Spring glow

Caterpillars on silk threads

Sunny canopies

The green grapes of wrath arise





West coast is the best coast

One day before Canadians across the country took to the polls to elect a new government, time was spent hiking and rock climbing in the beautiful backyard of Squamish, British Columbia. The cross-section of fighting for politics that we believe in while also reflecting on how federal policies affect our daily lives, our hikes in nature and our freedom to enjoy the spaces in which we live is sometimes more direct that we would like to admit.

The previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper was consistently criticised for implementing policies, laws and commissions which always trumped economy over the environment.

For example, Harper’s decision to support open net-cage fish farms off the BC coast which were in the path of wild salmon migrations; thus contributing to endangering sockeye salmon. When it came to oil pipelines, the government did not only back pipelines in general, but became their “chief advocate and cheerleader”. Further, while Canada continues to be known for its beautiful, pristine extensive forests, it has now surpassed other countries such as Indonesia and Brazil and become the leading country on the planet in the degradation of untouched forests. This is due to the logging industry as well as forest fires that are caused by climate change, and an ongoing lack of political will and interest at the federal and provincial level to protect primary forests in the country.

With the subsequent election of a Liberal government and new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, there is both hope as well as wonder of what is coming next. What will change with this new government and how will our nature, environment and precious natural resources be protected?

People in the province of British Columbia continue to be blessed with amazing access to raw, real nature that is not manicured or mowed down.While embracing nature is part of the West Coast mentality, there is also a humility amongst the communities here. That we need to support it, respect it and enjoy it as it will always surpass our imagination.

However, we must not take it for granted. While the time for change is now, we must continue to be wary of how our nature is often directly targeted and affected by attempts to further the national economy at all costs.

The natural world in the city

My last post reflected on how (wo)men engage in our natural environments, particularly in the mountains, using the example of the Chamonix Mont Blanc valley.

But when we come (back) to our urban environments, how do we reconcile with the benefits of a city life with our desire to (still) engage with nature? What is the relationship between the natural world and the urban world?

When we think about the cities we live in and travel to, a symbol of high quality of life is often linked to greenery, access to nature and how this is embedded in a city’s lifestyle. Often this may be part of a city planner’s job – to integrate more green spaces into a cityscape. Thus we find ‘signs of the natural world’ in the city. Potted plants, trees, grass, flowers, all (deliberately) adapted to our urban environment.

We have built cities ‘on top’ of nature, covering up our earth, soil, sand and mud with cement to walk, run, bike and drive on. We have imposed cement on it, to constrain it, limit it and prevent our feet from ever touching it in a city space. But sometimes nature (often in the shape of unwanted weeds) breaks through these constraints, these concrete cracks and finds a way to breathe, find light and life despite us.

However, the conflict is ongoing. We like nature in the city but it needs to be limited. Confined to the ideals of natural beauty which we define ourselves. Unruly weeds that break these borders and find a way past the concrete are often punished and destroyed.

Killing weeds