try to keep Manitobans informed because of the role of the N Sask River in the (un)health of Lake Wininipeg.   There’s a great group of people who are mobilized along the River from Alberta border to N Battleford over the dam. 

Manitobans will help:  we are beginning to see the threat to the River/Water that comes with more and more of the Tar Sands and nuclear agenda.   The industry poisons the water (newspaper report, Lloydminster, a year ago suggests that, and the new documentary out of Sarnia petrochemical industry provides back-up substantiation.  Also Dr. O’Connor’s report on the health dilemmas of native people in Ft Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca).  The industry also has a rapacious thirst.  It’s depleting.  

When the job is done and the money’s in the pocket they will walk away.  They were never from here.  … We are most peculiar people.  We know from places around the world that local environment and economies will be destroyed after which the beneficiaries walk away.  We just never think it will happen to us.  Wakey, wakey! 

I am amazed by the growing resistance to what is happening in the world.  In London, ON (November) a woman told me that she and some co-workers have organized a little club for viewing documentaries.  An Inconvenient Truth was first on their list. 

While in Ottawa (May) I was told of a group that is meeting in a rural Ontario town at their Library to view some of the same documentaries as the London office workers.

 Last week I joined a small group in Craik, SK.  (see Boiling Frog below)  We’re talking a population of what?  450 people and they have an information initiative underway. 

A big part of it is the availability of good, inexpensive documentaries.   You don’t need a movie theatre to view them. 




Thanks to Boiling Frog for this material. 

—– Original Message —–

From: “boilingfrog” <boilingfrog AT>   

Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 11:15 AM

Subject: [b.frog] Food, Peace, Solar Fair, Gold Medals and more… 


Hi and welcome to another edition of our email digest….


(Link no longer valid: )

(INSERT:  (Sandra.  Go to the web-site.  The whole article is well worth the reading time.) 

> (excerpt)

 ‘.In the sixteenth century, Éttiene de la Boétie reminded us that  when the powerful are insatiable, submission is fatal – that the more  we submit ourselves to to the “law and order” of those in power, the more they will demand. He wrote that “the more tyrants pillage, the  more they crave, the more they ruin and destroy; the more one yields  to them, and obeys them, by that much do they become mightier and more formidable, the readier to annihilate and destroy. But if not one thing is yielded to them, if, without any violence they are simply not obeyed, they become naked and undone and as nothing, just as, when the root receives no nourishment, the branch withers and dies.” 

Sure, we are afraid. There is much to fear. But with a world being  destroyed before our eyes, this belief that we have something to  lose soon becomes an illusion. And the best guide I know to help lead me away from these illusions is my heart. Following my heart has never led me wrong. .’ 


Support an upcoming Canadian environmental leader (donation appeal)  boilingfrog note: please help our friend and website  ( designer, Shawn Khan, reach his  fundraising goal of $500.00 for his participation in a Sierra Club bicycle ride to the Alberta tar sands. We pledge $50 to get it started. you?

There is a bike trip from the US/Alberta Border to the Tar Sands in Alberta.  We are going to go for three weeks to collect stories about  people who have been affected by the tar sands and document the landscape of the environment.  The whole bike trip is going to be from August 15 – Sept 7th, and will be with many great people.

> I am 23 from Toronto and have been into the environment my whole life.  Have a compost that is fully in working condition, and have been a  cyclist for many years.  You should donate to me as I have been hailed as a future leader in the environment world by many organizations  including Forest Ethics, Sierra Club of Canada and many others.




(6)  A FORCE MORE POWERFUL  (non-violent resistance) 

Thanks so much to Kelly and Bridget at Boiling Frog for arranging to show this film in Craik.  It is just excellent.  

The story from the Edmonton Journal below about the training for non-violent resistance around the Tar Sands coincidentally appeared at the same time.     PBS 

A Force More Powerful, a three-hour documentary series, explores one of the 20th century’s most important but least-understood stories – how nonviolent power overcame oppression and authoritarian rule all over the world.  Narrated by Ben Kingsley, it premiered on PBS in September 2000.

 Bringing Down A Dictator, a one-hour documentary, is the inside story of how Milosevic was brought down – not by smoke and flames, but by a courageous and risky campaign of political defiance and massive civil disobedience.  Narrated by Martin Sheen, it premiered on PBS in March 2002. 

The feature-length documentary, Orange Revolution, captures the songs and spirit of a unique moment in Ukrainian history, when the 2004 stolen election brought citizens together on the streets for 17 days to defend their vote and the future of their country. 

Confronting the Truth, a 75-minute documentary, examines how countries which have experienced massive human rights violations have created truth commissions to air and acknowledge the abuses so that victims can regain their dignity and society can be rebuilt. 



Old-timers will know of my interest in non-violent resistance.  I have visited the Museum of Non-Violent Resistance at the former “Checkpoint Charlie” on the now-gone Berlin Wall, twice. 

I love the anonymous poem penned by one of the victors.  ALL OUR COWARDICE AND SERVILITY.  



(NOTE:  This article refers to Mike Hudema as a former Albertan.  He grew up in Alberta, is a graduate of their Law School.   At the time of this article he was 31 years old and back in Canada.  In the time since this article was written I have had the very good fortune of meeting Mike in person.   If everyone was like Mike we would share a friendly, responsible and wonderful time on Earth.  From wikipedia:  Mike Hudema was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta in 1976 from Ukrainian origin parents and attended Crescent Heights High School.[3] He graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of education, majoring in drama, and a law degree, specializing in labour and environmental law.[4] During his university career, he went on an exchange to southern India, which he credits with awakening him politically. During the exchange, he recalls seeing 20,000 people “getting together to debate the village budget for the next year”, and says that the contrast between that and the models of representative democracy in use in Canada affected him and shaped his views on political involvement”.)

Oilsands growth energizes activists; Environmentalists turn up pressure on ‘unsustainable’ development with training camp in non-violent protest tactics

The Edmonton Journal Monday June 4, 2007 Hanneke Brooymans

EDMONTON – A group of frustrated environmentalists has gathered at a camp on the outskirts of Edmonton to learn eco-activist tactics for use against booming oilsands development.

The five-day clinic is scheduled to begin today at a secluded acreage southwest of the city, where 50 to 75 young people are preparing to mobilize against the oilsands by learning non-violent, direct-action tactics from internationally renowned environmentalists.

“I think the reason why we’re training people in those types of tactics is we’ve tried to work through the regulatory process,” said Mike Hudema, a former Albertan who now directs the Freedom from Oil program for a California group called Global Exchange.

“We’ve seen the majority of Albertans come out to the oilsands consultation process speaking against it. But the (Alberta Energy and Utilities Board) has a history of just rubber-stamping every single project that comes before it.

“We’re now having to resort to more aggressive tactics to try and get this project stopped, because the traditional means society is supposed to have input into this conversation and to actually slow the project are obviously not being listened to.”

Hudema said the majority of the young activists are from Alberta, but there are some from other parts of Canada, including the Northwest Territories. They’ll learn about grassroots organizing, working with community groups, and basic facts on global warming, as well as direct action such as scaling tall structures to hang banners, he said.

Hudema has a long history of activism. He once occupied former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan’s office in protest of Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation. He was also part of the Edible Ballot Society, whose members faced charges for eating their federal election ballots.

Two other trainers for the camp include Mike Roselle, a founder of the group Earth First!, known for climbing into trees and staying aloft to protect them from loggers.

Another trainer, J.R. Roof, used to be the director of the Greenpeace division that sailed around the world challenging whaling ships. The focus of the Edmonton camp is on the oilsands because it’s one of the most environmentally destructive projects in the world, said Hudema.  From a global-warming perspective, it will be the single largest reason why Canada can’t meet its Kyoto commitment, he said. The industry also uses huge amounts of water and will chop down a vast expanse of the boreal forest to lay the groundwork for more oilsands development, he added.

“The biggest fact is that most of this is going to the U.S. And so it’s destroying one-fifth of Alberta all to feed the U.S. oil addiction.” In the months following the training, Hudema predicts, more young people will become active and start asserting their vision for Alberta and what they want done for their future.

The activist camp is part of a larger trend of environmental focus on the oilsands.  The Sierra Legal Defence Fund said last November it will set up an office in Alberta this year in response to rapid oilsands and coalbed methane development. Greenpeace is also hiring a person to work exclusively on oilsands issues. And now World Wildlife Fund Canada is in the process of setting up an office in Edmonton to deal with both the Mackenzie River basin and oilsands issues.

The program director in the fledgling office is Rob Powell, a PhD-level ecologist who has lived in Alberta for 17 years.  For 15 of those years, he worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Board as director of science and technology and as an acting board member who participated in decision-making panels.  In December, he joined WWF Canada. “I just decided I really wanted to work directly in conservation.”  Powell also worked with the AEUB through a shared services relationship with Natural Resources Conservation Board.

“I have attended some of those hearings, and like a lot of people have been disturbed by the fact that everything seems to be approved,” he said.  “I’m not surprised that the tarsands have become a focus, because they are probably a good example, unfortunately at this point, of unsustainable development,” he said.

Powell said his office, which will eventually be staffed with two others, will first concentrate on oilsands water issues, specifically how much water can safely be taken from the Athabasca River before it hurts the fish and human populations that rely on the river.

The World Wildlife Fund’s approach to the oilsands problem will be to bring technical expertise to the table and try to work with people to find solutions to problems. “So you’re not going to see us leaping from towers and pulling stunts as some of the other groups might do, or orchestrating placard protests.”