Mission Possible: Creating Our Future on Vancouver Island



Eric bonham at 2009 resilient cities conference (360p)


The Blockage – Rethinking Organizational Principles for the 21st Century

“There is growing national and international interest in learning from the experience of British Columbia in moving from awareness to action in changing the way water and land practitioners do business on the ground,” reports EVA Kras, immediate Past-President of the Canadian Society of Ecological Economics (CANSEE) and author of The Blockage. Eva kras (80p)Her principal areas of applied research involve trans-cultural management The blockage - a book by eva kras - cover (240p)adaptations and sustainable development in trans-cultural organizations. She has published five books in the United States and Mexico related to her major areas of interest.

“It is generally accepted that we have a serious worldwide crisis related to environmental breakdown, as well as a rapid deterioriation in accompanying social and economic areas. In the midst of this crisis most major decision makers seem unable to find viable solutions despite developing sustainable sounding policies. Where is the blockage?


Align Vision, Education and Tools

“Through the partnership network that it has created under the umbrella of the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, the Water Sustainability Committee of the BC Water & Waste Association has seemingly found a way to flush the blockage. For this reason, we provided a platform at the Resilient Cities Conference for Eric Bonham and his colleagues to tell their story to an international audience,” explains Eva Kras.

In addition to Eric Bonham, the Water Sustainability Committee presentation team comprised Kim Stephens, Mike Tanner and Ted van der Gulik. To learn more about how they conducted the Action Plan module, click on Water Sustainability Committee links vision, education and tools in telling its story at 2009 Resilient Cities Conference.

“To initiate change so that we do business differently means….we set the vision based upon community values, support the vision with information and education, provide practical tools, seek partnerships and engage local decision makers,” explains Eric Bonham, Chair of the Highlands Stewardship Foundation on Vanouver Island, and a formerly a Director in the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs.


Creating Our Future: First, visualize what we want this place to look like

Eric Bonham opened his part of the “convening for action” storyline by telling an anecdote about John Muir, the American visionary who was responsible for the national parks system in the United States in the late 19th century.

“Everything is connected,” stated Eric Bonham. “John Muir managed to get the ear of President Teddy Roosevelt. He took the President to the top of Glacier Point in what is now Yosemite National Park. There they discussed the need for park protection.”

“The point of this story is that major breakthroughs happen when you have decision makers working with the grass-roots…where obviously John Muir represented the grass-roots and President Roosevelt was the senior policy maker in the United States.”


Everything is Connected

Eric Bonham quoted John Muir as having have said “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” He used this quote to draw a parallel with Convening for Action on Vancouver Island, known by the acronym CAVI.

“This is the approach that we are taking with CAVI. We are trying to connect people…up and down Vancouver Island…we are talking about creating our future,” he stated.

“When we refer The New Business As Usual, we mean that ‘design with nature’ will be everyday practice….and we will move to an approach that is cohesive, concerted and leads us to sustainability.”

“We are being bold in using the mantra: What do we want Vancouver Island to look like in 50 years? Rather than being guided by 3-year municipal and 4-year provincial government election cycles, we are saying….look 50 years out and backcast to determine what decisions we need to make now to create the future that we want.”


Link to You Tube Video

A video clip has been uploaded to YouTube to provide a record and capture the flavour of how Eric Bonham introduced the Mission Possible storyline at the Resilient Cities Conference. To watch the video, click here.

To download the set of PowerPoint slides that accompany the YouTube video, click on CAVI – Mission Possible.



About the Resilient Cities Conference

Sustainability imperatives, the call for climate action, and the pressure for new approaches in almost every urban system have North American cities scrambling to manage the shift toward ecological practices and greater resilience.

To provide solutions to these challenges, three organizations – the  Center for Urban Innovation,  Smart Growth BC,and the Canadian Society of Ecological Economics (CANSEE) – combined forces to co-host Resilient Cities: Urban Strategies for Transition Times in October 2009. The conference was held in Vancouver.


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Posted November 2009