Posted in Article Review, Opinion

Keeping Healthy

pic_theMindThis week, I reconnected with Cathy Bruce-West. She is a personal trainer. Before COVID-19, I had worked with her to strengthen my knees. So we had two sessions ‘en Plein air’ at Andrew’s studio across the road. The local gymnasiums are still planning their re-opening. After too much sitting, the program is designed to open up the body, through a series of stretches and strengthening exercises.

What impresses me is the knowledge of anatomy – joints, ligaments, muscles, plus the discipline of the session. It does, however, raise an interesting question: what are the equivalent stretches to open up the mind?

Heather has shared with me the Walrus podcast for June 20 ‘Your brain in COVID-19’. Would highly recommend it, especially the contributions from Andrea Soddu and Philip Mai.

The Walrus · Your Brain on COVID-19

Another local non-fiction reference, from Heather this week, Geology of Nova Scotia, a field guide by Martha Hill and Sandra Barr. It provides directions and interpretation to forty-eight sites in the province. The better we appreciate our landscape, perhaps, the less likely we will tolerate its abuse.

This concept resonated with a message that I noticed on the public notice board at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Middleton.

Reading: how to install new software in your brain


Edward sent me the Gizmodo link as an illustration of the contribution of citizen science towards our understanding of nature.


Cathy Bruce-West for her patience and support. Heather for her ‘scientific’ approach to life. Edward for emails and online graphics skills.


Martha Hild and Sandra Barr. 2015. Geology of Nova Scotia: touring through time at 48 scenic sites. Boulder Publications.
The Walrus. June 2020. Carolyn Abraham. Your Brain on COVID-19. It is also available as a Walrus Podcast.
Gizmodo: A ‘viral’ new bird song in Canada causing sparrows to change their tune.

Posted in Book Review, Opinion

From Here to There

A few years ago, I was Chairperson of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association (SNBRA). I have kept in touch with the Bras D’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association. banner_braDorLakeBiosphereResearveThis Saturday, I received their quarterly newsletter. I was struck by three contributions.

1) Nature’s Calendar by Annamarie Hatcher
2) The Old Woollen Mill by Corrine Cash
3) Cape Breton Weather Mesonet by Jonathan Buffett

Annamarie Hatcher links the changes in Nature to the Mi’kmaq calendar. Corrine Cash describes the long history of the mills at Irish Cove. Jonathan Buffett is the founder of Cape Breton Mesonet, a network of community-owned Weather stations in Cape Breton and the eastern mainland.

Their solstice newsletter under the slogan ‘Msit No’Kmaq — People and Nature; Better Together — offers a model for SNBRA.

David Colville and Southshore weather network

In Southwest Nova, David Colville at COGS has maintained a weather network for over a decade. In this time of climate change, perhaps it is time to consider a ‘community-owned weather station network for Southwest Nova?


As in Cape Breton, we should embrace the slogan: Msit No’Kmaq.

Can we take community ideas from there to here?

bookCover_fromHereToThere_2This week, Michael Bond’s book From Here to There arrived at the Inside Story. Bond has been Senior Editor at the New Scientist in England.

His book explores ‘the art and science of finding and losing our way’. He reviews the work of Claudio Aporta, Dalhousie University, on Inuit geographic knowledge in the Canadian Arctic. Bond describes the importance of exploration, spatial awareness and self-directed learning. He investigates the latest research from psychologists, neuroscientists.

“ The hippocampus and it’s neighbouring regions seem to have evolved specifically to help us build mental representations of the outside world that we can use to get around and orientate ourselves.” p.71.

In Chapter 8 Bond tells the story of Gerry Largay who is lost and dies on the Appalachian Trail. It includes the Search and Rescue process.

In the final Chapter (10) he looks at Alzheimer’s disease.

The discovery that Alzheimer’s disease disrupts the brain’s spatial system long before the disease takes hold has raised the prospect of using spatial tests to diagnose it.  p.203.


Reading the book by Michael Bond made me pull from the bookshelf, the writing of Rebecca Solnit, in particular, A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.  p.14.

Edward added the graphics. Heather provided useful feedback.


Michael Bond, 2020. From Here to There: the art and science of finding and losing our way: . Belknap Harvard.
Rebecca Solnit, 2005. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Penguin Books.

Posted in Opinion

A New Economy

As promised, I post an image of the apple orchard in blossom.

Two emails arrived in my Inbox this morning (Wednesday, May 27).


  1. Google Alert on Gordonstoun from Anne Crossman
  2. Natural Climate Solutions meeting from Nina Newington.

“BBD Education, the UAE school management consultancy, has announced it will help one of the world’s leading schools, Gordonstoun School, to support its brand expansion into Nova Scotia, Canada.”

“Earlier this year, the highly-coveted private school announced expansion plans in China with BBD Education support.”

The expected opening of a Gordonstoun School in Nova Scotia is in 2022.

For the Natural Climate Solutions meeting, there were three attached submissions to the European Union over Burning of Biomass for Energy.

From Norris Whiston, Earltown:

“Where I live I am presently surrounded by clear cuts and listen and watch trucks pass my home with logs of various sizes on their way to mills and chipping mills.”

The Gordonstoun announcement and date 2022 reminded me that there will be a post-COVID world. The Norris Whiston quote reminded me that our forested landscape is still for sale.

Can we not use this time to rethink our economy?

Do we have to destroy our forests because they represent jobs in rural Nova Scotia?

Currently, the lobster fishery is on hold because of the lack of a market in China.

What are the economic values behind the Gordonstoun project? Is this another example of the Nova Scotia landscape up for sale?

Is it a coincidence that BBD Education is expanding into China and Nova Scotia at the same time?

I am thinking that it is time for Nova Scotia (Canada) to re-examine its values in a post-colonial, post-COVID world. We could use the two-year window to help re-define the philosophy of education at Gordonstoun School within the context of community — an ethics of place and in a new collaborative global economy.

logo_centreForLocalProsperityFinally, tonight, I notice in the newsletter from the Centre of Local Prosperity, they are hosting a virtual retreat on “Pandemic and Climate Crisis, and the Uncertain Future of Local Community”. Seems to match my thinking.


Anne Crossman for sending the Google Alert. Nina Newington for material for the next Natural Climate Solutions virtual meeting. Edward for his input and graphics.


Google alert email
Natural Climate Solutions email
Centre for Local Prosperity newsletter. May 27, 2020.

Posted in Opinion

The Ethics of Place

This week, I was in contact with the municipal councillor, Gregory Heming, about Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and the forestry practices in Annapolis County. Gregory was kind enough to share a presentation he made before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development in 2006.

But first, let’s revisit Aldo Leopold.bookCover_sandCountyAlmanac In The Sand County Almanac, there are a series of essays, including the Land Ethic (p.237-264) and Wilderness (p.264-279).

“A land ethic, then, reflects, the existence of an ecological conscience and this, in turn, reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health in the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.” p.258.

Heming put forward four notions.

1) If CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) does not tie directly and pragmatically into community life, into rural civic life, it is not likely to gain the support of the people.

2) from David Kemmis,
“ it would be an insult to these people to assume that they are incapable of reaching some accommodation among themselves about how to inhabit their own place”

3) from Wilkinson,
“An ethic of place respects equally the people of a region and the land, animals, vegetation, water and air. An ethic of place ought to be a shared community value.”

4) from Erica Jong,
“Take your life in your own hands”, she said. “And what happens ?” A terrible thing “no one is to blame”.

Today’s reality. We have the Minister, Nova Scotia Lands and Forests talking about the practices for harvesting crown land on South Mountain. What will be the impact of these practices on the citizens living within the Annapolis watershed?bookCover_AnnaCoForestry2018

How can the ethics of place espoused at the municipal level be reconciled with the industrial forestry espoused at the provincial level? Edward Wedler reminded me about the Annapolis County Forestry report. We should evaluate it from the perspective of an Ethics of Place.

In these pandemic times, it is even more critical that we do not lose the voices of the citizens.

For supportive views on the ethics of place, check out the writing of Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry.

A Place on Earth (Berry)
A Place in Space (Snyder)


Watched Ellen Page 2019 documentary on Netflix about environmental racism in Nova Scotia, “There is something in the water.” Very relevant and thought-provoking. Highlighting Shelburne, Boat Harbour and Shubenacadie.


To Gregory Heming for sharing his 2006 presentation.Edward Wedler for his technical support. Heather Stewart for her moral support.


Aldo Leopold. 1966. A Sand County Almamac, with essays on Conservation from Round River. Ballantine Books.
Wendell Berry.1983. A Place on Earth. North Point Press.
Gary Snyder. 1995. A Place in Space. Counterpoint.
Gregory Heming. Presentation to House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. 2006.
Municipality County of Annapolis, 2018. Forestry Report.

Posted in Opinion

Good Living

This week, I have pulled down three pairs of books.bookCover_livingTheGoodLife

Living the Good Life: how to live sanely and simply in a troubled world. Helen and Scott Nearing.
Loving and Leaving the Good Life. Helen Nearing.

Composing a Life. Mary Catherine Bateson.
Composing a Further Life. Mary Catherine Bateson.

The Making of a Counter Culture. Theodore Roszak.
The Making of an Elder Culture. Theodore Roszak.

Scott and Helen Nearing spent nineteen years of experimental homesteading in Vermont. This was followed by eighteen years at Harborside in Maine.

Last summer, Heather and I happened on the Good Life Center in Maine (EBE blog post, The Maine Line, July 7, 2019).

“Scott Nearing died three weeks after his hundredth birthday. He went with dignity, purposefully fasting, after a long and good life”.

After looking at the writing of both Bateson and Roszak, I decided to stay with Helen Nearing’s memoir. From the cover,

“At 87, Helen seems content to be nearing the end of her good life. As she put it, ”To have partaken of and given love is the greatest of life rewards. There seems never an end to the loving that goes on forever and ever. Loving and leaving are part of the living.”

Helen Nearing died in a single-car crash in 1995, aged 91.

pic_UkeTribute to Uke. Uqaliq (Rabbit)
“Uke” was born on Baffin Island in 2003. She moved with her sister Siksik (Arctic ground squirrel) to Prince George, BC. They were Patrick’s skijoring team. Later, they moved with the family to Cape Breton. Finally, they came to Paradise, Nova Scotia where they have enjoyed the walking trails through the orchard and the forest nursery. She will be missed by her human family and sister.

banner_sparkWayfindingListening to CBC Spark, there was an interview with Michael Bond on his new book, From Here to There: The Art and Science Of Finding and Losing our Way. It is about space and memory. I have ordered it online, from the Inside Story.


Heather for her companionship in the search for good living. Edward for his artistic and technical support.


Helen and Scott Nearing. 1954. Living the Good Life. Schocken Books.
Helen Nearing. 1992. Loving and Leaving the Good Life.Chelsea Green.
Mary Catherine Bateson. 1989. Composing a Life. Grove Press.
Mary Catherine Bateson. 2020. Composing a Further Life. Knopf.
Theodore Roszak. 1969. The Making of a Counter Culture. Anchor.
Theodore Roszak. 2009. The Making of an Elder Culture. New Society.

Posted in Book Review, Opinion

Books and Memory

In the early ‘70s, I remember driving through Nova Scotia on my way back to Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) in St Johns. I stopped in Heatherton (near Antigonish) to meet with Allen van Newkirk, and his wife, Susan. Allen was a poet from Detroit who had set up the Institute for Bioregionalism Research.map_bioregionsNAmerica I was teaching Biogeography and Computer Mapping in the Department of Geography at MUN.

Fast forward, almost fifty years, I have pulled off the bookshelf my collection of books on Bioregionalism. They include:

Reinhabiting a Separate Country. A Bioregionalism Anthology of Northern California, Edited by Peter Berg.
Bioregionalism, Edited by Michael McGinnis.
Bioregionalism and Civil Society, by Mike Carr.

bookCover_bioregionalismMcInnisIn the McGinnis book, there is an excellent chapter by Doug Aberley.

“The term Bioregionalism was first conceived by Allen Van Newkirk who had been active in eastern US radical politics and who met Berg in San Francisco in 1969 and again in Nova Scotia in 1971.”

As conceived by Van Newkirk:

“ Bioregionalism is presented as a technical process of identifying biogeographically interpreted culture areas ….called bioregions. Within these territories, resident human populations would ‘restore plant and animal biodiversity’, ‘aid in the conservation and restoration of wild ecosystems’ and ‘observe regional models of new and relatively non-arbitrary scales of human activities in relation to the biological realities of the natural landscape.”

This led me to further research the writing and life of Peter Berg (see reference).

Meanwhile, from Chelsea Green Publishing:

‘Books provide a window into places we’ve never been and help us nurture imagination and explore new ideas from our own home‘.

This includes Rob Hopkins From What Is To What If: Unleashing the Power of the Imagination to Create the Future We Want.

From Edward Wedler, he forwarded a link to the bookstore in Parrsboro, Nonesuch.banner_nonesuchBookstore They are offering a surprise package of five books on any topic you are interested in for $60 includes delivery. I should send my $60, my topic would be ‘Bioregionalism’.

Finally, Saturday, we took a quick day trip to New Glasgow to check on Heather’s Dad. It was a pure pleasure to drive through a different landscape, in this case, the Rawdon Hills from Windsor to Truro.


Edward for the link to the Parrsboro bookstore. Heather, for sharing the drive to New Glasgow and back.


Michael McGinnis (Ed.) 1999. Bioregionalism. Routledge.
Peter Berg (Ed.) 1978. Reinhabiting a Separate Country: A Bioregionalism Anthology of Northern California. Planet Drum books
Mike Carr.2004. Bioregionalism and Civil Society: Democratic Challenges to Corporate Globalism. UBC Press.
Cheryll Glotfelty and Eve Quesnel (Ed.) 2014. The Biosphere and the Bioregion: Essential Writings of Peter Berg. Routledge Environmental Humanities Series.

Posted in Opinion

Back to the Land

At this time of the year, we are normally resident in Iqaluit. It is a good time to be on the land.

Andrew and his family, out on the tundra, near their cabin.

The sea ice is still frozen, and there is a good spring snow cover. Given the uncertainties of food supply in Northern communities, it is likely predictable that we shall see an increase in hunting and fishing. Traditional skills will have heightened importance. Quinn has built his first Igloo. Isla has started to drive the small family snowmobile..

Meanwhile, in the South, as the seasons change, there seems to be an excess of biomass. The sources include:

– firewood from coppicing for next Winter;
– chipping of brush and bark waste;
– charcoal and wood ash from the woodstove;
– kitchen waste in the compost bin;
– leaves and other organic matter for the hugel beds.

image_hugelBed_1The challenge is to integrate these resources ‘back to the land’. Recycling these materials will complement the planting of seeds in the greenhouse and cold frame.

bookCover_raisdBedGardeningWe will see a resurgence in gardening. We will pull off the shelves, books by Niki Jabbour and Adam Footer. We will read about the work of Bob Cervelli and others. We will seek advice from community gardeners; sharing ideas and seeds. We will investigate the properties of biochar. We will reinforce the edges of our pond.

Our life will be governed by the weather, and our ability to complete the multitude of land-related tasks.


Andrew and Julia for their insights into Northern living. Rick for his knowledge of biochar. Heather for planting the seeds. Edward for additional graphics.


Niki Jabbour. 2011. The Year-round Vegetable Gardener. Storey Publishing.
Simon Akeroyd. 2016. Raised-bed Gardening. Taunton Press.
Adam Footer. 2014. Bokashi Composting. New Society Publishers.
Robert Tindall et al. 2017. Sacred Soil. North Atlantic Books.



Posted in New thinking, Opinion

Tracking Deplaned Passengers

Six years ago I proposed a real-time, interactive, contact heat map to track deplaned passengers from flights arriving into Nova Scotia (contact tracing). The idea, in fact, could have been applied anywhere to track the movement of (potentially) virus-infected people.map_virusContact
By October 2014, 4,500 people had died from a recent Ebola global outbreak. We had, in Canada, experienced H1N1 (Asian Bird Flu) and SARS.  The SARS outbreak of 2002-2003 killed 800+ people worldwide and killed 44 Canadians. In our current CoVid-19 outbreak, Canada has suffered 300+ deaths to date. More Canadians have now died from COVID-19 than SARS. Viruses know few boundaries. Deadly viruses such as Ebola, MERS, SARS, Asian Bird Flu (H1N1) and COVID-19 can easily spread with today’s travel. Forensic Studies have shown that viral outbreaks mirror air travel.

“The role of mass air travel in the recent worldwide spread of a number of diseases … has been documented, analysed and discussed by transnational and governmental agencies … clinical practitioners … and academic researchers.” (ScienceDirect)

My proposed interactive map rests on the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), G5 cellular technology and Artificial Intelligence, where we can respond to contact and movement and predict a possible outbreak brought in by deplaned passengers from an airline flight; possibly offering a public alerts/warning system. This complements the arduous task of forensic tracking of people’s whereabouts.

Could future technology seek, track and map, in real-time, when and where infected people might come into contact with others and with sensor-embedded objects (taxis, other cell phones, public venues, stores, farm animals, etc.)? Can we react faster and more judiciously to these outbreaks and forecast/model viral outbreaks due to deplaned passengers and crew and their contacts? How can we balance privacy rights with public health needs?

A recent article notes that a team led by MIT researchers are working to do contact tracing using Bluetooth technology while retaining privacy.


Science Direct, Airports, Localities and Disease. July 2010.
TechXplore. Kelly Foy (MIT). Bluetooth Signals from Your Smartphone, 09 April 2020.


Apple and Google just announced a joint effort to fight COVID-19 via Bluetooth contact-tracing technology.

Posted in New thinking, Opinion

New Localism

bookCover_livingMountainShepherd was a localist of the best kind: she came to know her chosen place closely, but that closeness served to intensify rather than limit her vision

Robert MacFarlane p.x. The Living Mountain.

Yesterday (Sunday) we joined a Zoom conference with Nina Newington and a small group from the Extinction Rebellion. The topic was Forestry and the position of the Provincial government. Today, there are additional topics of local concern, particularly access to Health Services and the Internet.

Thinking about the relationship of citizens and community groups to these global concerns it struck me that you have to start at the local level. If we are going to develop a new ‘land ethic’ then perhaps we should be expressing these concepts to the municipal government. If we want to change the political process, more openness, decisions based on best practices and science, let us work at the local level.

banner_annapolisCountyIf we want to understand our Geography, let’s start with Annapolis County. Let us map the changes in our land use, whether Forestry, Agriculture, Fisheries, Mining. If we are concerned about the health of our citizens, let us map our demography; let us know the location, number and size of long-term care facilities in the County. Let us know and understand the population at risk.

Nan Shepherd described her relationship to the Cairngorms. Ernest Buckler described his relationship to the Mountain and the Valley. Can we not start with the Geography of Annapolis County? Can we not develop a different relationship between the Municipality, the landscape and its citizens. If we conducted that experiment in this county, we could share the lessons, positive and negative, with other counties. Make comparisons, and hence improve the overall provincial picture.

In Annapolis county, we have the added advantage of access to the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS).

Although today, Lawrencetown is a ‘ghost town’. Nothing is open. NO post office. NO XTR gas station. NO Shakes on Main, NO In Your Back Pocket Thrift store. NO Winemakers Tavern. NO COGS. And yet, we anticipate a new Health Centre later in the year. That is a fine example of citizen engagement.


Nina Newington for hosting the Zoom meeting. Municipality of Annapolis for their comments on previous blogs. Edward Wedler for his graphics touch.

Nan Shepherd. 2011. The Living Mountain. Canongate Books
Ernest Buckler.1952. The Mountain and the Valley. Henry Holt. NY.

Posted in Book Review, Opinion

Small Details

banner_dAubinMeats_3In these unusual times, it is the small details that catch one’s attention. Going to the grocery store is a different experience. Once a week, I stop at D’Aubin Meat Market in Bridgetown. This week, we needed a hambone to make our split pea soup. They had run out of bacon but offered instead a ham end, as a substitute. While there, I grabbed a bag of pea shoots, and goat cheese scones with chives and cranberries.

We are seeing changes in the availability of news from the Saltwire network. They publish the Annapolis Spectator and the Chronicle Herald. Instead, I notice an increase in online blogs – The Virus Diary (Anne Crossman), The Groundhog (Roger Mosher) and Ernest Blair Experiment (Bob Maher, Edward Wedler).

bookCover_livingMountainTwo years ago, I was in England and picked up Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain from the Weybridge Bookshop. After listening to Robert MacFarlane on CBC Radio, a couple of weeks ago, it was time to try to find my copy. The book, written towards the end of the Second World War but not published until 1977, describes her relationship with the Cairngorms in Scotland. It is considered a classic of nature writing. Twelve short chapters ranging from the Plateau through Water, Snow and Ice to Life (Plants, Birds, Animals, Insects and Man). She concludes with Being.

“I believe that I now understand in some small measure why the Buddhist goes on a pilgrimage to a mountain. The journey is itself part of the technique by which God is sought. it is a Journey into Being; for as I penetrate more deeply into the mountain’s life, I penetrate also into my own”. p.108.

In many ways, it is a Geography text.
MacFarlane provides an excellent thirty-page introduction to this slender book.


Ralph and Jennifer D’Aubin for their successful meat market and value-added products. Anne Crossman, Roger Mosher and Edward Wedler for their contributions to community blogs. Heather Stewart for her cuisine.

Nan Shepherd. 2011. The Living Mountain. Canongate Books