Saturday, February 26, 2011

Memorial for the Swan


Prompted by my friend Corbin Keep, we held a small gathering in the cold and snow today to remember the swan.  David Cameron brought an ornamental swan head, pictured above, Corbin played The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens.  We shared some stories of Gus the swan and then and I led the group in a song I composed called "The Swan" also.  You can hear us singing that here.

Islanders now gather round
     The swan, the swan was swimming
The swan lays dying on the ground
     And the swan swims here no more.

Gathered on a wintery day
     The swan, the swan was swimming
On the rocky shores of Mannion Bay
     And the swan swims here no more.

Where salmon leapt upon the weir
     The swan, the swan was swimming
Where ducks and geese all lived in fear
     And the swan swims here no more.

All who came to know that bird
     The swan, the swan was swimming
Defied the warnings they had heard
     And the swan swims here no more.

Islanders have come and gone
     The swan, the swan was swimming
We had the swan to reflect upon
     And the swan swims here no more.

A stately bird of grace and poise
     The swan, the swan was swimming
Beautiful and mute of voice
     And the swan swims here no more.

For this wild creature was one of us
     The swan, the swan was swimming
A mute and silent blunderbus
     And the swan swims here no more.

Who are we without the swan?
     The swan, the swan was swimming
A part of us is dead and gone
     And the swan swims here no more.

The tide rolls in and fills the Bay
      The swan, the swan was swimming
But the waters here are still today
     And the swan swims here no more.

Now eagles chase the gulls away
     The swan, the swan was swimming
And things have changed on Mannion Bay
      And the swan swims here no more.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sailing through the Squamish

Winter, it turns out, is having one last kick at us. Thus video was from yesterday, sailing through a Squamish wind that was blowing gale force.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bowen Queen arriving

Off to town this morning

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thoughts on good decision making

A post I made on the Phorum today:

I've been trying hard to keep us away from getting into yes or no kinds of debates, because frankly, the decision that we will make with respect to the Park in my mind is not served by a strict yes/no vote.  It's really reductionist.  I personally can see different options in a park proposal that would work from my perspective, and some that wouldn't.  I can see a parkless future that is equally exciting under certain conditions, and a parkless future that sucks under other conditions.

I have run other public processes which have required decisions where we didn't vote.  When I was helping establish an Aboriginal choice school from an existing elementary school in Prince George a couple of years ago, we needed to ask the parents and students of four different schools whether they thought their school should be converted.  The committee initially wanted each school to make a yes/no vote.  Turns out that that wouldn't have worked because every community was opposed to it.  Instead we used a large scale decision making process using gradients of agreement.  Basically, we ran a series of dialogues and then asked the participants to rate, on a scale of 1-7, their preference for their school to be converted.  We drew a big scale up on a wall, gave everyone a post it note and they marked their preference and wrote on the note why they were voting that way.  That was incredibly useful, because we could see what the issues were.  Turns out the school that eventually was converted had lots of no votes but only because the school needed lots of renovations.  When the school board said they were going to renovate the school, everyone was cool.  Without that process, we would have had four no votes, no information and no way to move forward.

The problem with the current process is that much of the work of creating a proposal rests with Parks Canada and there are significant numbers of Islanders who are waiting in the wings to shoot the thing down.  That is the easiest route.  A harder route is to dive into the complexity of it and co-create a Parks proposal that is community based.  And in doing that we may discover that it isn't what the community wants, and that would be fine by me because it WOULD give us some incredible information about what we DO want for our future.

The most useful conversations to me have been the ones where we kick around ideas, blue sky, dream a little, roll our sleeves up and try and figure out numbers or options.  Not because we need to make a park work but because we need to make the FUTURE work, and the best way to do that is to be engaged in the present.

Done well, this whole process could be a launch for a new way of engaging and making decisions about our island, but we have to be able to think more broadly than reacting to one option with a stark, flat and uninformative yes/no reduction that is not really helpful.  If we're not careful we'll end up with a yes/no vote without understanding anything about what a yes or a no means to people.  The REASONS and the ideas behind voting yes or no are really, really important.  If we don't make them visible leading up to the vote then we will argue forever about what the yes side meant or what the no side meant.  That is useless chatter.

And that isn't to say that folks who are wholeheartedly opposed to a park in any way shape and form are not community builders, nor are they not valuable and important in the community.  They hold a view of the future that is really interesting and one we haven't really heard much in the past ten years.  As someone definitely on the fence, it has been interesting this week teasing it out of people.  I've learned a lot.  It makes us a much better place in general, because now I can see that we have creative and positive ideas on both sides of a yes/no vote on the park.  We can't lose with that kind of community capacity, no matter what the result.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Apparently we are in "lockdown"

The National Post is full of shit:

Wolf-dog hybrid puts B.C.’s Bowen Island in ‘lockdown:'

"Residents of British Columbia’s Bowen Island are in “lockdown” as a marauding wolf-dog hybrid that has killed at least one dog continues to be spotted across the island, leading fearful residents to keep children and pets indoors."
Don't worry. We're not in "lockdown." And one of our "prized" swans was found dead, but no one has established it's cause of death much less from the marauding wolf-dog. My kids play out of doors, although they are being careful around the learning centre near the golf course where the wolf-dog is on the prowl.

God, you'd think the end of the world was nigh.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The ornery swan is no more

On a morning where wintry has taken one last swipe at the coast with snow at 600 meters on the mountains, news comes that the swan who has lived at the Lagoon for 14 years has died from a dog attack.

That mute swan has attacked three members of my own family and so I had a mixed relationship with that bird. It was always based on wary mutual respect.

But now he is gone and the title of the most feared predator on Bowen can now pass to the hybrid wolf-dog currently patrolling the golf course. Once he is gone we will finally have a normal landscape again, where humans do most of the damage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy birthday to Artisan Eats

Two years old today and never boring. Best view on Bowen and a crazy selection of home made food. Happy birthday folks!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First new growth in the meadow

The time of year for firsts. Grass and skunk cabbage starting to return.

Terminal Creek

Above Carter Pond, terminal Creek flows in a steep canyon from Grafton Lake until it tumbles over the side of the Killarney Creek valley just below Carter Road. The forest back here is jumbled and rough, cedars and hemlocks and leggy salmonberries all trying to find the sun. There are lots of snags and old logging stumps and the ground is covered in ferns and braided feeder streams. Even though it's close to two rias the sound of flowing water drowns out all but the loudest ambient traffic.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First redwing

Heard my first redwinged blackbird today in the Cove. A sure sign of an early spring.