Pipeline politics or industry insensitivity?

The initial Mackenzie Valley Pipeline site selection process demonstrated how industry can be utterly insensitive to impacted communities

Pipeline politics or industry insensitivity?Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard a lot about the Coastal GasLink pipeline project route in northern B.C. Some historical perspective might inform the debate. We’ve read that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have a favoured alternate route but for various reasons the company can’t support it. Given that I haven’t been on site and…

Wet’suwet’en protests create a national tipping point

Wet’suwet’en protests create a national tipping pointOver the past two weeks, my wife and I have twice encountered Wet’suwet’en protesters in the B.C. Lower Mainland. I wondered what the hell was being accomplished if people like me were getting angry? The first encounter saw us turned away from the 9 a.m. ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay – we had  important…

It’s not too late to strap the skis back on

Does your basement or garage storage area contain (even overflow) with unused exercise equipment? Put it to use

It’s not too late to strap the skis back onHave you given up exercise habits formed when you were raising your kids, replacing them with gym visits and more walking? Do you even think of how you exercised in your working, middle age? Does your basement or garage storage area contain (even overflow) with unused exercise equipment? Do your cross-country skis vie for space…

Imagine only having opinions that made you happy

Readers are starved of simple stories that make human happiness seem once again possible for regular folks

Imagine only having opinions that made you happyLast week I wrote about how happy making art makes me. It got 83 ‘likes’ in 24 hours. So what does that mean? Interesting to me is the total focus of the piece on happiness. Over the past several hours, I’ve been thinking about whether opinion pieces have simply become too negative, too querulous, too…

Letting your creative spirit loose

Back in the studio after a lifetime of sporadic art lessons, embracing the spirituality and fun

Letting your creative spirit looseMaking art is fun, spiritually soothing and a wonderful outlet for non-verbal, non-scripted creativity. At least that’s what I think after nearly seven decades of observing, sketching and painting. Each of several defined periods of my life was led by one or two talented art teachers, including my mom Frankie Robinson and her pal Peg…

Keeping an eye on the uncharted course ahead

Too many right-wing politicians base their policy thinking on antiquarian dogma, and not contemporary science or even democratic values

Keeping an eye on the uncharted course aheadThe other day my wife looked at me in a familiar way and said, “You are such a ‘rowboat’ thinker.” I knew immediately what she was getting at. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a father and grandfather who were inveterate hand-line fishers out of clinker-built rowboats. They first got me out on the…

Embracing the country life

Part 2 of the retirement dilemma: city mouse or country mouse? It's time to put an end to urban living

Embracing the country lifeWe began to embrace country life in 2004 when we bought recreational property at the north end of the Sunshine Coast, two ferry rides and about 100 km of driving up-coast from Vancouver. Still living in Calgary, we knew it was time to start planning for retirement and the post-work world. Our 24 acres fronts…

The retirement dilemma: city mouse or country mouse?

Part 1: Defining the attributes of your successful retirement community

The retirement dilemma: city mouse or country mouse?Who says you have to go on living in the same location when you retire? The choice is yours. City or country retirement is ultimately a personal decision. But it draws significantly on your prior life, and the skills and personal attributes you can bring to the retirement community you choose. How you retire is…

Is capitalism a cure for the climate crisis?

Life in an air-conditioned bunker, drinking vodka sodas and binge-watching Netflix may not be enough to stimulate the privileged climate-change survivors

Is capitalism a cure for the climate crisis?The actions of the Donald Trump presidency and the many global populist governments that follow suit (Brazil, the Philippines, and arguably Saudi Arabia and even Australia) reveal a line of thought about the climate crisis: it doesn’t really exist. Climate change is basically viewed as an externality determined by God, nature or whimsy. When it’s…

New Year’s resolutions for a happier, sustainable future

Why not confront the demons we travelled with in the 2010s with a roadmap for dealing with a changing global climate landscape?

New Year’s resolutions for a happier, sustainable futureA new decade calls for new ideas. How about entering the 2020s with the clear vision and noble spirit that comes with embracing change? Why not confront the demons that we travelled with in the 2010s with some new, reconstructed and rethought vigour? Let’s revise our goals and refashion our strategies for their attainment. How…

The ritual and love of Christmas at Skelhp

Whales, glorious sunsets, warming fires, close-knit family, a hand-cut tree, elaborate toasts – and plaid!

The ritual and love of Christmas at SkelhpThe humpback whales were still breaching and blowing as we crossed by ferry from Little River to Powell River on our way back to Skelhp after a week with friends. In mid-December, the big ocean visitors begin their travels south, and once again the local orcas and sea lions become the dominant residents of the…

Vancouver’s absurd housing market shuts out millennials

Is the affordability crisis – and the lack of government intervention – a metaphor for something much worse?

Vancouver’s absurd housing market shuts out millennialsI want to describe Vancouver’s awful housing market as a metaphor for something else. I’ll reveal the ‘something else’ later in the column. For now, let’s just stick with Vancouver, the city I grew up in. When I was a little boy, our Dunbar neighbourhood had a broad cross-section of residents. Our family’s cleaning lady…

Dealing with the deaths of close friends

As much as we may wish to avoid the obvious, there’s increasing likelihood of the death of treasured old pals, neighbours and work associates.

Dealing with the deaths of close friendsAll of us born in the baby boomer era – the period signalling the end of the Second World War – are now in our 60s or early 70s, and sailing into the zone of no return. As much as we may wish to avoid the obvious, there’s increasing likelihood of the death of treasured…

Giving licence to vulgarity

The rising interpersonal venom on the Internet is a distressing sign of the times

Giving licence to vulgarityIf you’re middle aged or better and have a sense of life before the Internet, information technology and all of the associated foofaraw, you may also remember the value of polite speech. It was extremely rare in my youth to witness profanity first-hand in what might still be called polite society. That included family relations,…

Venice flooding a sign of deepening climate crisis

Think of Venice as a metaphor for humanity’s tepid response to the swelling climate crisis

Venice flooding a sign of deepening climate crisisIn the last week of September, I spent an interesting hour talking with an Italian doctoral student in ecology on the banks of the Venice lagoon. She wanted to know why I had come to Venice and what I knew of its insular yet urban environment. “Did any aspect of the Venetian lagoon’s environment draw…
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