In Transforming Feminist Practice, Leila Fernandes (2003) speaks of utopia not as an unattainable ideal, or a wish for a future perfect state of being and living. “Utopias are realizable…exist at the moment when suffering is transformed into love. Utopia is the labor itself which enables such transformation.” (120)
Last week I went to two events that were so related and yet I felt quite different at each of them. The first was the Health & Wellness group at the library. A collaboration between the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce, the Community Economic Commission and the Health & Wellness sector on the island, .it was a wonderful opportunity to connect to some new women and men on the island and share visions about how we can promote our fabulous services more.
I loved being at the meeting and felt so comfortable amongst the other wellness practitioners. The work I do through the Centre for Loving Inquiry is all about expanding women’s health and well-being through creativity and contemplative practice.
At the No Tankers forum at Fulford Hall, we were initially serenaded by the sweet voices and instrumentation of the Blackberry Ramblers. Then educated and encouraged to use our own voces by the presentation of the wise, loving, committed people who told us more about what is actually happening to your coast. I had no idea that two pipelines were to be built and transporting liquid diluted bitumen in tankers all along our coast. Nor that tankers of coal would also be traveling through this delicate, as yet unprotected coastline. Nor that Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) was set to be processed and shipped from several new plants here.
In other words this beautiful coast that we all cherish is about to become the planetary hub for fossil fuel shipping. At the same time that Climate Change is alerting us to the fact that we must stop taking the carbon out of the ground or this planet will heat up too much to sustain the life here.
It was a harrowing hour of information one that triggered many feelings: despair, fear, anger, coming out of ignorance, care and yearning to help. Listening to the group of young and older speakers, to their passion and belief in what they are doing, reminded me of my own passion for my work with Loving Inquiry. They believe we can stop the federal government from bullying their way through the defences of all the First Nations Tribes who have said NO to pipelines and tankers, through the BC government who has said NO, and to all the people of BC who have said NO.
I want to say NO too!! I want to have a voice in this because as they said last night, every voice counts. And I believe, as Fernandes, that Utopias are realizable, and that the labour itself is transformation.
So I have started to use my voice. I am a writer, and this is my voice here on the page. I can make sure that people I know know about this and encourage them to lend their voices in whatever ways they can. And I can write poems, or stories or rants or characters in conversation or whatever forms emerge when I speak about what we have to lose and what we have to gain by saying NO to tankers and to pipelines and to fossil fuels and Yes to alternative energy, and self-relaince and climate action.
What is your voice and how will you use it to labour toward realizing a Utopia on this our one and only BC coast?