LETTER: Living in a blessed bubble

Reader Charles Jeanes says growth economics threatens Nelson's quality of life.

“Negativity” is unwelcome among many in our community, and critique of situations here seems negative. I acknowledge the argument that “we create a reality by our attitudes,” yet that doesn’t mean critical thought is outlawed.

Here’s critique: Nelson so far exists in a blessed bubble. People speak of this in different ways, but there is a consensus of the protected nature of living here and having a special quality of community. In  your Hugs ‘n’ Slugs section, I read our special qualities reflected.

Great wealth and poverty co-existing is not wholesome. Nelson is manifesting this condition more than once was true. Wealth is apparent in luxurious new homes, some inside and some out of Nelson border. Gleaming, expensive vehicles are another signal. Wealth is apparent in the boutique retail stores and quality restaurants where prices are commensurate with bigger cities; real estate and rents are elevated. Nelson is a retail, arts and entertainment attractor-centre, the magnetism reaching a wide radius.

The poverty is apparent once winter’s gone and homeless folk come back and hazard sleeping outdoors. Panhandling, begging, busking, and welfarism become evident on downtown streets, and camping in woods at the city’s edges. Food banks and charity kitchens feed hundreds.

Nelson’s (and the RDCK’s) political class is aware of the situation. Poverty and homelessness strategies, committees, documents, electoral campaigns, prove official attention to this social issue.

Local governments cannot resolve the problems without senior levels, BC and Ottawa, being involved in process. This is a provincial and national problem, the mal-distribution of social wealth. People move here because of our reputation for quality of life; the quality is vulnerable to growth economics.

Can Nelson continue in its special quality of peace, love and ecological consciousness, when the economic divide widens, area population grows, and the middle-income layer is smaller? I know people who believe it is only about attitude. “Keep positive, be kind, love one another, and all is resolved”? Not a new idea; I remember the Love Revolution of the ‘60s.

History as usual would predict Nelson will lose its blessed character. It will be slowly absorbed into the normal of the ordinary. Ireland was special in the Dark Ages; then the outer world broke in. The villain of the piece is growth economics. Naomi Klein says everything changes now we know capitalism is killing climate. Hope is a beautiful thing; I hope she is right.

Charles Jeanes

Nelson