Transition Whatcom

There are lots of local issues right now that converge with Transition concerns.  The biggest issue in my mind is the condition of the drinking water we get from Lake Whatcom.  Accessible clean water is the number 1 necessity for us to have any resilience at all.

 

Other current issues include the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, a proposal for banning plastic bags in the city of Bellingham, and the proposed development of Governor's Point.  All of the recommended articles below touch on local issues, except Permaculture: Deconstructing a Definition.  A subject near and dear to my heart is a desire for people to recognize that Permaculture is much more than gardening/building/landscaping strategy.

 

David

 


Blood In the Water by Tim Johnson, Cascadia Weekly
Amid reports that the quality of Bellingham’s drinking water supply continues to decline, the state Dept. of Ecology last week rejected the City of Bellingham’s petition to close the watershed to additional withdrawals as a means of protecting the city’s senior water right... it’s a curious grant of continued license to a county that has so famously stalled for years on approving such a plan. In the same assurance of speedy cooperation, Pete Kremen admitted his staff did not even know what Ecology’s standards might be or how they might be defined. That’s an odd and unreassuring admission, given the decades of dialogue and research (and foot dragging) on the causes of the decline of Lake Whatcom...[and see comment below the article by ghkirsch]


Permaculture: Deconstructing a Definition by Lisa Hernandes, Resilient Homes
The question “What is permaculture?” is notoriously difficult to answer in one sentence. It defies the “sound bite” culture we live in. Let’s start with what permaculture is NOT. Seriously, it has nothing to do with permafrost. It is not sheet-mulching, though some may use that as a particular strategy. It is not a variant (or deviant:) of “organic,” though it may use many organic growing strategies. It is not getting a bunch of people together to stomp some mud in a kiddie pool and build a cob oven, though that’s a pretty darn good time in most permaculture circles. Finally, it is not some rarefied ivory tower of secret knowledge that only those who have worshipped at the church of the holy sacred PDC (permaculture design certificate) get to experience.

Permaculture, at its core, is a design process (1) and set of techniques (2) for creating resilient (3) and [truly] sustainable (4) human habitats and healthy ecosystems. (5) Now, I will footnote the daylights out of this definition, which is one of many definitions currently in use, all of which have virtues and drawbacks...

 

South of the Southside by Tim Johnson, Cascadia Weekly
Some years ago, the Gristle opined that whatever reasons might exist to oppose the proposed Fairhaven Highlands development on 82 acres inside the city limits of Bellingham, an area with surrounding urban infrastructure and services, become magnified when considering Governor’s Point, property five miles outside of Bellingham and Bellingham’s service areas. “Such,” we wrote, “is the slipperiness of slopes” and of dense developments planned in the Chuckanuts...

 

Wash State Faces Quandry Over Coal It Won't Burn, Seattle Times
Just as Washington is weaning itself off coal, two companies are pushing to make the state a leading exporter of the fossil fuel. That has led environmentalists to wonder: If coal is so dirty that Washington won't use it, should the state be sending it overseas? Last year, a seaport just across the U.S. border in Delta, British Columbia, shipped 27 million tons of North American coal abroad. It's the busiest coal-export operation on the continent. Now a company wants to ship up to 60 million tons of coal a year from refurbished docks near the Columbia River's mouth. Another company, which has a contract to export 24 million tons of Rocky Mountain coal each year, plans to build a major shipping terminal near Bellingham...

 

Battle of the (Bag) Bans, by Bob Simmons, Crosscut
A measure of how seriously Bellinghamsters consider their city’s environmental policies: When The Bellingham Herald first reported on a proposed ordinance to ban single-use plastic shopping bags a few days ago, 343 readers had something spirited to say about it. That’s in a newspaper with a weekday circulation of 20,000. The number of responses may not be a record, says online editor Jim Donaldson, “but it’s right up there in the top four or five” among Herald stories that have opened up the comment stream. If the Bellingham City Council approves Councilmember Seth Fleetwood’s proposed ordinance, Bellingham will become the second city in Washington to ban the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags by grocers and other retailers. (Edmonds adopted its own ban in 2009). Fleetwood filed the draft ordinance at the City Council office earlier this month (read it here)...

 

Are Coal Export Terminals Good Neighbors? by Eric De Place, Sightline Daily
One of the primary objections to coal export terminals, at least among people who live near them, is the spread of coal dust. Coal is typically stored in large piles at export terminals, and these piles often generate significant quantities of coal dust when it's windy or when the coal is disturbed or moved during the loading and unloading process. As one study put it, “coal terminals by their nature are active sources of fugitive dust.” Coal dust is, at minimum a nuisance; it's probably a threat to water quality; and it's possibly a danger to families' health. In coal workers who are exposed to dust, for example, coal dust has been shown to cause bronchitis, emphysema, and black lung disease.Here's a look at how coal dust from terminals affects communities in North America...

 

Winning the Future by Destroying It by Eric De Place, Sightline Daily
When it comes to energy "we cannot be afraid of the future," according to President Obama. But it would be a lot easier not to worry if Obama's policies lived up to his rhetoric.  Instead, we get this: just a few weeks after Harvard Medical School researchers determined that the hidden costs of coal rack up to perhaps a half trillion dollars... for the US public, the Obama administration decides to allow a staggering volume of coal strip mining in the eastern Rockies, and on publicly-owned land...

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