I chose Nelson in 1987 for two reasons. 1) I hoped that a Nelson university might be re-established; I’m an historian and I like academic study. 2) Nelson’s reputation for counter-culture; I felt that the revolutionary youth culture of the 1960s and early ‘70s was my natural habitat. Nelson suits me.
I’m a father, and grandfather. My employment here has included care worker for the mentally challenged, taxi driver, and newspaper reporter; now I’m a freelance journalist, teacher-on-call, and tutor.
Community boards I have served are: Nelson University Centre, Nelson Anti-Poverty Action Group, Kootenay Centre for a Sustainable Future, David Thompson Cultural (student) Society, Nelson Library Board, Nelson Peace Coalition and Kootenay Co-op Radio. I’m an activist with my local union, the Nelson District Teachers’ Association, and was previously with CUPE local 339.
I have been a member of the NDP and for one year, in 1988, I was a member of the Reform Party.
Who am I? The answer matters in democracy, when one person claims to represent others. To communicate meaningful knowledge of my identity needs more than press releases.
I will say this, I have not felt so good, about the political, social and cultural moment we live in, since 1974. The Occupy phenomenon is what gives me that feeling. The Occupy phenomenon says, we can transform our consciousness, with that change, everything transforms. I’m campaigning because this moment is poised to create a radically alternative society. Bring energy from the streets to Nelson governance. Build a post-capitalist Nelson. That’s my motivation.
TOP THREE ISSUES
#1. Growth and Environment. No more development as we have known it. Council might have acted differently after the 2008 market, debt and banking crisis, but chose the business-as-usual route. Very disappointing to me and to others too, who expect remarkably progressive initiatives in this community of highly-educated, spiritually-seeking citizens. Nothing gets better by adding population or infrastructure now. No more Kutenai and Nelson Landings. No more Bay-Graine-Granite Pointe insanity. Council could declare an end to that, grant no more development permits, entrench a no-growth OCP.
The planet groans under growth. Exploitation, extraction and sale of materials ripped from nature to manufacture trash, is the old way. Alberta’s and Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative vision brings that hideous hyperdevelopment.
On our patch of the planet let’s be a model of radically-different economic vision. Every issue touching growth and quality of environment will have to pass the test of revolution. If it’s old, it’s unacceptable. Think big, bright dreams.
# 2. Poverty. Capitalist, corporate, market society is unequal by design. Poverty, environmental degradation, and technological brilliance, feed it. Capitalist science astonishes us. “Our technology outruns our humanity,” said Einstein.
Nelson suffers like most of Canada from the creation over the last 30 years of a new underclass of homeless people, for whom society once cared. Nelson could learn from other cities, like London on how to institute a living wage policy, and address a root cause of poverty. Wages that are too low to support families for basic expenses. Using the online wage calculator, city government works to ensure employers pay living wages. (e.g. the living wage for the Lower Mainland area is $18.81, for Cranbrook, $14.16). Visit livingwages.ca. Free clothing stores can be city enterprises. Also, Nelson owns buildings. Some sit empty. Surely we could shelter the homeless in winter.
These are solvable issues in post-capitalist society.
#3. Cars. I love my car, so this is hard. Post-capitalist society is hostile to private vehicular ownership, such as we hyper-independent individualists claim is our right. The experience of car-power — derived from driving alone wherever I feel like — is damaging to our ability to feel community with our fellows. Citizenship flourishes where machines don’t rule public space. Close Baker Street to cars. Those who have cars, fill them up with folks who need buses or taxis. City Hall can make it easy to link drivers with riders; look at how impoverished east-European peoples have shared cars. Indian and Chinese middle-class obsession with car ownership is a truly depressing prospect for the Earth. Nelson could invest in charging stations for electric vehicles. We could stop paving streets to a high standard; just drive slowly.
Sing “Imagine no combustion, it’s easy if you try, no pave beneath us, above us the blue sky…”