Nelson Commons and ‘a sense of noblesse oblige’

With the opening of the Nelson Commons show suite at Vernon and Hall, this letter is a propos

With the opening of the Nelson Commons show suite at Vernon and Hall, this letter is a propos. There I had an interesting chat with Russell Precious, a key member of the Kootenay Co-op and visionary for its condo-development project on the corner diagonally from the Commons. I had emailed Russell a few weeks back, with questions about the growth economy.

We agreed on a key point: the world’s banking system and its system of debt-money, and the issues of unemployment and poverty, seem to have no clear solutions. I asked him his views on “the gentrification of Nelson.” He did not react against that word, I was pleased to see. The relatively wealthy people coming to live in Nelson made their fortune somewhere else and choose to live here for the quality of Nelson life. If I understood him correctly, whether this is good or not for Nelson in a social and economic sense depends on each individual who arrives here with their wealth and becomes a citizen.

What is the character of their values, and what do they mean to do as members of our community? I offered the example of a couple, the Leathermans, who seem to embody an ethic of community enhancement.

For me, this is a startling century to live in, when the steady erosion of the middle class of Canadians, leaving a very small elite at the peak and a vast mass of struggling working people at the social base, leads me to wonder: how will the mass accept this future? As an historian, I know well that great social inequity can generate revolutionary energies.

I offered my opinion to Russell, that if “Nelson’s gentry have a sense of noblesse oblige” (the nobility’s obligation to ensure the less-fortunate are not desperate) then Nelson’s mass of working folk may not be enraged by the inequities of wealth. Russell spoke about the future expansion of “a Commons” — public space shared by all in such a way that the gentry are not isolated and self-absorbed. Inequality of wealth underpinned by a base of decent quality of life might, I suppose, steer Nelson around the abyss of class warfare. Our natural habitat works in favour of peaceful politics.

At bottom I do not know how much Russell’s vision and mine are in harmony or in friction. I hold to my perspective on the planet’s human and physical problems: there is not one issue, social or political or environmental, that is resolved by adding more individuals to burden the natural world with human appropriation, exploitation and wastes.

More is loss. Growth is not the answer in the 21st century. “Developers” can all go away. Economists have to learn to subtract. Prime Minister Harper, Premier Clark — have you and your ilk had any new economic thoughts since 1980?

Charles Jeanes

Nelson

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson outdoor photo exhibit reflects physically distanced life

Portraits of a Pandemic runs until Oct. 15 at Lakeside Park

West Kootenay mother searching for son missing since Sept. 1

Police are investigating the disappearance of Cory Westcott

CBC host to discuss the future of libraries

Nelson library hosts an online event with Nora Young Oct. 6

MP Morrison faults federal Throne Speech as new Parliament session begins

Kootenay-Columbia representative criticizes a lack of focus on jobs, support for resource sector

From The Heart, a next chapter in Kootenay youth making a difference

Andrea Mann talks about the follow up to last year’s project

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Lumber hitting record high prices due to low supply and high demand

B.C.’s forest industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with the COVID-19 building boom

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read