The Qualicum Institute is no longer giving presentations

Since the QI’s inception, we’ve given many presentations to a wide range of audiences, spanning local governments and university and college classes, to political parties, rate payers associations and environmental organizations. The QI directors thank those who have invited us; we’ve enjoyed meeting you and the provocative discussions that the talks brought forward.

Judging by the reviews we received—some included on our original Presentations page, below—it seems as though most organizations thought our presentations worthwhile. From our perspective, the effort of preparing and giving our thoughtful, science-based presentations was also well worthwhile in that we needed to go through that process to convince ourselves that an inspiring, well-researched, logical talk wasn’t anywhere near enough or even efficacious in moving towards a sustainable society—an important and difficult lesson to learn.

It was telling to us that the significant amount of work we put into the presentations yielded little apparent action from the groups we presented to. It didn’t matter how inspired folks felt, after leaving the room, business as usual seemed to be the invariable result. One shining moment was when, after hearing our sustainability presentation, the Town of Qualicum Beach included a development cap in its Official Community Plan (OCP) in order to work within the limits of the local ecosystems and maintain the exceptional quality of life their citizens enjoy. That vision is still in their revised OCP to this day, although, over the years, some council members have worked to have it removed.

We also encouraged a number of organizations to adopt a position statement on the fundamental conflict between economic growth and biodiversity conservation and a few did. However, even those organizations that adopted the position statement seemed to have carried on to exclusively address symptoms like pipelines and habitat restoration with no further action on addressing more proximate causes such as economic growth or recognizing limits on a finite planet. Our thought was that such a position statement would be the first step towards action, not that it would be an end in itself. This has prompted the Qualicum Institute to change direction.

Over the presentation time span of the QI, this website was built; its pages contain much of the information we included in our presentations, along with new links, updates and a blog. Now, and instead of presentations, the QI is focusing on two action items. Working as a node of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB), we are exploring ways to encourage a collection of great thinkers to come together and discover an effective means of selling the story to a critical mass of people, a means that will encourage them to demand a sustainable society from their politicians and business leaders. We’re done simply telling the environmental story. We need to learn how to overcome the barriers of our fixed beliefs, our resistance to unwanted news, and our denial of reality—essentially we must first deal with our Human Nature. That is the root or ultimate cause of our environmental dilemma. These drastic changes will be necessary in order for us, for example, to market a new economic model that is desperately needed—one that replaces dominance over nature and denying science based limits in favour of a system that operates on shared, limited abundance, and universal empathy for others, other creatures, and the world we share.

The QI is also working to understand the efforts of the Committee for Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER) to restore the use of the Bank of Canada to its original purpose of financing government investments in infrastructure and human capital (education, health and social services) at a negligible interest rate (see

We invite you to work with us on these action items. Here’s how: contact us and join in on one of our monthly meetings in person or by Skype. As Gandhi observed, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

Choose sustainability, the possibilities are endless!

To be sustainable or not to be, that is the question. Right now we’re choosing “not to be” which doesn’t bode well for humanity. Sustainability connects us directly to the source of our true wealth, the ecosystems of the planet and the biodiversity they contain.

The Qualicum Institute presentations explore various aspects of sustainability and offer a coherent, rational, and comprehensive approach to understanding the necessary requirements for human sustainability.

The illustrated presentations also discuss the common ground environmental organizations share, which will allow groups to collectively and effectively address the significant ecological problems that confront us today.

What others are saying…

“A powerful presentation”

The Qualicum Institute has developed a powerful presentation that summarizes a complex concept in a way that the lay person can understand. As a Councillor I found the presentation thought-provoking and inspirational. It contributed to helping our council develop an Official Community Plan that sets limits on development and a cap on population in order to maintain the high quality of life in our town. Anyone who is truly interested in moving toward a sustainable future should see this presentation before they decide on their plan of action.—Barry Avis, Councillor, Town of Qualicum Beach

“I applaud and fully support the Qualicum Institute’s Sustainability Presentation”

I applaud and fully support the Qualicum Institute’s Sustainability Presentation by paraphrasing Paul Hawken that the environment is a major factor of our economic production which provisions and sustains our economy. Conversely the limiting factor to economic development is the availability of our “natural capital”. We had better ensure that our business systems and wasteful patterns of consumption are redesigned to prevent any loss of “natural capital” if we are to achieve a long term sustainable economy.—Marc Lefebvre, City Councillor, City of Parksville

“A unique message”

The QI’s sustainability presentation is a unique message. It is unique in the network of facts presented, the illustration of the powers and limitations of the sectors of our society in control who appear to have an interest in avoiding change, and the refreshing, blatant, uncompromising advocacy of zero growth. The presentation … developed pertinent facts in a very comprehensive yet palatable way and arrived at the only logical conclusion, that continued growth as propagated by our economists is an impossibility. With this message and the way it is presented, the QI resonates strongly with the sceptical citizen at a local, national, and even global level, I believe. It resonates because it debunks the absurd “growth forever” myth, and people feel this and know this at a deep level, because it makes so much common sense. The QI presentation is an outlet for this common sense conviction of so many people, and that is reminiscent of the dynamic of popular contemporary documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth”. Thanks so much for the Presentation, Go, QI, go!!—Chris Walther, Ecoforestry Institute

“The most crucial message of all”

Your talk was excellent, timely, important, and one everyone needs to hear over and over again until enough of us “get it”. It is THE most crucial message of all and it is just taking us too long to really “get it” and do something about.—Jean Gelwicks, Salt Spring Island

“The best measure of any presentation…”

The best measure of any presentation is its ripple effect over time. On Denman Island, after nearly two years, the ripples are still shaping thought and action.—Harlene Holme, Denman Island

“The message is loud and clear.”

This presentation is critically important for all of us to hear and see. It makes us stop and think about the real cause of environmental deterioration. Our consumerist society has to be curbed; we have to start considering our impacts on other species. Not only are they precious and valuable as other travellers on this planet, but we cannot survive as a species without them. The message is loud and clear.—Dr Nancy J. Turner, University of Victoria


Comments are closed.