Author Archives: nandorandngahuia

Weighing up the cannabis referendum – is the current law working?

When it comes to cannabis, I think most New Zealanders want more or less the same things.

We don’t want young people using cannabis. While the evidence is clear that most people use cannabis without problems, the few that do almost always started young and use heavily.

We want those people that do have drug problems to be helped rather than punished. Currently places in drug treatment services are hard to get, and almost non-existent outside of the main centres.

We don’t want to be wasting police time on arresting adults for simply enjoying cannabis. Freedom for adults to make their own decisions is a basic value, as long as they are not harming other people or putting other people at risk.

This September New Zealanders will get to vote on how best to achieve those outcomes. We can stick with how things are now, or move to a regulated market. The regulated model on offer is an improved version of Canada. It has a lot of carefully thought-through details so please do have a look at it. Consider both choices, to see which gets us closer to our goals. Have a look at what the independent research tells us about how best to manage cannabis.

When it comes to young people using cannabis, it has been normalised for decades. Cannabis is widespread and easy for young people to get hold. The Christchurch and Dunedin longitudinal studies at the University of Otago have given us some of the best evidence in the world around cannabis use. Their summary of the research can be found at cannabisreferendum.co.nz. They show that around 80% of New Zealanders have tried cannabis by age 25. While most people use cannabis without harm, a small number do experience problems. These are people who started young and use heavily.

We cannot stop young people using cannabis entirely, just as it is impossible to stop them drinking alcohol. We can make it more difficult for them to get hold of though. Having an age limit helps. In Canada, according to official Government figures,

“… use among Canadian youth has not increased. This accords with the Colorado experience—the first to legalize non-medical cannabis…. (while) use among 15- to 17-year-olds declined (19.8% to 10.4%).”

Statistics Canada

Being illegal means no controls, no age limit. It brings young people who do try cannabis into contact with a criminal underworld. Regulating the market by making it R20 won’t stop young people trying cannabis entirely, but it will make it harder for them to get into a pattern of risky use.

For the small number of people who do end up having problems with cannabis use, we need better drug education and drug treatment services. The economist Shamubeel Eaqub has estimated that we need another $150 million spent on drug treatment to meet current needs. The potential tax from cannabis sales (estimated at between $250 million to almost half a billion dollars) has been ring-fenced for drug harm reduction.

Finally, most people do not want to see their friends and neighbours being arrested for simply enjoying cannabis. We still arrest thousands of people a year for cannabis use in NZ, and there are even people in prison for growing their own. That is not usually any of the lawyers, doctors or accountants who enjoy cannabis. They rarely get searched by the police and if they do, get off with a warning. It is most likely to be someone poor and brown, for whom a cannabis conviction and fine can be life-destroying.

Arresting people for cannabis doesn’t stop them using it. In fact research shows that people are MORE likely to use it after being charged. The only people who the law inhibits from using cannabis, the only people for whom regular use goes up after legalisation, are the over-65’s. Perhaps this is because they now feel ok about trying it as a medicine for those aches and pains. Maybe it is because they have worked hard all their lives and deserve to enjoy a relatively benign recreational drug that makes them laugh.

And who could have a problem with that?

Tagged ,

Essays in Social Permaculture – using natural succession

I recently attended an amazing waananga just outside Whāngarei, at a place called Permadynamics. It was run by Klaus Lotz and Frida Keegan on the subject of syntropic polyculture. That sounds complicated but basically syntropic is the opposite of entropic: it means a system which becomes more ordered. Polyculture is the opposite of monoculture, and refers to a diverse and deeply interconnected cropping system. The particular polyculture at Permadynamics is anchored around the banana, and Klaus is the biggest commercial banana grower in Aotearoa.

The system was first developed by Ernst Gotsch. As far as I know he hadn’t heard of permaculture when he first established its principles, but it meshes perfectly with permaculture thinking. I fully recommend searching the web for his videos and writings. He developed his system in South America where he was a farm advisor working with people trying to make a living from highly degraded land. This was land that had been rainforest, had been logged, and then cash cropped for a few years until there was no soil left. Finally it was abandoned and then occupied by some of the poorest people in the region.

Ernst realised that attempting to grow high value crops without bringing the land back to health first was pointless. He also realised that the land was already in a process of rehabilitating itself. Those prickly thorns and nasty weeds that kept coming up where people were trying to farm were actually playing an important ecological function. They were beginning the process of rebuilding the soil. Left to itself the whole area would simply return to rainforest. Instead of trying to arrest the natural succession that was already taking place, with poison and back breaking work, he realised he could accelerate and shape it.

Instead of trying to eradicate weeds, Ernst identified the most useful ones and sowed them. He interplanted with whatever crops might survive – obtaining at least some kind of yield for the growers – and used heavy slashing to mulch and keep the ground covered. Over time this strategy built enough soil to move to the next stage of succession, where perennials and semi-perennials could be introduced with higher value crops. Ultimately it moves to a system of forest farming that is probably not very different from traditional indigenous practices.

Succession itself is complex and multi-layered and this brief inadequate explanation does not do it justice. It takes seeing it working in action, at places like Permadynamics. Seeing the deep soils that have been grown on very steep clay banks with no topsoil when they began, and hearing the narrative as we walked through this incredible sub-tropical forest full of food.

I see the same thing taking place on my land. There is an area of slip, where the ground is bare, with no soil and deep, rapid scouring. The only plants able to hold on there are gorse and pampas grass. I have been learning not to panic about these invasive plants because in other places I can see where kānuka is already coming through them, and starting to shade them out. Same for the blackberry. If I was to do nothing but watch I know that over time the whole area will go into kānuka, which will give way to other natives and exotics and will eventually turn into forest.

I don’t work on forest timeframes though and human life is short. I am impatient and don’t want to wait that long. I also want the forest to provide for my family’s needs as much as possible, so I want to influence what grows, to accelerate and shape that succession. With that in mind I will plant a local variety of kōwhai, to fix nitrogen, build soil, to look beautiful and to feed local tui. I will collect kānuka seeds and sow them, to speed up the kānuka cover. I will plant some acacias, also to fix nitrogen, to feed bees and birds, to provide coppice wood for fires and handles and poles. Given how degraded the area is, I won’t ask more of it than that for now. It is not capable, for example, of growing fruit trees and anyway I want those closer to the house. So I will just let the birds take it from there and watch and learn as nature transforms it. As Gotsch says, ‘we think we are intelligent, but we are just part of an intelligent system”.
I was pondering Klaus’ approach to weeds while clearing out my spring. When a weed turns up in his food forest, he does not say “arrgh a weed, we must get rid of it”. He welcomes it as a friend, and seeks to understand what it’s function is. He doesn’t just leave it to do it’s thing, rather he prunes it heavily to use as drop mulch and build soil. He doesn’t allow it to flower and seed (and talks about other benefits to the overall system in keeping it at a juvenile stage), but he doesn’t try to eradicate it. It is a valuable source of biomass.

Occasionally there is something that is genuinely looking to take over but that is rarely the case. Usually a weed is there to help move succession along. Once it has played its role, the conditions that it came for will no longer be there, so it will leave. Most weeds are only a problem if you are trying to artificially maintain your land at a lower level of succession, for example by trying to prevent grassland from becoming forest.

Similarly David Holmgren, when explaining the principle of ‘observe and interact’ says that ‘there is no right and wrong in nature’. If we apply that thinking to society, to some of the spontaneous manifestations of human culture that cause such general consternation, we can maybe start to find better ways to approach them.

Gangs are a very good example. Gangs are something that politicians have generally treated as weeds to eradicate. Like gorse in a paddock, they have done everything they can to get rid of them. They have tried to ban them, threaten them, and police them out of existence. Only rarely have they tried to understand the social function that gangs play, why they arose in the first place. Rather than try to arrest natural succession, like poisoning gorse on a degraded slope, perhaps if we try to accelerate it we might have better outcomes.

New Zealand gangs started as a very human response to alienation. Alienation comes with poverty and lack of status. For many Māori, alienation came with the killing of their rangatira, the theft of their land and economic base, and the subsequent urban drift. It left people cut off from their kin and the most important expressions of their culture.

The worst of the gangs arose out of the extreme alienation from society that resulted from institutionalised rape, abuse and torture in state care. At the start of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care, I remember listening to an interview on the radio. It was one of the guys that had been kidnapped from his family as a young boy by the NZ Government and put into a home. It is no coincidence that most of those boys were Māori. In ‘care’ he was sexually and violently abused. Repeatedly. He was shoved from one abusive place to another until he turned 18 when he was turned out onto the street with nothing. No one cared about what happened to him, not a soul, except for the other kids who had been through the same. They joined together, like a family of sorts. If the world didn’t care about them then they didn’t give a fuck about the world. But they did care for each other, whatever that meant for people whose only ‘care’ had been abuse. Is it a surprise that many of those boys became our most violent criminals?

Now a man, he spoke about a judge sentencing him for some crime or another, talking to him with disgust and contempt about how he needed to come out of the gang life. He said to the interviewer “you locked every door to me. I am not welcome anywhere in your world. The only door that was opened to me was the gang. Why would I give that up?”

People need social connection almost as much as they need food. The gangs became a way of bonding, of forming connections both social and economic. Alienation was the ground that they sprung up from. To try to stamp them out with force is simply adding to that alienation, degrading the already degraded conditions that give rise to them in the first place. Like trying to burn gorse, whose seeds germinate in fire. Or worse, clearing the ground they have covered to make way for something even more rampant.

Gangs thrive in areas where people, especially young people, have few options for participating in legal society. Given growing inequality in New Zealand and the diminishing of opportunities for many young people, it is no wonder than gang membership is growing. Worryingly we are starting to see more of an influx of more violent criminal gangs from overseas. If we want to see gangs on the decline we need to improve the soil in which they arise, to make it richer, healthier, more structured, more full of life. And we need to recognise how the gangs themselves might help do that.
I work in a community and ecological restoration project in Whakatāne called Awatapu Otamakaokao Kaitiaki Trust. One of the driving forces behind that is a bunch of guys who have been or still are actively involved with Black Power. That is where they come from. That is their friends and family. Leaving that entirely is impossible for many of them, and why would they?

But they don’t want their children to go through what they went through, to live the lives that they have lived. They are the ones now organising the local Christmas in the Park, learning mau rākau, planting baumea and carex in lagoon mud.72538974_10156654823321717_8735450149867749376_n

Permaculture works with nature – and that must mean human nature as much as tree nature. Civilisations rise and fall but people’s nature remains invariably the same – socially cooperative and primed to seek connection and belonging. Humans by-and-large care about other people and care what other people think of us. But our natures can get distorted by our life experience. We can become so bound up in our peer group that we lose our sense of our place in the wider ecosystem. Yet the drive to provide a better life for our children is a common human trait. Left to our own devices I think even the most distorted social conditions will revert to equilibrium over enough generations. But as with our landscapes, we do not want to wait. We want to accelerate the natural succession, to speed up the journey towards system health.

This doesn’t mean being naive to what gangs can be. The opposite, in fact. If you are using gorse for a nurse crop and for mulch you need to pay special attention to the thorns. But it does mean recognising what is coming through underneath. It does mean feeding the soil and enriching it, pruning and mulching. An example might be to put seized proceeds of crime into the communities that give rise to gangs rather than into the consolidated fund. Or to put a much stronger focus on feeding those communities with education, work opportunity and community building initiatives rather than just more policing. It does also mean supporting, in practical terms, efforts within the gang communities themselves to change

Politicians will do more harm than good if they continue to try to eradicate gangs without understanding what gives rise to them and the social function they play. Most importantly, we have to be better at paying attention to and supporting the direction of the natural succession already taking place, that Government policies are so often antagonistic to.

Tagged , , , ,

A completely biased and self-serving Insiders Guide to Local Elections

It is difficult to know who to vote for in local elections. Most people don’t really know what councils do. They’ve never heard half of the names before. They are confused by the council reports and plans. And that’s just the candidates.

So here is a completely self-interested and biased guide to council elections. You’re welcome.

First of all, you are voting for three completely different things: Regional councillors; District Health Board members; and the District Council mayor and councillors. The first two of those cover the whole Bay of Plenty. As we know, people from the Western Bay have the same attitude to east of Te Puke as Aucklanders have to south of the Bombays. They barely know it’s there, and kind of wish it weren’t, so getting more Eastern Bay voices on those two is important.

The tricky thing for district council elections is how to tell which candidates will do the best job. That means, firstly, figuring out which sitting councillors did a good job last time and, secondly, which new councillors might do a good job next time. Unless you spend days sitting through council meetings (and frankly who would do that if they weren’t being paid for it?) it is very hard to answer that.

You can use attendance rates. The Beacon recently published the percentage of full council meetings each WDC councillor attended. It would have been good to see those figures across all the meetings we have to attend, and how many other responsibilities each councillor has put their hand up for, but it was helpful. Of course some people have good reasons for struggling to make meetings over the past year, and it’s partly about what they do when they ARE there. Being in the room is not the same as being present.

Effective councillors need to do more than just turn up. They need to understand the machinery of council: it grinds slow (this is even more important for the mayor). They need to read the reports, ask questions about things they don’t understand or are unsure about, test ideas and recommendations from staff, propose new initiatives, engage with and advocate for a broad community of people, and make good decisions on behalf of the whole district. They need political nous. Some sitting councillors are very good at all this. One or two others are a little more….. well, let’s just say that you don’t want any councillors on stand-by mode.

Media reports of council meetings are useful in trying to understand how different councillors perform. You do have to treat them with caution though. When the media reports on debates in council, the focus is on memorable quotes rather than quality of participation. This is particularly annoying when they put a good quote in someone else’s mouth. And no, I’m not bitter about that article from May 2017.

Candidate meetings are good for evaluating new candidates, and not enough people go to them. You can get the vibe of the contenders, suss their energy, hear their broad vision (if any). It can all get a bit wishful though. I heard one candidate for WDC talking about getting the regional council to pay for something. Asking for money from the regional council is like suggesting boat ramp fees for Whakatāne fishermen. Those two fingers are not a V for Victory sign.

So what do you do? You have to weigh up all the different bits of information available to you and give it your best shot. You have to think what you are looking for in broad terms. The role of a councillor is a governance role, which means big picture thinking. Good councillors have vision and can see what is on the horizon in global, national and local terms. A good council is diverse, with a mix of genders, ethnicities, ages and experiences to inform discussion. Councillors need the ability to work with other people and debate the issues without getting personal or factionalised.

Finally, full respect to everyone who has put their name forward. Joking aside, it takes courage to put yourself up for public office. You won’t always agree with them but councillors are all there to do service for the community. Lord knows you wouldn’t do it for the pay!

(A slightly edited version of this was published in the Whakatāne Beacon 24/9/19)

Tagged ,

Why I am standing in local elections

Whakatāne is a spectacular place with a great community, and it’s been an honour serving on our Council since 2016. Like any community around the country we face some serious challenges – but also exciting opportunities. By becoming more sustainable, more resilient and more regenerative, we both prepare for those challenges and make the most of our opportunities. What that means locally is reducing our resource use, building our capacity to adapt to change, and enhancing natural ecosystems where ever we can.

Since my election three years ago the Whakatāne District Council (WDC) is starting to take these issues more seriously. The Climate Change Steering Committee, which I chair, is only new, but it is driving that change.

Sustainability

We know that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is vital. The Climate Change committee has measured council emissions and begun reducing them. For example, we have to earthquake strengthen the Civic Centre because it is the Civil Defence HQ in any disaster. This is a great opportunity to make it more energy efficient at the same time. I also expect to see solar PV panels on at least some of our public buildings starting this term. All of this will have long term cost savings as well as environmental benefits.

We have developed a set of Climate Change Principles to make sure all future decision-making takes climate change into account. This is about reducing emissions and preparing for the impacts of global warming. Those have been out for consultation, and the community has been overwhelmingly supportive.

We are moving towards more electric and hybrid vehicles. It is not just changing vehicles, but changing how we use them. Even more, the Active Whakatāne Strategy is about supporting people in council and the community to get out of their cars and in to other transport modes, which has environmental, health, safety, and economic benefits. That ties to disability access too. If it works for mobility scooters and wheel chairs it will work for pedestrians and others as well.

Resilience

We face big infrastructure challenges, such as the ‘three waters’ (drinking water, waste water / sewerage, and storm water). It’s big money. How we did things in the past won’t always be good enough today, so we have to do things better. Climate change adds huge pressure on top of that. Councils all across the country face these same issues and so being able to talk to Central Government is critical. It is helpful to have councillors who know their way around the Beehive and who have good relationships with key ministers.

It is not just about hard infrastructure though. Just as important for resilience is strong communities. The Edgecumbe flood demonstrated that very clearly. As well as pipes and asphalt, we need to be able to to work with communities to understand and support their aspirations and build connections. The work I have done with Whakatāne Ki Mua, with Greenprint for Whakatāne (while helped spark both Waste Zero Whakatāne, and the Food Sovereignty Network), and with Awatapu Otamakaukau Kaitiaki Trust are examples.

Collaborating with mana whenua is also important. It is about respecting local hapū and iwi. They have an intergenerational commitment to this place as kaitiaki and are important for the expertise and the resources they can bring to the table. The Whakatāne Regeneration Program is a nation-leading example of how Council can work with tangata whenua for the good of everyone.

Regenerative

Integrating nature into our solutions, such as wetlands for flood protection and water holding, is the way of the future. People talk about ‘Biophilic Design’ as a way to benefit people and nature and provide long term, low energy solutions to infrastructure problems. We need more of this kind of thinking. Council has great staff with great ideas but they need supportive political leadership who understand that we need to do things differently in the 21st century.

Becoming More Strategic

Tying it all together is the need for strategic prioritisation. The WDC is really good at leveraging money out of central government and out of funding bodies. The downside is that council can become too opportunistic. We can end up chasing the money. With the big challenges in front of us – and of course challenges are just opportunities to do things better – we have to be very disciplined about how we spend money. I don’t think this means just doing pipes and roads, the hard engineering stuff. We need to have a much more holistic understand of what helps communities thrive. But it does mean being very clear how our spending leads us towards our strategic priorities. We need to become very good at synergising activities to fulfil multiple functions where we can (permaculture thinking), and we have to be prepared to say “no” to things that may sound great and we can get some co-funding for, but which don’t lead to where we need to go.

This is a really important time in history. Council has a really important role to play. To do that it needs to have a clear strategy. Whoever you vote for, it is important to choose people who can see the big picture, who can exercise strong governance leadership, and who know how to get things done. Importantly we also need more diversity around the council table. A wider range of skills, and of life experiences, will lead to better decision-making.

Above all we need people with vision. Vote for me and make a difference.

Tagged ,

Ihumātao – in its own terms

The Police Commissioner needs to explain the decision last night to crank up the heat at Ihumātao. The development is on hold, discussions are taking place, the Government is trying to de-escalate. What agenda are the Police pursuing here?

The whole situation needs careful handling by the Crown. This is a site of unique significance, and the issues are not simple. In addition, it highlights a systemic injustice of the treaty settlement process: that stolen land in private hands are out of bounds. That is untenable as a long term position and has potential to unravel at any time.

On the other hand some people are comparing this to the Foreshore and Seabed. I’m a long way from the action but I find that hard to understand. F&SB was the Govt of the day passing legislation to seize potential Māori property rights across the country. Clark’s Govt pre-empted a court case to disadvantage Māori. It was a modern-day raupatu.

Ihumātao, as far as I understand, is about protecting a unique and important site from development. It was stolen a while ago and went into private Pakeha ownership. A previous National Govt ruled that privately owned land could not be part of any treaty settlement. A later National Govt fast-tracked the consent process to use it for housing. Jacinda is trying to figure out a way through the mess.

Yes Ihumātao should be protected. Yes the Crown needs to take responsibility for its role to date. Yes the Govt must grapple with the broader question of how to deal justly with important sites in private ownership (bearing in mind they haven’t hesitated to take Māori land when it served Pakeha interests). But to me this isn’t about trying to make a comparison to a very different situation.

To me the point is to recognise what Ihumātao represents in its own terms: another generation of rangatahi seeking to take up their role as protectors. Another opportunity to build activist networks and connections and grow the movement for positive change. Another significant moment in the work to decolonise ourselves.

It is also part of a broader context. Indigenous people around the world are asserting their mana, and more than that, the vital importance of indigenous values in the world today. Values far more important than money.

Many tangata whenua and tangata tiriti have supported and been inspired by Standing Rock, by Mauna Kea. Many have been angered by the revelations about “uplifts” of Māori children. At the same time we are seeing the world fraying and coming apart around us. Ihumātao is a catalyst, an opportunity to disrupt the status quo and demand something different.

If there ever was a time when we needed to speak up, it is now. If there was ever a time to make a stand for justice, for people and for the earth, it is now. Love and respect to the protectors at Ihumātao, and everywhere.

Tagged

RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN WHAKATĀNE

This is an amazing moment in history. Young people, sick of seeing decades of denial, procrastination and evasion on climate change from political and business leaders are taking to the streets. School children are striking from school. Youth are organising direct action movements. People are demanding action.

They need to. Local Government New Zealand has drafted a Climate Change Declaration setting out some principles and aspirations for how local government can address the challenges of climate change. It is not radical – it asks councils to promote walking and public transport, improve resource efficiency and healthy homes and support renewable energy and electric vehicles. It recognises that local government needs to work with central government and with their communities.

Some 56 councils have signed but around 24 still refuse to do so. Thames-Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie says that the issue is ‘politically charged’  (because politics is anathema for a politician!). Meanwhile the West Coast Regional Council is opposing the Government’s Zero Carbon bill because “the evidence proving anthropogenic climate change must be presented and proven beyond reasonable doubt”. Apparently near unanimous agreement in the international scientific community is not sufficient.

Here in Whakatāne, climate change is already real for us. The flooding in Edgecumbe last year put our vulnerability to rising sea levels and increased storms into sharp focus. We know we can expect more of that. We know that the water table in the Rangitaiki Plains – once a wetland covering some 300km2 – is rising. A number of our people live under escarpments, along the coastline or clustered around our rivers. We have no room for complacency.

edgecumbe

Like much of local government, our council has been developing scattered pieces of work over the years, adjusting our district plan to incorporate climate change related hazards, but it has been piecemeal. There have been some attempts in the past to develop a Sustainability Strategy, but that never really went very far. What the organisation needed was more leadership at a political level, more strategic governance that recognises the real threat that climate change poses for our council and for our community. That leadership is now there.

Our Mayor, Tony Bonne, gets it. He signed the Mayors Declaration as soon as he found out about it. The issues of climate change and of sustainability are now being regularly raised around the council table, and not just by me. There is, I think, a strong acceptance around the table that climate change is real, that it poses a significant threat, and that we need to address it hand in hand with our communities.

In our organisation we are taking real steps. Our new CEO, Steph O’Sullivan, has a strong background understanding of climate change, of resilience and of partnering across communities, businesses and with the Crown. We have developed a high level Climate Change Steering Group with representation from senior leadership and with myself as the political representation. We have a Climate Change Project Team that has representation from the people that will be implementing our strategies. We are developing Climate Change principles based on the LGNZ declaration but drilling down into how they apply to our district, with input from across the organisation. The key thing about those principles is that they will flow through into decision-making across the organisation so that sustainability becomes embedded into decision-making rather than remaining a clip-on.

We have begun the process of bench-marking our own emissions so that we can improve and change, by signing up to the CEMARS programme. We have also done an energy audit to see where our bulk energy use is and how we can reduce it. That has given us a number of potential places where we can save money and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The next step is a more detailed investigation to see which of those possibilities might work in practice. This includes exploring the potential for adding solar generation to our buildings, which has highlighted that we need to address our approach to new public buildings and incorporate basic sustainable building design principles – something we have so far failed to do.

Council needs to address our own emissions, our own robustness (ability to withstand shocks), and our own resilience (ability to spring back from shocks). This is about showing leadership. Perhaps even more importantly, though, we need to be leading a deep discussion in our communities. Neither council nor government will ‘fix’ climate change. We can help or hinder but the most significant decisions will be made elsewhere. In this district, for example, the decisions around land use are critical both in terms of our emissions as a district and in terms of how we adapt to climate change. Council has an important role in making sure that people have good information when they make their own decisions about their homes, their businesses, their farms, their marae. We need community discussions that are non-judgemental, open and honest, and resourced with reliable information.

That process has begun, even though it has a long way to go. Whakatāne Ki Mua is the biggest community engagement that council has ever done, establishing a foundation for what the community wants for our communities. The GreenPrint forums have been exploring sustainability, resilience and regenerative design for our district and that has led to two community initiatives – Waste Zero and the Food Sovereignty network. A number of cool projects are being showcased during this months Sustainable Backyards which, for Whakatāne, is based out of Wharaurangi. In making that site available to Envirohub for the month, council has also committed to engaging our community around climate change, as the first step towards that deep discussion.

The horizon on climate change doesn’t stop in 2080 or 2100. The world will keep warming, oceans will keep rising, storms will keep getting stronger regardless of what we do. However we can influence how much worse it will get, for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Imagine what our own great grandparents would say to us if we refuse to act now, when we know.

This isn’t about blame or judgement, it is about coming together to talk about how we are going to respond, collectively and individually, to this challenge. Most importantly it is about recognising climate change as an opportunity. Not for a few people to enrich themselves, but to genuinely change how we do things. We can create a future that is better than our past and present. By becoming genuinely sustainable and resilient, by building stronger community networks and looking out for each other, we can solve not just climate change but many of our other issues as well. Climate is just a symptom of a deeper problem. We have become disconnected from the rest of life and we have become disconnected from each other. The results are not just ecological but social, economic and cultural. Redesigning our way of life to put people and planet at the centre is worth doing regardless of climate change. Climate change is just the driver.

Tagged , , ,