Author offers advice on planning for Port Alberni’s future
Heather Thomson, Alberni Valley Times
Published: Monday, June 27, 2011
The Alberni Valley is a caterpillar that is just about ready to turn into a butterfly, and on Friday author Mike Nickerson offered some advice on how to make that transition.
Nickerson is an expert on the subject of planning for the future. He is involved in the Transition Towns Society in Perth, Ont.
While visiting Vancouver Island for personal reasons, he agreed to speak to residents and members of the Port Alberni Transition Town Society.
He used the example of a caterpillar’s transformation as a parallel to the way the world is now, and how society has to change its ways in order to survive.
He said a caterpillar spends its whole life consuming resources. Finally, it has taken in enough and spins its cocoon. When it emerges, it has completely changed. It is no longer interested in consuming everything around it, but is a completely new creation. From that day forward it lives a light life, consuming only enough nectar to survive.
Nickerson said society has to make that same change. It is only when people realize that a change to a lighter existence is necessary that transformation will occur.
Much like in the caterpillar’s transformation, at first there will be resistance. But once the majority of society sees the new form will be better, transformation will occur without any further resistance. Nickerson said, when that happens, everyone will benefit from the transition in the community.
Nickerson also spoke about the balance between resources and the financial world. He said society has to realize that it can’t continue on as it has for so many years. The current path will only lead to disaster.
He advised the group of approximately 20 people gathered that they can make a difference.
“A good idea can go around the planet overnight,” he said. “A group this size could transform Port Alberni.”
He said the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem.
“Then you have to apply your intelligence to it,” he said. “As long as you allow it to continue to expand, the problem won’t go away.”
He posed the question, “Why is it so important in our society to keep growing?”
He said there is a time for growing and a time for maturity. The challenge is that society has to come to the conclusion it is mature.
He said people have to realize that they can enjoy life without continuing to consume and grow.
“We are human beings, not human havings,” he said.
The problem is, he explained, that the cycle of life has been broken. We are too separated from life to see how it continues. In order to reconnect to life, humans have to change the way they live.
“To be a good citizen you need to live as lightly as possible, enjoy life and manage society properly together,” he said.
Dan Schubard, member of the local Transition Towns Society, said Transition Towns offers people an opportunity to start restructuring their lives so that they rely less on stuff and more on each other.
For more on Nickerson or his latest book, Life, Money and Illusion: Living on Earth as if we Want to Stay, go to http://www.sustainwellbeing.net/.