This weekend I finally left Vancouver for a few days, the first time that's happened since March 2020.
It would have been magical to finally be able to travel no matter what the circumstances but spending this time away with 40 people on a Southern Gulf Island celebrating an transcontinental love that overcame pandemics, structural barriers, bureaucratic nightmares, prejudice and stigma to get to "yes, we do" this weekend was a next level re-entry. Because of the restrictions on the size of gathering and remote location, all the work of hosting, feeding, feting and cleaning up was also done by the guests: an up close and personal reminder of the power of community coming together.
Perhaps it was the anticipation of this that led me to feel like there were a few more good news stories than usual this past week in amongst the weather disasters, human tragedy and democracies in crisis that have been regularly flowing through my social media feed and in box.
Indeed science would suggest this may be exactly what happened. Thinking is complex and energy-intensive so our brains are designed to take a lot of shortcuts. If most of what we are reading is bad news, we are much more apt to see the bad things about our own lives and about the people we spend time with.
Conversely, priming our mental pump with some good news helps us to fire the neural networks in our brains that pay more attention to the positive things happening in our lives and the positive actions of those around us.
The point here is not to stop seeing the bad news. The good news (irony intended) is that our brains already have a negativity bias so we don't have to put any energy at all into finding bad news.
But if we want a better chance at seeing the good things happening in our own lives it helps to have a practice of actively looking for good news happening in the world around us. Given all the challenges in the world around us right now there has never been a better time to make sure we aren't missing the good things in our lives, and in the world, that make those challenges worth overcoming.
Recently I joined the Scholars at Risk and Human Rights Collective for a discussion about Critical Hope. Dr. Peter Biar Ajak, a prominent civil society leader, political dissident, and scholar from South Sudan, had some inspiring and powerful reflections while UBC's Dr. Kari Grain provided a critical framework from her upcoming book on critical hope.
Its a very tight labour market, especially in the world of public service and policy-making. Even if you're not looking for a change yourself, please consider forwarding these to people you think might be interested.
- Metro Vancouver is looking for someone to fill the position of Communications and Education Coordinator in Solid Waste Services for up to 18 months to backfill a mat leave. If you're the kind of person always trying to help your friends and family refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle this may be the job for you!
- The BC Office of Indigenous Health is looking for 2 policy analysts. Note: Due to the nature of the work, only people of Indigenous heritage are being considered.
- City Studio is looking for a Program Coordinator. A great job for public policy grads looking to bridge community and government, the Program Coordinator is a matchmaker for 30+ relationships to support the space where student learning and policy innovation collide in the best possible way.
- Oil Change International is looking for a Global Campaigns Director and a Regional Programs Director to head up their growing campaigns to shift the world off of fossil fuels.
- Carbon Engineering is looking for a Policy and Engagement Lead - International Organizations
THINGS TO CHECK OUT THIS WEEK
On to the good news:
My personal favourite story of the week: Dozens of rare sei whales spotted by researchers in 'unprecedented' sighting off B.C.'s coast
But a (potentially) more important story to follow is the EU Climate Plan: EU aims to "give humanity a fighting chance" with catch-all climate plan. Note that good news isn't the same as perfect news. There's a long way to go yet to get to the level of ambition needed but this is the biggest step yet and it couldn't have come at a more needed time.
Canada's biggest city Toronto just endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. The treaty is a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels and support a just transition. It's a three-pronged approach that calls on government to (1) stop building new fossil fuel capacity and infrastructure, (2) commit to phasing out existing fossil fuel infrastructure and (3) support a just transition for workers in the fossil fuel sector. Full disclosure: I sit on the steering committee.
The BC government is the first province in Canada to create a Hydrogen Fuel Strategy. It's not a fuel that will work for everything or everyone in a climate safe world - or even most people and things - but for some its the only zero-emission answer available right now so leadership and thoughtful policy creation is key. Its tough to go first but it will inspire others to follow.
And finally the price of carbon in Europe traded above 50 euros per tonne for the first time in April. But it didn't stop there. Prices have been steeply rising all over the world the past few months, bringing some hope that carbon markets will start to play a more significant role in climate action.
THINGS I LEARNED IN THE PANDEMIC
As a committed mushroom lover that lives in an apartment in a big city without a car, I had resigned myself to eating commercially produced creminis and portobellos with the occasional wild forage from friends who can out to the forests at the right times of the year or the Farmer's Market. But during the pandemic I found two exciting new options:
- West Coast Wild Foods does a full range of locally harvested mushrooms as well as other foraged delights like fiddleheads, sea asparagus and spruce tips.
- My kid ordered us some Grow Your Own Mushroom kits from Happy Caps Mushroom Farm. We got the oyster mushrooms which produced a lot of bounty in the shade on my balcony for a few months until the heat wave hit.
THE LAST WORD
- Learning! Life is short and neuroplasticity is a real thing so I try to intentionally learn at least one new thing every day. If you're looking to stretch your brain a bit, Apolitical is running a free five week , self-paced summer writing masterclass for public servants and policy makers.
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