Clam gardening was a form of aquaculture practiced by Native people on the coast of what is today British Columbia. The gardens were a key source of sustenance and also a hedge against inevitable fluctuations in regional salmon runs. In the following story, Kwakwaka’wakw Clan Chief Adam Dick, known by his traditional name Kwaxsistalla, travels back to the clam gardens off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, where his grandparents raised food and passed down a huge body of traditional ecological knowledge. The journey here is a journey into the living reaches of Kwaxsistalla’s knowledge. He is a 2011 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award honoree; his partner, Kim Recalma‐Clutesi, was the top awardee in 2010.
Editor’s Note: Oil and gas development proposals are rampant across British Columbia, punctuated by Enbridge, Inc.’s plan to build a pipeline across the province, to carry bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to the Pacific. In an excerpt from a piece that appeared March 17 in the Toronto Star, former Ecotrust leader Ian Gill looks at why Canadians and, especially B.C. First Nations groups, are saying: no way. And in the extended piece, he suggests that indigenous people lead the revisioning of economic development for this century.
By Ian Gill
One week before Christmas, 2012, the B.C. government announced a permanent ban on oil and gas development in the Sacred Headwaters. “As part of a tripartite agreement, Shell Canada is immediately withdrawing plans to explore for natural gas in the Klappan by relinquishing its tenures,” the province said in a statement. “In addition, the Province of British Columbia will not issue future petroleum and natural-gas tenures in the area.”
“Today is a huge milestone,” said Annita McPhee, chair of the Tahltan Central Council, which governs the Tahltan First Nation. “I am just beyond words about how deeply moved I am about Shell giving up its tenures in the Klappan.”
Karen Tam Woo, a campaigner with ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the environmental groups that spearheaded the international campaign to protect the Sacred Headwaters, was jubilant. “Days like today are few and far between,” she said. “It’s a big deal when small communities can stand up to one of the biggest corporations in the world and win.”
Shell, which reportedly spent $30 million and a decade going nowhere in the Klappan, was rewarded with $20 million in development credits in the province’s northeast and, after removing its test wells and remediating the area, will leave the Klappan for good.
In attempting to build the Northern Gateway pipeline, Enbridge should be so lucky. It is reportedly spending $250 million promoting a project that will no doubt win National Energy Board approval in the coming months, although almost certainly to no avail. The informed consensus is that the Northern Gateway pipeline is dead because too many First Nations communities oppose it. Perhaps out of fear of setting a precedent, the company persists — as does the government — in a doomed approvals process that no one seems to know how to call time on.
First Nations and community groups who are opposed to the pipeline are forced to spend their own countless hours and millions of dollars locked in successive rounds of futile hearings, while drawing the ire of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, who characterizes anyone opposed to industrial development as a “radical.” In early February, a key coastal First Nations intervenor finally gave up, its paltry funds simply no match for Enbridge’s quarter billion, and the inexhaustible resources of government.
When Enbridge, like Shell before it, abandons its project, it will no doubt seek to be compensated for its failed efforts. First Nations and environmentalists won’t be compensated, but will otherwise feel rewarded with another “victory” against industry. But there will be plenty of new battles to lose, as Canada continues to encourage investments in an old industrial paradigm that has long-since run its course. Maybe we’ll ship tarsands products east, not west! Maybe Keystone will take them south! — and if we can’t find investors here at home, we can always sell off nationally crucial energy assets to countries like China, who will be happy to extract resources in a foreign country when it can exploit that country’s weak environmental laws.
That irony alone should give serious pause to Canadians. Certainly, it adds more fuel to Idle No More, given that First Nations are at the front lines of just about every attempt — large or small — to develop Canada’s natural resources in this, our climate change century.
Coming back to Canada after almost three years abroad, it is hard not to conclude that this is a lousy way to run a country. The reflexive response from many people is to demonize the Conservatives, and blame Stephen Harper for everything. Mere hours after arriving back in Vancouver last fall, I found myself in the middle of what has become a constant, unofficial (and admittedly unscientific) disapprovals hearing. At the grocery store: a mother and teenage daughter buttonholing me to tell me they will lie down naked in front of bulldozers if construction of Northern Gateway is ever attempted (well, I actually think the teenager was humouring her mother, as I doubt she’d really lie down in the buff in front of a bunch of pipeline workers).
Over dinner, people who have never evinced even the slightest interest in aboriginal issues now siding with First Nations’ opposition to Bills C38 and C45. In the news: the Premier of B.C. and the Opposition leader in rare, pre-election agreement that Northern Gateway ill-serves British Columbia. On a trip to Toronto: decidedly unradical, un-environmental Canadians telling me that they are ashamed of the country’s addiction to oil and its treatment of aboriginal people and, unprompted, making a causal link between the two.
I’m asked about Australia, where I lived and worked most recently, and the news from there isn’t really any better. Canada is not alone in suffering from a split personality when it comes to managing the demands of a growing and greedy society in an era of fiscal austerity and rapidly accelerating environmental stress — let alone dealing fairly with its Indigenous people. Australia, precariously ruled by a government that is the antithesis of the Harper Conservatives, is in precisely the same bind. Sure, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has brought in a carbon tax and, with the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate, has been forced to accommodate a plethora of demands that not even the wettest Chrétien or Martin Liberals would have tolerated in their most progressive years.
But Australia, like Canada, remains in a kind of dead man’s dance between government and industry and Indigenous people, largely because both national governments are unable or unwilling to honestly confront the depth of the deceit upon which both countries have based their economies. Both nations have begun to reach the limits of government authority based on a lie — the continued denial of the rights and title of aboriginal peoples. They are beginning to experience the stirring of what might come to be — almost as a mirror to the ecological disruptions that threaten our physical existence — a succession of century-defining social and political disruptions that could put our national governments on an endangered species list all of their own making.
What we are beginning to witness, and it goes well beyond Idle No More, is a withdrawal of permission.
Ian Gill, who served as president of Ecotrust in Canada, the U.S. and most recently in Australia, is a former newspaper and CBC Television journalist, and the author of All That We Say Is Ours: Guujaaw and the Reawakening of the Haida Nation. He is an Australian and Canadian citizen. He lives in Vancouver. firstname.lastname@example.org . Twitter: @gillwave
Editor’s note: In a rich, ongoing series, Facing Climate Change, multimedia producers and Ecotrust friends Benjamin Drummond and Sarah Joy Steele capture the real consequences of global warming for people on the ground, around the world. Here the focus is on Washington’s coastal Swinomish Tribe, led by the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award’s top honoree in 2012, Brian Cladoosby.
By Julia Babcock
Historic preservation often occurs in between boom and bust cycles when strong communities endure the shifting economic landscape around them. The Vietnamese city of Hoi An’s story of preservation is strongly shaped by the Thu Bon River,which has attracted an ebb and flow migration of people from surrounding nations for hundreds of years. Since the first century, historians believe Hoi An was the premier port for trade in the region. When the river silted up in the 18th century trade declined sharply and Danang to the North became favored and developed by international influences.
Over the last few decades, Hoi An has experienced a renaissance, growing to 100,000 local residents and hosting over 2 million tourists a year. Despite the economic shifts, Hoi An’s culture has remained strong creating a unique convergence of people, traditions, and philosophy.
We’ve come to know Hoi An through a series of exchanges over the last several years between Portland and Hoi An, hosted by Portland State in partnership with UNHabitat. Under the leadership of Dr. Marcus Ingle, PSU has developed the International Sustainability Investment Strategy for Vietnam which focuses on sharing leadership and governance model between Vietnam and Portland to meet sustainable development goals. A new State Department grant will support a Professional Fellows Program for mid-level Vietnamese professionals under Dr. Shpresa Halimi.
In Summer 2012, it was Portland academics and officials who got to learn first-hand about Hoi An’s renaissance. During a tour of a recently renovated silk market, Mayor Le Van Giang shared what touches people about Hoi An:
Our people have a generous spirit that is contagious. No matter where people come from, when they experience Hoi An, it touches their heart. Our community is built on a longstanding tolerance and respect for a variety of cultures.”
That insight underlines the type of social legacy that lives on in modern Hoi An. Yet like all pillars of sustainability, without proper stewardship it can be lost in a generation.
Today, people come to Hoi An for a variety of reasons. Tourists come to enjoy the small city’s well-preserved historic district recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site on the riverfront and scenic beaches along the East Sea. Researchers come to study the effects of climate change which has been exacerbated by seasonal floods as well as erosion and loss of wetlands due to expanding development.
It is the shared goals to preserve Hoi An’s cultural history and manage rapid growth by embodying Ecocity principles that makes for a unique opportunity for sustainable development in practice that has attracted international consultation from partners such as Portland State.
In Fall 2012, a delegation of leaders from UNHabitat and the central Province of Quang Nam (where Hoi An is located) came to speak at the EcoDistrict Summit about their experiences working with Portland practitioners to adapt the EcoDistrict framework. During a tour of Portland’s Southwest Waterfront, Mayor Giang reacted to the newly developed neighborhood by saying, “We may need about fifty years to replicate the sustainability principles we are seeing in the infrastructure here.”
His reflection was directly related to the explanations provided by Portland officials about the emergence of green streets, buildings and roof designs in the district to shape watershed health as well as the history shared by an local urban designer, through pictures of the sites decade-long transition from heavy industrial uses to residential and institutional district.
Though Hoi An has not had to face the clean-up of heavy industry, concurrency issues are mounting. Foreign investment in tourism facilities has led to increases in traffic and the use of public space without key infrastructure upgrades to treat pollution issues. Notably, there are no wastewater treatment facilities currently in operation and financing these investments without private dollars can be daunting to leaders in the developing world. A number of terrestrial and marine species are being monitored by staff from the offshore Cham Islands Biosphere Reserve as a means to educate Hoi An residents about the link between watershed health and the health of the islands.
Looking at Portland’s model, Provincial leaders were impressed with how many interests were embodied into projects like the Bonneville Dam and the recent Johnson Creek flood restoration. What international tourists find enviable in Hoi An’s rich culture, Vietnamese delegations have admired in Portland’s green infrastructure investments. Only time will tell if Hoi An can find a way to balance infrastructure upgrades to accommodate growth without losing the character that has evolved over centuries.
Just as green building professionals discovered the embedded energy in historic buildings, historic preservation in places like Hoi An is showing the potential to guide sustainability principles on a neighborhood and city scale. From the core of cities where commerce shaped culture for centuries, neighborhoods can arise from the stable structures that held the scale and feel of communities together during periods of change.
In this way, Hoi An demonstrates that sustainability is not only about balancing social, environmental and economic goals; Hoi An teaches us that sustainability is also about maintaining the cultural traditions that honor the past, inspire the present and protect future generations.
Julia Babcock is the Program Coordinator of the Intel Vietnam Scholars Program at Portland State.
Babcock and Khanh Pham, a Ph.D. student in Urban Studies, have started a Vietnam Forum at Portland State that meets bi-weekly to share information about emerging research as well as hold a space for presentations from students, professors and professionals who come to Portland from Vietnam to study sustainable development. To attend a meeting or for more information about programs, please visit: http://www.pdx.edu/vietnam-forum/
Here is short video outlining some of Hoi An’s opportunities and challenges.
This semester, school lunch for nearly 60,000 Oregon students is transforming thanks to an infusion of local food and food education.
The Oregon Department of Education has announced that eleven school districts are the recipients of competitive Farm to School and School Garden grants totaling $189,140. The majority of the funds (87.5%) will be spent on purchasing Oregon food products, with a smaller portion (12.5%) dedicated to food-, agriculture-, and garden-based education activities.
The funding goes to diverse districts and schools across the state, from the tiny rural community of Joseph nestled in the Wallowa Mountains, to Oregon’s second largest city, Eugene, in the heart of the Willamette Valley.
Representative Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio) says,
As a former school board member, and a State Representative, I am excited about how these grants can help both kids and farmers. In Lebanon, this grant will help students learn about growing and eating healthy food, including beef and pork from our very own high school FFA program.”
The grant program is the product of House Bill 2800—the Farm to School & School Garden Bill—passed by the Oregon State Legislature with unanimous support in 2011.
Districts receiving funding are: Bend-La Pine, Bethel, Centennial, Eugene, Gladstone, Joseph, Lebanon, North Powder, Ontario, Roseburg and Sherman. (See below for details.)
The districts are building partnerships with diverse Oregon food producers and processors.
In the Bend-La Pine School District in central Oregon, the grant funding will launch a Boat to School program, connecting school food buyers with coastal fishermen to bring Oregon shrimp and fish into lunch at all 27 district schools. In Ontario, next to the Idaho border, grain farmer Rene Corn will not only begin selling her whole grains to a local mill to grind and make breads, rolls, pizza dough and buns for school meals, she’ll also teach students about her farm and how to mill flour.
At the Lebanon High School Land Lab, FFA students will raise cattle and pork. Thanks to the grant funding, the students will build a business module for processing the meat and a sales and marketing program to sell to the Lebanon School District, which is excited to support student ingenuity and to bring this hyper-local protein into its meals.
Emerging research shows that Farm to School programs generate local economic growth. When schools strengthen connections with Oregon food producers and processors, they create and maintain jobs for Oregonians. In fact, a study by Oregon State University economist Bruce Sorte shows that for every Oregon job directly created by school districts purchasing local food, additional economic activity creates 1.67 more jobs.
Everybody wins with Farm to School,” says Kasandra Griffin of Upstream Public Health, “from farmers and ranchers to the folks working at the diners, farm supply stores, and supermarkets in rural Oregon.”
Research also shows that children who spend time in the garden are more likely to eat and enjoy fruits and vegetables. The legislation and grant program intentionally pair local purchasing with education. Students who spend time in school gardens learn better, behave better in the classroom, and get physical activity, which is significant at a time when one in four Oregon adolescents are overweight or obese.
Gardens provide an opportunity to integrate lessons in science, math, reading, environmental studies, nutrition, and health,” adds Oregon Department of Education Farm to School and School Garden coordinator Rick Sherman.
The Farm to School and School Garden grants support more equitable access to healthy food for lower income families. In 2011, 49.1 percent of Oregon students received free and reduced lunch, determined based on their family income.
This investment not only shows the state’s commitment to food justice for our youngest citizens, but also to supporting Oregon’s great food producers, many of whom also struggle to stay afloat without viable markets for their goods,” Stacey Sobell, Farm to School Manager at the nonprofit Ecotrust says.
The eleven districts’ pilot programs are paving the way for school districts around the state to implement effective, proven Farm to School and School Garden programming in the future. Reflecting on their goal to establish and strengthen relationships with Oregon coastal fishers, Bend-La Pine Nutrition Services director Katrina Wiest notes,
We want to the share lessons learned and ultimately lessen the learning curve for other districts.”
All the districts must spend their grant funding by the end of the school year and report back to the Department of Education on how their projects unfolded. Representative Brian Clem (D-Salem) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-North/NE Portland) are pushing to expand Farm to School funding with a new $5 million bill during the 2013 Oregon legislative session to expand the benefits of these programs to more kids, farmers, and other food producers and processors throughout Oregon.
Highlights from the Winning Districts’ Farm to School Grant Proposals
Bend-La Pine School District Awarded: $27,327 (16,326 students)
This semester, Bend-La Pine’s “boat to school” program will set sail to procure fish from Oregon aquaculture for school lunch, strengthening the district’s relationship with Oregon’s coastal economy.
Bethel School District (Eugene) Awarded: $26,420 (5,654 students)
Oregon-grown items will take center stage at the center of the plate, and comprehensive Farm to School education and supplemental food and resources to families will encourage rousing student approval.
Centennial School District Awarded: $29,033 (6,159 students)
Scratching the pre-packaged foods, this district will create locally sourced lunches, served every Wednesday, and enhance innovative promotional efforts that encourage students to dig into healthy local foods.
Lane County School District No. 4J (Eugene) Awarded: $29,033 (16,030 students)
The district has plans to buy tofu from Surata Soy Foods and tortillas and corn chips from Northwest Mexican Foods (Carmen’s), adding even more local flavor to a lunch that includes fresh produce from the school garden.
Gladstone School District Awarded: $11,223 (2,120 students)
For the first time, the district will purchase food directly from a local vegetable farmer (who will also sell to a school for the first time!), laying the groundwork for an intentional, long-term relationship.
Joseph School District Awarded: $2,334 (248 students)
The school garden will become a better-utilized outdoor learning environment, and grass-fed beef from nearby ranchers will appear in school lunch to fuel the active garden learners.
Lebanon School District Awarded: $23,742 (4,200 students)
Agricultural education will go into hyper drive as FFA students build a business module for processing the beef and pork they raise and a sales and marketing program for selling to the food services department.
North Powder Charter School Awarded: $2,764 (283 students)
A host of activities, from maintaining the school garden to attending farm field trips, inviting chefs to classrooms to hosting community dinners, will expand the horizons of students’ food and farming knowledge.
Ontario School District Awarded: $7,143 (2,417 students)
Ontario farmer Rene Corn will teach students about grain and how to mill it, and work with a local bakery to mill her harvests and make whole grain breads, rolls, pizza dough, and buns for the district.
Douglas County School District 4 (Roseburg) Awarded: $29,033 (6,344 student)
The construction of a new learning garden will give teachers a supplemental classroom, engage students in activity out of doors, and give meaning and context to the new local items on the school menu.
Sherman County School District* Awarded: $1,087 (241 students)
A school district green house will become the home of a hydroponics system providing vegetables for school meals.
*Sherman was the only recipient to receive funding exclusively for garden-based programs rather than procurement, due to the district’s extremely remote location and lack of distribution options.
To learn more about the individual grant proposals and grant program details, please visit www.ode.state.or.us/go/f2sgardens, or contact Rick Sherman, Oregon Department of Education, Farm to School and School Garden Coordinator, 503-947-5863 (desk), Rick.Sherman@state.or.us.