Industrial Agriculture is Unethical

Earth, or machine. One increases diversity. One reduces it. P1220995Or is it so? When the Syilx managed these grasslands with fire and selective harvesting methods, they increased species diversity. The species-rich landscape that the first Europeans found here was created. The settlers called it wilderness and set out to tame it, perhaps in the way one would break a horse. Now that it is domesticated, or broken, as one would say of a horse, most of the species are gone in the wild land and the tamed land produces energy only with the input of fertilizers, water, capital, labour, petroleum and poisons. Two notes on that:

1. with the removal of one year’s intervention, the tamed land reverts to weeds and a desert — the true wilderness; with the removal of Syilx attention, the land is still reclaimable after 120 years.

2. making the survival of the land, which gives food for people, totally dependent upon the banking and petrochemical industries is to cede the power of the people to those industries; a people which has done that can only survive if the power of those industries remains unchallenged; any break in the chain leads to the poverty and starvation the first European settlers encountered on this land when, surrounded by hills literally covered with food, they proceeded to starve to death.

In this light, the vineyard above and the royal gala apple planting below are unethical behaviour.

P12200403 Species out of 1000: Grass, Dandelions, Apples

When the apples die, that leaves 2.

Such behaviours are reckless and are based upon structures of profound disrespect. Nothing good will come of that. Sadly, once the capitalized farming model collapses, as it has done here numerous times in the last 150 years, the land is broken up into smaller pieces, resulting, eventually in its complete removal from the earth-sun cycle and its use as housing. That, too, is a dead end. Currently, the food and water deficit created by this removal and the resulting overpopulation in the Okanagan is supported by the import of food from Mexico and other areas in the so-called developing world, which are currently transforming their earth into industrialized agricultural land, while the people harvesting the crops largely go hungry. Such behaviour (the use of the earth’s energy to amass power for humans and their social structures) is unethical. It has an end-date. In the short term, it embodies an ethical trade-off: a living earth for huge volumes of food now. However, since it retains no capacity for renewal after its inevitable collapse it is as unethical as the Battle of the Somme. It has a certain beauty, though:

lineVineyard Gravel Pit with Water Line

Does a vineyard need a gravel pit? The question is a red herring. They are the same thing. They are both forms of desertification and erosion.




Badgers: Gardeners of the Sun

The balsam roots are tossing in the wind.P1220733This grassland is on a hill because it is created by hills. Wind and water never stop moving there, powered by the turning of the earth among the stars.

P1220708Badgers help. They go into the hill, hunting marmots that live inside the hill.



Balsam roots and badgers get along famously together. Here’s a nicely tilled seedbed, ready to go.

P1220762And bees.  They dig holes into the hills, too.



Badgers, marmots, balsam roots, the turning of the earth among the stars, and bees. All on an ancient seabed ground up by a glacier.P1220745


On a hill. What a stupid place to build a house.







Oh To Be a Heron in the Springtime

The Okanagan hosts the world’s only urban heron rookery. Things are full of action there at the moment.


The Rookery, Vernon

The rookery, however, is on private land, surrounded by tire dealerships, a walled housing village, and various mechanical shops. Currently, the “owner” of the land is protecting the herons’ right to this, their space, despite the protests of neighbours about the danger these trees present. If life is to survive the industrialization process in the Okanagan, land ownership rules will change to give priority to these birds, in the way that agricultural land uses are currently protected. When all thrive on this land, all thrive. Blessed be.

The Earth is Dying (And Not Because of Global Warming)

I went up the hill, and I found one sagebrush buttercup.  Take a look, so you’ll be present in this scene. It’s important. It’s about the state of the earth and the state of Canada.

P1200220Sagebrush Buttercup

Two weeks ago, it bloomed in the south of the Okanagan, north of the US-Canadian border. Two weeks before that, it bloomed at the south of the Okanogan, at the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers. Two weeks before that, it bloomed at Horse Thief Butte, above the drowned centre of the world at Cellilo Falls. Drowned? Yes. There’s a power dam and shipping locks, you see.

What a welcome sight! An indigenous flower, in the spring. In the European story, life springs from the dead land, and a beautiful flower spirit dances in the wind among the blades of fresh new grass. It works in Europe. Here it is the death of the earth. In the Okanagan story, sagebrush buttercup is used to tip arrows, to make them into poison arrows, for hunting small game. That’s still not right, though, because this particular sagebrush buttercup was not alone. Three insects were living off of it: a tiny fly a few millimetres long, something smaller and quicker that I only saw as a flash as it scurried out of my way, and one young crab spider trying to make a living off of them. Here’s the spider…


Crab Spider, Hiding

The green grass here is an invasive weed. Grass at this time of year should not be green.

Do you see her? Upside down below the sagebrush buttercup and with her life hanging by a thread? Here, look again…


So, let’s put that into perspective. Out of a dozens of square kilometres of hillside existing as a bit of waste land between a vineyard and its mechanical yard and a walking path in the bed of an old irrigation canal, above orchards, abandoned orchards and houses planted in orchards abandoned earlier, the indigenous insects of this place are trying to survive on one tiny sagebrush buttercup. Well, so it seems, but no, no. That’s too rash. This community of hangers-on has company. Look at her, just up the slope and only a metre away from the gravel dribbling down from an expansion of the vineyard mechanical yard above …

P1200230A Yellow Bell!


In the European story, yellow bells are pretty fairy spirits that are one of the first signs of spring from Alaska to California and which scent the air with the purest of all spring scents. In the Okanagan story, however, this is a food crop. The bulbs of this little lily mean the difference between dying after a long winter or regaining one’s health and strength in the spring. Food and health, and by extension the health of the land are the same. That’s why the people indigenous to this place call themselves the Syilx. It’s not a term descriptive of a biological or social group of humans. It’s a term descriptive of a group of living beings who care for all living beings in a place, equally, as they are but one of them and as dependent upon the unity of them all as any others. To the Syilx, this yellow bell is also Syilx, and they are it. It’s the same thing for this guy, chewing on one of the yellow bell’s leaves…


Butterfly Larva Lunching 

She is yellow bell and yellow bell is her. Not to mention the flowers she will pollinate a little later in the spring … if they come up.

 So, there you go. Out of dozens of square kilometres of hillside that once fed a people and supported a host of insects, butterflies, birds and mammals, there is one little yellow bell left, and one butterfly trying to make a living out of it. It breaks my heart. In the European story, of course, or, rather, the story of Europeans who have migrated to this place, ignorant of what they are stepping on and picking for posies in the spring, this observation might be worth a shrug, because there’s no economic benefit to be made out of it. Not so fast. Here are two observations about that: 1. If this yellow bell were in Switzerland, a farmer would be paid to ensure that it survived, at a rate far in excess of the profit he would make on surrounding land, and 2. It does matter economically, not in and of itself but in what the lack of Syilx identity costs. Here’s what I mean:


Spring Landscaping

Do you see how that works? A living, productive environment capable of supporting thousands of species has been reduced to dead soil, in which is planted a day lily, which is misplaced so that its bed becomes a footpath and a convenient receptacle for chewing gum and cigarette butts, because, get this, people respect the sidewalk, which is made out of concrete (a mountain ground to dust in the Rocky Mountains east of Banff and then mixed with gravel and water). And this is not just a single instance of the lack of Syilx thinking. The above image is from the landscaping around the Vernon Public Library. Here’s the landscaping in front of Okanagan Spring Brewery. The highlights include expensive composted earth, tulip bulbs from Holland (no butterflies eating those), a sock, a few footsteps, a cigarette butt…

P1190851 … and chewing gum…P1190865

Oh, and some bark chips. And here are some more of those, at the library…


For some reason, the application of ground up trees, a kind of social waste made out of trees, bushes, weeds and grass collected by truck from urban lawns and mixed on a sacred part of the Syilx grassland (still under land claim, as it has been for 120 years) is considered to be caring for the planet, because burning it would contribute to global warming. Hunh? The earth is dying now, and we are worrying about it dying in the future? The future is now. This, too, is part of the same phenomenum of which global warming is a part, and the real name for it is murder. Oh, by the way, the small plants sprouting among those bark chips will be hoed up later in the spring, as part of the contracted responsibility of the landscaping company hired to maintain this aesthetic perimeter of grasses. As for aesthetics, well, here’s the brewery’s take on that:


Okanagan Springs Brewery Staff Lounge

A little break in nature.

And here’s the library’s challenge in this regard:

P1200064 Many of the grasses are dead. They aren’t, you see, native here. Even the live ones are quite simply in the wrong place. They are planted in an ashtray. You and I and the wonderful people at the library (and they are: smart, educated, beautiful, caring, hard-working and kind — no doubt exactly the same as the dedicated people at the brewery) might not want it to be an ashtray, it might make for an incredible fire hazard as an ashtray, but there’s no getting around it: in terms of the culture of this place, this is an ashtray.P1200066What’s more, it is built infrastructure and dominates, in a way of thinking that sees nature as a thing that can be planted in the gaps between the really important infrastructure (concrete) to satisfy the ancient, heritage physical needs of the bodies that carry around the identifies of the people who are the citizens penned (civilized) in this concrete world. All this takes place in a country (Canada), which considers art and culture as being ‘heritage’ activities, which make its citizens happy and more productive at furthering the role of Canada as a global economic power among its peers, other global economic powers. In this world of the Europeans who have taken over Syilx space, the Syilx concept still applies. It’s just that rather than being applied to life, it is applied to tenuous things like identity (to be defended at all costs, but rising only from autonomous individuals, not individuals in relationship to other species) and economic infrastructure. They are all considered a unit, and fearlessly defended. The only thing is, it all leads to this:

P1190885 Vernon Veterinary Office Landscaping

That landscape cloth under those rocks cost lots of bucks. It is designed to keep things from growing. You can’t stop dandelions that easily, though.

And this…

P1190932 Self Medication Waste in Justice Park

Mouthwash for the Alcohol Addicted and Coffee for the Caffeine Crowd. The stones are meant to be a stream, but, as you can see, after a few years no one can afford to maintain that kind of thing anymore and it is given instead to the homeless crowd.

And this…

P1190900More Smoking Waste Thrown Onto More Ground Up Trees, Justice Park.

All of this landscaping, these attempts to turn living space into a concrete one that mirrors rigid lines of economic power costs a lot of money, much of it in the name of beautification and green, environmental values. A people who lived in this place would just plant yellow bells and live among the butterflies, bluebirds and meadowlarks. It would be surrounded by an environment full of beauty and food and no one would be hungry or homeless. This place is not like that now. This place is a machine, the same machine that grinds up trees into infertile tree bones and calls it topsoil, installs plants into it that have no hope of surviving, and calls the whole thing environmental care. This is a society that doesn’t live in this place, but devours it as a resource and replaces it with an image of itself. This is a place in which any person who actually lives in this place is rendered homeless. This is a colony. Wake up. The spring is supposed to look like a bit more like this here:


Sagebrush Buttercups, Two Weeks Ago at Vaseaux Lake

Meanwhile, off in Kelowna tonight, 45 minutes to the south of my sagebrush buttercup and an hour and a half north of the one at Vaseaux Lake, an art exhibit is being launched to display what the “citizens” of the “Okanagan” are thinking about in the contemporary culture of this place, as displayed through the images they post on FaceBook. Let me make this really, really clear: the sagebrush buttercups are citizens of this place; the humans are citizens of a global non-place. And that is why the earth is becoming a non-place. The colonization of this place didn’t happen a century and a half ago. It is happening right now. Tinkering with the niceties of social culture in this place and the free expression of individuals is a great thing … for the colonial image. It helps to perfect it and helps to perfect the individual ‘identities’ of the biological bodies of humans in the virtual space called “The Okanagan”. But that’s it. Here, let me show you how that works. In the image below, the bright colours painted in the window are there to address your body, which then sends out chemical signals, which influence the behaviour of your ‘identity’.

P1190826The bushes in their gravel hell are you. The chopped up gravel is the earth. And there is nothing to eat.



100 Photographs for World Water Day

For the love of water and the love of life, I’ve collected a few photos from here and from (click on each image for title and to enlarge)

I’m off to the sea for a week. I hope to bring back treasures for you.

Sagebrush Buttercup in Its Natural Environment

Sagebrush buttercup, the first of the grassland wildflowers is blooming in the US Okanogan, and up into Canada, on the south slopes, on sandy hills south of the big lakes.

P1170361Note the absence of sage and the lingering presence of deer. Note the absence of vineyards and the intact microbial crust beneath the thatch, too.

Earth is not powdered rock.

The Urban Planning Paradox

Without planning, there is chaos.
landingGoose and Gull Chaos

Oh, wait, maybe it’s with planning that there’s chaos.

P1170113Okanagan Paradise

A park bench, a valley view, and the grassland hill behind. 

Might it be that that only looks like paradise because we are trained (domesticated) to see it that way? Look again.

rec2Everything Has a Purpose …

… and all purposes can co-exist. Well, as long as one ignores the fact that the land was stolen back in 1895 and has been in land claim ever since.

Well, let’s look more closely, eh. A garbage can beside a park bench so you have to smell fermented dog feces while cars whizz by at your back, while you’re looking over productive grassland fields irrigated with sewage outflow, which are grazed by cattle, full of unexploded military ordinance (in places), used as a gravel and soil dumping ground (in places) and leased out to a forestry nursery? Maybe it’s better not to know, eh.


Close Your Eye, Buddha Boy

That’s the stuff.

Sure, there appears to be total chaos up on the hillside, but maybe it’s not, eh. Maybe it’s a message, written crystal clear, like this:


Gull Cleaning Up the Lake

Go, Gull, Go!

So, yeah, maybe that there garbage can is a message, and an indication of the attitude of [someone in authority] to “the people”, that might go something like this:


Sensible, that’s for sure. Mind you, just a tiny suggestion for improvement? Sure, why not, in the spirit of community solidarity. Might it not make it awfully hard to enjoy the recreational opportunity provided by governmental zoning here when that message is at your elbow and dominates the scene and really says:


It’s like, you know, not all that respectful, really. Maybe part of the problem is zoning and government budgeting. Maybe all that goes something like this:

1. A city truck can only deliver a pre-manufactured park bench where there is a road, so the bench must go at the roadside.

2. Same goes for a pre-manufactured concrete garbage can…

3. … and the garbage can only be collected, by truck, if it, also, is near the road, because there isn’t the budget to pay people to do this work independently of machinery.

Let’s admit it. Problems like that must bring grey hairs to city planners in a petroleum economy. Maybe all parts of the scene are dominated by messages in the same way? Like this?


Forestry Nursery, Irrigated by Reclaimed Sewage

The hand is pointing out various slumps in the land from excess water and retaining dikes that try to contain it from filling the ditch beside the path. Maybe the thinking that lead to this expensive governmental construction project went something like this:

1. The land is covered in grass (and grazed by the cattle of the cattlemen who ahem, inherited it, blush, from the Syilx, thus it is considered farmland.

2. In terms of zoning, that allows for agricultural use.

3. A tree nursery is agricultural use. It’s about growing trees, right?

4. Agriculture requires water. Plants like that.

5. Earth purifies water. Humans like that.

6. The application of water to an agricultural use, on agricultural land, built out of earth, purifies water.

7. So we can put our reclaimed sewage up there and use the Syilx grasslands to turn it into lake water that we can swim in.

8. Gravity helps.

9. This is a very good thing and an image of environmental stewardship.

I dunno. Take a closer look.

Forestry Nursery on Post-Glacial Lakebed

The trees in behind have largely grown in since Syilx burning was outlawed in 1920. The trees grown in the nursery are designed to renew forests like that (once they are logged), although this one, being in plain sight and all, is retained for its aesthetic properties.

Isn’t that beautiful? An ingrown forest of weeds in a grassland is zoned of aesthetic use, and it works. It makes tourists and residents happy, makes for lovely views, and sells real estate. Aw shucks, that would be enough to bring great joy, but there’s more: apparently, an appropriate agricultural use for a grassland habitat is to grow trees to represent in physical form  a racist, legal directive. These trees are, in other words, one of the reasons the indigenous people, and their forms of land use, were suppressed in British Columbia a century and a half ago. And, you know, that would be enough to turn the world into an artwork, but there’s something even more beautiful and up-to-date about it: all this is considered environmental stewardship and social support for the people, on the principle that caring for people follows the creation of “jobs”. You’d think it might be the creation of food, security and shelter, but no, that would be wrong thinking. If you find yourself thinking like that, it might be that your domestication (indoctrination) was faulty and you need some political re-training.

Note: In the upper grasslands of BC, there are between 100% and 1000% more trees than there were in 1920.

Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not, but one thing is for sure: it’s a regulatory, zoning decision that just so happens to have the result that it removes opportunity for the Syilx (or anyone else) to live from any part of the land that has not been first converted into an industrial process, or, may I add, a zoned or regulatory one. Here’s a closer look at a regulatory decision:


This is the Kind of Post-Glacial Lakebed We’re Talking About

It started on the bottom of water, and it just loves to flow with water again, whenever you give it a chance.

If you find yourself thinking that maybe, oh maybe, when zoning is coupled with “fiscal restraint” within an industrialized culture that spends most of its human work hours to maintain the ability of linear, petroleum-dependent machinery to do work that might have been done by humans, weird things happen on this kind of a hill, you know your indoctrination (education) is wobbling again. Fortunately, even the regulators, who have a firm grasp on reality, stumble into error when their expensively-capitalized machinery intersects with planning and management issues. If that makes you feel any better. It can look like this:



This public trail is built out of gravel, no doubt precisely in accordance with regulations, above a drainage pipe, designed to take waste water (i.e. too much reclaimed sewage) off of the clay of the grasslands and deliver it to the lake, but this is a hill, and when the rain and snow melt it does what lake bottom hills love to do: go back down to the lake bottom. Truth is, water moves down these hills from plant to plant to plant, never being allowed to move freely. Trouble is, cattle graze the plants that are good at this, and graze the flatland prairie ones seeded to replace them, until, well, it costs a lot to put things back together again.

Maybe this kind of error is more expensive than doing things right? Oh, that’s just seditious thinking, that is. It’s not ultimate costs that matter here, but costs within a particular budgetary cycle. Paying for a path ten times over, over ten years of erosion, beats paying for it once, at half the cost, because that kind of behaviour exceeds budget capacity for any one year, and you’d have to raise taxes, and who wants that, right? So, the work is kind of a dance between budgets and time. Here’s another example:


Forestry Green Houses

Because green houses raise plants, they can be zoned for agricultural land. That the land has to be dug up and filled with glacial outwash gravel (deposited in rivers, against walls of ice, as the glaciers were melting, while the silt settled to the lake bottom that forms the soil here) is irrelevant. Gravel is also soil, the thinking goes, and that’s agricultural, too.

It’s all logical and legal (although gravel is ground up river bars and soil is a microbial community, but let that be) and yet it leads to this:


The Washout Begins

The gravel doesn’t want this water either.

And why is so much water trying to get away from the greenhouse complex? Ah, look…


Forest Seedling Growing Area

Large trays of seedlings will soon be laid out on these supports. Then the spray irrigation will begin.

Take a look at the floor of that area: gravel. You can’t really grow anything on something like that, but because there are plants present, and greenhouses are defined as agriculture, thats OK. I think the thinking, among the enlightened rather than the ignorant, goes like this:

1. Gravel is earth.

2. Gravel is more stable than clay, so you can run machinery on it without mud.

3. Gravel absorbs water.

4. Gravel cleans water as water trickles through it.

5. Water that enters the earth stays in the earth, until it fills groundwater aquifers, with pure, clean, gravel-filtered water.

6. Like a fridge filter!

It’s as if the earth were a machine. And what do you do when the machine doesn’t work, because gravel, clay, hillsides and soil in a dry country grassland don’t combine according to textbook principles, because those principles are not based upon this environment but upon ones born in regimes of excess water, which adapted to that water long, long ago? Well, in an industrialized, petroleum-driven culture under budget constraints created by zoning parameters, you build a French Ditch:


Excess Water Made to Go Away

And what is a French Ditch? Well, it’s a ditch full of rock. I.e. it’s a septic tank, a kind of sewage disposal device, that keeps excess water below ground.

You know, it’s sad. The land just wants to create a wetland, wherever it is cut or damaged, or wherever water appears. Irrigating the fields creates wetlands. They form spontaneously all over the place. Thing is, they’re kept in a juvenile state, full of algae and… isn’t that the same as a septic lagoon? Haven’t we turned the hillsides into a sewage plant? Oh my, there I go again, with my poor socialization on display for all to see. You see how rough I have it? Instead of seeing the light, I think of the ditches being filled not with semi-radioactive rock from the quarry on stolen Syilx land over the hill but with rushes, reeds and, ta da…

P1170095Weeping Willow

Weeping willows can take up  250 to 1750 litres of water per day. They also remove toxins from the water.

Here’s how you plant a willow: you cut off a twig, stick it in a bucket of water for a couple weeks, then stick it in the soil. If the soil is wet, you can just stick the stick into the soil. Hopeless, aren’t I. Well, in my defence, let me point out that among all my failings I do recognize that there’s a problem with the willow idea. All that water, you see, needs to be returned to the lake bottom, instead of being evaporated by willows into the air. It needs to replace the water that was stolen from the earth-sky-lake cycle by diverting it through the houses of the city in the first place. OK. Fine. But first, would it be completely inappropriate to ask why is the water sprayed on the dry hillsides during the day, then, when 65% of it evaporates in the first place ? Might it be that human culture in these parts is one that understands water and rain but not drought? Might it be an English culture? Might it not be imported from England? Where it rains? A lot? Maybe. Gee, I dunno. OK, what about this:

P1170146Water Cress

Here at the bottom of all the “soil-filtered” water at the bottom of the hill.

That’s what the land is trying to create here: life, rather than a system of raw elements (soil, water, air, etc). Why, instead of eroded vertical ravines, might there not be systems of stone or concrete steps that pool water on the way down, instead of fighting it, and in those pools might not a valuable agricultural crop  be grown? What if instead of algae, the result of the erroneous thinking that soils (and not the bacteria within soils) purify water, the pools looked like this?

P1170148 I mean, given that the land wants to create wetlands, to replace the wetlands that have been filled with gravel at lake level, might it not be cost effective just to create them instead of the water systems that are dysfunctioning up on the hill at the moment, because of regulations built upon wrongful understandings? It’s just an idea, you know, but you could harvest this darned stuff, you could solve any contamination problems, you could have stable paths going up and down beside it, and you could just let the people eat it, even. Why not? Why does land have to be turned into cash, which is then used to create food banks to feed the people? Why does it have to cost so much, in terms of petroleum resources, constrained by the needs of machinery for roads and simplistic solutions? Well, that’s politics and planning, of course. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. It’s not a law of the universe, only a law of a system of regulations. One thing is for sure:

P1170094Night Lights

The culture that took this productive land (absolutely covered with food crops) from the Syilx, has to create industrialized plots out of earth, use industrialized water (called “waste water”, because there’s no other planning category for it, hence it is ‘waste’ to the planning system), and even recreate the sun, in order to produce anything at all and to create enough of a surplus to pay for itself. And where does that sun come from? More machinery.

MicaDamMica Hydroelectric Dam, Columbia River, Source

It might all be good, you know, if it didn’t lead to poverty and disrespect, such as this, right back where we began…

P1170113Maybe the initial disrespect, the theft of Syilx land, is still playing itself out. Maybe that’s the ultimate zoning decision, that is constraining all acts that follow. Maybe if we got that one right, we’d set up the conditions to get better regulations and better actions to follow, and we could lead the land to death rather than an ability to even absorb water. Maybe. Man, I’m glad I’m not a city planner. It must be murder having to keep trying and trying to adjust the system, and to continually be thwarted by a dwindling reserve of capacity within the land and water and a dwindling reserve of cash from the people. It’s about enough to make a guy stick a garbage can right by a park bench, that’s what it is.

Canada: Ideology Gone Bad

Ideology is an Invasive Weed (Part Two)


In cold post-glacial lakes there are no weeds. The weeds grow in wetlands draining into the shore. In Canada’s version of the Okanagan Valley, it’s not quite like that, as I showed two days ago (Click.) Why, one would think that Canada is trying to turn this lake into an image of the famous muskeg of the Boreal Forest (Perhaps around the tar sands of Northern Alberta?), or maybe just the algal bloom and general over-fertilized muck of Lake Erie (tobacco field petroleum-based fertilizer runoff). I dunno. The geese do, though.

P1130521 Goose With a Feather Fail and Orange Peel

Florida 1. Okanagan 0. Third inning.

Poor things. They’re grossed out at the hell that human mis-reading of grassland lake systems as summer boating and swimming paradises have made out of the lake (see yesterday’s post) and are hanging out at the children’s playground instead of dipsy-doodling down on the lake shore, which isn’t really a shore anymore.


Playgrounds are Designed to Teach Children the Skills Required to Do the Work of Adults in Society

Complete with wheelchair ramp. Note that these training devices for domesticating the wild human body don’t reference the natural habitat of such creatures (the earth). This playground is a visual representation of contemporary ideology. It should be a warning. Shouldn’t children be playing in the lake? Na, they’re probably grossed out by it too. They’re also smart enough to pick up that it has certain approved roles in adult society, and not others. No point wasting their time, eh.

The geese don’t know a thing about the niceties of economic triage, which is a cozy term to describe the ideology that holds (with trumpets) that all things in the world are subject to the practical demands of reducing public expenses to allow for increased corporate profit.  The political class of the city in which I live (Vernon, British Columbia) holds that it is the business of the government to reduce costs above all other things, and to create opportunities for private investment and profit. This ideology holds that it is the role of government to provide services that have only costs (roads, sewers, and so on), but no potential for profit. Did you get the irony in that? The government’s role is to reduce the costs that it’s responsibility is to provide? Kind of like this, I think.


Adventure Playground Ideology by Another Name

In the terms of contemporary society, this is called “reality” and “practical thinking” and even “good government.” It is only good, however, if viewed from within its own ideology. When looked at from the world of the geese, maybe the world looks like this?


Sometimes the Worst Picture from a Human Perspective is the Best

Ah, but these are publicly-kept non-migratory geese that have their eggs destroyed every spring so that they don’t have more geese, which will mar the expensive trucked-in sand  choking out the lake’s natural boundary with goose poop and making it useless to the ideology of summer. (Without cheap petroleum, no one would have thought of trucking sand across entire mountain ranges to make a place for half-naked humans to lie and soak up the sun and dream they were in florida.) Sure, go ahead.

P1130557Milfoil Crap, Ideology and Human Lies Washing Up on the Beach

Like the geese, I’m grossed out, too. This is like an oil spill.

Would you play there? No. The problem with that is that, by extension, the question could be asked: Would you play on the earth? The answer is, sadly, God no.

P1150163 Yup. That’ll do it.

The whole playground that has been made out of the earth because of the cheapness of petroleum and the ability it gives to create ideologies without connection to the living earth is based around the principles of a)  the earth can be discarded because we all outgrow our childhood fantasies and b) wildness will always heal what we do once we have done that.  In ideological terms, this is called, “growing up”, and “it’s just business,” and “we need balanced development.” It’s even called “responsible.” Sure.


Impromptu Curling Rink on Okanagan Lake

It’s not just the shore that gets eroded.

For some reason, nonmigratory geese, which choose not to migrate (and to self-domesticate instead), and which are further domesticated by human intervention, are called wild. I think these images show that the humans have become domesticated, too. I’d say what has been done to the lake and these geese has also been done to us. You won’t read it in water management reports or civic government public information session promotional brochures or proselytizing Ministry of Environment apologies for goose egg coddling initiatives, but you sure can read it in the lake. Like the playground, it is our mirror.

P1130573 Oh, Canada.