88 Months: Municipal Councils’ Climate Change Challenge

EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE – Our place. Not just where we’re from but where we live.

Indigenous peoples know the consequences of being torn away from their places or having them destroyed. Climate change in this area may not uproot us in that profound way but it will radically alter our “sense of place.” We can prepare for that. The upcoming municipal elections 24 October are one way to start.

Nature is the great shaper of both ourselves and where we live – comparable to the way wind twists the form of the toughest tree and water carves rock, the way local weather and soil determine local farmers traditional crops. Local landmarks signify home to us. Local artists give us icons and metaphors for this place. Even the rigours of our ancestors living off the land may still shape us genetically and through family stories passed down through elders. Such things create a “sense of place.”

Here in the Peterborough area, we have emotional attachment to our place. Its attractions are not just for tourists’ pleasure. To local residents, it’s both home and getaway for inner joy and mental health. We bike, hike, camp, garden, farm, create more green spaces to let in again what the soul laments is disappearing.

Climate change and its disasters can cause strong, disruptive emotions like grief and “solastalgia.” Feeling “unmoored” points to the importance of being situated, rooted. And when hardship strikes, we reach out for help and human attachments in our place.

Solastalgia
Is the awareness of the changes and disaster related to destruction of place; the homesickness you have when you are still have “home” and your home environment is changing in ways you find distressing.

Albrecht, G. (2005) Solastalgia: A New Concept in Health and Identity. PAN Partners

This is when community becomes essential.

In cities especially, buffers like income, housing type and location, technology, commuting, lack of access to Nature, and a relatively benign climate can insulate us from strong attachment to where we live. Even worse for that attachment are the increasing climate-related disasters, some recent, like May’s derecho storm, others anticipated in dire climate change forecasts.

The antidote to this is to create a strong sense of community where, together, we can process our emotions, receive solace and material aid, and reflect on our future. Times of crisis give us a common lens for all our local priorities and decisions. Elections times give us a chance to define them.

Current municipal elections through the lens of community-building

The Greenzine suggests that voters look for the priority of community building in all Candidates’ platforms and beyond into the next Councils’ actions.

How aware of the climate crisis are they? Are they knowledgeable about its impacts and their own municipality’s Plans for them? What do they say about building community cohesion? How do they show they value co-operation, mutuality, shared planning? How will they meaningfully honour the knowledge and experience of ordinary citizens in municipal governance deliberations?

From now to 2030 is the time scientists and the United Nations give us to keep our community’s temperature under the 1.5 C. rise to minimize runaway climate catastrophes. That’s 88 months or seven and a half years away. Let us make the Councillors elected this October the ones who have the courage and foresight to make resilient community-building the hallmark of these coming critical 7½ years.

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