Tag Archives: sustainable development

Book Review: Banned on the Hill by Franke James

How to catch the eye of friends who ignore our climate plight?

Put this on your coffee table, even your kids will pick it up:

What would you do if you discovered you were blacklisted by your own government for speaking up on climate change and the tar sands? In Banned on the Hill, artist and author Franke James, tells how she first discovered she was being censored by the Canadian government — and how she fought back.

It’s an inspiring story that shows how creativity, crowd-funding and investigative digging can work together to shine a bright light on a government that is more interested in message control than a citizen’s democratic right to free expression. Through eight visual essays, James traces her personal journey as an active citizen discovering the power of speaking out. Interviewed in the Guardian UK newspaper James said that she hoped the book would serve as a how-to guide to other activists hoping to take on the Harper administration, especially with humour. “It’s kind of like a judo flip, meaning that you can actually flip someone who is much bigger than you.”

In Banned on the Hill, Franke James assembles her funny yet factual visual essays on her observations, evidence, and experience as an everyday Canadian who is losing her identity: Canada the free-thinker; Canada the conscientious; Canada the conservationist.

Not only does James express the sense of helplessness felt by so many Canadians fighting to protect treasured natural landscapes and resources, she also exposes the Harper Government’s flagrant censorship of public employees (elected Ministers included) and publicly funded scientists, along with apparently one of Canada’s most obvious national security threats: artists.

Where words fail, James’ art fills in the emotion and visceral sense of the current identity shift in what it means to be Canadian under Harper’s Conservatives. Canada’s reputation as a world leader in clean air and water is giving way to a reputation of a nation that trades clean water for dirty oil and blacklists anyone who objects.

“The Canadian government has clamped down on scientists who tell the truth about the tarsands—and it’s tried to shut up artists too. Happily, Franke James is indefatigable!” ~ BILL MCKIBBEN, Founder, 350.org

“Whether deflating ethical oil or unraveling our access to information system, Franke James defends Canada’s natural capital with provocative imagery and tough questions. Banned on the Hill may be the planet’s most enjoyable how-to-write-to-your-elected official guide, and it reveals that the Harper regime can’t bully every foe into submission.”
ERIC RUMBLE, Editor-in-chief, Alternatives Journal

On behalf of Canadians left speechless by the Harper Government, Franke James says it all, despite being Banned on the Hill.

Check back for your chance to win a signed copy of Banned on the Hill!

Or, if you can’t wait, get your own copy at Amazon.


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On funding public transportation

It is my privilege to write for Carbon Talks, a Simon Fraser University initiative that engages public, private, corporate, governmental, institutional, not-for-profit, any individual/group wanting to move sustainable development forward.

I have written a blog comparing Toronto and Vancouver, and the universal struggles of developing and implementing regional transit that is so efficient and convenient people won’t want to bother driving to work!

The Big Move: the cost-benefits of regionalizing transit

in preparation for Carbon Talks’ upcoming public dialogue:

A mayor’s vision of how to fund regional public transportation

Friday March 1st, 12:30-1:30 PST

Carbon Talks with Mayor Richard Walton, Chair of TransLink’s Mayor’s Council
SFU Harbour Centre Room 1700, 515 West Hastings St or by webcast

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The destiny of an accidental writer

If destiny is predetermined, then perhaps I have always been a writer, with skills and passion lying in wait, building on personal experiences that would define that destiny. Although, it is equally possible that I might never have been a writer. Last night, I was reminded that there are a few chance occasions that have accidentally led me to this place.

Photo Credit: My 4-year-old son

Photo Credit: My 4-year-old son

The first was an event of outrage, which I was compelled to place squarely on the shoulders of a Letter-to-the-Editor. As I say in my bio, engineers are not expected to be able to write, and I are an engineer, as the saying goes. I never thought about writing, despite my way with words being my most valued asset while I was practising.

That letter started a habit and that habit grew into writing opinion pieces for the Hamilton Spectator. Most of these are now in archives, but one still lingers to remind me of my roots: The Balancing Acts of Motherhood.

The second was an event of irony. I tried to negotiate my way out of a Computer Science course, which is required for my program of study (CultureNet at Capilano University), but the Registrar refused so I had to “suffer” through. The irony: That course provided me with a set of invaluable skills in a number of unexpected ways. It was also the impetus for this blog.

Way back in May of 2011, when I posted my introductory “Hello world!” as is the tradition in the World Wide Web, I expected just to let the blog die along with the close of the course. I wrote about what I knew, namely parenthood, about what I was learning, mostly topics in sociology, and eventually about what I love, always concepts in social and environmental sustainability. It would seem that my blog didn’t die, and it won’t anytime soon.

The third was an event of luck, when I answered a call for volunteers to help with the We Canada campaign.

A year after relocating to Metro Vancouver, I was coming down from that initial high of moving to a new city (and frankly not looking forward to returning to classes in September). At the time, I was still juggling “littles” and school was my only prospect “outside of the home.”

When the ad for writers to craft online content for a national campaign appeared, a door opened, angels sang, my heart stopped, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, in short, every promising cliché nodded smugly and said: See? Told you.

The We Canada Team, Partners, Sponsors, and Champions, are a stunning aggregation of Canada’s most passionate, dedicated, and focussed citizens and experts. They are the reason I continued to write, and I am forever indebted to them all for the opportunity and motivation.

I have only been calling myself a writer in recent months. The persona still fits more like a cardigan than a second skin and it has a long way to go before I’ll claim it with confidence, but like any labour of love, it is 110% worth the sacrifice.


Live within limits without limiting life

Follow me and check out my new blog! Meat Eating Vegans


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