Saturday, December 26, 2009

What do we need to preserve and protect? (and grow more of?)

Preserving and protecting is the mandate of the Island's Trust, and it's something that provides a nice jumping off point for conversations about what "green" means for Bowen.

Appreciative Inquiry is a well honed, and long used methodology for guiding communities and organization through changing times.  It works on the principle of "what we give our attention to grows."  The idea is that we find a positive topic choice around which we initiate a process of Discovering what is working, Dreaming about what might be possible, Designing strategies to move that direction and Doing it.  With our upcoming Open Space on January 2, I'm interested in using Appreciative Inquiry to initiate a community wide conversation on moving forward in a green way.

For me this does not mean starting with a list of things we don't have, but rather looking at what we do have on the island that provides the starting place for being a "green" place.  Yes there are many challenges, but the AI approach is an asset based approach to meeting challenges, and so we start with a series of interviews and conversations about what we have and we build in from there.  It is much easier for example to change behaviours in a system if you work with what people are already doing rather than introducing radical departures from their current ways of doing things.  For example, most people on Bowen currently recycle at BIRD.  It is easier to get start community composting at BIRD therefore then it would be elsewhere.  If we were to introduce a second place that folks would need to take compost on a weekly basis, that leap might be too much to get started.  So it makes sense in the community planning process that some zoning happen around BIRD that would provide for community composting.

I think if we can come to some common understanding about the nature of the green culture already on Bowen - even if some declare it to be nascent - then we have a better chance of bringing many different people and skills into the fold to create pathways forward for many futures.  I think we don't need to negotiate values or positions with one another either, but rather co-discover these values.  That is a proven way to create ownership over the direction of the future and to amass momentum especially for the tough challenges that lie ahead.

It's not the wish list of things that actually binds us together.  Wish lists are negotiable.  I'm interested in exploring what we have already that defines us as green, without even thinking about it.

Using a quadrant model, I want to pose four questions, that result in stories:

  • What is important to you about ecology, sustainability or green thinking?  Tell a story about how you cultivated that value.  Where did it come from?
  • Tell me a story of how deeply the culture of ecology and environmental consciousness runs in the community?
  • What are some of the things that we do or have as a community that makes us green?
  • What are personal actions you undertake that are environmental, sustainable, ecological or green?

My goal with the session at the community Open Space is to pilot these questions, practice using them with participants and then have folks spread out into the community to collect some results over the next couple of months.  From there we can compile a collection of interesting stories from which we can move to the Dream phase, which is a visioning phase based on what we already have and what we already do, rather then what we don't have and what we think we need.

Here is one of many examples of this work being done, with the Skownan First Nation, who looked at doing a community land use planning process using Aboriginal values.  This is very similar in scope to what I am wanting to initiate.

Leave a comment if you are interested in taking a role with this initiative, or show up on January 2 to engage in the pilot.

(And here is a powerpoint deck my friend Peggy Holman and I have used for training people in AI)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A place in the Islands

Doing some research for our upcoming Open Space on "What Green Means for Bowen Island" and I came across this lovely .pdf of a book produced by the Islands Trust called "A Place in the Islands."  Required reading for anyone living in the Salish Sea.


Other than a snowfall early in the month, December has been relatively dry on Bowen.  Until today we had had about 41mm of rain for the whole month.  That changed yesterday with a steady 20 hours of rain giving us another 30mm.  The rain has stopped how and the wind has swung northwest, bringing clearing skies which should result in some sunny cold weather leading up to Christmas.  The creeks are quite swollen, the Lagoon is brown and there is a great deal of detritus in the bay.  No sight of salmon today, but everything was murky anyway.

Pine siskins are active at our feeder, coming down from the higher elevations in search of seeds to eat.  They have been joined by juncos, nuthatches and steller's jays.

Happy solstice!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snow is falling, community is breathing

Light flurries as I leave the island for my last trip of the year.  If you are worried about the road conditions, have a look at the Road Status Map, and update your section to gift information to your neighbours.

Last night a lovely community gathering at the Library, where 100 of us gathered to hold a candlelight vigil in support of the global call for a real deal on climate change.  Caitlin organized the whole thing and she and Aine spoke.  Aine talked about the need for world leaders, especially older ones, to make decisions with their grandchildren in mind so that they can tap into the perspective of the youth who are to inherit what we leave for them.  the choir sang dona Nobis Pacem and I helped the group in a rousing rendition of "With my own two hands," the great Ben Harper song.  We even added and improvised verse, being islanders:

We stand with Tuvalu
With our own two hands
They're an island too
With our own two hands
They're sinking into the blue
With our two hands, we support them with our own two hands. 
Pacific Islanders unite!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December pushes on

december has been dry and cold, but with clear skies and dazzling sunshine in the mornings.   Now the clouds have moved in and some snow is on its way.  The longer we wait for it though, th ebetter a chance it will rain instead.

Two events Saturday evening for your pleasure.  First, join us at the Library for a candle light vigil in support of a climate change agreement in Copenhagen.  THat starts at 530 and afterwards there will be Irish music at The Snug, so drop in to listen or play.