Our Stories

Collaborating for Greater Impact

Transition Cowichan is a part of an evolving local collaboration among diverse stakeholders looking at the complex problem of how to strengthen social cohesion & our responses to climate change in the Cowichan Region.  Here’s the issue as we see it:

image005Our community will experience increasing stress from the increasing impacts of climate destabilization. Vulnerable citizens, such as children, poor and frail seniors, the homeless and low income families with fewer resources and less mobility, will be especially challenged to respond and adapt. To develop adaptive solutions that meet the needs of everyone in the Cowichan, we need to work together, strengthening our ability to co-operate within & between sectors & among neighbors, collaborating across local governments, First Nations, social benefit and environmental non-profits, business, faith groups & others.” Collective Impact is the approach we are working with in approaching this complex issue.  Check out the Collaboration’s  Facebook Page.

Related to this initiative on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 , there was a public presentation and discussion on Collective Impact – an Approach to Addressing Complex Problems, at Island Savings Centre.  And on November 3, 2015 there was a public lecture “A Conversation on Climate Change: The Inconvenient Truths of Our Time & How to Talk About Them” and discussion with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Climate Justice Director Marc Lee and communications specialist Cara Pike at at VIU Cowichan Campus lecture theatre.


10-10-10 Tree Planting

A Transition Food Forest

On Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10, 2010, inspired by the 10/10/10 climate campaign at 350.org, Transition Cowichan joined forces with Canadians from coast to coast to coast to take practical action against the climate crisis. Working with a number of community partners, we planted over 100 food trees in publicly accessible sites across more than 12 communities in the Cowichan region, and we had a wonderful time building and celebrating our community while we were at it. Thank you to all those folks that came out and donated their time, money and trees to make our 10-10-10 Global Work Party a great success!

Expanding our regional food forest adds to our local forest’s ability to sequester carbon, contributes to local food security and increases our community’s resilience. By working with Cowichan Green Community’s Fruit Save we will ensure that, when the trees are mature, the fruit and nuts will be picked and shared among the pickers, the community and the region’s food banks and food programs.

The City of Duncan supported the planting of fruit and nut trees in Centennial Park in accordance with its Urban Forest Strategy Plan. Food trees and berry bushes were also planted in public parks, school yards, church yards and private/public boundaries in: Shawnigan Lake (Community Corner at Dundas & Wilmot, and Gregory Rd.); Mill Bay(Sylvan United Church); Cobble Hill – Fisher Rd.; Glenora/Eagle Heights (Maplewood Park); Cowichan Bay (Coverdale-Watson Park, Hecate Park and by the Lambourn pond); North Cowichan (Somenos Ball Field, Herons Wood and the SPCA); Somenos Marsh; Maple Bay (Garry Oak Preserve); Duncan (Centennial Park); Crofton (Osborne Bay Terrace); Chemainus (Caswell Park); Lake Cowichan (in front of the Irish Pub) and Mesachie Lake.

Please, check out our 10-10-10 photo gallery to view photos of the day.

Thank you to our partners and supporters: Cowichan Green Community, Cowichan Intercultural Society, B. Dinter Nursery, OUR Ecovillage, the Cowichan Land TrustNature Conservancy of Canada, Cittaslow Cowichan Bay, CVRD & Duncan Parks, Somenos Marsh and Wildlife Society and many others.IMG_0363CWgroup2

Below are links to the 350.org action reports for the events that were registered on that site.

  1. Shawnigan Lake – Dundas and Wilmot Roads
  2. Mill Bay – Sylvan United Church next to Frances Kelsey School
  3. Glenora/Eagle Heights
  4. Cowichan Bay – Coverdale-Watson Park, Hecate Park, and by the pond at Tom Bannister Park
  5. Maple Bay Garry Oak Preserve
  6. Duncan – Centennial Park

Next Steps Locally

We would love to have the planting of food trees be an ongoing project to build our region’s food security and help make sure we have food for the future. Recently Cowichan Green Community planted a demonstration urban food forest using permaculture principles next to their new home at The Station.  We look forward to there being more and more common areas throughout our community were food can be harvested! As with every yield, there will be work to do and we will need folks to come out and participate in collecting the fruit and nut harvests. Luckily, the Cowichan Green Community’s Fruit Save Program is there to help organize our community efforts and fairly distribute the bounty of all our hard work. Contact CGC if you have fruit growing on your property that you would like to share or if would like to be a picker and share the bounty.

If you would like to be on the Transition Cowichan e-mail list so that we can let you know about future activities, please contact us at info@transitioncowichan.org

Connecting to the Bigger Picture

Along with thousands of communities around the world, we joined 350.org in this “Global Work Party” mindful that at that point we were fast approaching the UN climate negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, November 29 – December 10, 2010. Concerned citizens in 183 countries participated by installing solar panels, repairing bicycles, planting trees and more. In Canada alone over 190 events took place across the country.

Transition Cowichan’s intention is to engage in positive action at the local level to build our community’s resilience to meet the changes ahead of us. On a community level, October 10th was a huge success. But acting locally is not enough.

We live with the awareness that right now our Canadian government has one of the the worst records on climate in the industrialized world. Our government spends an estimated 2 billion dollars a year in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. At the same time it has virtually cut all federal funding for clean energy development, and more recently, gutted environmental protections through two omnibus bills. By participating in events like the “Global Work Party” we are also sending our leaders a clear message: Local communities are getting to work – now it’s the government’s turn to do the same.

10/10/10 organizers in Canada pointed out that the Government of Canada has yet to implement any meaningful policies to cut Canada’s emissions. Our government’s 2020 emissions target of 17 percent below 2005 levels is far from the significant reductions that science says are needed, and the government has no coherent plan to meet even this meager target.  In fact, we are going in the opposite direction.

What Happened at Cancun and at subsequent Climate Negotiations?

The 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen (COP15) were characterized by secret drafts leaked to the press, backroom deals by elite groups and a general mood of distrust. The so-called Copenhagen Accord, an agreement with no legally binding commitments on emissions reductions, undermined the survival of the Kyoto Protocol, which contains the only legally binding international commitments to greenhouse gas reductions.

COP16 in Cancún ended with a  decision was written with strong language, confirming both the science and the urgent and potentially irreversible threat that climate change poses to human societies and the planet. It formally put the pledges from the Copenhagen Accord, however inadequate, into UN documentation. However, none of the Cancún cuts are legally binding, and analysis from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts suggests that pledges in the Accord, if kept, will lead to a 3.2C rise in temperatures – far higher than the 2C generally considered to be a level of “safe” warming – this despite the fact that in Cancún countries agreed to find ways to avoid allowing global average temperature from increasing to 2 degrees C, while recognizing the need to consider that the high point should be 1.5 degrees C.

The Cancún decision states that “addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift towards building a low-carbon society that offers substantial opportunities….” Language recognizing the importance of human rights in implementing climate policy, respect for indigenous peoples, women, and gender-related issues, and references to the need for a “just transition”, are also included.

While Cancún kept the Kyoto Protocol  alive,  subsequent global climate talks have made little progress and the 2012 deadline for a second commitment period has come and gone. Decisions on the role that the protocol will play in a future legal document binding all the world’s countries to emissions cuts were also delayed. The parties have not yet committed, and Canada has the dubious distinction of being the first Kyoto signatory to have withdrawn from the Protocol. 

What does it mean?

Of the Cancun process 350.org’s Bill McKibben said, “It basically ignored the two crucial questions: How much carbon will we cut, and how fast?”

Cancún called for industrialized countries to “raise the level of ambition” in their targets, and subsequent climate summits have done no better.  As McKibben says, “If we let this planet warm much longer, scientists tell us that we’ll lose forever the chance of getting back to a stable 350 ppm CO2. That means we’ll lose forever the basic architecture of our planet with its frozen poles. Already the ocean is turning steadily more acidic; already the atmosphere is growing steadily wetter, which means desertifying evaporation in arid areas and downpour and deluge elsewhere….Physics and chemistry are downright impossible to shift. Physics and chemistry don’t bargain.” So, as McKibben says, government leaders and all the rest of us must work harder.

What can Canadians do?

In UN climate summit after UN climate summit our government has won the Colossal Fossil Award for being the most obstructive nation in the negotiations.

We must speak out as citizens to change our government’s position and get postive action, because we are running out of time. We must demand science-based binding emissions reduction targets, an end to fossil fuel industry subsidies, a price on carbon, investment in clean energy, green jobs and climate solutions that support local and bio-regional resilience. You can write to the Prime Minister pm@pm.gc.ca

Toronto Artist Franke James created this slide show for 10/10/10, “What one person can do when 6.8 million people are frying the planet” , that brings action back to the local and regional level.

Contact us at info@transitioncowichan.org if you would like to get involved locally.

About 350.org

350 bell ring Sylvan church4

Ringing the bell at Sylvan United Church in Mill Bay 350 times as part of a global bell ring during the Copenhagen climate talks.

350.org is an international volunteer-based organization founded by author and teacher Bill McKibben. 350’s goal is to build a global climate movement. In October 2009, as world leaders prepared to negotiate an international climate treaty in Copenhagen, climate campaigners at 350.org organized the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history. Citizens engaged in a multitude of creative actions. Churches around the world rang their bells 350 times to mark the 350 parts per million concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is the safe upper limit, according to the latest science, for a stable climate. This is the number from which 350.org takes its name. Unfortunately, the UN conference in Copenhagen in 2009 was not successful, and subsequent UN conferences have not yet found a way to move the world forward on reducing emissions. Global concentrations of CO2 are now 400 ppm and rising. It is time to turn them around.

350.org has mounted a global campaign gofossilfree.org to get universities, municipalities, churches and other organizations to divest their investment portfolios of fossil fuel investments and the campaign is beginning to have some success.  350.org is also campaigning to stop the KXL pipeline in the US, as many here in Canada are working to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines, supporting a move away from fossil fuels as our primary source of energy.