Stories of Trust and Community

Good Sunday Morning,

Market02.jpgThe blackberries were mostly ripe as we walked along the country road at the headwaters of the bay. We stopped to pick them here and there, thankful for their antioxidants and sweetness. Back at the dock, someone had whispered to us: "The best store on this island is the honour store." It didn't look like much at first but the signage and empty tents in the yard made it clear that it was the site of Saturday markets during the summer. This was Sunday.

As we entered the tiny shed we heard CBC playing on the radio. A large table dominated the room. It was filled with pies, bread, pastries and more. The freezer had lamb and the fridge had eggs but there was so much more. The walls were covered with shelves and bins containing fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches and an abundance of produce. One whole shelving unit was stocked with preserves. And in the corner a cash box sat next to a ledger where you could leave comments and record what you've taken.

We were just concluding our transaction when the door flung open and the farmer waltzed in with yet more pies and goodies to fill every open space. After we stopped gushing over this amazing place she told us what inspires her most: "Sometimes, I get letters in the mail from folks who were walking by, hungry but without money, who simply took what they needed and were following up on the promise they made to themselves, to send me a check when they got home."

Among all the bounty offered for fair exchange at the 'honour store' was an old rickety revolving book rack with used books to swap or give away. One reminded me of the tenet offered by the Native Elders at another recent potluck where we discussed Steelhead LNG. It helped me understand their point that job creation is not an acceptable frame of reference in our conversations about the development of an LNG terminal in the Saanich Inlet. We have become so used to thinking of economics as a matter of human labour that we have forgotten to recognize that our so called 'primary industries' farming, fishing, mining etc. are actually wholly dependent on the primary 'economies' of the natural 'communities' in our soil, our water, and our land.

Enough.jpgImmediately after our time off we attended the BC Greens AGM and convention in Sidney. Dr. Daniel O'Neill, chief economist at the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy, also told us a story. A story of how economists and academics from all around the globe are working together to address a core challenge of our time. In his keynote, O'Neil challenged the wisdom of unlimited growth on a finite planet. He reminded us how woefully inadequate our preoccupation with using the gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of success really is. GDP simply measures growth. And all activities, good and bad, will add to it. "When someone breaks into your house and steals your computer," he reminds us, "and you have to go out and buy a new one and replace the lock on your front door, it adds to the GDP." So do oil spills and wildfires, wars and hurricanes.

In this video about his book by the same name, "Enough is Enough" O'Neill quotes Henry Wallich, long time member of the US Federal Reserve, as having said: "Growth is a substitute for equality of income. So long as there is growth there is hope and that makes large income differentials tolerable." O'Neil turned that around by observing that if growth is a substitute for equality, then equality can be a substitute for growth. If we can learn to trust people instead of money, it's a much more sustainable option.

Whenever there is a discussion around distributing our society's wealth in ways that closes the income gap, the argument is made that without the treadmill of a job people would just stop engaging in society. Often this argument comes from people who deeply believe in volunteerism. I find this very strange. As someone who is surrounded by volunteers on a daily basis I can tell you that if it matters to them, their dedication and commitment to accomplishing a task is unmatched. So when I hear O'Neil talk about a guaranteed minimum income and a 20 hour work week, to me it represents an opportunity for people to engage in their community.

EDA20.jpgEngaging with our community matters. The day after the convention, a number of delegates who are also active on the executives of federal Electoral District Associations (EDAs) across BC, gathered for a Green Storming session in Sidney. This initiative, co-sponsored by the East Vancouver and Saanich-Gulf Island EDAs, encouraged the telling of more stories. Stories of successes and failures, challenges and victories, laughter and tears. Stories that inspired us but mostly they were stories that recognized how much we need each other as a community. 

Then the next day Michael, our CEO, and I traveled to the northern most EDA on Vancouver Island to help launch their initiative to develop a vision for their EDA. Michael did such a fabulous job facilitating the development of our SGI Vision and Values statement that we were asked to share our approach. More stories, more exploration, more recognition that we are not alone with our challenges.

The value of earning the trust of our community is a sentiment that comes up again and again. It was one of the major threads that wove its way through the Green Storming Potluck of the SGI Green Media Group on Tuesday evening as well. Knowing that so many of us are dedicated to building a fair, just and sustainable world for all, excites and invigorates us.

And among all the conversations and excitement over these few days, a single story stands out in my memory. It was a story told by Anthony Hughes told at the convention about knocking on 3,000 doors during the last election. Anthony is a data guy and has worked on a lot of campaigns. But his story wasn't about data. His story was about stories. The stories he heard from folks at the door and how rewarding it was for him to listen.

Saanich_Fair.jpgRight now Elizabeth is touring the Maritimes to touch communities on the east coast with her stories. Check out her schedule here. Next weekend she will be back in her home riding for the Saanich Fair. If you live near the Saanich Peninsula, please join us. Our focus this year will be on LNG and the threat it poses to the Saanich Inlet. There will be petitions, videos, slide shows and much to talk about. If you have time and would like to volunteer at our booth, drop me a line by replying to this email.

On September 6th Elizabeth will start her fall series of Town Halls. More stories. Please check her Town Hall schedule here and spread the word. Elizabeth is looking forward to meeting her constituents and sharing the latest news from Ottawa. And speaking of Ottawa, tomorrow is the final day to submit comments to the federal government about the need to repeal the damage cause by C-38, C-45 and C-51. If you have not already done so you can read Elizabeth's backgrounder here and submit your comments here.

So much of life is about stories; the stories we tell each other and the stories we tell ourselves. Stories of trust, respect and caring for one another. It's our stories that we remember. It's our stories that bind us together as a community.  It's in living these stories that we build our future.

Have a great week,


"It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens." Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015

This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were sent here by a friend and would like to subscribe to our weekly email simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues.

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