CCEC Blog
Search
 

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke at UBC last Friday and made the case that growing inequality in modern day America (and Canada) is a result of political choices we have made; the failed experiment of trickle down neo-conservative policies that have been advocated since the 70's. He boldly advanced the need for a new political agenda that will give ordinary people a bigger share of the pie. 

The presentation included graphs on income distribution, wealth distribution and other factors over the last 100 years, and the data clearly indicates the fact that the very rich have benefited handsomely since 1970, while others have barely held their own. He then provided comparisons between nation states to show that social equality was not so skewed elsewhere; in Scandinavia, western Europe, Japan and Canada the inequalities are modest compared to the USA. Approximately 20% aggregate 'income' in the USA goes to the top 1% of the population. 

He asserts that the rules of the game (video, Democracy Now), that is the legal and tax systems in the USA, the UK and New Zealand (and to some degree Canada), have been set to ensure the rich get richer. The analysis has been set out in two books by Siglitz over the last 6 years; The Price and Inequality and The Great Divide.  He argues that it is time for ordinary people to challenge the privileges given to the very wealthy. He referred attendees to the Roosevelt Institute for additional insights and proposals. He eloquently argued that the erosion of the 'equality of opportunity' will lead to potentially immense social and economic costs. And he held up a copy of his just published book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.

He closed his remarks with a pointed critique of the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), an international 'trade' agreement now being promoted in Canada and the USA. Stiglitz represented the deal as entrenching benefits for large corporations and international finance, and undermining democratic governments. He specifically noted that the TPP went well beyond 'trade' to impose limits on government regulation, government purchasing, and tax policies; and would have disputes settled by 'private' arbitration rather than in public courts. It can be noted that opponents to the TPP include the Council of Canadians, Open Media and Doctors Without Borders. 

 

 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Is it time to create a co-operative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Vancouver?  With the Level 4 drought, water-wise gardening ideas sprouting and more lawns growing food, let’s meet CCEC member, Randi-Lee Taylor, owner of Simply Barefoot Garden Service, the old school hand-tooled cargo trike riding gardening artisan.  See blog for more information on biochar.

Randi-Lee doesn’t call herself a landscaper, even though she does that, and says, “My heart and practice is akin to community gardeners, xeriscaping (landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation). and permaculture with an emphasis on esthetics.”  Riding ‘the Big Luna’, her affectionately named cargo trike, and using old-school hand tools, she brings these practices into her clients’ gardens.  As an artisan, she converts passive lawn space into active gardens – imagine a potager garden with lovely pathways, accents of roses, lavender, topiary and a perhaps an espalier.  Last year, one of her gardens, The Mirror Garden, was chosen for the East Van Garden Tour


Why I’m a member of CCEC:

“CCEC does what it does because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much.  It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values.  When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC.”


The name, Simply Barefoot comes from paintings by Sarkis Katchadourian illustrating the Rubiyat of Omar Khannam with women walking barefoot through lovely gardens sharing food and wine in Paradise.  She says,”At the end the day, a garden is worth a stroll and best had barefoot.  Those are the kinds of gardens I want to create and maintain.”

So, what is biochar and why does it make sense?  With the Stage 4 drought and the impact on her business, Randi-Lee has been researching the biochar industry and the feasibility of a local installation.   She says that when she creates her gardens, for the most part, it includes removing huge sections of lawn.  The City doesn’t allow sod in the green waste so the disposal goes into the landfill or to private sites,  with the potential to transfer invasive species like chafer beetle and fire ants.  She has taken sod and, over time, worked it into a growing patches in back yards.  However, this doesn’t work for a front yard.  It can be as expensive to dispose of sod properly as it is to install the garden – fees anywhere from $300 to $800.  She says, “When the goal of gardening is sustainability, it is a hard pitch to argue that a $1500 dollar veggie garden is a money saver – that’s a lot of lettuce for some folks.”   And, when you consider the City is encouraging, through its’ Greenest City Action Plan for our community to be growing more food and turning lawns into food, we need to come up with a cost-effective options and ways to make this easy for our neighbouhoods.

In her research on how garden businesses in the Northwest are altering their services due to the heat, she has found that some States offer lawn removal rebates (up to $ 5000) to homeowners. She feels that while this is great for garden services, local businesses and for water retention, she finds it to be hit and miss on the esthetics.  She says, “Water-wise gardening should never be understood as anything less than beautiful.  Plants and materials that work with the climate are low maintenance and gorgeous. “

Now that half the city is brown straw, she says that we all need to consider how much we invest in lawns and we need a plan for removing and replacing lawns.  This does not mean no green as clover is a wonderful drought resistant alternative and bees love it.  A closer look at what the Americans are doing gives a glimpse in to some truly innovative practices, including biochar.  Biochar is a super heated, water removed soil enhancer that locks and returns carbon back to earth-reversing carbon emissions using grass and other fiber waste.  It also has the added benefit of enhancing water retention by over 40% and increasing crop yields.  Randi-Lee’s dream is to secure support to create a cooperative biochar and fuel model that could serve across sectors in East Van.  She says that, “Done right a working business model could demonstrate that an innovative twist to old school tried and true works.  There is plenty enough wrong in the world not to take a chance to make a small piece of it right.”

So, how did Randi-Lee become an advocate for biochar? 

After working for over 20 years contract to contract in the community development field facing what she felt were fewer opportunities, she returned to her family gardening roots.   She says, “I grew up in a gardening family-both food and ornamental.  Summer was about growing your own-apples, cherries, a veggie patch, berry picking.  I worked with senior master gardeners who taught me the key to successful gardening is found in the basic tools that have existed for millennia.”  She learned how to use the three essential pruning tools: snips, clips and a back saw.  But with all good gardens, it begins with the soil.

She then completed the 4 month intensive Self Employment Program at Douglas College.   Randi-Lee says that at the placement interview, the counselor reviewed her idea – an old school hand tooled cargo trike ridden gardening service– looked at Randi-Lee’s calloused hands and having seen photos of the gardens, the counselor saw in the photos the work of her own father, himself a master gardener.  So Randi-Lee was admitted to the program.  With the help of Embers Ventures downtown, Tegan Verheul to help on her website and social media, and CCEC’s Business Loans Officer, Simply Barefoot Gardening Services is now in its’ fourth year of operation.  

Randi-Lee Taylor, Simply Barefoot Garden Services,www.simplybarefoot.ca, simplybarefootgs@gmail.com  or visit at www.facebook.com/SimplyBarefootGardenServices

Why I’m a member of CCEC:

My mother was a life long banker,the first woman bank manager in western Canada. Up until the last few years she was proud of her service, helping first time homeowners. She couldn’t agree with many of the changes taking place with the big banks so she left.  It wasn’t longer after that she died and I was left without a mom, bank or banker.  In stepped a friend who is a member of CCEC, showing up one day with the declaration that enough was enough, if I wasn’t going to a bank, I best go with her to meet the folks at CCEC “Trust me Randi, it’s not a bank. These folks aren’t just like us, they ARE us.” So, a CCEC Member Service Rep. signed me up.  My friend was right.

Being a member of CCEC is akin to joining the cast of a Norman Lear show from 70s; regular decent folks trying to get by in an increasingly changing world. If you ever have to stand in line (a rarity in my experience), you will be standing with poets, playwrights, filmmakers, roofers, temporary workers, gardeners, artists and a collection of folks who go about being decent human beings and trying to be decent to others.  I’d say that’s a membership privilege.  Plus when you walk in the staff know you by name and if they don’t yet, they soon will.  How cool is that?

For me personally and professionally, I would have given up on my dreams a long time ago if my money was in the hands of another institution.  There’s always been someone at CCEC to give advice, support and encouragement, if not a loan or two.  None of this is because they have to, it is because that is just who they are.  And maybe therein lies the difference.  CCEC is a “who” and ‘how” kind of place, the others focus on the “what, when and how much”.

It just makes sense to have the biggest portion (of money) in the hands of folks who share the same values. When I decided to start my own business it helped that I already had CCEC. 

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

Sustainable biochar is a powerfully simple tool to fight global warming.  This 2,000 year-old soil enhancement practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and discourage deforestation.  Sustainable biochar is one of the few technologies that is relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable.     www.biochar-international.org/

Currently rated 0.0 by 0 people

"I love seeing much needed climate solutions in action but my excitement over something that should be common place reminded me of how rare it is to see solar panels on buildings in much of Canada", says Ben West, CCEC member and Co-founder of The Great Climate Race.

 

The original was published at http://www.straight.com/news/467211/ben-west-how-can-we-win-race-against-time-climate-solutions He writes: 

On my sisters Marissa's birthday earlier this week we decided to go try out some ice cream sandwiches at a place she had read about on a Toronto food blog. The brownie filled cookie treats were shockingly good but it was what I saw on the way to get those treats that stuck with me. En route, I saw solar panels on the roof of a building in downtown Toronto and I found myself feeling both excited and annoyed. In some ways solar panels are ubiquitous in our day to day lives on everything from road signs to calculators but still rooftop solar is pretty rare to come across in our country. I see some evidence of change  when I visit my family in Toronto. Recently there has been an influx of solar in Ontario as the result of the provincial government's feed-in-tariff (FIT) program that makes it easier to sell power on to the grid and therefore also easier to get financing on projects or even to have your roof leased by a solar power company. That's great but it's also just the tip of the iceberg. Germany actually gets far less sunshine than Canada yet they are the world leader in solar and we lag far behind. Canada could be a  renewable energy superpower. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility . We all have a role to play in the era of climate change. Right now, unfortunately, Canada is on the wrong side of history as we all struggle to face what the United Nations has called the single biggest threat facing humanity today.


For years it has been clear that with solar and other renewable energy technology we have the capacity globally to drastically reduce pollution caused by burning fossil fuels for energy. This is exactly what we need to do.

 

Meanwhile in Canada, time is wasted on  doing the exact opposite: focusing on new oil pipelines and other fossil fuel projects. Countless exhaustive climate reports demonstrate the dangers of a destabilized climate yet we are faced with the expansion of fossil fuel dependence. Every government on earth shares this understanding yet not nearly enough is being done. The Pentagon describes climate change in the clearest terms when it calls it a "threat multiplier". This means it takes social and political problems along with public safety concerns and makes them far worse. More extreme weather events and degraded ecological systems we rely on have big implications for everyone.  Food insecurity for the most vulnerable and skyrocketing food prices for wealthier countries is just one of the serious problems made worse by a destabilized climate.

The World Bank released a UN backed report recently that said global investments in renewable energy technology like solar power needs to at least triple in the short term. The technological wizards at MIT also put out a report recently that stated that "massive expansion of global solar generating capacity to multi-terawatt scale is very likely an essential component of a workable strategy to mitigate climate change risk.”

As a climate campaigner, I know all too well that all of this can feel a bit daunting. What can we do to make real change happen? One thing is clear.  There is a disconnect between the actual potential for renewable energy technology and the perceptions that the technology isn’t ready yet. So I am trying something new in an attempt to change that misconception. I co-founded The Great Climate Race, a run to crowdfund for local solar energy projects, as a way to give people a connection to viable climate change solutions in their own communities. By, raising funds for solar local projects and seeing them come to fruition in our communities we all can have first hand experience with what is possible and play a role in doing something to make meaningful change.

 

This week, we are launching our #PutSolarOnIt campaign where we ask you to imagine where these solar projects could be located. We will seek nominations for community organizations that could be the recipients of solar panels paid for by funds raised by race participants. For starters, we’re asking people to post pictures of themselves pointing at buildings in their neighbourhood that could have solar panels on them. We want you to think about all the lost opportunities for change for the better. Where do you think those solar panels should go?

 

Running in the Great Climate race is not only a great opportunity to burn off calories from ice cream sandwiches it’s a chance to dream big. Let’s make solar panels more than a rare treat, let’s make sure we make the most of the opportunities we have now. I want my sister and everyone else to have hope for a safe and beautiful world. Taking action on climate change is a race against time but we have everything we need to face the challenge and succeed right now.

 

Ben West, Co-Founder & CEO 

The Great Climate Race

 

 

Currently rated 3.0 by 5 people

Search

home | memberdirectprivacy policy | contact | site map
© 2015 CCEC Credit Union. All Rights Reserved.