The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
Just a few days ago a leisurely Sunday morning beckoned a friend and me to a swim on a Gulf of Mexico beach near my home in Northwest Florida. It was a quiet morning for people, with most sleeping-in and some heading-out to church.
For the bountiful life along the shoreline, it wasn’t Sunday but another day in the daily quest to survive and reproduce. And on this day the beach was bursting with life, as all kinds of animals swam, crawled, and flew around us. The fullness of life that day reminded me that when healthy—nature, communities, and our lives–are capable of working in the most beautiful ways.
Our great little beach spot that morning was on Santa Rosa Island inside Gulf Islands National Seashore, one of the jewels among so many in our national park system. With miles of undeveloped beach on either side of us, nature lives without restraint.
As we emerged through the dunes, flocks of several species of shorebirds stood along the beach as if at attention, their heads predictably turned into the steady northeast wind. Sanderlings scurried along the water’s edge to forage.
Diving beneath the small waves brought a brief shock of cool before we settled-in–wading, swimming, and watching the life around us. Huge sting rays cruised the shallows like giant space ships, gliding along in search of clams, worms, and crustaceans. The light was just right for making them barely visible from above, save for their long, thin black tails extending behind and warning of their presence. As we shuffled our feet to avoid an excruciating sting, they darted-away in a cloud of sand.
Several schools of small sharks swam by, with their threatening silhouettes greatly diminished by their size. Larger schools of tiny fish clustered toward the water’s edge, presumably to stay away from what dangers might lurk in open water. In deeper water, dolphins swirled around baitfish.
At the water’s edge the bounty of life was most visible. Thousands of what locals call sand fleas—more appropriately called mole crabs–popped out of the sand and swirled around in the shallow swash of each receeding wave. These elongated little crabs are good indicators of a healthy beach, as they are nowhere to be found on man-made beaches of dredged sand.
Higher up on the beach, waves washed over thousands of tiny coquina clams in their shells painted with nearly every color of the spectrum. Each clam used its powerful foot to burrow quickly back into the sand before the next wave, and that collective movement of thousands of clams made the beachface quiver. On this healthy beach, life was prolific and untamed. The ease and seemingly even joy with which everything moved made me smile.
It’s the same way our communities can be when they are healthy. Neighborhoods where we know and help our neighbors can be the standard. Lives lived full of purpose and joy are our natural destiny. Watching the thriving life of a Gulf coast beach reminded me how good it can be.
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
Apparently we humans are hard wired for survival. It would also appear we are hard wired for social behavior.
“Survival of the Fittest” has been a mantra on the Planet for a long time. Back in the day that simply meant finding ways to prevent becoming a tasty caveman snack for much larger creatures. The pendulum shifted when man invented weapons, fire, the wheel, etc. Man moved to the top of the food chain and “Survival of the Fittest” took on a new meaning. We no longer needed to live in fear of being eaten by much larger creatures, we learned to fear each other and grab what we could before somebody else grabbed it. We are not creatures who let go very easily, and “Survival of the Fittest” worked so well for so long, we found new outlets for this primal mechanism. We became gatherers of a different kind, and transferred those millennia of survival skills to the gathering of money, the creation of “success”. Many of us are quite ruthless in these pursuits, and that ruthlessness is creating challenges for us in today’s World. Our obsession with making and saving money is literally killing the Planet.
From the very beginning we have been social creatures. The word “We” would not exist if we were not social creatures. Who on the planet cannot relate to the image of a parent with a child, two or more friends doing what friends do, family gathering for a meal, etc. We crave human contact, whether we admit it or not.
Our early efforts to socialize consisted in the comfort of numbers to fend off those critters that would eat you. Social behavior combined nicely with survival skills. Over time, as our numbers increased, our social behaviors expanded and grew more complicated. Now, we not only have parents and family to guide us through life, we have politics, religion, education, etc. and let’s not forget the reality shows that help us navigate the social World. We possess a host of emotions and conditions individually to entertain society at large, and in spite of our best efforts it appears we are no closer to really getting along as a global community than we have been at any point in history. That in spite of the fact that we are social creatures.
For all our intelligence we find ourselves in a unique position today. We still have two camps in the World today, there are survivalists, and there are socialists. Getting ahead in the name of success, surviving in today’s World is at odds with a healthy Planet. In order to generate money we take and take from a Planet that is beginning to buckle under the pressure. Ironically, in our pursuit to survive (succeed), we are destroying the very thing that makes it possible for us to live in the first place, “Mother Earth”. Doubly ironic is the social system we have created. We have borders, and rules, and values that would drive a wedge straight through the heart of meaningful social living, which has created tribes of like-minded people that if you don’t share the hive mentality you are branded as different and ostracized. We have essentially created tribal communities with their own set of survival rules. We insist on preserving our own particular tribe as the society of choice wherever we live on the Planet. Even more bizarre, we crave human contact outside of the tribe so we go and invent “social media” that separates us from actual human contact even further. We demonstrate incredible compassion for things like disasters and the victims of disaster, yet we can’t see that we are creating more disaster with our behaviors.
Is it possible that the root of our challenges today are simply the result of our internal conflict to satisfy our need for survival with our need for human contact? “Survival of the Fittest” by its definition requires us to ruthlessly do whatever it takes to stay alive, or in the case of today’s World, “succeed”. At the same time as we would sell our Grandmothers to stay alive, we crave human contact to nurture our Souls! Extraordinary! Reflect that into the World at large and we end up with things like decision makers in government (Survivalists) making every decision through their self-interested lenses of survival. On the other hand we end up with extremely passionate people (Socialists) doing amazing things to build a nurturing and inclusive global community based on their lenses of compassion and deep desire to connect. Social behavior is made all the more challenging by our Tribal Mentality, the need to hang out with like- minded people who share our beliefs and values. Bit of a conundrum, balancing these two polar opposites may very well be the biggest challenge we face today.
Wrestling with these two extremes is not easy. On the one hand Survival dictates that we do whatever it takes to survive, on the other hand we long for something more. Again, ironically, it appears that our very survival as individuals is going to depend on our ability to come together to solve the challenges we have created for ourselves. Climate Change cannot be solved by a minority of the population, individuals working in isolation. Neither can War. Or Pollution. Or colonialism. Or Poverty. Or Greed. Or any one of the thousands of other challenges we face today. Is it time to bury the “Survival of the Fittest” illusion as being past its prime and develop a new “Let’s all get Along” approach to life? Is it time to turn battlegrounds into playgrounds (thanks for that one Hajime)? There is a shift happening on the Planet, a shift that is going to require all of us to put our individual instincts of survival aside and pull together for the survival of “Mother Earth”. The question is, will we?… Or maybe the question should be a statement, “I will We”! I will a compassionate, united, considerate, and respectful global community into existence! “I will We”!…
World Paddle For The Planet Day, September 13th, main event in Tofino, British Columbia. Join us wherever you are on the planet at noon. Together we will send a Wave of Change across the globe. Visit our site www.worldpaddlefortheplanet.com .
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
There are some amazing people “Standing up for the Planet”, and after meeting them through social media and email, I finally got to meet two more of them during last weekend’s trip to Tofino. Tofino is the site of this years “World Paddle for the Planet Day” on September 13th, and I made the announcement a few weeks ago that we will be fundraising for “Clayoquot Action”. I connected with Bonny Glambeck and Dan Lewis through Catherine Bruwhiler from Tofino Paddle Surf who is a good friend, and is also helping us to navigate the Tofino waters, literally and figuratively for WPFTPDay. When I asked Cat who we should raise funds for, there was absolutely no hesitation on her part, Dan and Bonny from “Clayoquot Action”! Cat gave me their contact info, and right from our very first conversation I knew this was the right organization for us to raise funds for this year!!
We had a few conversations prior to my trip last weekend, and arranged to meet the day I arrived. No surprise, Dan and Bonny greeted me with open arms and hearts! We ended up chatting for about 4 hours, some of that over dinner, and were it not for the fog rolling in we might still be there “Talking Story”! Only in Tofino can this happen! Dan and Bonny live in a boat accessible only part of Tofino and kayaks are their modes of transport. Their office is in the south end of Tofino, so to get there they paddle from their home, then walk several blocks to their office. They always have one eye on the weather, it can change quickly in Tofino, and missing the window of weather is the difference between getting home or not.
Their story is amazing! Like so many who are “Standing up for the Planet”, they do a whole lot with very little in the way of resources! This is their mission, taken right from their website, “Clayoquot Action is a Tofino-based conservation organization committed to protecting the biocultural diversity of Clayoquot Sound. Our goals are accomplished through public education, citizen research and monitoring, and advocacy. Clayoquot Action stands for democratic rights, indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth”. http://clayoquotaction.org/mission/ Their vision, also taken from their website, “It’s time to create a new story about the role that humans play on Earth, a story that shifts societal values from getting bigger to getting better, and promotes community and cooperation above competitive individualism. Humans must exercise our qualities of high intelligence, forward planning and moral judgment to create a cooperative and sustainable future for all”. It’s no wonder we have such a strong connection with each other!
“Bonny and Dan are lifelong activists, residing in Tofino for 25 years. They are seasoned kayakers, having paddled much of the BC coast and trained hundreds of guides. Knowledgeable naturalists, they have worked in the bush of Clayoquot Sound as salmon and amphibian researchers. When Bonny & Dan moved to Tofino they joined and helped build the fledgling temperate rainforest movement. Their work culminated with the mass protests of Clayoquot Summer 1993, which were the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history and one of their proudest accomplishments. The couple is renowned for delivering entertaining and inspiring slide shows based on their kayaking experiences, moving audiences from laughter to tears as they deliver a powerful and hopeful conservation message. They have traveled internationally to meet with corporate buyers of BC wood products. With the risks posed by salmon farming in Clayoquot Sound, and the possibility of mining becoming a real threat, Dan and Bonny walked away from their company, Rainforest Kayak Adventures, to dedicate their energies to conservation volunteerism, founding Clayoquot Action in 2013”.
Bonny and Dan took a huge risk in giving up their jobs to devote their time to “Clayoquot Action”. To say they are passionate is about as grand an understatement as one could ever make. Every Tuesday evening during the summer they present a multimedia journey of the landscape, wildlife and culture of Clayoquot Sound to educate all who would come. The presentation called “Clayoquot, Sound of Freedom” is free, as in no money charged, nada, nothing, zip! Their activist selves are at it again, this time with the practice of Salmon Farming. A Norwegian company has applied for licensing for 2 new open net Salmon Farms, and Bonny and Dan know all too well what this will mean for Clayoquot Sound and Wild Salmon populations.
It is a huge honor for “World Paddle for the Planet Day” to be raising funds for Bonny and Dan this year, keep an eye on our WPFTPDay facebook page to find out how you can donate.
https://www.facebook.com/WorldPaddleForThePlanetDay You can also donate any time directly to their website, http://clayoquotaction.org/
There are so many who are “Standing up for the Planet”, and I have to thank another one of those people, Leslie Kolovich from the SUP Radio Show for the opportunity to introduce two more who are “Making a Difference” and “Changing the Way we live on the Planet”! Let’s raise a bunch of money for Bonny and Dan and “Clayoquot Action” to help them look after one of the most pristine places on the Planet!…
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
Is what you are doing right now creating a vibrant and healthy Planet?
If what you are doing right now is not creating a healthy and vibrant Planet maybe it is time to do something else!
“Mother Earth” is rapidly descending into an unhealthy state and we, the people, are the driving force at the root of the cause. If you sit quietly for a time, without interruption from the distractions of today’s World, and just observe wherever you happen to be, chances are you will get a read on the health of where you are. Forget the global stuff you see and hear on the news. Sit where you live, and just pay attention to your surroundings. Listen to the sounds around you. Look at the sky, the land, the water, the streetscape, the place you call home, wherever you end up sitting, just quietly observe. What do you hear? What smells are there? Are there other people around? Do they look vibrant and healthy to you? Sit quietly for at least ten minutes, then pay attention to your feelings at the end of your quiet time. Do you feel vibrant and healthy yourself? Are your surroundings healthy and vibrant?
If the answer is yes, keep doing whatever it is you are doing, the World needs more fully alive, fully engaged people. If the answer is no, then I have a challenge for you. Do one thing that makes you feel vibrant and healthy! Do it today, vibrant and healthy people are not procrastinators. Can’t think of anything? Walk up to the next person you see and give them a great big genuine smile! Take a bus to work, and while you’re riding, talk to the person next to you. Go for an hour without buying, or doing anything that is toxic to “Mother Earth”. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Have a healthy meal. Play hooky for the afternoon. If what you are doing right now is not creating a healthy and vibrant Planet, go and do something else that will create a vibrant and healthy Planet!
What if every one of us did a little something today to create a vibrant and healthy Planet, would it be a different World we would create? How different would the World be if we all did a little more than a little something to create a vibrant and healthy Planet? What would the World be like if every decision every one of us made, and every action we took was invested into creating a vibrant and healthy Planet? Sounds like the makings of a great community to me! Personally, I would really like to live in that World!
World Paddle for the Planet September 13, Tofino, British Columbia.
Together we can send a Wave of Change across the globe! Check out our website for more information on how you can get involved in your community! www.worldpaddlefortheplanet.com
The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
We all share this wonderful blue planet, and all the big global environmental issues of our time eventually translate down to the local level. This is where we can better see and touch these issues, where they are more tangible to us in our daily lives.
Such is the case with global climate change—coming soon to a community near you….Or actually coming directly to your community, no matter where you live on planet Earth.
And while it’s hard for us to get our hands around climate change at the planetary level, in our own communities we can grab hold and work toward solutions. That’s been the case in my community the past few weeks, as we work to get our City Council in Pensacola, FL to approve creation of a task force to study climate change, learn how it will impact our town, and decide what to do about it.
The case that climate change is happening and is mostly caused by human activities is real and overwhelming. Every year scientists report more and more evidence of the changes and more certainty of the need for action to help limit the worst impacts and adapt our communities to those changes that are inevitable.
Paddlers and others who love our oceans and rivers are concerned about climate impacts such as less oxygen in the water, more disease-causing organisms in warmer waters, ocean acidification and its impacts on animals like corals that make hard shells, and many other changes. But large-scale action in the U.S. is being thwarted by a deliberate campaign to sow doubt led by those with a financial interest in the status quo of continuing to burn fossil fuels.
The oil, coal, and gas-industrial complex are the cigarette makers of today. Just as cigarette companies spread doubt about the harms of cigarettes and successfully held-off regulation for decades, so are the fossil fuel companies of today funding doubt. The planet’s temperatures are not rising, or the changes are natural, they’ll say, knowing well the emptiness of their words and that they can only slow down but not stop the tide of humanity calling for action.
Where I live in Northwest Florida hardly an elected official has ever publicly uttered the words climate change. At least that was the case until this past week. We worked with a forward-thinking member of our City Council to place creation of a climate task force on the Council’s agenda. Since then the entire community is talking about the proposal, and we’re pleasantly finding lots of support for action.
No matter where you live, climate change will impact your community. If you and your network of paddlers, friends, and concerned citizens aren’t already discussing this issue and holding meetings on solutions, then get started.
If you don’t already have one, form a group and start having meetings with monthly speakers talking about climate change. Since climate issues reach into nearly every aspect of both the human and natural world, it’s not difficult to find those who can speak to it.
For our local group we’ve hosted elected officials, foresters, toxicologists, economists, bicycling advocates, activists, and many others. Talking about the issues may seem like delaying action to some, but it’s a necessary first step for educating the public and building community support.
Climate change is here, it’s real, and the solutions are local. Get-together and create the change in your community, wherever you are.