All posts by Dan Schubart

Mother, Caring For Seven Billion: Film Presentation September 19


As severe weather events become more common, we get to watch the consequences of human-wrought changes to our living space, to wit, the Earth. This summer’s drought in the Midwestern United States is a stunning example, where staple crops from an important grain-producing region seem likely to be severely curtailed, thereby reducing the reserves of food available for both human consumption and livestock feed, not to mention the production of ethanol for fuel. At base are two phenomena that characterize the human presence on the planet in the last century, particularly that period following the Second World War. the first being the rise of the consumer society in parts of the world and the second being the stunning growth of human population, estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to have hit the one billion mark in 1804, the two billion mark 123 years later in 1927, the three billion mark 33 years later, in 1960.  We hit four billion in 1974, after a mere 14 years, five billion in 1987, 13 years later, six billion in 1999 with a lapse of 12 years. We then witness a bit of a slowing trend, taking 13 years to get to seven billion this year, with projections (from the same source) for a 15 year interval before we reach eight billion in 2027, and another increased delay of 19 years before reaching nine billion in 2046.


At the same time as the human population of the Earth experienced this phenomenal growth, there occurred another growth which compounds the impact of increased population. According to graphs at the site Our Finite World (, per capita energy consumption globally has increased from 20 gigajoules per person per year to 80 gigajoules per person per year between 1820 and 2000. Our present course points to an era of possible extreme negative consequences for humanity, as well as for most life on Earth.


A synopsis from the film’s website states the following:


Mother, the film, breaks a 40-year taboo by bringing to light an issue that silently fuels our most pressing environmental, humanitarian and social crises – population growth. It is a critical time to talk about this subject because the world’s population has now reached seven billion people.

In the film we meet Beth – a loving mother, a child-rights activist and a member of a very large American family of 12. After realizing her own family’s impact on the planet, Beth then travels to Ethiopia to understand the developing world’s crises and solutions. There she meets a young woman Zinet, living in extreme poverty, who, against all odds, found the courage to break free from thousand-year-old-cultural barriers by refusing to get married young and going to school.

Grounded in the theories of social scientist Riane Eisler, the film strives not to blame but to educate, to highlight a different path for humanity. Overpopulation is merely a symptom of an even larger problem – a “domination system” that for most of human history has glorified the domination of man over nature, man over child and man over woman. To break this pattern, the film demonstrates that we must change our conquering mindset into a nurturing one. Mother not only focuses on consumption and moving away from our current economic model, but it shows in a holistic manner how empowering women worldwide will help to solve the environmental, social and humanitarian crises that stem from population growth.



In a desire to generate conversation about what seems to be a very pressing issue, Alberni Valley Transition Towns Society will host a screening of the film Mother (!about/mainPage) at Char’s Landing, 4815 Argyle Street, Port Alberni, at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 19, 2012, with time allotted for discussion following the presentation, which lasts an hour. The public are invited to attend both the AVTTS meeting at the same location, starting at 6:00, and the film screening. There is no admission charge, but do bring a few dollars to buy a coffee, tea, or soft drink, or perhaps some of the sweet treats that Char often has on offer.



Kale Recipes

Kale Recipes

As a general rule, attempt wherever possible to harvest smaller, younger leaves, or take a moment to remove the midribs of the kale. Fresh kale from your own garden is the best, and Red Russian Kale, also sometimes known as Ragged Jack, tends to be more tender than some other varieties. I like to have a feed of Black Tuscan Kale from time to time (I have to grow it), but it’s not as tender as Red Russian and the midribs are really stringy. It makes great chips. There are also some decorative versions of kale to be found in seed catalogues. I am informed that the red varieties are more frost-hardy than the green (note that Red Russian is really a green variety, try Redbor for hardiness).



Kale Chips


Tear the leaves from a bunch of washed and dried kale into bite-size pieces.


Toss with a thin drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (a couple of teaspoons will do) and massage lightly into the leaves.


Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, tossing to distribute. Or leave out the salt and add the seasoning of your choice, such as curry powder, smoked paprika, or whatever you have on hand.


Arrange leaves in a single layer on two large baking sheets.


Bake at 350°F (180°C), switching baking sheets halfway through, until crispy and dark green (not brown), 12 to 15 minutes.


Let cool slightly and dig in.



Kale Flowers


When kale plants overwinter, they will sprout back in the spring with both leaves and flowering heads that resemble small broccoli florets. I usually reserve a couple of plants for seed production and harvest the others as they start to produce heads. The heads will snap off where the stalk is still tender, so all that you take should be edible. I give them a quick wash and set them on a towel to shed some, but not all of the wash water. I then take a frying pan, heat it, add an oil that will take some heat (peanut or grapeseed, usually), peel and slice in some fresh garlic, and before the garlic turns colour, I toss in the slightly moist kale flower stalks, turn them to mix in the oil and garlic, then put a lid on for a minute or two. The stalks are better if not overcooked. Quite often, I’ll dress the stalks with either soy or a bit of balsamic vinegar, or a little coarse salt and lime juice is quite tasty. A naughty version of the vinegar dressing adds in some shaved pancetta.


Kale In Soups


Kale makes a decent soup on its own with the addition of vegetable or chicken stock. Tear or chop the kale finely and add to hot stock for a minute or two before serving. The addition of sauteed onion or garlic enhances the flavour, and the addition of other vegetables, particularly carrots, turnips, rutabaga or potatoes, makes for a soup with more apparent substance. Kale is a fine addition to bean soups as a sort of hillbilly pistou, and of course, processing in a food processor to make thick soups means that just about anything goes, including the addition of curry spices or peppers and cilantro. Kale would be a potential ingredient in gazpacho.


Kale Lasagna


Layer the usual lasagna noodles with layers of the usual cheeses, but substitute steamed kale for the bolognese sauce, or simply add in layers of steamed kale with the sauce that you normally use.



This is an Irish specialty, basically mashed potatoes with the addition of finely chopped steamed kale mixed into the potato mass. Again, a naughty version adds bacon or ham for a little extra flavour.



Kale in Salads

Here is a case for using very fresh young leaves torn into a green salad in a proportion that suits your taste. Along with kale, we often add turnip or radish greens, mizuna, Good King Henry (an old perennial English potherb that we keep in the garden), nasturtium leaves, buds and flowers, sorrel, miner’s lettuce and whatever other succulent leaves we can find.