Sunday, 3 March 2019

Per in the Doldrums

March had begun in the land of the giant puppets, yet there was fresh snow on the ground and it was unseasonably cold outside. One of the giant puppets, Per, was alone, looking out the window at the grey clouds and the snow covered yard while sipping a cup of tea. Let's send this puppet some warm thoughts – this one's in need of support right now.


PER (thinking aloud): What is the matter with the world? Those who are destroying it are in charge and the rest of us are considered radical for wanting a future. How can this be?

When we object to a pipeline, or genetically engineered food, or spraying pesticides on our already stressed forests, we're the ones who are cast as crazies. All we're supposed to think about is getting ahead and making money.

So many are living paycheque to paycheque or, worse, hand to mouth. It's no wonder the majority of us can't focus on the bigger picture.

But we must! As Greta Thunberg says, it's as though our collective house is on fire. We have a duty to leave a liveable future to those who come after us. Why is it that so few of our leaders seem to understand this?

Public relations exercises don't work on nature. It doesn't care if a government says that fracking is green even though it destroys the land, air and water. Nature is indifferent to the lies we're told. No one can fool our complex life support systems.

It hurts when we're presented with greenwash. Green plans that encourage fracking and talk of building pipelines to fund a green transition are really a form of climate change denial. We can't continue to fund fossil fuel production if we want to have a future.

image courtesy of Pixabay
How do we dismantle all the systems that are destroying our world and ourselves?

Everything from trade agreements that encourage importing goods that can be produced locally, to food production that depends on pesticides and needless waste, to city planning that caters to cars instead of bikes and public transit: they're moving in the wrong direction.

So many systems are inefficient and mostly just make the already rich even richer. Never a thought about the environment or how others are affected it seems. Sometimes it feels insurmountable.

How do we restore our connection to nature and each other? How do we create constructive and respectful ways of being in the world that actually nurture and protect life and the beautiful planet we all depend upon? How do we normalize values and practices that honour our place among others instead of putting us at the top where we can exploit them? 

So many of us are working hard but we don't have time to make any mistakes, or to get fooled by those who live for profits only. There's more to life than making money, but how do we change course?

Sometimes I get so afraid that I just want to weep.


Per, head in hands, sat feeling pain and anguish. Sometimes it's hard to know what to do when  overwhelmed with fear and grief. We're thinking of you, Per.

image courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, 22 February 2019

Puppets Getting Restless

Snowflakes were still falling in the land of the giant puppets, yet lately the snowy days had been punctuated with periods of warm sunshine. Spring was coming, albeit slowly, and the puppets were getting antsy. Let's see what they're up to.

image courtesy of Pixabay

NOWCA was watering the newly planted leek and nasturtium seeds, Per was adjusting the grow lights, and Good Time was sweeping up the bits of dirt that had fallen onto the floor.

Mr. Pipeline was in the other room standing in front of a mirror and reading from a piece of paper.

NOWCA went into the kitchen and put on the kettle to make tea.

NOWCA: Mr. Pipeline, will you be joining us for tea? We have some home made oatmeal cookies.

MR. PIPELINE: I don't have time right now. I need to practise my speech.

GOOD TIME: A speech?! Why don't you practise it in front of us?

MR. PIPELINE: You're not my intended audience. I don't think you'd understand the urgency of what I'm talking about.

PER (pouring a cup of tea and taking a cookie): You never know, Mr. Pipeline. We might understand. Say, is that an invitation in your hand? 'Lee K. Pipeline' -- that's your full name? And it's from CAPP -- doesn't that stand for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers?

Mr. Lee K. (Leaky) Pipeline
MR. PIPELINE (quickly putting the invitation into his pocket): Mind your own business! And don't start calling me 'Leaky' for short. I had enough of that when I was in school.

And my talk wouldn't interest you, Per. I don't think my motivational speeches would work for this crowd.

Besides, I'm working to deadline. I have to have my speech down pat by early March.

PER: What day exactly, Mr. Pipeline? And where?

MR. PIPELINE: Monday, March 4th at 3pm in front of City Hall, but you don't want to be there.

PER (writing in a daytimer): I think it's time we puppets got out a bit. I'd like to hear your speech.

NOWCA: And Mr. Pipeline, the timing is interesting, especially since you were invited by CAPP, and the National Energy Board just approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline today.

MR. PIPELINE: The pipeline has been approved, but that doesn't mean getting it built is going to be easy.

GOOD TIME: That's for sure! A lot of folks, including indigenous people and environmental groups, are furious and will probably take this back to court. They're mad about this decision and what it will do to the Orcas, among other things. Some say this will make the protests at Clayoquot Sound look like a picnic.
image courtesy of Pixabay

MR. PIPELINE: But industry is going to be proactive! We have a few tricks up our sleeves and, believe me, we know how to use them.

NOWCA: You know, Mr. Pipeline, people have learned a thing or two and many of us will be doing all we can to protect our environment and our future.

When the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have twelve years to limit the effects of climate catastrophe, people take notice. We're not going to fall for the fossil fuel industries' tricks.

MR. PIPELINE (stomping out of the room): I've wasted enough time. I need to polish up my speech.

PER: Interesting. I wonder if he knows about our event?

NOWCA: Could be a diverse mix.

GOOD TIME (eating a cookie and having a sip of tea): Want to make placards this afternoon?

PER: Sure, I'll get the poster board.

GOOD TIME: Sounds like fun! I'll get the felt pens.

image courtesy of Pixabay

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Expressing Our Love in Rhyme

What gives Valentines Day a special shine? For the Giant Puppets it's a chat and a rhyme...


NOWCA: The times are a changin' as they say. Some celebrate Valentines in unusual ways.

GOOD TIME: I like the heritage seeds, and the offer to help pull weeds.
image courtesy of Pixabay

MR. PIPELINE: What's wrong with chocolate and long stem roses? You puppets seem to be holding your noses.

PER: You see, Mr. Pipeline, it's their supply lines. They give workers and earth a pretty bad time.

GOOD TIME: Who wants to support slavery? And I love environmental bravery.

NOWCA: There are alternate ways of expressing our love. It's each other, all others and earth we think of.

MR. PIPELINE: Seeds aren't romantic, nor pulling weeds. I hope you have something better than these.

image courtesy of Pixabay
PER: To a gardener those things are divine. But there's more -- much more -- that's great for this time.

GOOD TIME: Fair trade chocolate, indoor plants; a back rub, a poem, or a dance.

NOWCA: Bath bombs, cookies or bake me a cake; a thrift store find or something you make.

PER: A podcast, a poem, a piece of your art, any of these show what's in your heart.

MR. PIPELINE: You flaky puppets wreck everything. Can't you enjoy what tradition brings?

PER: Traditions change, Mr. Pipeline, and for good reason. When their roots are bad they've had their season.

GOOD TIME: We express our love in so many ways. From the puppets to you, Happy Valentines Day!

image courtesy of Pixabay

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Our Favourite Things

The weather was unseasonably cold in the land of the giant puppets, and they were hunkered down staying warm. Dressed in thick socks and warm sweaters, their days were taken up by tea, popcorn and jigsaw puzzles.
image courtesy of Pixabay

And conversation.


PER (putting the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle): Aren't those tall ships beautiful?

GOOD TIME (perking up and listening): They sure are! Say, do you hear music?

PER (listening and humming along): I do. I simply remember...

NOWCA: my favourite things...

GOOD TIME: and then I don't feel so bad.

MR. PIPELINE: That's an old song from The Sound of Music.

GOOD TIME: What are some of your favourite things, Mr. Pipeline?

MR. PIPELINE: Well, I like expensive cars -- a nice Jaguar or a BMW. I like meals at private clubs, and good wine.

PER: I see. Some of my favourite things are sentimental tunes, abstract art and sunsets. Here's a Patsy Cline song that's been going through my head today.

GOOD TIME: Crazy? It makes me feel crazy about all that we might lose with climate disruption. Extinction includes all our favourite things. What about kids deciding what they want to be when they grow up, when they're not even sure they're going to grow up?

image courtesy of Pixabay
NOWCA: It's hard not to go there, isn't it, Good Time?

GOOD TIME: Yes. I feel so scared and I don't want to lose all the things I love. Even this popcorn I'm eating -- I can't fathom no more people getting to eat popcorn. And all the food, entertainment and beauty that would be gone.

MR. PIPELINE: Good Time, you're over reacting! Climate change is exaggerated! Greedy environmentalists are just trying to scare you and get your money.

GOOD TIME: We're freezing all over North America, and Australia has just had record high temperatures and floods, and you think I'm exaggerating, Mr. Pipeline? How much worse can it get? What's this summer going to be like? What do you think the future holds if we continue on this way?

PER: Good Time, I agree and so do climate scientists. We're in a serious state and we have got to change course within twelve years to limit climate catastrophe. But people are stepping up! We've got everything from the Extinction Rebellion movement to the Green New Deal to the Leap Manifesto. We need to step up too.

MR. PIPELINE: Hey, Per, those movements are all too radical. We need incremental change -- industries are changing slowly.

PER: Too slowly for the good of the planet, Mr. Pipeline. And fossil fuel industries have had their chance. We can't waste time waiting.

Hey, NOWCA, we haven't heard from you. What are some of your favourite things?

NOWCA: I have so many favourite things -- life in all its aspects is so beautiful to me. It's hard to contemplate losing it all, not just for me, but for people in the future and all the other creatures we'd take with us. I can't imagine losing the birds, bees and butterflies, and reggae bands, captivating films, figure skating and all the things that would lose their cultural context. Thinking about this kind of loss is unbearable, and unimaginable.
image courtesy of Pixabay

PER: And, Mr. Pipeline, your fancy cars, restaurants and wine would also be no more. Isn't it worth changing our systems so we and those to come can still experience what we love?

MR. PIPELINE: You're all exaggerating! Life's going to continue. You shouldn't believe all those lies the foreign environmentalists are spouting.

GOOD TIME: David Suzuki isn't foreign. He was born in Vancouver. There are lots of Canadian environmental organizations. Per, NOWCA and I aren't foreign either for that matter. We just want a decent future.

MR. PIPELINE: What if we do all this work to give up oil, change our lifestyles and turn everything on its head, and it's all for nothing? Because you were tricked by environmentalists?

PER: Really Mr. Pipeline? A better future would be for nothing? My hope is that the path forward brings us peace, health, safety and a better way to live.

NOWCA: What ever happened to the time honoured tradition of wanting a better future for our children? We need that sentiment now more than ever. We need to tend our path into the future very carefully.

image courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, 1 February 2019

Contemplating Extinction

Though it was still cold in the land of the giant puppets, there'd been a few sunny days that dropped the slightest hint of Springtime to come. And yet, one puppet did not look very happy. Let's see what's getting Good Time down.

image courtesy of Pixabay

PER (walking into the living room and discovering Good Time sulking): Good Time, what's wrong?

GOOD TIME (looking up): Oh, hi, Per. I just listened to a really scary video about climate change from a scientist named Gail Bradbrook with the Extinction Rebellion.

I was already feeling a mix of anticipation and dread for the coming warmer weather, and now I feel scared about what it'll be like next year.

Last year it was so smoky, and we weren't sure if our little town would be the next to burn down. I wish there was something I could do.

PER: Maybe there is, Good Time. I listened to that video too, and at the end of it, Dr. Bradbrook talks about how we need to take action that is both peaceful and disruptive since the climate situation is so urgent. Maybe we can plan something like that.

GOOD TIME: But I've never planned anything like that before, Per. I wouldn't know where to start.

PER: Gee, neither have I. I wonder if NOWCA might have some ideas.

image courtesy of Pixabay
NOWCA (entering the room with a plate of veggies and dip): Per, will you give me a hand with the tea?

PER (walking to the kitchen and bringing out a teapot and some mugs): Thanks, NOWCA. Just what we need!

Good Time and I were talking about planning an action to show our opposition to climate disruption. We need the world to change course and don't know what to do. Do you have any ideas, NOWCA?

NOWCA (as the three of them gathered around, poured tea and started snacking): I guess I'd find out who else is feeling the same urgency and see if anything is being planned. Creative, non-violent and disruptive action makes a lot of sense, and it needs to be well orchestrated.

GOOD TIME: That's what Dr. Bradbrook of Extinction Rebellion said too, NOWCA. Thanks for preparing these snacks. Eating together with you and Per is comforting.

NOWCA: Glad to hear that, Good Time.

GOOD TIME: I feel so panicky this time of year. I want it to be spring, but then I'm scared of the
image courtesy of Pixabay
forest fires summer might bring.

NOWCA: I know what you mean, Good Time. Every year the summers seem to get more hot, with more forest fires.

GOOD TIME: I don't know how to express those feelings in a public way that will help to change things for the better.

NOWCA: It feels good to talk with friends who are just as concerned, doesn't it? I think we need to see what others are doing, share on social media and discuss these things to see what gets the most traction. Then plan it carefully and take bold action.

PER: I guess taking care of ourselves and each other and keeping our ears to the ground helps.

GOOD TIME: I'm still scared, but feel so much better after talking with you, Per and NOWCA. Thanks for being such understanding friends. Our relationships matter more than ever in these crazy times.

PER (giving Good Time a hug): Whatever happens, Good Time, our relationships are what matter. We all really need each other when life is so terrifying.

NOWCA (giving Good Time and Per a hug): I think the more we trust and support each other, the better our actions will be.

Hey, here's a song that just popped into my mind. Can you imagine thousands of people singing this in the streets? It would be a great start to the radical shift we need to make.

GOOD TIME: It would be amazing, NOWCA! Thanks for helping me feel better. Whatever our chances of addressing climate change, I'm grateful to have you two with me. And I hope we sing this song in the streets together with lots of other people soon.

PER: And I hope singing that song marks the beginning of some course changing climate action.

image courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, 25 January 2019

The Age of Elegance

The giant puppets had planned their garden, but it was still cold outside, so they couldn't yet get their hands in the dirt. NOWCA had been quietly ruminating on an idea, and had asked the others to give feedback and offer their thoughts.

It was about a new kind of elegance, and they huddled around a bowl of popcorn with cups of tea as NOWCA explained it.


According to the online dictionary, 'elegance' is a noun meaning 1. the quality of being graceful
image courtesy of Pixabay
and stylish in appearance or manner, style; and 2. the quality of being pleasingly ingenious and simple; neatness.


NOWCA (addressing the other puppets): Thanks for letting me bounce my idea around with you.

Lately I've been yearning for elegance in my life, and wondering why it is that we hear of so few things being described as elegant these days. Any thoughts?

GOOD TIME: Because there isn't really much in the way of elegance in the way we live?

MR. PIPELINE: Because it's become passé, and no one cares about it?

PER: Because most of us are so busy and stressed that it's not something we think about much?

NOWCA: I think all of you are right and, Mr. Pipeline, it may not be stylish now, but I think it's time for elegance to make a comeback.

image courtesy of Pixabay
PER: I'm not sure what you're getting at exactly, NOWCA, but my sense is that a bit more elegance in life would be appealing.

MR. PIPELINE: It sounds like a great new marketing opportunity to me.

NOWCA: The way I envision it, it would be highly personalized, so conventional marketing probably wouldn't be effective.

MR. PIPELINE: To me, elegance has a lot to do with things that are expensive, and with opulence and prestige.

NOWCA: Mr. Pipeline, the way I see it, a new kind of elegance would be accessible, even to those who don't have a lot of money. Look at nature: it functions effortlessly without any costs, or any waste. That's the essence of the kind of elegance I'm seeking.

PER: It almost sounds like a spiritual quest, NOWCA, or an environmental mission.

NOWCA: It's both and more, Per. It's about an aesthetic that is perfectly suited to each person, that embodies respectful process while validating
image courtesy of Pixabay
and enhancing the individual, community and environment. And doing all those things in a beautiful way -- living our lives as though we're cultivating a flourishing garden.

GOOD TIME: Would yearly fashion and style trends still apply, NOWCA?

NOWCA: Not really, Good Time, since everything would be tailored to each individual and setting. The clothing that fits your particular body type; the mementos from your family; the colours that resonate with you. Those things can't be dictated by yearly trends.

PER: Would there be some things you'd get rid of? Plastic comes to mind.

NOWCA: For sure, I'd get rid of most stuff made of plastic, although I'd keep my laptop and other things made of plastic that are hard to replace. And I'd seek out things that don't harm the earth and its inhabitants.

We'd keep things like items that have been reused or repaired, or stuff produced by people who make a living wage, or things that help our environment. Everything would have a larger meaning; their histories would make them more or less elegant.

MR. PIPELINE: Sounds like an entrepreneur's worst nightmare! How would they keep costs down without cheap labour? How would they know what kind of inventory to have on hand?

NOWCA: Part of the elegance of my vision is the way it would change things. If business owners knew their customers well and understood their underlying values, it might be quite simple to cater to them.

image courtesy of Pixabay
GOOD TIME: What would housing look like with this new aesthetic, NOWCA?

NOWCA: Most housing would be smaller, with enough space to comfortably meet the needs of people who live in them. There'd be more shared spaces, gardens and tools. That way of living would build community and would be less wasteful.

MR. PIPELINE: That would kill ambition! What are people supposed to aspire to?

NOWCA: Caring relationships; a healthier planet; appreciation of the beauty around them...that sort of thing.

PER: Would it affect the way we do things?

NOWCA: It would. We wouldn't rush around so much, and take the time we need to care for ourselves, get to know each other and to serve our community.

MR. PIPELINE (standing up): That's the flakiest thing I've heard in my life! That's not how the world operates.

NOWCA: Mr. Pipeline, the world is being destroyed by the way things operate! We need to change. Wouldn't you like to live in a way that's meaningful, elegant and tailored to who you are?

MR. PIPELINE (walking out of the room and slamming the door): NOWCA, you have corrupted the meaning of elegance.

NOWCA (sitting stunned along with Per and Good Time): Hmm. Maybe it's time to take my idea more seriously. If it gets Mr. Pipeline that upset, there must be something to it.

image courtesy of Pixabay

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Planting Seeds for 2019

image courtesy of Pixabay
Late winter enveloped the land of the giant puppets. It was cold outside, and it felt like things were at a standstill. Per, Good Time and NOWCA were upset about the logging going on in local watersheds that could affect their drinking water, and the violation of the rights of the Wet'suwet'en people in Northern BC. It was hard to know what to do.

Maybe the best way to spend their time was to plan, and think about planting some seeds...


GOOD TIME: I'm feeling paralyzed. It's hard not to be afraid of what summer will bring when the last two were so hot and there were so many fires.

NOWCA: I know how you feel, Good Time. But here's some advice someone gave me a long time ago that might be helpful to you. She said that when you don't know what to do, take care of yourself so that when there is something to do you'll be able to do it.

PER (carrying a big box into the room): That's really sensible, NOWCA. Staying calm and caring for ourselves makes it more likely that we'll take effective action when the opportunity presents itself.

And there's another thing we can do too. Here's a hint: Guess what's in this box?
image courtesy of Pixabay

GOOD TIME: Um, a puppy?

PER (putting the box on the floor): Nope, guess again.

NOWCA (looking into the box): Ah, seeds and gardening supplies!

PER: Hey, that's cheating, NOWCA! You peeked.

GOOD TIME: So we can take care of ourselves and we can plan the garden, and think about planting some seeds!

NOWCA: Yes, in more ways than one. 2019's a crucial year for planting all kinds of the right seeds. And not just in our gardens. Here in Canada, there's a federal election coming up, and we have to plant the seeds that will get a government elected that will do the right thing for our environment, society and economy.

GOOD TIME: You mean like building a pipeline to pay for green infrastructure?

PER: No, and none of that kind of greenwash.

NOWCA (rummaging in the box): I agree, Per. We have to get real about climate change and stop letting our political representatives treat it as a public relations exercise.

GOOD TIME: What exactly do you mean?

image courtesy of Pixabay
PER: Well, the pipeline Trudeau referred to cost $4.5 billion and the upgrades it needs may never materialize. The world is transitioning to green energy, so if it ever gets built there probably won't be a demand for what goes through it. In the meantime, we could have put that money to developing green energy and infrastructure in Canada and putting people to work.

So we've basically paid $4.5 billion of our tax dollars to a transnational corporation for something of very little value. That's a prime example of greenwash.

NOWCA: Oh, look! I've found kale seeds that were collected from the garden from last year! They'll be perfectly suited to the growing conditions of the garden.

GOOD TIME: And the price is right. I guess we have to wait a month or so to start seedlings, but we can plan the garden in the meantime.

NOWCA: Another example of greenwash is the Site C/LNG fiasco taking place here in BC.

Damming Site C would destroy top quality agricultural land and a wilderness corridor of immense value, and big dams are much more polluting than previously thought. Also, there is no demand for the energy it would produce. And the site is prone to landslides and is completely unsuitable for a dam.

However, the BC Government wants to be able to say it's powering their pet Coastal GasLink Pipeline project with clean energy coming from Site C.

As David Suzuki points out, this project is also in violation of aboriginal rights, and fracked gas is simply not clean. It contaminates water and air, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to produce and its end product creates greenhouse gases.

This project is simply more greenwash.

GOOD TIME: Yet so many people believe what they're being told.

PER: That's why it's so important to know whose interests your news sources represent, and to be aware of media concentration.

GOOD TIME (reaching into the box): Look! I found some marigold seeds!
image courtesy of Pixabay

PER (pulling a seed packet out of the box): And nasturtium seeds too! Not only do they repel insects the way marigolds do, but they're edible! Both the flowers and leaves have a peppery flavour. I just love them! It's neat how many plants repel insects that eat the plants we grow.

NOWCA: I just thought of more greenwash: the logging that's going on in BC. The watersheds that surround our drinking water are being logged and it's going to affect the quality of the water in our region.

The professional reliance model of regulating forestry, although apparently being tweaked, still allows for that, and for critical habitat of endangered caribou to be logged.

GOOD TIME: So basically most of us are being tricked into believing that business as usual is actually good for our environment, right?

NOWCA: You've got it, Good Time.

But back to planting seeds: the federal election is coming up and there's going to be a lot of talk about strategic voting since Canada doesn't have the proportional representation voting system it was promised. Instead of giving Justin Trudeau and his broken promises a second term, it might be a lot better to strategically support climate champions. And, frankly, most of the climate champions I'm seeing these days are with the Green Party. Elizabeth May was the only party leader who came out in support of the Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs when their territory was illegally invaded by the RCMP earlier this year.

PER: Strategic voting for the climate would be a good seed to plant, NOWCA. Good thinking!

GOOD TIME (holding up seed packets): It's going to be fun planting the garden with you and strategizing about the federal election. Hey, where's Mr. Pipeline?

NOWCA: He's been away ever since the Wet'suwet'en people protested the Coastal GasLink pipeline construction on their territory. Mr. Pipeline and his friends will probably be busy for awhile painting the whole thing green. It's got to be a challenge but, unfortunately, enough of the public still seems gullible enough to believe them.

GOOD TIME (sighing): When will we ever learn?

image courtesy of Pixabay

Per in the Doldrums

March had begun in the land of the giant puppets, yet there was fresh snow on the ground and it was unseasonably cold outside. One of t...