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Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan

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In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. "So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!," wrote Ian McHarg.

BEYOND THE GUIDEBOOK 2015: To download a copy of “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”……

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Five Regional Districts representing 75% of BC’s population are partners in the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI). A program deliverable is the Beyond the Guidebook 2015. It is a progress report on how local governments are ‘learning by doing’ to implement affordable and effective science-based practices. It is the third in a series that builds on Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia.

Convening for Action in British Columbia

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"Convening for Action is a provincial initiative that supports innovation on-the-ground. From the perspective of those leading and/or participating in regional programs, having this community-of-interest provides the opportunity to 'tell our story' and 'record our history' as a work-in-progress," states Ray Fung.

WORKSHOP ANNOUNCEMENT (Nov 28, 2017): “The flood, drought and fire extremes of 2017 provide both the backdrop and a focus for the Blue Ecology Workshop,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia

"Opportunities for land use, infrastructure servicing and asset management practitioners to make a difference are at the time of (re)development. To those folks we say: share and learn from those who are leading change; design with nature; 'get it right’ at the front-end of the project; build-in 'water resilience'; create a lasting legacy," wrote Kim Stephens. "The Partnership spotlight is on how to 'bridge the gap' between talk and action. That is mission possible."

BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP – MODULE 4 (Nov 28, 2017): “Blue Ecology is a means to focus, with new watery eyes, because an attitude switch needs to be thrown on the current crisis of climate change,” says Michael Blackstock, independent scholar and developer of the Blue Ecology ecological philosophy

“Hydrologists and water managers can help build a brighter future by rediscovering the meaning of water, and interweaving the predominant Western analytical models with the more intuitive indigenous models," stated Michael Blackstock. “Blue Ecology is an incremental example of how we can interweave cultural perspectives on water, but that is just a starting point in this new era of interweaving."

SUSTAINABLE WATERSHED SYSTEMS: “The Partnership understanding of hydrology and watershed management issues in the Pacific Northwest provides some intriguing insights,” stated Dr. Charles Rowney, Scientific Authority, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia (September 2017)

In September 2017, the Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia announced the re-build of the waterbalance.ca website. It now provides easy access to an array of 11 online decision support tools and calculators. “The leadership shown by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in decisively moving in this direction well over a decade ago has led to a body of knowledge from which others can learn,” stated Dr. Rowney.

DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCE: Flood, Drought, Fire, Wind and Cold – because extreme events are becoming the norm, communities need to progress along a continuum to achieve “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” (September 2017)

“The Partnership for Water Sustainability is evolving online tools that support implementation of the whole-system, water balance approach. British Columbia, Washington State and California are leaders. We are moving forward in parallel on this journey," stated Jim Dumont. “Real-world success would be defined as reduced stream erosion during wet weather, and sustained ‘environmental flows’ during dry weather."

REGISTER NOW for an inspirational workshop on “Blue Ecology – interweaving First Nations cultural knowledge and Western science” (November 28, 2017 in Richmond)

"For the fifth straight year, the Irrigation Industry Association of BC and the Partnership for Water Sustainability are partnering to co-host a workshop that will mainstream a 'big idea' and provide professional developmentabout water management in BC,” states Kim Schaefer. "This year the workshop moves back to the Lower Mainland after being held in the Okanagan (2016), Lower Mainland (2013, 2015) and on Vancouver Island (2014)."

Published in 2017, “downstream: reimagining water” is an anthology that envisions an intergenerational, culturally inclusive, participatory water ethic to tackle climate change; and includes a chapter by Michael Blackstock on ‘interweaving’

“This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming,” wrote Dr. Dorothy Christian, co-editor. She is dedicated to building and strengthening any alliances with non-Indigenous communities who are open to hearing how Indigenous ways of knowing informs relationships amongst all living things.

FLASHBACK TO 2009: “The Role of Water Resources Management” (Proceedings of a symposium held on the island of Capri, Italy) – Michael Blackstock’s work on Blue Ecology recognized by the International Association of Hydrological Sciences

"Water is a core human interest upon which we can build collaborative cross-cultural climate change strategies," wrote Michael Blackstock. "No longer is our goal 'sustainable development'—to plan for a high standard of living for our children. Our goal must now be 'sustainable survival'—to plan and behave in a cross-culturally collaborative manner that ensures children, generations from now, can survive with dignity in a world where respect for water and our climate is ubiquitous."

Climate Change, Nature’s Services & Thinking Like a Watershed on Vancouver Island: Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium started a regional conversation about “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” (March 2017)

The Comox Valley faces a long list of challenges as more frequent and intense winter storms and summer droughts overwhelm engineered infrastructure and natural systems.The Symposium introduced participants to a whole-system, water balance approach for restoration of watershed health. “The symposium spotlight was on the potentially powerful and cost-effective role that ecosystem services can play in an infrastructure strategy," stated Tim Ennis.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “The BC Process for moving from Awareness to Action, and achieving the vision for Sustainable Watershed Systems, is founded on alignment, collaboration and partnerships,” stated Kim Stephens at the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium (March 2017)

"In British Columbia, we have this unique model called top-down, bottom-up. It is the synthesis that results when you have an over-arching provincial policy framework and then all the players embrace shared responsibility," stated Kim Stephens. "If we can change the ethic, so that the land ethic becomes the water ethic, then the key is establishing precedents for doing things differently. Once you establish the precedents for designing with nature, then they can be replicated in other communities."

British Columbia loses a champion for the environment: Jim Walker (1942-2017), former Assistant Deputy, BC Ministry of Environment

Jim Walker was revered by colleagues in the provincial government and beyond for his efforts to preserve natural areas around B.C. In a newspaper opinion piece published in 2013, he bemoaned what he saw as a lack of exposure to nature for many. “If this early intimacy and connection with nature is absent, will people still have an appreciation of the natural world?” he wrote. “Probably not.” Jim Walker served in government for 28 years. He helped to develop and deliver a number of high-profile provincial initiatives.