The Green Gap

In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

I Need Your Help: How Can We Make Land Ownership Fair?

I have a goal: equitable land stewardship.
In my mind, the goal has two subsidiary objectives: allowing the investors to make a small (long-term) profit while allowing the landless and economically disadvantaged take benefit from the land without having to pay rents.

I'm so keen on this idea that I've already pulled out my RRSPs in preparation to invest them in a land co-operative.

My sole problem: I have objectives but no plan.

This is where you come in. I need your brain. I need your ethics. I need all the viewpoints I can possibly collect. I need your advice on how land ownership can be made moderately profitable so that I can pitch the idea for people to get out of their worthless mutual funds and into a land-cooperative that's not only good but real as opposed to imaginary wealth. I need your advice on how such a land use plan would allow for the landless and economically disadvantaged to use the land as a security blanket and possible source of income without worrying about rents and endless fees. I'm willing to pitch in to start making land use more equitable, and if we can work together to make it moderately profitable over the long term, then we can get others to put their money where their heart is.

Any idea helps. Let's find a way to simultaneously pull investment capital out of the stock market, liberate land from private ownership, and help those who have been disadvantaged by the current economy. I look forward to your comments!

Sunday, 11 March 2012


I’ve read for years about our ecological situation and planned to make a break from the city to live sustainably in the countryside. I’ve come up with more and more detailed plans, based in good science and the inventive know-how of global pioneers (the majority of them ex-British colonials themselves), to make this dream a reality. In the course of my own research on sustainability and ecology, I've been gradually introduced to indigenous forms of land use from North America. Recently, and in part because of this, I've started taking interest in First Nations’ issues. Now, I'm a Canadian, but I'm not a member of any of the First Nations. I don’t have a drop of First Nations blood in me, unless there was more friskiness amongst the ancestors than we've give credit for. Beyond being able to say “hello” in Blackfoot, I'm a black hole of First Nations knowledge: a darkness from which no light escapes. I admit that there are others with this exact same colonial background who revere some strange new-age hocus-pocus: the belief that they have a First Nations “spirit guide” and a “spirit animal” that is typically chosen from the following list: eagle, wolf, mountain lion, bear, or dolphin. To be perfectly clear: I am not one of those people. I have never smudged, done a sweat, or joined a drum circle. I'm your classic European-born-in-a-colony: I can recite the countries of origin of all my great-grandparents, tell you the percentages of each of the nationalities that are coursing through my veins, and I've even done a genealogical trip back to the mother country to trace my roots. I feel pangs of displaced affection for the oak forests and bucolic English countryside. I have a deep cultural affinity for my colonial brothers and sisters in New Zealand and Australia. I'm even nominally a monarchist - if we agree to call the Crown a Constitutional symbol of Canada herself and the people who live there. None of this is particularly abnormal or problematic for a colonial.

Allow me also to distance myself from a great deal of baggage: I do not suffer from post-colonial guilt complex or the delusion of “white man’s burden”. The idea that there are cultures out there that needed to be “civilised” is not only patently asinine, but if this “civilisation of the savages” had been achieved, it would have made the world dreadfully monotonous. I’ve travelled around the world enough, and employed enough people in faraway places, to know that my way does not work in certain contexts. Some cultures are simply not punctual. Some cultures value harmony more than objective truth. Some cultures can’t say “no”, and expect you to be able to tell the difference between multiple different types of “yes”. The only way MY ideas would work in those cultures is if I removed the bits that conflicted with my own conceptions and replaced them with attitudes compatible to mine. Being naturally lazy, I realised it was easier to change my approach than change the entire country I lived in. It is clear the colonial powers thought the opposite: that it was better to change all the local cultures than simply to adapt their own approach. As an efficiency freak, I find that wasteful. As a human, I find it despicable. It’s not my place to “civilise” anybody, and I realise it’s not my fault that this country got colonised; however, let’s be frank: I have benefited greatly because of this colonisation.

At this point in the narrative, however, it’s important that we look back on what’s been written and hilight a glaring omission. I would be willing to bet that most First Nations people reading this text will – right at this point – conclude that I’ve actually contradicted myself. Everyone else will likely still be wondering what the point of this post is. It's this: my entire study has been about a new solution to a problem the First Nations peoples have already solved, and yet my own research treated their solution as peripheral. I’ve already said I don’t suffer from white man’s burden or a post-colonial guilt complex, but I do suffer from an almost imperceptible memetic affliction: I still don’t privilege the discourse of the First Peoples. I’ve taken a problem that modernity has caused, and attempted to find a modern (indeed, European) solution to it. Indigenous methods, I have to admit, I treated as anecdotally interesting but not at all part of the solution I was looking for. In actual fact, indigenous methods of land stewardship are appropriate to place, systemic, and central to the problems of sustainability. It’s struck me more and more that: firstly, the depth and breadth of indigenous knowledge about their specific environments is staggering; secondly, a great deal of the knowledge has been brutalized, suppressed, and erased by colonial powers; and finally, after all this brutality, that knowledge has managed, somehow, to survive. This last point is a highly ironic form of good luck, because that which our ancestors attempted to eradicate appears to be a major part of the knowledge we need to solve our environmental problems today. This has become, for me, a disgustingly obvious case of “the more you learn, the less you know”.

To bring it all home, watch this video on the Mi’kmaq concept of “Netukulimk”, which can translate roughly to our concept of sustainability. What hit me was not the concept of sustainability itself - that idea is becoming clearer to more and more of us late-bloomers nowadays. The specific comment that caught me off guard was when Mr. Marshall said, "We must take the best of what the white man has brought forth, through his education and through his different ways of seeing the world, and our ways". Understanding that difference is something we as colonials, suffering from this post-colonial memetic hangover, were not in a place to fully comprehend. Now that I have shaken the cobwebs out, I'm beginning to see the truth of how these worldviews can work together. The darkness of my black hole had gone unnoticed to me because there was nothing but black. A single glimmer of light has now framed that darkness, and I realise now how much I need to learn from the ancient masters of Netukulimk. It is the way of a mature man that he bows his head and listens when a wise man speaks. I've clearly got to learn to be more mature.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Welcoming a New Hand

The Green Reserve is getting into a cooperative mood with a new author, Jorge Sigurd. Jorge is a scholar and a gentleman with whom Green Reserve's fate has been intertwined for well over two decades. I am hoping that this is the beginning of a new phase of growth for the blog as well as for our plans for a green future. I hope to be writing more about some concrete plans for improving the environment and making money doing it, and perhaps building a collective of like-minded people who can collaborate here to assist in bringing the green to the masses! If you're interested, Canadian (or Canadian at heart), and are interested in writing about how to build a greener society, send me an email at :)

Nova Scotia Ecological and Cooperative Links

Yes, I admit, this is research for my own purposes, but I have been looking at Nova Scotia as a place to build a cooperative. In large part because I would like to build a cooperative in Nova Scotia. I guess that is pretty self-evident by now.

All about cooperatives.

All about starting ecological businesses in Nova Scotia.

  • Dalhousie University has an incredible Eco-Efficiency Centre that supports small businesses.
  • There is a homegrown wind power company called Seaforth Energy that makes a durable 50kw turbine. In my native Alberta, solar is probably a better and more cost-effective manner of getting energy (much more sun there than most other places in Canada), but NS has loads of wind.
  • The Nova Scotia Department of Energy has a program for net metering as well as subsidy for getting renewable generations sources onto the grid.
Funky stuff in general.
And, last but not least, property porn.

That's just a start, I think I will start planning a little more openly in the coming days. Talking is winding down, actual planning is ramping up :)

Books that you may find good for your head

Certain books make thinking easier, as having a good framework gives a lovely skeleton to whatever flesh you would like to add to your very own thought golem.

Here's a few of my favourites.

Masanobu Fukuoka - 1978 - One Straw Revolution

It's a gardening manual, a philosophy book, and a biography all wrapped into one, and highlights the importance of letting evolved systems get on with their job, and not letting cleverness get in the way of wisdom.

Robert Anton Wilson - 1990 - Quantum Psychology

Another philosophical book on what we can say about the world around us. Written in e-prime, which can be defined as English without "is".

Lao Tzu - 6th Century BCE - Tao Te Ching

There are many translations, but this one will do for now. Discusses ineffability, impermanence, the nature of change, and all sorts of other goodness.