There is a new feature on Google that maps the Gulf Of Mexico oil spill as if it happened in your community. This "what if" tool conjures up images about the risks our governments are taking with our communities to produce energy, jobs and tax revenue. The scale of consequence from human error, weak regulators or last resort law enforcement over industrial processes is beyond imagination. Here in Canada, the chance of a nuclear accident on the Great Lakes, a breach of a tar sands containment pond on the Athabasca River or a deep water drilling blow-up in the Arctic underscores the need to understand and decide just how far we are prepared to allow engineers to gamble with our future.
It is absurd that the federal government and the provinces are in the process of doing away with our existing environmental protections and processes to facilitate getting governments in "the black" and "shovels in the ground." This argument that public oversight (red tape) costs too much and holds up approvals through unnecessary due diligence is phony. The G-20 preparations are costing over one billion dollars in security to protect a few politicians from embarrassing freedom of speech demonstrations to hold 15 hours of meetings and press conferences over 3 days. The ultimate irony is that the goal of the meeting is to eliminate "wasteful and expensive" public processes around the world that slow down economic growth and plague development approvals. The amount of money spent on this press conference complaining about expensive public processes and safety measures belies the motivations of our officials.
If you are looking to awake from this nightmare of focused, streamlined, modern, efficient, stakeholder derived risk-based modeling and assessment facilitation to a restored democratic ideal of transparency, independence and formal decision making - LOW is doing its best to act as your alarm clock. Not only are we writing, researching and participating in the few public process left to determine the scale and siting of new nuclear plants, dams, pipelines, dumps, incinerators; but over the next few months we are also celebrating the Great Lakes with music, art, poetry, recreation and fun.
1. Starting this week, LOW monitor beach postings every day and update you throughout the summer with our Beach Reports. This will help you and your family know where to swim safely on Lake Ontario. You can always access our beach information online at www.waterkeeper.ca/beaches.
2. This weekend the Great Lake Swimmers are kicking off a summer of swimdrinkfishmusic.com events, meant to build awareness and support for projects that connect musicians and environmental advocates in the fight to ensure environmental justice for every community. Daniel Romano will open the event and presentations by LOW and Tony Corstine, one the great photographers of the Thousand Islands, make this a can't miss event.
3. Next week, LOW is joining 100's of Waterkeepers in Mexico for the Annual Waterkeeper conference. This year's meetings have special significance as many of the Gulf of Mexico Waterkeepers are frontline responders and we are learning from the flaws in oversight and decision making process that made this disaster a reality.
4. On June 19th, Swim Drink Fish Music is once again supporting and helping present the Joe Burke Wolfe Island Literary Festival with Steven Heighton, Dave Bidini, Joseph and Amanda Boyden, Bill Kennedy, Brian O'Dea, Tanis Rideout. This event represents a unique opportunity to listen to leading and emerging writers in Canada on the shores of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River.
5. The Wolfe island Music Festival takes place on August 6th and 7th. LOW and Swim Drink Fish Music will be supporting producer Virginia Clark and the Wolfe Island Community Center to put on one of the best two days of music on the Lakes. This year: The Sadies, The Weakerthans, NQ Arnbuckle, The Bidini Band, Cuff the Duke, Harbour Sharks and many others will be on the Island.
So, if you can get away from the heart breaking news in the Gulf, come celebrate the value and respect you hold for the Great Lakes, environmental oversight, accountability and decision making...by playing with LOW this summer. Sign up for the newsletter and radio podcasts. Become a member of swimdrinkfishmusic.com. Take a swim. Have a drink of cold water. Go fishing and bring home lunch.
See you on the beaches!