by David Parkinson
Walls are for making distinctions in the physical world. On one side of the wall: warmth; on the other side: cold and wet. One one side: freedom; on the other: captivity. One side: mine; other side: yours. Walls also make divisions in the worlds inside our heads. Sometimes these are useful ones and sometimes harmful. We’re dualists through cultural indoctrination, talented at cutting the world with knives that split things in two. The more we cut the more we end up with fragments of what was once whole. Love/hate, good/bad, rich/poor, friend/enemy, and so on. We fall in love with these simplistic pieces of the world, to the point where they mean more to us than the real world — if we can even tell what it means anymore for the world to be real.The amazing wealth we possess has allowed us to build strong, thick, high walls between us, and between the human and the non-human world. We have become adept at insulating ourselves from traditional human challenges: the need to shelter from the elements, to feed ourselves, to live together in communities with a high degree of interdependence. We have achieved the luxury of choosing our means of solving these problems, and of doing so as a matter of individual choice. We do not hunt or gather as a collective, nor do we travel together or live together in any meaningful way. Our wealth has allowed us to exile children and old people from the family home, since they interfere with the main business of living. And almost everything we do is mediated by money or other technologies.
CJMP, Powell River Community Radio, is making a comeback! If you’ve ever been interested in community radio, now is the time to get involved. We need programmers, technicians, writers, artists, and creative imaginative people of all kinds.
In October, the non-profit society that held the broadcast license (the Powell River Community Radio Society, or PRCRS) held an Annual General Meeting to announce the intention to fold the society and send the license back to the Canadian government. This decision was reached after months of struggling to find funding for the fledgling station, which was still on the air, but without live programming. There were, however, a few people who felt that a community radio license was too precious a community asset to be given away, and so a new board of directors decided to step in and see what they could do.The elections took place on October 15, and since then there has been an explosion of energy in all directions. We have formed five teams to get going on fundraising, including (1) advertising and sponsorships; (2) membership, (3) promotions, and outreach; policies; (4) programming; and (5) technical matters. We’ve had a couple of raucous general meetings and have started to work out a mission statement and vision for community radio in the region. We’ve got a website at http://cjmp.ca. We have a great logo designed by local artist Meghan Hildebrand. We’re sorting out the gear in the studio and working on getting live programming back on air by mid-December. And so much more, we’d need a whole issue of Immanence to tell you about it all!
by David Parkinson
This article pays homage to Ivan Illich, about whom counter-cultural author and thinker Ran Prieur writes, “Ivan Illich was so smart, and wrote so clearly, that I can barely stand to read him—it’s like looking at the sun.” That’s an accurate description of the effect of reading Illich: I have to stop after every few paragraphs because the writing is so dense. Unlike a lot of intellectually rich material, though, it is written in language as clear and simple as the thoughts allow. It’s the depth of thinking that makes it a joy to read—and Illich’s amazing prescience: he diagnoses our situation from his vantage point more than thirty years ago and points towards solutions which seem more apt now than then.
The theme running through his work is the counterproductivity of social and industrial systems: how any system addressing some human need eventually acquires its own internal logic and, if not resisted, works against human interests. Illich investigated this trend in education (Deschooling Society), medicine (Medical Nemesis), transportation (Energy and Equity), and in very general terms in Tools for Conviviality and its sequel, The Right to Useful Unemployment (and its Professional Enemies). It’s a superficially simple concept with profound consequences for the way I see the world.
by David Parkinson
One of the wonderful things about living in this little corner of the world is the number of people who are tuned in to the importance of increasing our local food supply. More and more, I am connecting with people moving here because they see it as a place to dig in, build community, and become more self-reliant. A lot of this activity revolves around farming, whether on the tiny scale of a container of herbs on the windowsill, or on the scale that involves livestock and commercial sales.Sometimes we get so focused on man-made crops that we forget about the perennial bounty that nature drops in front of us each year, namely, the fruits and berries that grow by themselves with little to no human attention. Powell River is full of fruit trees, many the remnants of once-huge orchards that fed people up and down the coast. And berries of all kinds are everywhere you look: huckleberries, salmonberries, and of course the emblematic blackberry, that most delicious of pests. For a few years now, a volunteer-driven community effort has harvested much of the fruit that would otherwise go to waste. This is the project formerly known as the Fruit Tree Project and now named Skookum Gleaners, as it has been taken on by Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative, a new non-profit aiming at regional food security and personal self-reliance through sharing and cooperating. Skookum Gleaners is looking for people who want to go out and pick fruit! And looking for people with too much fruit, who would like someone to come and clean their trees! The benefits are obvious: less food wasted, hungry people fed, fewer bears in trouble, and a sense of community accomplishment.
Good Food Boxes contain affordable, quality produce
By David Parkinson
Did you know that Powell River has a monthly-produce-buyers’ club? In operation for a few years now, this program is run out of the United Church with help from the local Overwaitea store and serves 100-150 households per month in and around Powell River and Sliammon. The Good Food Box is similar to programs in many other cities, where members of the community to pool their money in order to make a bulk order; then distribute the food to families and individuals in the community. Best of all, it’s a locally-run, self-sustaining project.
Tanya McDonald and Kimberley Murphy- Heggeler, the volunteer coordinators, spend many hours each month collecting people’s contributions, working with the produce manager at Overwaitea (which helps the Good Food Box program by generously offering a deep discount on the incoming produce, bringing the cost close to wholesale), arranging for volunteers, and making sure that everyone gets the food on the second Wednesday of each month. I’ve been participating for about a year now, by showing up in the morning on the second Wednesday at the United Church in Powell River to help unload the produce, weigh and bag portions, and then pack up all the boxes. There are usually ten to twenty volunteers, and not only is it a fun social occasion, but there’s even lunch served afterwards.
At the beginning of each month, participants pay $12 per box, which contains produce that you might pay $15 or $16 for at the store. Each produce box contains a good assortment of staples: carrots, onions, potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, lettuce, and other healthy vegetables and fruits. Read more »
Groundworks volunteers have broken some major ground
By David Parkinson
To date, we have built a tool shed and fence, prepped the fruit-tree holes, put in paths, and built garden-bed frames.
Now we are laying out the garden, transferring our paper plan to the ground. Once this is complete, we can use the materials that have been donated and collected (seaweed, straw, manure and topsoil) to build up the soil for planting. We’ll also finish the physical infrastructure, such as the compost bins and the prep table and maybe some benches.
This season, the garden will be a work in progress, just like every garden!
The youth are currently out on work-experience placement in the community, busy entering the “real” work force. Some of us top up our hours by coming back to the garden to finish up the remaining tasks.
How can you get involved?
We are going to have regular garden work parties every Friday from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.; so you’re invited to come early, bring a lunch and then dig in!
We could use some more garden tools, such as garden forks, rakes, pitchforks, trowels, etc. We are also looking for strawberry plants. Any extras you have from your spring gardening can be dropped off at the Community Resource Centre.
Thanks to the following people and organisations who have helped us out: Julie Bellian, Diana Wood, David Parkinson, Heinz Becker, Len Menard, Adams Concrete, Rona, Therapeutic Riding, Tanglewood Cedar products, Goat Lake Forest products, Rainbow Valley Feed and Supplies, The Garden Tour committee, Kiwanis Club Of Powell River, Work And Play, and Rachel Hilleran.
Get in touch with us by calling 604-414-4868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by David Parkinson
With all the interest in local food, isn’t it odd that there’s no not-for-profit organisation in the region which aims to help regular folks become more self-reliant in food production, processing, and storage? Many people are interested in learning how to grow more food and how to preserve and store that food but it can be overwhelming to tackle all of this on your own. Why not create a formal structure to bring people together to cooperate: to share knowledge, skills, and ideas; to own equipment such as a cider press or rototiller collectively; to work together to growing crops to be divided up among the participants? To unleash the creative energy of people who are passionate about local food economy?We’re on the verge of filling that gap: by the time you read this, the Skookum Food Provisioners’ Cooperative will have applied for incorporation as a community service cooperative, the BC government’s designation for a not-for-profit cooperative. This means that all profits resulting from the activities of the cooperative will go to fund the operations of the cooperative, or to worthy community projects. Once incorporated, we can sign up members and get to work. Within three months, we will hold a general meeting to elect directors from among our members. There’s already a buzz about the projects we want to take on: how about a common potato patch, for starters? We’ve also been talking with Anne Michaels, coordinator of the Fruit Tree Project, to see how we can pick and process even more fruit this year. The only limit is the imagination and ambition of our members!
by David Parkinson
For those of us opposing prevailing forces in society, it sometimes feels as though we toil in obscurity. To work to preserve the environment, create a more just food system, alleviate poverty, or further any number of worthy causes is to work against the grain of a culture consumed with consuming. It takes a sort of willful attention-deficit disorder to tear one’s eyes away from the media and political spectacles to begin to see the dim outline of a world shaped around more human values.
As the whole shaky structure begins to crack, though, we need to look for ways to engage people who lose faith in the world that has been handed to them. People need hope, assurance, that they are more able to take charge of life than parents, teachers, political leaders, and the TV have led them to believe.
Simple things are what we need more than anything else: the faith that we are part of a world which offers a decent life for all creatures; the hope that things are getting better, not worse; and charity, not in the sense of scraps of wealth doled out to the pitiful poor, but in the sense of caritas, a widespread recognition that we all have roughly the same needs and wants and that we need to show basic kindness to others, especially those who suffer more than we do.
We so easily allow ourselves to be distracted by the apparent complexities of the world, losing sight of the easy things we can do to make life less painful for others. We look to Victoria, Ottawa or even further for great authority figures to supply solutions. So we imagine that we care and that we are passionate about solving the problems of the world, while conveniently letting ourselves off the hook for doing the actual legwork. Read more »
by David Parkinson
The fourth annual Powell River 50-mile eat-local challenge is over until next summer. We kicked off the 50-day event this year on August 9 with the first-ever Edible Garden Tour, showcasing thirteen local gardens, from Lund down to Lang Bay, thrown open so that the public could wander around, ask questions, and see firsthand how friends and neighbours are producing their own food in backyards, front yards, and community gardens, using a variety of techniques. This completely free tour even raised a bit of money for the Fruit Tree Project, which sends teams of volunteer pickers to people’s homes to pick otherwise unused fruit.I’ve been producing a weekly podcast series featuring conversations with local food champions who work hard to support the local food economy: Jeffrey Renn of Bemused Bistro, Nia Wegner of Loaves and Fishes Catering Company, Melissa Call of Sunshine Organics and Ecossentials, and Amy Sharp of Manzanita Restaurant. There’s one conversation for each week of the challenge. You can find the podcasts online at http://pr50.podomatic.com. Also take some time to visit the official blog of the Powell River 50-mile eat-local challenge at http://pr50.wordpress.com/.