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    Constitutions, Conservation, Culture, Coffee and Creativity: A Chant for Change

    Many people around the world have been amazed to see Ecuador’s new constitution enshrine the “Rights of Nature” in a dazzling document that was supported by two-thirds of voters and President Rafael Correa’s government. The Precautionary Principle is celebrated in the new constitution. The background of this stunning achievement goes back to the abysmal ecological disasters that the Ecuadorian indigenous people sustained at the hands of Texaco-Chevron with the dumping of toxic waste from 1970 through 1992.  After pocketing 30 billion dollars the company left behind what many have termed a Chernobyl–like catastrophe. A class-action lawsuit against Chevron by 30,000 Ecuadorians has been launched.  Since then, Ecuador has been striving to corral the oil and gas companies into complying with the conservation needs of a nation where one third live in poverty and  derive their livelihood from intact ecological systems.  Chevron has tried to push Ecuador out of the Andean Free Trade Agreement as a result. Senator Obama has criticized this threat, saying “…we do believe the 30,000 indigenous residents of Ecuador deserve their day in court.” Out of this tragedy has emerged a powerful movement created by the Indigenous populations.

    “The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.” BBC
    “So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.” Pavan Sukhdev for the European Commission. Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
    The Ecuadorian constitution is engendering huge interest; the world’s population is taking notice. Respect for nature is also the respect for culture and the creative forces within us all. Without that sacred respect for nature how can humanity ever respect itself? It’s time that politicians are unequivocally told that being alive means more to us than just having a tax break or meaningless incremental steps that go nowhere because the actions are too slowly implemented.

    The Pachamama Alliance is a North American group (Pachamama means the Goddess Mother Earth who watches over all plants and animals.) that has been working to bring justice and a renewed sense of healing to the rainforest and its people. The Ecuadorian community asked the Alliance to bring to North America a renewed understanding of life. It is with this in mind that the symposium, “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” came about. “The Symposium explores the link between three of humanity’s most critical concerns: environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfillment. Using video clips from some of the world’s most respected thinkers, along with inspiring short films, leading edge information and dynamic group interactions, the Symposium allows participants to gain a new insight into the very nature of our time and the opportunity we have to shape and impact the direction of our world with our everyday choices and actions.” (

    The Collingwood Public Library will be hosting a ‘Changing the Dream’ Symposium on Sunday, October 26 from 1 to 4 PM. Please call the Library to register at 705 445-1571 Both the Georgian Triangle Earth Days Celebrations and the Environment Network endorse this powerful and important symposium. Attendance is free; donations are gratefully received.

    Clearly the last few weeks have shown what the fallout is when western societies and its corporations only place value on obscene growth. However, it is not only our financial institutions that must change. Western society is at cross-roads: do we decide that fairness, social justice, ecological sustainability and the respect for all species becomes the cornerstone for future governments or do we destroy our planet to make money? Pachamama Alliance wishes to help us change our dreams.

    The people in the Georgian Triangle area can also help the economies of the tropical communities by supporting fair-trade goods. Fair trade goods emphasizes biodiversity and stewardship over massive profits   Organic coffee, tea, chocolate and other foods that we all crave in the west can be purchased from the village co-operatives that give a fair price to the farmers. The Creemore Coffee Company 1-877-466-0680 sells these products, and they are a local business!  Citizens in our area should also be trying to get municipal governments on board. The Town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, recently decided to become a fair trade town. The municipal government buys certified fair trade foods but also encourages the rest of the town’s businesses, schools and citizens to do the same. The spin-off has been that local produce is selling better too. Being a fair trade town has become a source of pride for its people. Why not ask your municipal councilors to do the same?

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