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Exploring the big picture of the Gateway Pacific terminal development. How does it impact Economics of Happiness?

 This discussion was inspired by Trish Knox of Transition Woodinville, who looked at the coal export/terminal development situation in terms of nine measures of community happiness. The Economics of Happiness movement originated when Bhutan began to measure economic success, not by growth in GNP, but by growth in “gross national happiness” -  the factors that contribute to well-being for all. Economic progress that reduces the suffering of poverty is but one factor. This discussion is to support a conversation that brings people together around what is becoming a very divisive issue.

Please respond to any part that you have passion about. Other questions you would ask? Would you be interested in participating in a community-wide open space process about this?

Democracy – So far the process appears to be representative, but the role of huge amounts of money brought by Gateway Pacific to their publicity campaign and legal representation could undermine that process. How can TW support the integrity of the decision process?

Short- and long-term material well-being –  This is a very critical question, since the crucial argument that Gateway Pacific is making is that the jobs provided will promote economic development. How can we assess the economic impact of a large shipping terminal that will: provide some local jobs, provide profits for Gateway Pacific which will be removed from our community, and adversely impact on the overall prosperity of Bellingham by increasing noise, pollution and traffic congestion along the shoreline – one of our community’s most precious assets?  

Psychological well-being – What is the psychological impact of noise, congestion, pollution? Who will be most impacted? What about the underlying stress of knowing that our community is contributing to global warming by allowing coal exports from our shores? How many people would be impacted? What about the positive effect of some people with better paying jobs? How do we talk about all of this? 

Work-Life Balance and work experience – Would there be impacts here?

Natural Environment – These are being thoroughly explored through the scoping process. I think also about how this will impact our community relationship with the shoreline that many of us feel very connected to.

Social Vitality and Connection – Does the creation of this terminal impact the social vitality of this County? How? Would it strengthen the community of Ferndale by adding prosperity and a larger industrial area? How would it impact the community life of Bellingham?

Education – Will any of the profits of this endeavor go to support education in our community, or the arts? How do we educate our children about sustainability and systems thinking, if a significant employer in our community is exporting coal that is polluting our environment, impacting historical native sites, and contributing to global warming?

Arts and Culture - Is there likely to be an impact here? Can we use the arts to explore these questions?


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