Solar Flares: Zeroing In

Whenever I direct a play, I start at the drawing board with a hundred thousand wild, impractical ideas. I move recklessly into the design process, talking to all the other team members as if my fantasies are definitely going to become reality — because how else can I inspire the best work from my actors, designers, etc.?

But there inevitably comes a point when I have to simplify. Time runs short, or else we try to implement some big, crazy notion and it just doesn’t work, or it works but it’s too costly, too demanding of the participants’ energies. My field of fantasies grows gradually more narrow. I cling to the ones that seem to work, and I never, ever do a show without at least one thing that I’m certain my audience has never seen onstage before. I rarely mourn my discarded schemes. I can always revive them for the next show.

I’m at a “zeroing in” stage with climate activism right now, and although it’s harder to let go (knowing that there may not be time to revive my rain-chequed ideas), I’m fortunate to have had lots of practice.

For me, this was primarily a week of corresponding, coordinating, and table-setting for next Friday’s CBRM March for the Earth. As I worked towards that event, I scrutinized every other project and idea that danced in my imagination, competing for my time and energy. And this week more than most, I resigned myself to the harsh facts: I’m only one guy; I have other responsibilities beyond saving the Earth; and it’s better to do one thing really well than a dozen things half-assed.

So R.I.P. my plan to write a play about the Canadian vet who travelled to Africa to provide palliative care for the last male Northern White rhino. And au revoir for now, my scheme to hold a series of “picnics for the planet” over the summer. And so much for hand-washing all my dishes… and besides, there’s no consensus on whether that’s actually more environmentally friendly than a dishwasher.

Like I said, I’m trying not to dwell on these too much. I tell myself, if they don’t happen, they’ll end up replaced with other, even better things. But there is still a psychic toll in letting go of each little thing. It’s not like mourning your children, exactly… it’s more like acknowledging the loss of soldiers in your small platoon. Not only is each death sad, but they also make it that much harder to win the war.

My Week in the Anthropocene:

  • Accentuate the positive, right? I am getting excited about the action next Friday. I’ve drawn up a list of demands for the CBRM City Council:
  • 1. Publish a progress report on CBRM’s climate action, referring to the 2014 CBRM Climate Action Plan as an indication of what steps have already been taken towards environmental mitigation and adaptation.
  • 2. Strike an advocacy panel of public advisors who will meet to review CBRM’s progress reports and recommend subsequent courses of action. — BY JUNE 28, 2019
  • 3. Commit to publishing monthly public reports that list any/all ongoing or completed climate actions taken by CBRM:
  • a. To reduce the city’s fossil fuel emissions;
  • b. To mitigate the costly and hazardous effects of global warming for citizens;
  • c. To educate and prepare citizens for the effects of climate collapse.
  • I’ve also heard some juicy activism gossip: apparently Prime Minister Trudeau will be in nearby Antigonish on Saturday, May 25. That’s the day after my march, so maybe I can pop down there with a petition or something. It would be nice to make some noise that close to a major policymaker for a change.
  • I sent in a grant application for my Lumiere project. And I began to draw up plans for another grant application for Blue Sky Heroes, Phase 2. And I scheduled the next Climate Cafe. So… definitely not a wasted week.

Solar Flares in a Warming World:

  • Most plastic is only recyclable once or twice at most. But a study shows that “closed-loop,” or permanently recyclable plastic, may be feasible.
  • Giant pandas will soon have a $1.5 billion nature preserve to be an endangered species in, courtesy of the Chinese government.
  • And here on Cape Breton, a locally owned business has launched a very inspiring — and adorable — campaign called The Shelly Mission. If you stop by Kreative Design on Kings Road (Sydney River), you can meet Shelly, the red-eared slider (seen above) and pick up a biodegradable garbage bag for collecting plastic waste. That way, the plastics won’t end up in the ocean, causing harm to Shelly’s kin.

If You Only Read One Thing About the Environment This Week:

  • The language surrounding climate change is changing. The Guardian, one of the first media outlets to speak the truth about how serious the environmental threat has become, recently announced that they will stop using the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” Click to read what terms they’ve adopted, and why it’s a good move.

If You Only Do One Thing This Week:

  • I’d like to say, “Come to my climate march on May 24,” but honestly the simplest and most direct way that you could effect change this week is to write your MP. The Canadian parliament is debating two separate proposals for declaring climate emergency (one from the Liberals, one from the NDP). No matter what your MP’s colours, they need to know that you take this issue seriously. There’s a template (of sorts) on this page. Or draft your own and send it to me; I’m happy to proof-read!
  • And also yeah — if you’re in Cape Breton, please join me at Open Hearth Park on Friday at 12pm to march for the future.

Stay strong. Shine bright!



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