Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A eulogy for the ash

My posting dreams isn't unheard of.  One of my recent blog posts was about a nightmare.  You can compare and contrast these dreams, if you like.  The dream I had last night wasn't a nightmare.  On the contrary, in last night's dream, I visited a permaculturist.  He was, as is typical of organic farmers in Canada, sort of a patriarch and obdurate.  You have to be unafraid to take a go at it on your own, just to be a farmer at all in Canada, and doubly so to be able to strike out against the status quo and do organic farming.  Which is to say nothing of permaculture.  In any case, in last night's dream, this permaculturist man had planted a nursery of rainforest tree species.  I saw the saplings growing on a slope, and I knew that this was the right place.  The trees were carefully spaced for the movement of air to promote healthy growth, and to allow for a good amount of light.  Somewhat more mature young trees were carefully spaced throughout the nursery to shelter and protect the saplings.  Older, mature trees grew up over them, and even taller, enormous ancient giants with trunks as wide as a city block grew up over them and protected the more ordinary, mature, adult trees.  Through the blue haze of humid air, over the very tallest of the ancient giants, I could see at least one truly great tree that sheltered even the clouds and the sky under its branches.  Its size was of cosmic proportions.

... that wasn't the only dream I had last night.  I had a troubled sleep, and so I woke and slept and dreamed a lot...

I awoke finally in the morning to the roar of a municipal arborist's chainsaw.  By the time I left the apartment, the sick ash had been cut down.  It had been the first tree, every year since I moved to Ste-Anne de Bellevue, to lose its leaves in the fall.  It was shaped more like an elm.  It was particularly noticeable because it stood across Rue Perrault from the path by the playground and the public tennis courts.

I am so sick of men cutting down trees as if they hadn't sheltered and protected them their whole life.  They treat the other organisms as if they were so much less then they are.  Human beings, and particularly men in their prime, need to wake up to the fact that the other organisms are their equals, their evolutionary contemporaries, and their lives shouldn't be disposed of for mere convenience.

I just can't handle the fact that people keep cutting  down the trees who I love.  I can't handle that I'm expected to keep my chin up throughout the day, as if nothing happened.  Everybody expects me not to mourn, and definitely not to cry.

I think it's satanic not to mourn these deaths.

When I went out this morning, first a bluejay, then a whole lot of birds all exclaimed about the tree being cut down.  Even a nuthatch, who doesn't always come around, came around and beeped from the trees nearby.  There was a real feeling of curiosity and mourning and loss.

Anyway, finally, because I had that dream, I hold in my heart a sweet hope that someday a truly great tree will grow, who will once and for all protect life on Earth.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Please be sympathetic to Elena Klimova

(I'm posting another one of my Amnesty International letters.  Some the students here at McGill University's Macdonald campus have fundraised for Elena Klimova's "Children 404" project.  So, I was surprised to see Amnesty's urgent action callout. and the letter below is just based on the points in the callout.  There is much to be said about why I am posting this, however, it would be better for these things to be discussed face-to-face. :)



Dear Prosecutor,

I must add my voice to those with deep concern that Elena Klimova was charged with “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”.

The Russian authorities ought to drop their charges against Elena Klimova and abstain from prosecuting any person under Russia’s homophobic legislation.

I hope that the appropriate authorities - and maybe you are one of those who will - repeal the “propaganda” law which is being used to clamp down on freedoms of expression, assembly and association of the LGBTI community and those who support them/us, as it creates an atmosphere in which they/we increasingly face discrimination, harassment and violence from vigilante groups.

Yours Sincerely,


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

McGill's Global Food Security Conference

It's 4:25 a. m. And I can't sleep. Today McGill University is hosting a Global Food Security Conference that is sponsored by Syngenta.

Historically, industrialization has been opposed to food security, and the process of industrialization removed people from their life on the land, and took from people that special kind of dignity that one has when one can sustain oneself from the land where one lives. It moved people from their traditional rural agricultural communities and pressed them into urban poverty where we live precariously, and must do what industry demands of us or become homeless and hungry. Industrialization cleared the commons. Industrialization did this in the distant past in Britain and in Canada, but it is doing it today elsewhere. Modernization has moved us away from the land personally by demanding that our energies be spent specializing and producing patentable knowledge products.

The attendees of the food security conference ought to know that in order for people to be food secure, people need to stop globalizing and deregulating capitalization on agriculture and the processes of food production.

However, I am not advocating socialized agriculture at this time. The presence of agricultural industry throughout our decision-making institutions would likely turn any attempt by us to socialize agriculture toward the further establishment and institutionalization of monoculture agriculture. Unfortunately, if we were to socialize agriculture at this time, and establish a right to food as we have a right to healthcare, the corruption of our political process would merely make herbicide-dependent monoculture mandatory. It would eliminate resilient, diverse, localized and organic agricultural operations altogether.

I am a Ph. D. candidate at McGill. During my time here, I studied the responses of canola plants to bacterial signal molecules. As someone who studies canola, I am perhaps particularly aware of how production and capital have steered research over the decades, and how unaccountable millions of dollars have been sunk into the development of dubious agriculture and biotechnology, based on the aspiration for gains to the quality of life for the researchers, and for the production of patents. Who knows what those millions of dollars would have been spent on, if the primary concern had not been capitalization upon the sale of the seed and crushing for oil.

Science has been abused to continue research and perpetuate the production of patents.

The perpetuation of monoculture agriculture has simplified and lobotomized the agricultural relationship between farmers and the land. Monoculture has increased the size of fields, and the size of the machinery, and the yield of corn and soybeans, but it has decreased our ability to produce a nutritious diet that would otherwise be composed of the diverse organisms that would or could live in ecosystems that have been drained and transformed into flat, eroding, genetically homogenous landscapes. The genetically homogenous landscapes that are advocated by the agricultural industry necessitate the use of fertilizer, which contaminates the water, and pesticides, which are poisons that cause disease and the destabilization of the food web.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cool new blog style (and Blogger deleted my sidebar)

Blogger just purged my sidebar.  My little list of my friend's blogs, my list of scientific and activist resources, my great big list of revolutionary environmental and social justice oriented people and groups: all gone.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

These are some of @Schwinghamer's recent tweets re McGill University's protest protocol:

For #McGill to survive, it must be disrupted & the "normal activity" of the whole organism must change. The protocol must allow that.

#McGill Administrators who spend most of their lives in climate-controlled artificial environments will misjudge "tones of discourse"

#McGill Admin, any effective & lawful picket line will likely block the access to a building. Does this new protocol disallow picket lines?

[Answer: Yes]

#McGill Admin, protests inevitably move people from their "normal activity." Survival requires significant deviation from the status quo.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

I updated the sidebar!

Hello.  I just updated this blog's template.  Now the sidebar includes links to many of the groups who are supporting the Unis'tot'en blockade of the Pacific Trails Pipeline!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

From graduate and undergraduate students at McGill University's Macdonald campus:

The Unis'tot'en Blockade is a rallying point, or a convergence point.

The Wet'suwet'en are, among the west coast First Nations who have – over and over – been vocal and visible – and they have been heard all over the continent. They resist the destruction of the land and their home. In the past the Native Youth Movement was a good example, like the Mohawk Warriors, of what could be an anti-colonial Warrior ethic. This is very exciting.

Not just pipelines, but Natural Resource Industries threaten forests with clearcutting and threaten unceded First Nations land with hydraulic fracturing, but also open surface mining and other fossil fuel extraction projects. These threats could impact our atmosphere, which, by virtue of its turbulence and fluidity, could extend the threat to further endanger the ancient, established ways of life of all creatures on the land and in the ocean (owing to reprecussions upon ocean currents and pH).

Therefore, the threat to Wet'suwet'en land is, in fact, a threat to us all, not just to the trees, or the coast of BC!

We have to resist these projects! We have no disagreement yet in our assertion that we should resist all projects of the fossil fuel industries. Furthermore, this resistance ought to be globalized.

Here, in Ste Anne de Bellevue, it is cold, it's snowing, and it's Winter. We are not resolved to invite the undergraduate students at Macdonald College to protest outside, under these conditions. Besides, recently, other kinds of actions have shown to be effective to raise awareness, draw the attention of Society, and seemingly effect change.

So, we are going to follow the Unis'tot'en callout, but act in the electronic realm.

We will contact Encana Corporation (@encanacorp), Apache Canada, Enron Oil and Gas Resources (partners of Pacific Trails Pipeline), Royal Bank of Canada (@RBC_Canada), and Jarislowsky Fraser Limited. We will also find contacts for the Enbridge Northern Gateway (@NorthernGateway) and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, and the Pembina and Spectra projects, etc. We will contact all these groups with the message: "There will be no pipelines on Unis'tot'en lands. These pipelines are harmful to the land and the community. These extractive projects are based on a fundamentally destructive colonial and capitalist model that forces profits ahead of Indigenous self-determination and stewardship, destroys, and exploits the land and ecosystems, and disregards the safety and health of communities including those who have to work the poisonous jobs in these industries."

We will copy these messages to the Unis'tot'en camp, Francis Scarpaleggia (@ScarpaleggiaMP), and west coast politicians, or include their twitter names in our tweets.

We will "like," follow, and join the organizations that endorsed the Unis'tot'en campaign and make them aware of our electronic campaign: