Solar Flares: Keep Talking

Springtime means Spring Cleaning, and in a desperate effort to procrastinate the literal cleaning of my home, I have embarked on a sort of spiritual and mental cleanup. Among other things, that means a change to how I use social media and online communication, including Maple Danish, my mostly-mothballed blog, and Messymorphosis, my all-but-extinct newsletter.

In a nutshell: I am planning to post once a week, on Fridays or Saturdays. My posts will be partly personal updates, and partly a curated collection of news from Cape Breton, Canada, or the world entire. And—big surprise coming here, everybody sit down—most of the content will be related to climate activism.

That’s who I am now, because that’s the world I live in. In early April, I’ll wrap up my final term teaching at CBU; I’m not returning in the fall, so I can dedicate myself full-time to rabble-rousing. (I will still be working at the Fortress of Louisbourg in the summer months—and during that time, the tone of my posts may change somewhat, because as an employee of Parks Canada (ie. the federal government), I can’t mouth off quite as much about politics. But I will be neither idle nor silent.)

It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, my updates will strive to focus as much as possible on good news, both in terms of what I feel like I’ve accomplished and from the news of the world. Because there are good things happening, and the more we can broadcast and share those achievements, the easier it will be for others to find hope, and take action. To remind myself of the importance of staying sunny, I have christened these missives Solar Flares.

However, I cannot promise that I will always be upbeat. Some weeks are harder than others. Some election results are (probably) way more depressing. And part of my pledge is to communicate honestly, so I’m not going to pretend I’m a big ball of hope when I’m not. In either case—whether my tone is optimistic or nihilistic—the best way that you can help is to click “share”—or, better yet, bring some of my talking points with you into the grocery store, or the office, or the bar.

Stephen Hawking said, “Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

My Week in the Anthropocene
(NOTE: I’ll probably be chattier in future posts, but since I’ve already rambled my way through an introduction, I’ll stick to bullet points for now)

  • Attended Extinction Rebellion‘s talk on Climate Collapse, then agreed to lead the new Sydney chapter of XR.
  • Joined a Canada-wide online eco-activist forum called Mattermost (invitation only).
  • Along with Terry Gibbs, I presented “Blue Sky Heroes, aka Dumb Ways to Die” to four high schools around Cape Breton. It’s a 40-minute presentation designed to promote environmental initiatives amongst youth.
  • Signed up for a Massive Online Open Course offered by Athabasca University called “Towards Cooperative Commonwealth: Transition in a Perilous Century.” (Enrollment still open — and it’s free!)
  • Contacted playwrights to obtain eco-themed scripts for possible future production.
  • Designed a “Save the Planet” board game with my seven-year-old.

Solar Flares in a Warming World

  • Canada’s federal budget included a couple of green incentives: a $5,000 federal rebate for the purchase of electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles under $45,000, and plans for subsidies for homeowners and businesses who want to undertake environmentally friendly retrofits on their buildings.
  • 12 environmentally friendly coffee cup prototypes recently received prizes of up to $1 million–plus partnerships with companies like Starbucks–in the NextGen Cup Challenge.
  • Over 100 fisherwomen marched together in Karachi, Pakistan, to protest local coal initiatives that threaten their environments, water, and livelihoods.
  • Costa Rica announced that it recently went 299 days running on 100% renewable energy.

If You Read One Thing This Week About the Environment:

  • This New York Times photo-essay is full of intimate portraits of Americans who grew up surrounded by fossil fuel industries, but forged their own paths towards renewable energy projects.

Spread the word, and stay in touch!

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