“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Jack Layton’s last letter

When I think over the past year with the frantic efforts south of the 49th to carve up and feed every bit of public good/life to the greed of corporate profit while fanning the flames of racial hatred, gutting science institutions that suggest there is a limit to how much devastation our planet can take and remain habitable to human populations; when I think of our own government pandering after the “Free Trade” agreements that are—transparently—selling out our public good and environmental control to the unlimited greed of “investors” just to add to the greed of the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population; I take a deep breath and I go sit down in the shade of the plum tree in my back yard and reread Jack’s last words.

Recently, I took Naomi Klein’s new book,  NO IS NOT ENOUGH, along on my quest for a suitably restful place from which to review Jack’s perdurable words. If I were to try to summarize Klein’s insightful book it would go something like this, ”No is not enough!!!!” According to Klein, “Trump is not an aberration but a logical extension of the worst most dangerous trends of the past half-century (we need) a credible and inspiring ‘yes’–a road map to reclaiming the populist ground”–a bold course for winning the just, sustaining and sustainable world we know is possible.

This may seem like a bit of a leap(pun intended) but as I read though Klein’s book and Jack’s inspiring words I couldn’t help thinking of the Comox Valley Sustainability Tour that the CV Sustainability Project is working up to a September 24 event in our valley. While the Sustainability Tour is not—of itself—a game changing “leap” to a better world, it is, however, a step—perhaps the precursor of a leap—to a better world. It is about people who want a sustainable world saying that they won’t/ can’t wait for government officials of whatever level to decide that it is time to plan for/act for a better, more sustainable world. We’ve done that for far too long.

In 2010 the whole valley came together—citizens of all stripes, government, business, community organizations, professional planners—we talked and researched and argued and compromised and listened to each other and—in the end—came up with a visionary document: the Comox Valley Sustainability Strategy(CVSS). It is/ was a major accomplishment that would have made the Comox Valley a leader in community sustainability. But… well…you know…it happens over and over—good ideas get put on the shelf because they are not properly aligned with the financial interests that control the  community’s future. And—to be fair—despite all its public forums and cross community consultations—the CVSS was a document with sometimes jargonistic rules and potential regulations that—despite its high intentions—did not touch the heart and souls of many Comox Valley residents. So the CVSS gathers dust in the back shelf of the CVRD–occasionally taken down to support or counter some development proposal. But it is anything but a centre piece community guide and is very seldom referred to in a proactive way.

So the Comox Valley Sustainability Project has learned from the short comings of the CVSS and is looking for ways, like the Sustainability Tour to document, not what people should or should not do, but to demonstrate what people in the Comox Valley are doing to create a more sustaining and sustainable valley. It is a corollary of human existence that people learn most about what to do from what neighbours ARE DOING! The Sustainability Project wants to show how Comox Valley residents are adapting to(and even enjoying and profiting from) meeting the challenge of sustainability.

But there is an unstated, perhaps not even recognized, benefit of the CV Sustainability Project: It is the beginning of something very different, something Cecil Andrews, author of Slow is Beautiful, once alluded to in her statement “Reinventing the art of conversation may be our only path to saving this Earth and it’s peoples.”  I see things like the Sustainability Tour as the beginning of people in our valley talking with each other about what they are doing to create a more sustainable world and why that is really important to them. And I think that is the kind of conversation that we all–not only can hear– but dearly want to hear.

So tell me: what are you doing to create a more sustaining valley (world even)? And why is that important to you? I do hope you will come out September 24 and see what our neighbours are doing and why these, sometimes big/sometimes small steps to a world that is healthy for us and will be healthy for our grandchildren’s grandchildren are important to them.

Learn more about the CVSP and the September 24 Sustainability Tour:  www.cvsustainabilityproject.ca or the CVSP facebook page.

So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.–

Happy Trails!

Norm Reynolds