Bioregionalism starts at home
Think locally, act locally.
That seems to be the message coming from the environmental community in the last half of the 1990s. For decades, earth-friendly folks have been chanting the "Think globally, Act locally" mantra. In this day and age what can people in Whistler do for overpopulation in Bangladesh while Whistler's wetlands get eaten up by developers?
Last Saturday was Earth Day and about 40 people gathered in the Myrtle Philip Community School to talk about Whistler as a sustainable community. One of the most innovative ideas came from Doug Aberly a bioregional planner with the UBC School of Planning.
Aberly, who attended one of the original Earth Day celebrations in 1970, says people have to take control of their own environmental management through a process called bioregional mapping.
"We have to start creating visions of home and implementing them at home, step by invisible step," Aberly says. Bioregionalism involves a complex mapping process that allows people to assign values to ecological areas and use those values to show politicians what values are most important.
"People don't need a PhD in ecology to do this, all you need is a couple hundred hours, some maps of the region and some dedicated volunteers around the kitchen table," Aberly says. "Sustainability too often becomes concerned with triple paned glass and recycling."
People concerned about the ecological future of their region can go through the mapping process which will create a "feeling of empowerment" for people at the grassroots level. He says the bureaucratization of the environment has taken control of the future out of the hands of the people it will most affect — those who live in the region.
Like many of the Earth Day panelists, Aberly says the environmental crisis is a "creativity crisis" as politicians often weigh votes over the future of the environment.
"If bioregional mapping happens with the aid of the municipality, great," Aberly says. "But if it doesn't, do it yourself and the people who make decisions at the municipality will have to take notice."