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 Presentations page— 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 http://qualicuminstitute.ca/federal-debt/).
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.”