Passover has many lessons, one of which is that a community must be able to provide for itself the necessities of life. When it can’t, a community is dependent on others for charity and support.
Haiti is a perfect example of a country that once supported itself, and then through free trade policies, became dependent on others. They lost food sovereignty.
Bill Clinton recently expressed regret over his free trade policies that flooded the country with cheap imported rice, “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.”
So, sustainability is a condition that always must be satisfied in order to consider any economic goal worthwhile.
It is especially fitting that President Clinton’s mea culpa comes as the Jewish community worldwide prepares to observe Passover. The story of Passover is a stark reminder that communities cannot rely solely on others to provide for their needs. Until people are empowered to help themselves, in-kind assistance from the outside is useful only in the immediate aftermath of acute emergencies. Long-term needs must be met principally through a community-led approach. The lesson we take from Passover is that once the Israelites spoke out against slavery their prayers for freedom were finally answered.
Today, the people of Haiti are speaking as loud as they can. They desperately want a voice and central role in the reconstruction of their country, including the ability to meet the country’s nutritional needs with food produced by Haitians in Haiti. In fact, President Rene Preval, himself a rice grower, has asked for international food aid to be replaced by financial support for farmers and the re-development of the agricultural sector. Preval knows that sustained success in rebuilding depends on food sovereignty, or the ability for Haitian farmers to grow their own crops and feed their own communities.
Finally, there is public transportation from downtown Montreal to Dorval (P.E. Trudeau) airport! This new bus (#747) is like a regular bus meaning that you can use your daily STM card and it does not cost you anything extra to ride! This should be great! I will certainly use it for my next trip to the airport.
The modern schooling system reinforces the short-term, throw-it-away culture with plastic toys, ink markers and TV in the classroom.
Thankfully, there is another way: Waldorf schools, also known as Stenier schools.
Named after the first school founded by philosopher Rudolf Steiner for the employees of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette company in Germany, Waldorf now has over 1,000 schools worldwide.
The tenets of the education focus on whole person education and tailoring schools to fit the developmental stages of each child. Along the way, the philosophy advocates using all-natural materials in the classrooms – never any plastic or processed materials. Students learn the natural rhythms inside themselves and gain the confidence to express their unique individuality.
To learn more, meet parents and teachers, there is an open house this Saturday in NDG at the Montreal Waldorf School.
The quote above from Einstein summarizes why Waldorf is a sustainable education whose value will last a lifetime for its students.
In case you need more reasons to eat local, organic foods here is a sad, but hilarious clip where British school children can’t identify a variety of common vegetables.
What would happen if McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s stopped serving, or what if the processed food section in the supermarkets went dry? Would kids try to eat grass and rocks because they don’t know where their food comes from?
My mother lives in Charlottesville and marvels at the pedestrian and bicycle friendly features it has. Google Maps with bicycle paths does a good job of showing this off.
Unfortunately, this feature is NOT YET available for Montreal. However, Google does provide walking directions which should be a decent substitute until Google makes this feature available for us. To request that Google make bike paths available for Montreal, send them an email.
In Montreal, traveling from the west to east, or vica versa, is relatively easy due to the topography. Any bicyclist knows to just take deMaisonneuve or Sherbroke St. But how about traveling north and being able to avoid the steep grades due to the Mont? This is where Google needs to help cyclists.
Giving cyclists the same type of support tools as motorists for finding their way in a busy world is a step in the right direction towards making the world a better place. For more info, see Google Maps Bike There.
Identifies cycling facilities (for now in “hundreds of US cities”)
Shows which routes are considered safer than others, including paths that have limited or no driving
Uses elevation grades to estimate times and recommend routes
It shouldn’t be too long before many localities and non-profit organizations are able to feed their information to Google. Unlike transit routes, there’s nothing proprietary about safety recommendations. Right now Google lists the Charlottesville pedestrian mall as a recommended route, although it is actually prohibited to cyclists. Google accepts feedback on all of these recommendations, so we can all take part in building the most accurate and useful mapping tool.
The Centre for Sustainable Development (better known by its French name, the Maison du développement durable) will soon begin to emerge on the corner of Clark and Ste. Catherine St. W.. The centre will house headquarters of eight non-profit organizations dedicated social or environmental causes.
The building will be huge – its promoters are calling it “65,000 square feet of hope” – and it is expected to be one of the greenest buildings in Canada. Green roof, geothermal heating and cooling…the works…
Here is a very cool video developed by lg2, the folks who produced the Centre’s website. “Using nothing but garbage, waste materials and recycled objects, André Dubois (lg2) and Éric Parizeau (director) built a magical universe where the world evolves in mysterious ways. The execution is an animation, created frame by frame, where people and animals embark on a journey to an extraordinary place where they view the very beginnings of the Maison du développement durable, represented by a growing tree.”
Here are the eight partners who will be finding new digs at the Centre:
Options consommateurs (a non-profit association protecting consumers)
Heritage Montreal in conjuction with Dawson College will offer a course on Sustainable Home Renovation practices.
Architect Ron Rayside and Emmanuel Cosgrove, senior evaluator for LEED Canada will introduce participants to the renovation and restoration practices that respect the environment in light of current sustainable development principles.
Home owners are ideally placed to preserve the harmony and beauty of the built environment that make up much of our city’s charming neighborhoods.
For just $299, the series of eight thematic courses is offered in English at Dawson College every Thursday evening from March 25 to May 10 (note that the last course will be held on a Monday), and in French at Université de Montréal, 2940 Côte-Sainte-Catherine, every Tuesday evening from March 23 to May 11. Courses run from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and will cover the following topics:
• Montreal residential architecture through history
• General home inspection
• Renovation planning and administration
• Foundations and structure
• Exterior walls, roofs and insulation
• Doors, windows and exterior woodwork
• Mechanical and electrical systems
• Sustainable Development
Registration can be done by telephone with Julia Dawson, Coordinator of the Home Renovation Courses at (514) 286-2662, extension 26 or online.
From a survey performed in late 2009, the following list of Top 10 sustainable professions emerged. The responders of the survey had all been motivated to find or develop new skills in response to threats from Peak Oil.
Some survey findings that may help those working to accelerate awareness and action among the general public are:
People are driven to act in the face of global threats largely by a sense of right and wrong – their conscience – with some encouragement and inspiration from books, movies, media programs and articles.
Emphasizing the positive consequences of particular lifestyle changes, and focusing on health and wellness benefits and a simpler, more satisfying life may be more effective ways to encourage change than promoting financial savings.
The lack of support from one’s community and family and lack of assistance with overcoming unhelpful personal habits and attitudes are more significant roadblocks to effective response than not having enough information on what actions to take.
Growing one’s own food is a popular and transformative way to begin living a more sustainable lifestyle, and may lead to a new career opportunity and the development of more community support.
Most people do not feel they need to measure the impact of their lifestyle changes, but some think such feedback would motivate and assist them with doing more. Setting goals, even without measurement, is extremely helpful.
Nine out of ten people plan to make additional changes, including starting or expanding a garden, installing a renewable energy system, or working with others in their local community to make broader, more systemic changes.