Friday, January 31, 2003

Bowen Island is a hotbed of ideas, thoughts and innovations. Just look at some of the links on the left, under "noosphere" to see what I mean.

One of the really interesting community wide processes we are engaged in here is around the issue of sustainability. The Bowen Island Sustainability Task Force and the Bowen Island Lifelong Learning Society (BILLS) are working with the Sustainable Development Research Institute at the University of British Columbia to try out a new way of approaching community decision making on these issues.

SDRI has developed a "game" called QUEST which allows people to make choices about a preferred future and then craft these into strategies to initiate sustainability practices today. We have combined QUEST with Open Space Technology to design a "made on Bowen" process. It began on Thanksgiving last year with an Open Space event on the future of Bowen Island in 2042, and then SDRI engaged the community in a couple of QUEST workshops. We will shortly be returning to Open Space to build on everything we have done and move more issues forward into action.

I mention all this only because today QUEST and SDRI was featured in the online version of the Utne Reader. Congrats to the folks at UBC for getting the recognition they deserve. The Utne piece mentions Whistler as a case study in the application of QUEST. I just wish the article might have mentioned the great work we are doing here as well...

Sunday, January 26, 2003

I was down at the library on Friday catching up on some local reading when I found myself totally absorbed in map hanging on the wall. This was no ordinary map of Bowen Island, but it was the original map designed, researched and drawn by Dr. Kathy Dunster for the Salish Sea Atlas Project. The Atlas brings together around 30 maps of islands around the Georgia Basin. The maps are created by island artists and represent the values and treasures of each island.

Most of the maps are extraordinary representations of the islands. Our map is hand drawn, coloured and lettered with an inventory of every creek and brook, each lake, the major and minor landmasses and every lot on the island. It is perforated with cut outs of Great Blue Heron and Blacktailed Deer prints, and it contains a text about what we value as islanders.

It didn't take me long to get immersed in copying down the names of the creeks, dozens and dozens of them that I didn't know existed. And while some are named for people and old island families (Collins, Henderson, Davies, Dorman, Malkin), and some have more obvious nomenclature (Hungry Deer, Drinking Cougar), others are named for more whimsical inspirations (Dharma, Dogma, Bang, Clink, Eco, Anarchy, Cartographer's, and my all time favourite Stream of Consciousness).

So I was copying down the names, when who should arrive, but Kathy Dunster herself, and so I had a good half hour conversation with her about the map, the Atlas and other Salish Sea stuff.

She also passed on some interesting news. In the past 10 days Kokanee Salmon have been discovered in Grafton Lake (aka Trout Lake, according to the map!). Kokanee are landlocked sockeye salmon. The live, breed and die in freshwater, unlike their anadromous cousins, who spend their lives at sea, before returning to freshwater to spawn.

Genetic tests are being performed on the fish now to try to link them both with a related sockeye population and to figure out how long them may have been in the lake. Most of the sockeye populations in the Strait of Georgia are gone now, but there are a lot of records about the populations that once bred in the Georgia Basin. Having a little clutch of Kokanee on Bowen is a significant piece of our living natural history. It's also going to mean some changes in order to preserve the population and give it a chance to continue to thrive as it has done for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

I'm about to pull one of those annoying moves that so endears us coastal dwellers to the rest of Canada. I am about to tell you something that, if you live in a place like Winnipeg where the temperature was -30 on Monday when I was there, will make you swear off reading this blog for a while.


My daffodils are coming up.

I know, I know. It's insane really, that on January 22, our daffodils should be poking their heads through the soil, but there you go. That is the kind of winter we have had around here this year. It's El Nino of course, but that's no consolation for everyone in the rest of Canada, because the bubble of warm air that envelopes us is pushing cold air out of the Arctic and all over the rest of the continent. The result is freezing weather everywhere east of here, except Calgary, and huge dumps of snow in Newfoundland.

And flowers on the coast.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The Bowen Building Centre has a redesigned website, put together by fellow Bowen blogger, Mark Groen. It's a great website, really easy to get around, quick loading and with a cool drop down feature for FAQs and product listings.

I'm a big fan of the BBC, as it's known. It's a true hang out, and on any rainy day you can drop by there and grab a cup of coffee and pretend to browse electrical supplies all the while getting roped into conversations on a whole myriad of topics. Every time I've been in there, the talk has been about solutions to various problems confronting builders and handymen. As such, the BBC actually seems to exist as a little centre of innovation, the Bowen Institute for Creative Construction Problem Solving. They should publish a book of ideas generated by the clientele, for basic home repair or construction advice.

Hmmm... Hey Mark! You listening?

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Hey! Penny Scott has a blog!

Penny is a friend here on Bowen and someone who cares deeply about this place, and about communities. I'm looking forward to reading what she has to say about life here on Bowen.

So with Penny, Mark and Richard as well as myself, a full 0.1% of Bowen blogs. Whoo hoo!

Thursday, January 9, 2003

Hello to everyone visiting because of this blog's mention at Flemming's site.

I have been following the discussion on geoblogging and the stuff happening with GeoURL, and I just wanted to share again a post I made here back in June relating to blogging place. In that post was a quote from the American nature writer Barry Lopez who says:

"The shape and character of those relationships in a person's thinking, I believe, are deeply influenced by where on this earth one goes, what one touches, the patterns one observes in nature - the intricate history of one's life in the land, even life in the city, where wind, the chirp of birds, the line of a falling leaf are known. These thoughts are arranged, further, according to the thread of one's moral, intellectual and spiritual development. The interior landscape responds to the character and subtlety of an exterior landscape; the shape of an individual mind is affected by the land as it is the genes."

Sorry I don't have comments, but send me email if you have thoughts on this and I'll post stuff here. Or leave a comment :-)

And then I'll get back to talking about how amazingly warm the weather has been around here, and how clear the nights have been, with just a think waxing moon setting early and allowing the stars to shine, and the colour in Jupiter and Saturn overhead to be seen with the naked eye, yellow and buff respectively.

And while I'm at it, we had another amazing Squamish wind last night, as air got forced off the continent down Howe Sound and out into the Strait of Georgia. The winds gusted to 80 km/h, but only along a think winding sea level jetstream, which barely riffled the douglas-firs in front of our place.

My erstwhile correspondent Flemming Funch, from Van Nuys California wrote this nice piece noticing this blog and the whole notion of people blogging places. Since I added that set of links to this page, several people have remarked that we might be on to something. It's my belief that, just as weblogs link the web to itself, "geoblogs" (my term!) link people to the landscape and that is what this blog is about.

Visit some of those other folks out there and see what I mean.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Robert Brady, living in Japan, just does really nice work. Here is an entry from hsi blog, Notes From Pure Land Mountain on fire:

MORE LIGHT all living things a fire is a river of need, a kind of conversation, a dialog of light with darkness, like the fire in the sky and in a leaf. The heart itself is a flame, ablaze at the sight of itself in another eye; we carry all this like a sky in ourselves, and so when we come to tend a fire, we find that delight of meeting an old friend. Just stir this bit here and the fire flares up, fuel once starved for air now fed, from ember to flame, setting new thoughts alight. Tending a fire is the whole soul's delight, much like tending to life itself; in return the fire shares more than light and warmth, if we listen to its ancient tongue, for it speaks a language that lived far before and lives yet within us: This is the way you should tend yourself; this is the way you should tend others and your world. The fire is that of us outside ourselves. We recognize this tacitly, as we do in the light of stars. When we gaze into a fire's light we gaze into a mystic mirror, upon vast and untold secrets of ourselves. What we find there we feel to our depths, but cannot say.

The same thing is going on here too, as I work through our huge pile of mill ends. It's a nice challenge trying not to burn them too hot, getting a nice bed of coals and then acheiving the ultimate trance inducing moment when the flames seem to turn to liquid and pour gently over the coals, the air in the stove literally glowing.

The weather has been a lot clearer and warmer these days, with a couple of spectacular sunsets.

Although this is a big file, enjoy it:

Thursday, January 2, 2003

I'm looking out this morning over a churning Queen Charlotte Channel. The waves have been whipped up by a wind storm that is blowing out, having lasted the better part of 12 hours overnight. There was no damage and the power stayed on - by some miracle - but the wind and rain was unbelievable. It's not like me to wake up in the middle of the night, cowering under my blankets and hoping that the trees remains standing, but that's what happened.

This is a classic pineapple express. The wind is straight out ot the southeast, coming ahead of a low pressure system that rose form the wtaers off northern California earlier this week. The air is warm - as I write it is about +8 degrees - and the rain is heavy. There are bands of rain and clouds going through now as the squall line of the storm passes over us. We typically get wind warnings for storms that pack winds of 50-70km/h, but I am certain that last night's winds topped 90km/h and perhaps even higher. This is what is referred to as "storm force," and these winds can do serious damage.

THis storm was in stark copntrast to the day I had on New Year's Eve, when I had a chance to head down to Cape Roger Curtis by myself. We have been down there a lot lately. It's really, in many ways, the spiritual centre of the island for a lot of people. To get out to the Cape involves a 25 minute hike that starts high and goes down, giving one the impression that one is really descending into something. Going deep as it were. Alder forest at the CapeImmediately, as the trail levels out, the serentiy of the forest becomes overwhelming. It's a mixed forest, with large groves of alder and huge clumps of sword and deer ferns mixed with wester red cedars, Douglas-firs and grand firs.

The trail, which is an old road, winds through this forest and along the shore, past a little beach to the autoimated lighthouse at the Cape Trail to the Capeitself. That's where I plonked myself for an hour or so, watching a raft of a couple hundred surf scoters flying back and forth between Tunstall Bay and the Strait of Georgia which opens up to the north west.

The swell from the Strait crashes on the rocks, and as I was sitting there it occured to me that this is a very old soundscape. In fact the sound of water against the shore has been heard uninteruppted for at least 10,000 years here, since the ice cleared from this point of land and the The lighthouse at the Capeshoreline took on the shape it has today. And before that, the sound of waves on shore is older than life itself on earth, older than any of the ears that have evolved to hear it.

Such intense conptemplation and connection with old old history is not out of ordinary at the Cape. For me, the very sound of the word "Cape" implies a windswept headland, stuck out into the elements, buffeted by primal forces.

It was a phenomenal way to end the old year and look forward to the new one. So all the best to you who read this log of life here.

I'm curious as the new year begins, who is out there. Drop me a line just to say "me!".

Wednesday, January 1, 2003