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Multiple pathways can lead us to climate action 

 “We need courage, not hope, to face climate change. But the scale of climate change engulfs even the most fortunate. Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.”  Kate Marvel, climate scientist  Our determination to set in motion a community-based ecological transformation can be discovered in a plethora of ways. The arts, farming, meditation, a liberal arts education, scientific avenues, religious practices and political conversations are all possible entry points to discussions that include Nature as our focal point. On June 13 I attended a two-hour gathering in Sherbrooke’s Baobab Café community space facilitated by Observatoire estrien du développement des communautés [OEDC](Eastern Townships Signpost for Community Development), a nonprofit organization that has been engaged with our population since 2006. []  The first of a series of workshops, the gathering brought together people of all ages to better understand the direction our community is striving for. Through a series of fifteen multiple-choice questions, each with three or four possible responses, we were asked what we collectively need to drive the values of our societies. Do we remain in an technocratic, capitalist, anthropocentric sphere, or do we transition towards a more democratic, social justice focused, ecocentric community? OEDC wishes to help its members, both individuals and organizations, to ferry themselves along that transition. After two hours it was very clear that the Township citizens wanted to initiate actions that were firmly tethered to an ecocentric transition. We need to examine our role in this dangerous age of advancing climate breakdown and biodiversity loss and accelerating pollution. At the end of the workshop we discussed briefly local questions such as “Are we aware of the ecological issues in Sherbrooke?” Although I found some of the questions and particularly the answer options to be too vague, limited and overlapping, this was the first community meeting and I would expect future conversations to delve more deeply into collective actions that urgently need to be taken if, as they suggest, a “better way of life” is to be achieved. Although we wore name stickers, there was not enough time to get to know the other people present, or to discuss the questions in depth: that will come in future workshops. But what was abundantly clear was that OEDC got 35 strangers together and wish to help foster collective action.  Tragically, it is also clear that Nature activists around the world are being relegated to the sidelines in the quest by governments, corporations, institutions and individuals to grab more extractive resources to the extreme detriment of Nature and non-western societies. By pushing at a feverish pace, corporations sing the praises of consumerism, but by in doing so they are sending democracy into a downward spiral that will undeniably place many of the promising achievements to protect Nature in utter jeopardy. This is not a harbinger of prosperity, but a death wish. Trump, Putin and company have made no secret of the fact that they wish to dismantle decades of protection.  Even in

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Apocalyptic future can be avoided by citizens asking for less

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally.” Flannery O’Connor “It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.” Bertrand Russell  Last Saturday in Paris a woman placed a blood-red poster over “Les Coquelicots” (“Poppies”) by the French impressionist painter Claude Monet, saying: “This nightmarish image awaits us if no alternative is put in place.” The nightmare is runaway climate heating and biodiversity loss. The painting, depicting Nature’s beauty, is not the first to have been defaced. Young activists point to Earth treasures that will be lost. Of course these actions are meant to shock. If the portrayal of Nature is so revered, why do we allow Nature, which inspired the painting, to be desecrated? People need to accept that having less, especially in the global north, but also demanding less, will rejuvenate Earth.  I approached Teresa Bassaletti, director of Sherbrooke’s centre for women immigrants, a few weeks ago to ask her whether immigrants, including refugees the centre supports, feel traumatized when they hear the sound of fireworks. Her answer was swift: the fireworks sound like bombs going off and the women she knows want those massive explosions, which happen frequently in summer, to end. Furthermore, there are readily available alternatives that don’t recreate the sounds of war. As a result of our conversation, Teresa and I, accompanied by seven women from the centre, went to speak to Sherbrooke city council at their public meeting on May 21. Teresa told the council that the fireworks affect the women’s lives by bringing back nightmarish memories. Many refugees suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although chair of the meeting councillor Raïs Kibonge and mayor Évelyne Beaudin welcomed the testimony and empathized with the refugees, it isn’t clear whether the council will support a ban on fireworks when they sign a new contract with La Fête du Lac des Nations in the coming months. Will the pro-fireworks lobby be too much to withstand? A strategy is now coming to fruition for the Sherbrooke council to be in no doubt as to how immigrants and other Sherbrooke citizens are affected by those war-like sounds. Two weeks ago I mentioned in an article that smoking ads are widely prohibited and that climate offensive products should be too, including advertising for pick-up trucks and other large vehicles. One major city council in Scotland has done just that. You won’t see any advertising for fossil-fuel-powered cars, or indeed for cruise ships or airlines, on city buses or land owned by the city of Edinburgh, because the council believes that the high carbon emissions associated with such activities are incompatible with net zero ambitions. Scotland’s capital is not the only city in the UK to ban advertisements that promote irresponsible fossil fuel use. Advertisements that show cars driving up roadless pristine mountains or forging rivers are no longer to be tolerated. Toyota’s ad campaign “Born to Roam” (all over every corner of the planet) has been banned by

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