By Kuya Minogue, resident teacher at Sakura-ji, Creston’s zendo
It’s election time. What better time is there to consider our concerns for the future and our hopes for a country that is prepared to meet the effects of climate change in a way that mitigates further harm, prepares for the coming changes, and enhances community harmony. I, for example, hope to elect town council members who can and will help bring this community to self-reliance with respect to food sustainability. So, for example, if when global trade is greatly reduced we can feed the 14,000 people who live in our valley. I also hope for town support for regenerative farming, for a Creston where street construction encourages bicycle traffic, and our economy is primarily localized. I could go on and on about building housing with minimal carbon footprints, climate justice issues etc., but you get the drift. Because of the election, I’m interrupting the flow of my articles on the teachings and practices of active hope to talk about our upcoming elections. But it’s still all about hope, because every vote we cast is an act of hope.
The other day I heard myself saying that no matter which party a candidate represents, if they were strong climate candidates, I would vote for that person. Immediately, I realized that to do so would be a “step too far.” The values related to the policies on social justice, immigration and diversity, as well as the history of each party in relationship to climate change flashed through my mind. For example, in March of this year in their leadership convention, the Conservative Party voted against acknowledging the reality of climate change in their policy discussions. And then there’s our current federal government — still supporting fossil fuel extraction and pipelines.
Since then I’ve been considering that, for me, choosing a candidate must involve assessing the risks and advantages in both the short and the long terms. Of course, I want a representative on town council and a member of parliament who steps up for climate resilience, especially in the short run. I also want a candidate whose party has a history of attitudes and policies about climate that have been consistent over time.
Party loyalty is not an overt issue in our municipal election. So, I emailed each municipal byelection candidate and asked them, “What are your thoughts on climate change? And how can Creston’s town council help prepare for the coming transition off fossil fuels?” Norm Eisler and Keith Baldwin replied almost immediately, and they both expressed enthusiasm for council action on such issues as creating local food markets and creating bike paths as a way of helping to reduce carbon emissions. You can find details of their answers on the Creston Climate Action Facebook page. The other candidates did not respond.
We really need to open conversation about what is to come. I’m concerned about our youth. I’ve randomly invited conversation about Climate Action with several teens over the last week or so, and it’s clear that they are very concerned about what climate change means to their future. Several said, sometimes in a furtive whisper, “I want to talk about it, but I don’t want to sound negative and depressing. But I want to help.” I honestly don’t know what to say about this. It embodies such fear.
With these elections, we have a chance to bring climate distress out into the open; not as a horrible vision of endless suffering from disastrous events like smoke polluted air and heat waves, but as vision of a brighter future and as encouragement to get involved. I’ve had notes, emails, and phone calls from several people expressing gratitude that I’m writing about climate in a way that encourages acts of hope.
I’ll say it again, “Every vote we cast is an act of hope.” If we can identify our climate candidates and vote for them, together we can elect candidates who have an inspiring vision of how to help our community turn away from business as usual, and turn towards a new and inspiring vision of life here in Creston — post fossil fuels.
Go out and vote!