As mentioned in my first blog, before I lay out some of the serious problems we are facing and discuss how we might resolve them, I want to justify that equity and sustainability are worthwhile values, and that what I’m proposing fits with Dogwood Initiative’s goals.
The most convincing argument for equity and sustainability I have found was advanced by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jared Diamond in his 1987 article, The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.
“The adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture [and the surplus it produced, which in turn resulted in the formation of elite ruling classes] came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.”
Through careful examination of skeletal remains and ancient burial sites (including prehistoric garbage dumps) before and after the worldwide agricultural revolution some ten thousand years ago, Diamond concludes that “hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest lasting lifestyle in human history.”
For 90,000 years, our forebears lived equitably on a subsistence basis and sustainably through their nomadic wandering. “In contrast,” says Diamond, “we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it.”
Although Diamond demonstrates how the practice of equity and sustainability supported us for most of our existence on earth, he does not offer solutions to our current problems. We must find new ways to apply equitable and sustainable values today.
Dogwood Initiative, for one, has accepted this challenge. Working at the provincial level, it seeks “to create pressure to dismantle the virtual monopolies held by resource companies over public land, so that communities can gain the control they need.”
It is working toward land reform in which people who work and live on the land are responsible for its management – and for making provisions for future generations.
Currently, Dogwood is fighting a legal battle to block a mega-yacht marina in Victoria’s inner harbour. As a recent letter to the Times Colonist (20 June/10) put it: “… the proposed Inner Harbour luxury yacht marina … symbolizes much of what is wrong with today’s society. It highlights the increasing gap between the rich and poor, … conspicuous consumption of the grossest kind, and utter disregard for the environment in the excessive burning of fossil fuels by playthings for a handful of people.”
In the same spirit as Dogwood, I invite you to join me in the next few blog entries to reveal, document, and evaluate the problems we currently face, and then continue with the far more challenging, but also potentially more rewarding, task of coming up with innovative ideas and strategies by which we can actively promote and build more equitable and sustainable human communities.
I look forward to our collaborative journey.
Alan, and other Dogwood Initiative supporters, will be contributing to Blogwood on a semi-regular basis.