CRC Newsletter - Fall 2012

Issue 15, September 2012


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Solutions Agenda

Rethinking Growth Action Agenda


New Videos

New Case Studies


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Welcome to Issue 15 of the Community Research Connections Newsletter

At the May 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, I delivered the Wiley Lecture on the need for trans-disciplinary research to solve modern day challenges. Also critical are new ways of collaborating and communicating, and my research associate, Rob Newell is leading an interdisciplinary partnership with our communications school, in partnership with Drs. Jennifer Wallinga and Virginia McKendry. The project involved integrating the principles and theories from sustainable development and communications with the students from the Masters of Intercultural and International Communications program. Two outcomes have now been published, Environmental Education in our Backyard and an interactive case study entitled Dockside Green: Insight on the social aspects of the LEED-­‐ND standard community development (the article supports our case study on Dockside Green).

Following the success of this initial pilot, this summer Rob designed a larger collaborative project that involved the undergraduate students from the Professional Communications program. Students were given the publications from my CRC research program and were asked to create videos around its four themes--place, scale, limits and diversity. Eleven videos were  produced, and I am impressed by both the quality of the videos and how well they communicate the research themes . We will start releasing this new series on HEADTalks beginning this December.

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The Solutions Agenda

Earlier this month, my research/practitioner team met over the weekend in an old fishing village in Nova Scotia, Kingsburgh, to discuss our focus over the next two years.  After many hours of brainstorming, we agreed our focus over the next two years should be on new governance models for sustainable community development. Focusing on the many social innovations happening in this domain, and looking at solutions rather than problems, The Solutions Agenda emerged. Beginning in January 2013, we will lead a bi-monthly series of on-line dialogues and webinars that bring together the team (Dale, Newell, Foon and Herbert) with leaders from each of the local innovations identified through our research. They will be complimented by HEADTalks video releases and we hope that you participate in our project, by sharing this information widely within your own networks     

The Solutions Agenda will explore 10 key themes critical to sustainable community development, and the first one will be on Food Security, January 2013. While we begin planning for this e-Dialogue, we would like to hear from you. Do you have a favourite local market or local innovation that you think we should be talking about. Email us, and share why you think it is important.


Action Agenda: Rethinking Growth and Prosperity

On March 30th, we brought together over 100 researchers, practitioners, civil society leaders and policy-makers from across the country and border to participate in Degrowth: A Critical Juncture?, a workshop that explored the desirability of new models to constant economic growth. We have just released an Action Agenda for Canadian decision-makers that captures the key outcomes of our workshop and research. It contains 10 key actions or recommendations for rethinking growth and prosperity in Canada. Several considerations informed the action agenda.

  • Absolute dependence on growth no longer works, and the conditions are now in place to allow for a different economic model to emerge.
  • We are facing key ecological limits and natural resource constraints that need to be addressed now.
  • Growth, even in developed countries is no longer contributing to equitable income distribution and this inequality is producing profound social shifts in Canada and around the world.
  • Trickle-down economics has clearly not worked to reach a majority of the population in both developing and developed countries.
  • It is generally recognized, even by economists, that there is far too much debt worldwide, both public and private, and the persistent European Union crisis is proof of that pudding.
  • The term using the term ‘degrowth’ to communicate the objectives of this movement to the public may prove too abstract or negative, and shifting to a new economic model would be more effective by rephrasing to ‘rethinking growth and prosperity’.

These 10 actions recommend capturing the true costs of industry and operations, enhancing social and economic innovation, reducing waste production to virtually zero, increasing investment in sustainable infrastructure, re-localizing the economy, and developing a more comprehensive metric for measuring human progress. In essence, the Action Agenda calls for people to redirect their focus on what they value and what is essential for humans and the environment to thrive rather than simply following GDP as our dominant measure of progress.


Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (MC3) Dialogues

We held our first conversation in this series, Climate change response and sustainable development paths - Unmasking the synergies, on May 23rd.  This conversation highlighted the innovations and strategies in BC climate change policies and discussed how communities can effectively engage in changing their development pathways.  We followed up with a Live Chat session in which people had the opportunity to ask questions of the MC3 research team on their climate change research to date. 

The second of the MC3 e-Dialogues, Climate Innovation and Implementation in BC Communities, will be held on October 2nd, 1:00pm to 3:00pm PDT, and another Live Chat will follow this discussion on October 5th.

On November 30th, 2012  I will be bringing together the research team, including our 12 research partners, with 2 leaders from each of the 11 case study communities in a peer-to-peer learning exchange workshop.  Videos will be released through our HEADTalks channel to share the outcomes of our workshop.  Please join our climate change e-Dialogues on the impact of BC's policy framework on community climate change adaptation and mitigation.


Latest Video Releases

Over the last few months, we have been releasing videos from the degrowth workshop, the CRC Degrowth Video Series.  The first video introduces the background of this international movement, and features an animation of some of the 'facts' that informed our own research. The next videos in the series feature the virtual keynote presentations delivered by Dr. Robert Constanza, Professor of Sustainability, Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University, exploring the meaning of growth and progress in modern society and Stephen Huddart, President of the McConnell Foundation, talking about the role of social innovation in rethinking growth. Next, are animations that feature ‘nuggets of gold’ from the workshop's virtual panelists, Dr. Peter Victor, Professor at York University, Kathy Bardswick, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Co-operators Group Limited, Michael Harcourt, Chair of Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST) and former Premier of British Columbia, and Seth Klein, BC Director at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. At the beginning of next year, we will complete this series with an animation summarizing ideas from the roundtable discussions and a final video that will highlight the key recommendations from the Action Agenda


Latest Case Studies

Two new case studies have just been released. The first is a case study by my graduate student, Allison Annesley, that examines the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT). PCT is an innovative policy instrument developed by the British Columbia government to mitigate climate change. This hybrid instrument blends a market mechanism with public investment and regulation as part of the government’s commitment to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This case, based on her thesis research, investigates how PCT can help establish a local carbon offset market as part of a larger framework that regulates carbon neutrality in the public sector to reduce GHG emissions while influencing cultural norms and behaviour.

The second, Pro-environmental Behaviours in the Workplace: Driving Social Change, investigates whether adopting pro-environmental behaviours in workplaces can lead to employees integrating these behaviours in their personal lives. It provides an in-depth review of the workplaces of four companies based in Victoria, BC: AbeBooks, Advanced Solutions, Archipelago Marine Research, and Smart Dolphins IT Solutions.


"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

- Albert Einstein

The next two years of our research will be focused on innovative solutions to problems that currently threaten our society and environment.  We are often barraged with media that only highlight the problems, which causes us to continually focus on problems. We know the issues, and now we need to look at the solutions.  It's time to get creative and think outside the box.  It's time to look to a better future.

Tips to success is a regular feature of this newsletter.



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Community Research Connections Newsletter
Editor: Robert Newell
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