Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
My good friend Catherine Bruhwiler says in “The Paddler Movie”, “When you can enjoy something to that extent (time in, on, or around water), you turn into a five year old and you are there only because you are there, there’s no agenda, you’re having fun, you come out smiling and you want to do it again. When you can celebrate that, it feeds into a caring. You love it and therefore you will care for it, then you will be more likely to do something about the destruction and issues that we are facing”!
I can understand these feelings in relation to the Natural World, I love this Planet. I can totally relate to Cat’s words, I do turn into a five year old every time I get a chance to spend time outside, I absolutely love it, and cannot wait to get outside again! Her words got me to thinking about what things people are connected to.
Is it possible that people in the fossil fuel industry love it so much they are only there because they are there, there is no agenda, they are having fun and they come out smiling at the end of the day? Is it possible that they love the fossil fuel industry so much that they will do anything to care for it. So far, I have to concede that is a possibility. It all falls apart for me when it comes to doing something about the destruction. The fossil fuel industry creates a great deal of destruction, at least from my vantage point. How is it possible that the degradation can be overlooked? Is it possible that the people in the fossil fuel industry intrinsically love the destruction, and their love for destruction is what fuels the fossil fuel industry? Do we enable their love of destruction by continuing to support the fossil fuel industry with our hard earned dollars?
Ditto for the mining industry.
For that matter, same for all Natural resource extraction.
Growing up I was a bit car crazy. By the time I was 3 I could name every car on the road. I was racing go carts by the time I was 8. My favorite subject in high school was power mechanics, in the last years of school, it was the only class I went to. My Dad owned service stations, and I worked in them from the time I was 6 until I was 19. I raced cars at every opportunity. To say I loved cars is a gross understatement. I turned into a five year old every time I saw a car, I definitely smiled from ear to ear. I absolutely loved cars, especially driving and couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel again! Everything cars was the fun that got my smile going for a lot of years. I spent a lot of time caring for cars, I definitely loved every minute I spent working on cars, right up to the point that I realized how destructive they are to the Planet.
No matter how much I loved cars and cared for them, I could not escape the fact that they are part of what is wreaking havoc on the planet today. Today I live with a conundrum. Like most on the Planet, I have become accustomed to the freedom that transportation affords. My mode of transport is at direct odds with “Paddle for the Planet”. For now I have struck a compromise, I use the trusty PFTP Van as little as possible and am as efficient and frugal as I can be when I do drive. I don’t let the van idle, even when it is cold I start it and head out of the driveway right away. Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, still I figure it will all add up over time. I figure it will add up even more if everyone who drives does the same things. I travel a fair amount with PFTP and as long as I feel the message of change is getting out there, I can justify the destruction. Or can I?
I know carbon monoxide is bad for the Planet. I know I can do better. I walk or bike every opportunity I get, I know I could walk or bike more. I occasionally take public transit, I know I could take it more often, if only I had the time. Just as I’m having these thoughts the phone rings and there is another invlte for PFTP to attend an event that has the potential to reach more people with our message of “Changing the Way we live on the Planet”.
I don’t drink bottled water. I keep the thermostat in our house down, 66 degreesF during the day and 61F at night, no air conditioning in the summer. We recycle, and more importantly rethink every purchase so we don’t have to recycle in the first place. I refuse to use plastic bags, in fact most single use products are a no no. I buy one pair of shoes a year. I don’t eat meat anymore. Etc. etc.
“You love it and therefore you will care for it, then you will be more likely to do something about the destruction and issues that we are facing”! Cat’s words have haunted me from the time I heard her say them in her interview for the film. “You love it and therefore you will care for it, then you will be more likely to do something about the destruction and issues that we are facing”! I’m pretty sure I can do more, my Great, Great Grandchildren are counting on it!…
Without Water, Water You Gonna Do?
“Never does one drop of water fall on Arrakis.” –Frank Herbert, Dune
Water doesn’t flow on Arrakis, the central planet in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic, Dune (although it is about a desert world, it most certainly isn’t a dry read). Life is difficult on Arrakis. Can you image a world without rivers, streams, and lakes? Without water, the paddling community would dry up! Water is the magical medium through which we ply our crafts. I was thinking of water last week, so I decided to enlist the support of my Facebook friends in answering this question, “When you think of water, what comes to mind?”
The first response was from one of my comedian friends who wrote, “You mean the stuff that’s in the toilet bowl?” Yes, that stuff. But she has a good point—water has the ability to cleanse and purify. I think we paddlers are familiar with this great property when we come back home dirty and sweaty after a long paddle and are greeted by a hot shower to wash away the day’s grime.
Other friends mentioned the body of water closest to them: Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York, the Jersey Shore, Rainbow River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Apalachicola River is the body of water closest to me, only three miles from my house. The Apalach is alive; in the evening, the river respires and fog creeps over the land. Night-time in the Apalachicola River Valley with crickets, hoot owls, and thick mist is something out of a fairy tale.
Most people live nearby some body of water that they call home, and I think this ties in to our deep connection with water, in fact, with ourselves. Several friends wrote that water is life. We are around three-quarters water, similar to the Earth itself (Speaking of—why is this planet called Earth and not Water?). Water is within us and without us. Perhaps one odd way of looking at it is that we are bags of water gliding along water itself.
Bob Purdy, a fellow paddler, said when he thinks of water he feels gratitude. And indeed we all should be grateful for this gift, this miraculous gift to live on a planet that is teeming with life.
When I think of water, I think of rain. As a Floridian, this is an essential part of our state’s weather. In perennially-flat Florida, our mountains are the clouds that bring the rain. And our rain is as diverse as the fall colors in New England. We have light showers where water gently drip-drops, drizzles, tipples, and pittle-pattles on the ground. We have fat rain that plops downward, like a good friend settling into your sofa. We have thunderstorms and hurricanes where the heavens opens up and the rain bangles, pelts, pitchforks and even slings cats and dogs downward to deluge the land. These countless drops of water that fall on our planet sustain us and bring us life. And for that I am very grateful, as well.
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
I have been speaking at various events quite frequently lately, and I’m noticing a new trend, there is a shift happening! For most of the 4 years I have been paddling, the number one question I have fielded is “I am only one person, what can I possibly do to make a difference”? The last couple of months I am getting a different question, “What can I do to make a difference”? Even though it sounds the same, this is a different question. It’s not “I am feeling powerless and hopeless, what can I possibly do to make a difference”, it is an empowering question, coming from a place of “What can I do to contribute to a solution”?
The majority of people I meet have resigned themselves to the fact that the dysfunctional power couple that is government and corporations have zero interest in factoring environmental and social considerations into their decisions. Rather than banging their heads against the wall trying to get a message of common sense across to these bedfellows, people are taking steps to create the results they want in spite of the power mongers best efforts to control us. There is so much creativity being used in this process it’s super cool to watch!
For example, Nestle’s has been given water licenses around the globe to suck water at will to be turned into bottled water for profit. For whatever reason the decision makers of the day around the World have given Nestle’s free reign in this department. Our own provincial decision makers here in Beautiful British Columbia have puffed their chest out recently because they decided to charge Nestle’s for what was a previously free right to use water in unrestricted fashion. What was free now costs Nestle’s a whopping $2.25 per million liters in our province, which translates to about one one thousandth of one cent per bottle of bottled water. Wahoo, that should slow down their voracious appetite for water and profit!
Peter Brabeck, the ceo of Nestle’s is on record as saying that water is not a right, it is a product to be bought and sold for profit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C29_U0Ksao
I don’t know about the rest of the World, here in Kelowna a 519ml bottle of water sells for $1.49, give or take. Cost of that bottle; water one one thousandth of one cent, bottle can’t be much more than 15 cents, labor at minimum wage maybe another say 10 cents for a cost of say 25 cents, heck lets be generous and add another 10 cents for marketing, packaging and delivery to bring the total to 35 cents a bottle. Effect on the environment, deadly. Effect to society, manipulative at best, controlling at worst. Does anybody else see where the profit comes from and at what expense? Instead of buying bottled water there should be global outrage!
This is where things start getting cool. People that are aware of this situation are outraged and are boycotting Nestle’s products, and not just water, which is hitting Nestle’s where it hurts most, in the pocketbook, and Nestle’s is beginning to take notice. They are beginning to remember a basic law of marketing and profiteering, that is, in order to make money a company must be able to sell its product. If consumers don’t buy, the corporation doesn’t make money and either folds or finds new ways to make money. Corporations today have forgotten who really hold the reins in the marketplace, as have the general public who have forgotten that the power to shape corporations really lies with people that spend. Brilliant!
Nestle’s has a license to suck water out of the pristine spring shown in the picture accompanying this article. So far they have not exercised that license. If, and more likely when they do, their operation will effectively decimate a pristine eco system. For profit. Where is the outrage?
The fossil fuel industry uses water in the extraction of their various fuels. In the case of tarsands bitumen, 3.3 barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced, water that is removed from Nature permanently. Where is the outrage? Similar situation for most mining practices. Where is the outrage?
The outrage lies with informed and aware individuals around the globe and they are motivated to take action. They are empowered to do something. They are not sitting back and waiting for the worst marriage in the World to take steps to do the right thing, governments and corporations have their own agendas and they don’t include the environment or society at large. The number of individuals taking steps to “Change the Way we live on the Planet” is growing, and that is the best news this “Standup Paddlesurfing, Elder in Training has heard in a long time!…
The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
When I’m on the water, I always prefer people power and wind power over that from a motor. Whether paddling or sailing, I love the sound of water sliding across a hull, waves splashing, and the wind rushing past my head.
It’s the same way for me on land. As much as I love to paddle, most of my travel is still on land. For that, the bicycle is clearly the way to go. On the water I paddle, on the land I pedal.
Bicycling has been a daily part of my life for nearly 20 years. Like most kids, when I was young I had multiple bikes as I grew bigger and I rode freely all around the neighborhood.
And like most kids, when I got old enough the bicycle went away. I can’t trace it to any particular decision or reason, but at some point I just didn’t ride anymore. Maybe the car culture grabbed me since it was all too easy to catch a ride with friends, and as a teenager now my destinations went much beyond my neighborhood.
For a dozen years or so I didn’t bicycle at all. In my early 20s I noticed how much fun a friend had on his bike, and I bought one. By now mountain bikes were cool and so that’s what I got.
In college I began riding to school most days, and after finishing graduate school I filled that same bike with supplies and rode 1500 miles along the southeast coast as I explored environmental issues along the way. From then on I was set on a lifetime of bicycling, knowing that I would always choose to live where I could ride safely and well.
I moved into an older neighborhood built before the automobile took over our culture, and I’ve stayed ever since. From here I can reach pretty much all my daily needs by bike—the grocery, library, restaurants, drug store—and much more.
Most importantly, I am reminded daily of how much richer life is from a bicycle. From my open ride I can tell which way the wind is blowing, smell which flowers are blooming and what folks are cooking for dinner, and hear the call of the ospreys that have several nests along my regular cycling route. All of these sensory experiences are pretty much impossible inside the barrier of steel and glass that is the automobile.
It’s amazing how similar this is to our experience as paddlers. On the water we smell the organic mix of water, plants, and fish. We hear the sounds of wildlife and water.
But I want to add people to the mix, too. The bicycle is a wonderful social tool, allowing us to interact with friends and neighbors and make new friends as we ride.
I routinely stop as I’m riding to speak with people restoring an old house, tending a garden, and sitting on their front porch. This leads to tours through historic homes, a few oranges to take home, and better relations with my neighbors. That last one is so important, because if people aren’t well-cared for and connected with others, then the planet suffers as our own poor condition makes us unable to care for the Earth.
Pump-up the tires on that old bicycle and get out there, pedaling on the land like you paddle on the water. You’ll see your community in a new way and find there’s just as much beauty on land as on the water.
Adventures in the outdoors by Nic Stoltzfus
My high school history teacher passed away last summer. I went to the funeral, and it was difficult. The rest of my week was dark, macabre, and full of memento mori. My parents knew that her death really affected me, and they wanted to cheer me up, so they suggested the three of us go for a ride on the Apalachicola River. I decided to go because I figured riding down the river would be good for me.
We three got on the boat and starting motoring upriver. As we rode upstream the gentle humming, white noise of the Tohatsu motor blanketed over everything else, the noise canceling all other noises both physical and mental. We sped towards our destination and the river banks and my problems swung by, flashed by.
We stopped at a sandbar and got out to walk around a bit. It was warm and felt more like May weather rather than the typical searing heat of July. The crickets and cicada were buzzing. I stood there and listened. Mom was listening. Dad was listening. We each were doing our own individual thing, just walking, in our own world. I stood there and looked at the shells and rocks on the beach. And Mom looked at the boat, looked at me. Wondering what I was thinking, maybe. Dad waded out into the muddy water and let the current flow over him, his mind. All the while crickets and cicadas hummed, hummed, hummed. Sun over our heads—hum, hum, hum. Vibrations in my mind and the wheels turning in my head, thinking. Hum, hum, hum. All the world working expertly, in good timing. Hum-de-dum-dum.
We loaded back up on the boat and drove up to Chattahoochee Landing. We anchored in the middle of the Apalachicola River on a slippery shoal, held fast by our rusty, spray-painted blue anchor. Once we stopped moving, I cut open a watermelon we brought along—cut it in half and put the other half back in the white cooler. I cut slices for all of us. I stood in the water next to the boat and ate my watermelon slice; sprinkled salt on it and took a big bite.
I looked around as I munched on the melon. Canadian geese on the shore to our right. A grey heron’s beakéd head swiveled from time to time, observing the scene around him. Cicadas crickets chirruped around us; a resonating chorus. I watched the water lap against the edge of our boat, and then turned upward. The evening sky turned all sorts of colors—pink clouds set against a continually darkening sky, daylight fading from view, from our minds. The day died as the night was born.
A mist lifted up from the depths of the water, and the river cloaked herself in a milky cloth of dew. I screwed my eyes shut in an attempt to more deeply remember the beauty and the feelings and emotions going on around me. I would remember overcoming my sadness by going out on the river, bravery. My parents and the river healed me for that day, for that moment.
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