january 2021

Bay of Quinte Greens, Newsletter
January 2021

Welcome once again to the Quinte Provincial Greens online
newsletter. The idea here is to provide info that Greens – people who care
about the environment and social justice – might appreciate.. So we will
range from very local things to international issues . Let me say that we
welcome any feedback from our readers.

Quinte Greens Speaker Series:   Don Wilford

Last Wednesday, the Bay of Quinte Greens – Federal and Provincial Greens working together – held the second in their speaker series on the subject of homelessness and affordable housing in the Bay of Quinte. 

Jim Colby led the discussion among three panellists, who agreed to share their experiences: Leigh Bursey is a municipal councillor, author, journalist, and housing and homelessness activist in Brockville. He is the founder of Brockville Streetfriends, which provides emergency assistance to rough sleepers; Debbie-Lee Pike is Founder of “Not Alone Team Quinte”, a group of volunteers in Belleville and Quinte West that helps those facing homelessness and struggling with food insecurity; and Brian Hart is Founder of “Kate’s Rest” on Big Island in PEC, a shelter for 20 people emphasizing friendship to help re-forge relationships, build trust, and renew lives.

Jim asked the panellists their stories – how they had come to do what they do – and a common theme was that they had lived experience. It’s sobering to realize that help often doesn’t come from those more fortunate but from disadvantaged people who have found strength in their own adversity.

The kind of homelessness they deal with is the most extreme – people without home or family who are living on the streets. Many have health, including mental health problems and exposure to our criminal justice system. All the panellists said these people deserve help – often it starts with just a hot meal.

Leigh – as well as working in Brockville – works at shelters in both Brockville and Ottawa. His observation is that there is little difference between homelessness in small communities and large towns – just that there are fewer places for people to get help. Debbie emphasized that a “place” is the first step – without an address community resources cannot be deployed. Brian said people need more than just a roof – they need a home, a place where they can rediscover trust and begin to contribute rather than receive.

Someone asked about a basic minimum income – all of the panellists thought it a good idea. Leigh mentioned how damaging the abrupt cancellation of Ontario’s recent experiment had been to those who had made longer-term commitments like housing and vehicles – the first steps to becoming employed. He said evidence has shown a basic income works. It doesn’t build a culture of dependence and can be a first step on the path to self-reliance. For those who are interested in the subject, you can read a recent report from a BC panel here – tinyurl.com/yyz6uq9a.

A question related to what kind of homes we should be building. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Brian agreed that community living offers people a place they can call their own – where they feel safe and where they belong. Debbie said that in emergency situations people needed to be isolated and stabilized. Leigh commented that low-income homes built with subsidies usually leak back into the private market and do not ensure long-term, affordable housing. 

Everyone agreed our care providers do the best they can but are increasingly over-whelmed with impossible caseloads. And they are often restricted by procedures in what they can and can’t do.

Mayor Panciuk and Councillor Sandison, of Belleville, joined the discussion. Belleville is particularly impacted because it’s where services are most readily available. Mayor Panciuk mentioned that unlike other levels of government, municipalities are constrained because they can’t run deficits and rely on property taxes. Yet municipalities are faced with increasing burdens. Mayor Panciuk mentioned that Belleville has opened a warming room, which has been in operation for three years, and has made significant financial commitments, eg, to the Grace Inn Shelter and Hospice Quinte.

The Green’s next event will be on Wednesday 24th February, on climate change, by Jeremy Theale, a doctor in the Toronto area. The title of his talk will be, “The Climate Emergency And What It Means For Our Own Wellbeing”. 

Tales from the Belleville Horseshoe: Lori Borthwick

Your GPO members have been busy writing letters and phoning all members of the Belleville City Council and Mayor on a number of issues throughout the last month. Several issues came up that we felt we needed to address.

  1. Development of the Bakelite site – Through the Quinte Field Naturalists we became aware of the newly proposed development of the Bakelite site. Cathy Lake was kind enough to register for the meeting and speak to the concerns that the Quinte Field Naturalists and Green Party had with the proposed development.  Letters were sent to the mayor and councillors and were well received. It is Green Party policy to develop brownfield space for much needed housing and to ensure that at least 20 percent of the housing is offered at below market rate, whilst protecting our important Green space for nature and biodiversity.
  2. Warming room – The Bay of Quinte Green Party of Ontario supported Councillor Kelly as he asked the council to reconsider the criteria for opening the warming room. Once again letters and phone calls were written to council and the mayor. The final decision to open the warming room at -10C instead of -15 is a step in the right direction but of course our hope is to have a 24/7 warming room available throughout the entire cold season. 
  3. The appointment of Tyler Allsopp to the vacant Ward 1 council seat – The Bay of Quinte Green Party of Ontario once again contacted the councillors and mayor in an effort to ensure that the democratic process of ranked ballot was considered in the appointment. This effort was ultimately successful. While we believe in the importance of diversity around the council floor it cannot come at the expense of the democratic process. Suggestions for a diversity fund and training for people to understand what is expected from working on council were suggested as ways going forward to increase diversity at council.
  4. Our Speaker Series on the Impact of Covid 19 on Our Shelter Crisis was well attended with 80 registrants and over 60 people attended in addition to both Councillor Sandison and Mayor Panciuk. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the issue in the Bay of Quinte region and look at the solutions. 

Our new Bay of Quinte Bumperstickers have arrived! A big thank you to KKP Printing of Belleville ON for the amazing work and to Ric Jones for managing the project. We cannot wait to set up a day and time to distribute these to our fellow Bay of Quinte Green’s. Look for our upcoming email for details on when they will be available to pick up.

“Small Steps Sparks!” Being Green at Home: Jim Colby

What have Myra and I done to reduce our carbon footprint?  Well, we use the clothes line whenever we can.

In the winter we use indoor clothes racks.  We compost waste food, vegetables and such in the yard and meat products to collection.  We also compost the leaves from the big old Maple behind the clothesline.  We walk or ride our bikes as much as possible.  I have returned to my Dad’s old safety razor which uses only biodegradable single blades.  I get a better shave and throw away less plastic.  

We try to shovel rather than snowblow.  When we went to Toronto (Covid!) we went by rail.  I also cut my front lawn with a Friskars high tech reel lawn mower.  My son called me from Toronto and told me that it takes around 37 gallons of water to make one roll of toilet paper.  I checked an article from Scientific American “Wipe or wash?” (retrieved from Scientific American, Jan 25 2021)

Justin Thomas, editor of the website metaefficient.com, considers bidets to be “a key green technology” because they eliminate the use of toilet paper. According to his analysis, Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every year, representing the pulping of some 15 million trees. Says Thomas: “This also involves 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce the paper and 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching.” He adds that manufacturing requires about 17.3 terawatts of electricity annually and that significant amounts of energy and materials are used in packaging and in transportation to retail outlets.

Guess I’ll get a bidet.

Kingston Climate Change Online Speakers:
350 Kingston Presents: Turning the Tide on Climate, A weekly seminar series (featuring local climate experts)
Mondays 7-8pm starting January 25, 2021

We are a group of Kingston area citizens committed to taking action on climate change. We recognize climate disruption as a global crisis that is having a disproportionate effect on vulnerable communities around the world and we believe that local activism is one way we can seek to make positive change. We’re currently focusing on local government and participating in national and international campaigns.

This group originally formed in preparation for the Global Climate March on November 29, 2015, for which we successfully organized a rally of 400+ people in downtown Kingston. We continue to meet once per month to organize around local actions on climate change.

Book Review, by Jim Colby
Ancient Futures
, Helena Norberg-Hodge

Anthropologists and archeoanthropologists (cf the recent best seller Sapiens by Juval Noah Harari) tell us that we have been humans who communicate and care for one another for at least 70,000 years and likely much much longer.  Some tell us that our biggest mistake was the onset of agriculture, urbanization and industrialization.  From this perspective the last 700 years is a blink in our lifetime as a species.  My imagination is staggered by this perspective.  I grew up in North York and went shopping with Mom at Loblaws in the Nortown Plaza.  I went to a high school with my pals and then university.  I got married, got a job, had kids, watched TV.  My deep definition of human ordinary was a wife, a job, a home and a car.  How can there be any workable alternate ‘ordinary’?  Aren’t things getting better?

The opening paragraph of this remarkable book reads:

In 1975 I was living in Paris and working a a linguist, when I was aksed to go to Ladakh as part of a film team.  I had never heard of the place and at first declined because I was happily settled in France.  But when I was told that Ladakh had been sealed off from the western world for centuries, I became fascinated and decided to go there for the six week shoot.  Little did I know that Ladakh would completely change my worldview, my values and the direction of my life.  (p viii)

Norberg-Hodge went on to spend thirty five years intermittenly visiting and living in Ladakh.  She is still the first westerner to master the Tibetan dialect of the region.  I cannot adequately summerize her astonishing book—it is so rich in the real details of this non-industrial ancient culture.  But her skill as a writer allows me the glimpse an alternate life which I couldn’t grasp in Willowdale in 1970.  She describes the human culture of Ladakh and uses the tricky word happiness with authenticity.  The Ladakhis she encountered were happy, joyful and kind in some contrast to the culture in which she and I were raised.  I don’t wish to be simplistic.  In Ladakh she saw mortality and misfortune but she also describes a resilience and friendliness distinct from western cultures.

Through Ladakh I came to realize that my passivity in the face of destructive change was, at least in part, due to the fact that I confused culture with nature.  I had not realized that many of the negative trends I saw were the result of my own industrial culture rather than of some natural evolutionary force beyong our control.  Without really thinking about it, I assumed that human beings were essentially selfish, struggling to compete and survive, and that more cooperative societies were nothing more than utopian dreams.  (p. 2)

I urge anyone who is interested in an alternative to western industrial monoculture to read this book.  We cannot go back to the neolithic but we can certainly correct the mistakes of the anthropocene.  One such correction suggested by the insight of this book is the resuscitation of local culture as an alternative to global fossil fuel driven corporate monoculture!

Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder of Local Futures/ The International Society for Ecology and Culture.  The organization has an online presence: https://www.localfutures.org

Once Again, The Importance of Donating and Volunteering

Don Wilford: Being together, this year, will be difficult for all and impossible for many. Thomas Homer-Dixon – Canada’s renowned political and climate scientist talks about Covid-19 in his new book, “Commanding Hope”. “I was thinking about the pandemic as a really vivid example of how things can change extraordinarily quickly”. He tells the story of how the crude climate models of 20 years ago got it basically right – predictions of climate heating, fires, droughts, and floods. And what more sophisticated models tell us about the next 20 years – how impacts will accelerate and affect more and more people. He dedicates his book to children, “It’s the best I can do to explain what I think you need to hold on to in your future.”

The Green Party is the only party that is unequivocally committed to a green future for our children and a new way of doing politics. You can listen to our leader, Mike Schreiner, describe our 5-point, post-Covid, “Green and Caring Recovery Plan” here – tinyurl.com/yye5e2co.

Ontario’s next election is in June 2022 – just 20 months away. If you agree that Green voices are essential in our next Provincial assembly, please consider donating to us – the Bay of Quinte Greens – we need money to put up signs, organize, and mount a competitive Bay of Quinte campaign – go to tinyurl.com/y25geka.

Canada’s tax system provides generous reimbursements – total donations up to $423 receive a 75% tax refund, up to $1,410 a 50% refund, and up to $1,625 a 33.33% refund.
Please think of us at Thanksgiving, talk about what it means to you and your family, and consider donating to the Bay of Quinte Greens.  

Exciting News:  The Green Book Klub is reborn as The Bay of Quinte GPO Multi Media Klub:

The Bay of Quinte Book Klub will be resurrected as a Zoom discussion klub in which members will present items (books, movies, music, art, etc) which they feel are worth the attention of other folks.  These presentations do not require attending members to have a previous acquaintance with the items not do they have to be party members.  Jim will manage this rebirth.  More anon.


Editor’s comment:  You made it to the bottom of the newsletter again!  Well done.  We would love to hear from you.  We need donations, members and volunteers.  Remember what Tarfon said:  “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. … You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”  We can help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s