Solution-based Hope, Barbara Mills

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Tsilhqotin Solar Farm
Tsilhqot’in Solar Farm

We are so lucky to live in a conscious, committed community at this time of unprecedented challenge and crisis.  A community that helps each other, grows organic, rejects pesticides, has a small plastic free dispensary, cycles, preserves land, erects solar panels and windmills, and cleans up tons of plastic from its beaches…….. to name just a few.

Denman Island Climate Action Network (DICAN) is contemplating what additional role we can play in moving our community toward achieving the 2030 goals of carbon reduction.  The term network implies that we can be a conduit to connect islanders with each other, with research, and with ideas and solutions from around the globe. We envision that we can be a network like the mycelium that both feed the trees, while distributing the wealth of the trees photosynthesis to other organisms. An interconnected structure that supports communicates and nourishes the greater whole.  We know that how information is conveyed can determine whether it motivates or immobilizes.

Recently I have been inspired by the wisdom and writing of two environmental visionaries Elin Kelsey and Paul Hawken.  Both promote the approach of combining clear, proven, solution-based suggestions for reversing global warming at the same time we educate about the climate crisis.  As I talk to my grandchildren, I am especially influenced by Elin Kelsey’s tenet that “hope is not only warranted, but essential to addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and the full suite of environmental crisis we face”. If we focus only on inevitable decline and doom, we do not activate people to change but engender fear, despair and immobility.  Rates of anxiety and depression in our children are escalating in this time of multiple crises.

How we convey information is essential.  Let us commit to conveying known solutions as well as climate decline.  Let’s seek out and share the successes and answers that are all around us; like the Yunetsiti’in, a Chilcotin First Nation’s new solar farm, the first to be 100 per cent BC First Nation owned and operated. We can share the number of young (and old) on Denman riding bikes, erecting solar panels, and driving electric cars.  Discuss how being organic and pesticide free helps preserves the health of our soil. Celebrate that because of education and lobbying, we have no intertidal geoduck tenures. Celebrate that we are part of an initiative to restore eel grass beds that sequester CO2.  We can share the fact that more jobs in Canada are created in renewable energy than in the extracting and processing fossil fuels.  Let us be a conduit for solutions and a reason to act. Let us celebrate, but also be creative in the many other ways we can reduce our footprint on this fragile Earth.

In her book “Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way we Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis” Elin Kelsey states: I believe the way to spread hope is to collectively challenge the tired narrative of environmental doom and gloom that reproduces a hopeless status quo and replace it with an evidence-based argument that improves our capacity to engage with the real and overwhelming issues we face”.

As I reflect on this statement, I am aware that our Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry is the ultimate example of achieving this kind of balance as she communicates COVID information to us.  She is calm, kind, clear and compassionate as she conveys the many horrific threats and statistics of this virus; while at the same time that she gives us research based ways to reduce the spread and protect ourselves.  We trust her information because it reflects the knowledge from around the world and it is conveyed in a way that we can hear it and apply it.  Thank you Dr. Henry!

Let’s pay attention to, encourage and support the people who offer this type of approach to fighting climate change.  Let’s work together on Denman with the Hope that we can make a difference for our children and our planet.

Barbara Mills for the Denman Island Climate Action Network (DICAN)