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Turning Ideas Into Action

DESIGN WITH NATURE: “Man is that uniquely conscious creature who can perceive and express. He must become the steward of the biosphere. To do this, he must design with nature,” wrote Ian McHarg in Chapter 1 of his landmark book that is his enduring legacy (published in 1969)


More manifesto than scholarly text, Ian McHarg’s now-canonical book arrived amidst the tumult of an ascendant, leftist environmental movement—one that delivered a series of landmark political victories in the 1970s, a period that would become known as “the environmental decade.” It remains one of the best-selling books ever written by a designer, has been translated into Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, and remains in print today.

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TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION: “Getting to restorative development depends on finding a balance between short-term and long-term thinking,” stated Kim Stephens in his presentation at the Engineers & Geoscientists BC Annual Conference (October 2018)


Kim Stephens quoted from the work of Eva Kras – visionary, scholar and author. “Our present global and societal problem is that short-term thinking governs much of what we do,” says Eva Kras. “We need to re-learn basically ‘how we think’, using both the right and left hemispheres of our brain. Both ways of thinking are important, but the sad part is that we have convinced ourselves that the Left Hemisphere can do EVERYTHING.”

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Waterbucket eNews: Partnership for Water Sustainability launches a new season of “Celebrating the Champions” (September 2018 – June 2019)


“Local governments are implementers. This means they can be change leaders. They can integrate climate adaptation into the activities and actions of engineered and natural asset management – or flipping it around, integrate asset management into the activities and actions of climate adaptation. ‘Getting it right’ starts with recognition that hydrology is the engine that powers ecological services,” stated Kim Stephens. “Getting it right depends on provincial and local government alignment to require ‘design with nature’ standards of practice for servicing of land – so that communities decrease their ‘destructive footprint’ while at the same time increasing their ‘restoration footprint’.”

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“Released in March 2018, ‘Our Story’ provides a comprehensive picture of the integrated program that the Partnership is delivering under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan,” stated Mike Tanner, a founding Director of British Columbia’s Partnership for Water Sustainability


“The purpose of the Water Sustainability Action Plan is to build practitioner capacity to explore new ideas so that those in the local government setting whose decisions influence community and infrastructure design can build greener and more water resilient communities in British Columbia,” stated Mike Tanner. “While the Action Plan program has ongoing since 2004, the focus since 2012 has been on an initiative branded as ‘Sustainable Watershed Systems through Asset Management’. The desired outcome is to achieve settlement, economy and ecology in balance.”

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Reflections on Inter-Generational Learning: “Today, how does any young professional truly learn his or her trade when so much of daily life revolves around the use of ‘apps’ for instant answers or solutions?” pondered Wally Wells when reflecting on what it means to be a professional engineer


“The reality today is a very different work environment then what we ‘old guys’ grew up in,” stated Wally Wells. “That leads to a required dialogue of what communicating really means and how the message is received and interpreted by different generations. Maybe, just maybe, we take too much for granted based on what we individually know in trying to communicate asset management. We need to think very hard about the way we carry the message – with, I would suggest, more thought to the perception of the listener.”

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TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION: Sustainable Watershed Systems – a decade long journey has its genesis in the seminar that launched the Beyond the Guidebook Initiative (November 2007)


“The Stormwater Guidebook set in motion a chain of outcomes that has resulted in BC being recognized internationally as a leader in implementing a natural systems approach to rainwater management in the urban environment,” stated Minister of Environment Barry Penner in 2007. “The Convening for Action initiative creates an opportunity to move beyond rainwater management to embrace all components of the water cycle through integrated water management.”

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TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION: Implementing change in BC – “Beyond the Guidebook 2015” illustrated the process for moving a new idea or innovation from genesis to mainstream


“Everyone learns from stories and the most compelling ones are based on the experience of the champions who are leading implementation of watershed-based solutions,” wrote Richard Boase. “The rate of progress in implementing new ideas or standards of practice generally depends on the willingness of individual champions in local government to push the envelope in applying new approaches.”

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MISSION POSSIBLE: “Major breakthroughs happen when decision-makers in government work with grass-roots visionaries in the community,” stated Eric Bonham, founding member of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“Major breakthroughs happen when decision-makers in government work with grass-roots visionaries in the community to create the future desired by all. Collaboration grows from a shared vision about the future and commitment to action. This is the ‘top down and bottom up’ approach,” stated Eric Bonham.

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TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION: “Water as a Form-maker,” an op-ed by Tim Pringle, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia


“Nature shapes landscapes, and harbours ecological assets that support human settlements. Our communities and enterprises have an uneasy relationship with this master form-maker. Why this tension when it is in human nature to respond to the run of the land, the palette of flora, and sensations stirred by wind, water, wildlife and other whims of nature?” wrote Tim Pringle.

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Turning Ideas Into Action: Environment Deputy Minister lauds work of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC


“In particular the Partnership’s efforts to bring together five regional districts—Metro Vancouver, Capital Region, Cowichan Region, Nanaimo Region and Comox Valley—to implement the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative (IREI) has been particularly successful. This program is effectively demonstrating how to align regional and local actions with the provincial policy, program and regulatory framework,” wrote Wes Shoemaker.

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