Category: Tony de Castro

Book Review -‘A Short History of Progress’

by Tony de  Castro Ronald Wright starts his compact overview of the concept of progress by talking about myths. These are cultural maps that allow us to make sense of our past, our values, and our priorities. They are not necessarily based on facts, but they allow us to justify our way of life. Examples of myths are the belief that we are “civilized” and our enemies are “savages”, that under capitalism our societies can grow indefinitely in a finite planet, that tomorrow will always be better than today. But, as Wright will argue again and again in this...

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Book Review – Pandora’s Seed

by Tony de Castro Spencer Wells is known for his previous genetic and anthropological research on how the human race populated the planet. In his 2010 book, Pandora’s Seed: The Unknown Cost of Civilization, Wells later reviewed how the invention of agriculture and the creation of cities have drastically altered our way of life and created challenges that we don’t seem to know how to overcome. Although new research is pushing the dates even further back, it is roughly estimated that humans originally came out of Africa in significant numbers at least 60,000 years ago and spread around our...

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Dark Age Ahead – Book review by Tony de Castro

Jane Jacobs’ last book (Dark Age Ahead, 2004), reminds us that all cultures eventually reach a dead end, their very own “Dark Age.” In many western countries, she argues, we show signs of rushing into such a new Dark Age. In previous articles I have talked about some big problems we have been ignoring at our peril on this planet. Global warming, overpopulation, deforestation and the loss of topsoil, shrinking aquifers, loss of biological diversity, and our toxic version of capitalism are some of the factors that are likely to send us into another Dark Age. Jane Jacobs chooses...

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On the future of agriculture in the Comox Valley – by Tony de Castro

In a previous article I reviewed the book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. You can read that article at The book’s author, the geologist David Montgomery, argues that throughout history civilizations that had more people than their land base could feed eventually crashed. Montgomery advocates protecting a community’s agricultural land and ensuring the topsoil remains healthy and free from toxic substances if we want to avoid a similar fate. How does any of this apply to the Comox Valley? One would think, as we live in an area considered by many as having great agricultural potential, that protecting...

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Book Review – Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations – by Tony de Castro

Taking a composting class a few years ago, I remember the instructor commenting that one person in a previous class had dropped out very early after looking at a compost pile because the organic matter was, according to the student, “dirty and smelly”. In North America we often use the word “dirt” as a generic term to describe a range of types of earth or soil. This perhaps implies in the minds of some that we somehow consider soil not valuable or clean, something to be avoided. And children in large urban environments, where most surfaces are paved over,...

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Book review: The Race for What’s Left – by Tony de Castro

Politicians are always telling us that we need to vote for them because they will implement “growth” policies in the economy. We apparently need to support economic expansion at all costs and we need to consume more and more to keep things going. The implication is that an economy that is growing is a healthy economy in a healthy society. In his book The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, Michael T. Klare throws a veritable tsunami of facts at us which indicate that, while our demand for resources to power the world...

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Permaculture Book Review – by Tony de Castro

Some permaculture books can be a bit “dry” for those of us who want to just go into our garden and apply the concepts immediately. ‘Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture’ by Toby Hemenway is one of my favourite resources on this topic. This is mainly because the book is such a user-friendly introduction for people who want to learn and apply the basic principles of permaculture. Although many of the ideas behind permaculture had already been discussed under different terminologies in various countries years before, the term was introduced by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Australia...

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Book Review (part 2) – by Tony de Castro

Review: Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate” (second of two installments) Note: Part one of this review may be read here: In the first installment of this article we covered Naomi Klein’s premise that global warming will seriously damage (and in some cases destroy) a large percentage of our planetary ecosystems unless we do something radical and do it soon. A number of examples were given to indicate that it is fair to say that Klein’s arguments on global warming are supported by a broad range of scientific data. You can find that article here ( link). Let’s now look at her second premise. I said earlier in this article that I had a lot of sympathy for Klein’s linking of capitalism and global warming, but that I also had some misgivings. While the quest for unlimited and eternal growth has partly got us into this mess, I would like to argue that Klein seems to ignore another elephant in the room. While capitalism is the foot on the accelerator pedal that is getting us closer and closer to the brick wall of the carrying capacity of this planet, overpopulation is perhaps an equally important factor. Even if we manage to stop all global warming emissions tomorrow, we still have a human population on this planet that needs to be fed and housed every day. We...

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Community Calendar

People’s Choice Award Members’ Show
Jun 27 – Jul 22 all day

The Pearl Ellis Gallery will kick off its 39th summer season with its 12th Members People’s Choice Awards Show and Sale. The show runs from June 27 to July 22. The gallery is open from 10:00 to 4:00 Tuesday to Saturday and is located at 1729 Comox Avenue in Comox.

After looking at the beautiful art that will be on display for sale the public and membership is welcome to vote on their favorite piece The Members show will showcase a variety of painting, fabric art and sculpture representing many fine artists in the Comox Valley. The winner will receive gift certificates from Whyte’s framing and Benjamin Moore Paints.. As well the second

and third place winners will receive gift certificates from Benjamin Moore Paints. The winners will be drawn on Saturday July 15 and announced in the paper and on our web-site.

Please come to our Reception which will be held on Saturday July 8 from 1 to 4. and talk with the many artists represented and sample some tasty treats.

Also please visit our web-site at

Birth of a Family – Aboriginal History Month Film
Jun 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

As Canadians prepare to celebrate Canada Day, many Indigenous Canadians, whose ancestors have been here for centuries, reflect upon the negative impacts of colonization during the past 150 years. Join us at 7 pm on Wednesday, June 28th at the K’omoks Band Hall for a free film screening of Birth of a Family about the infamous“ Sixties Scoop” of Indigenous children.

Three sisters and a brother, adopted as infants into separate families across North America, meet together for the first time in this deeply moving documentary. Removed from their young Dene mother’s care as part of Canada’s Sixties Scoop, Betty Ann, Esther, Rosalie and Ben were four of the 20,000 Indigenous children taken from their families between 1955 and 1985, to be either adopted into white families or to live in foster care.

As the four siblings piece together their shared history, their connection deepens, bringing laughter with it, and their family begins to take shape. Tragically, for a myriad of reasons, these reunions don’t always go as well as the one shared in the film.

Filmmaker Tasha Hubbard, also scooped in the 1960s, talks about witnessing the siblings as they hugged one another when they first met at the Calgary airport. “ It was a victory, a thumbing of the nose to the Canadian and provincial governments that decided to extend the residential school system to a more pervasive policy of permanently removing children from their families, which intended that children would never go home, never know their Indigenous history, culture, and language…”

World Community is pleased to join with The Immigrant Welcome Society and the Comox Valley Transition Society to co-sponsor this free informative event.

A panel discussion will follow the film. Everyone is welcome to attend. See the film trailer at
FMI: (250) 897-0511

Paradise Meadows in Bloom.
Jul 2 @ 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

A guided tour around the Meadows loops identifying the subalpine flowers in bloom. It will be a leisurely 2+ hours walk, dogs on leash with permission. Meet at the Wilderness Centre, Paradise Meadows.

FMI and to register, email Alison:

Wine & Cheese, Chocolate & Beer Festival
Jul 2 @ 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm

The Big Yellow Merville hall is gearing up for the first Wine & Cheese, Chocolate & Beer festival on Sunday, July 2nd, in celebration of 150 years of the Canadian confederation. Vendors are being lined up and the hall will be welcoming visitors to sit in comfort, listen to jazz music, view artwork and sample innovative food pairings from local sources here in the Comox Valley, Land of Plenty. From 1pm to 6pm there will be representatives from Valley vineyards and breweries as well as an in house chef who will conjure up some exciting offerings for the hungry palate. Local farmers and artisans will also be setting up their colourful tents so that you can do all your weekly grocery and gift shopping in one place.

With the help of the community, the worker bee board members are upgrading the hall and grounds and are on the way to creating a heritage tourist site that will recount Merville’s past and encourage, through community demonstration garden plots, sustainable living for the future. The main hall interior has just received a fresh coat of paint, thanks to the help of Anne Davies who wished to make it a more presentable space for her husband’s recent celebration of life. Other community members have gathered at the 102 year old church and manse on the site to gleefully strip them out and reroof the buildings with durable metal. These historic buildings will help to give the site a sense of “antiquity” and even the main hall will be celebrating its 65th anniversary next year. Whoa! Another gumboot senior in Merville!

The July 2nd Wine & Cheese, Chocolate & Beer festival is the first of its kind in the Valley and is sure to become an annual tradition, so set aside some time on Sunday afternoon to attend. Bring your appetite, a lawn chair and some doubloons to spend on local fare in country air. For vendor information, visit the Merville hall website ( or call Dawn at 250-941-2064.

Courtenay-Comox NDP Annual General Meeting
Jul 9 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Meeting: Starts at 1:30 pm
Key note address: Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA report
For more information please call Rick Dobson, President at 250-336-8944 or email

CYMC Musical Theatre Presents: Catch Me If You Can
Jul 18 @ 7:30 pm – Jul 22 @ 9:30 pm

Catch Me If You Can is a fast, rollicking musical based on the hit film and the incredible true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., one of the world’s most famous and charming con artists.

Performances from July 18th-22nd @ 7:30pm-9:30pm with a Matinee on the 22nd @ 2:00pm.
Ticket prices are 27$ regular and 25$ for Matinee.
For all ages.

Jul 21 – Jul 23 all day

You will learn to dye with indigo crystals and contact print with leaves.

July 21- 23, 2017 in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, BC

For More Information contact Genoa Daniel or Norma Janes

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