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


“And Now for Something…” by Deborah Wachter

Aug 15 – Sep 2 all day

Campbell River artist Deborah Wachter’s work is more about the act of painting rather than the image. Her work is created by juxtaposition and using elements of composition and design to bring a piece to completion, sometimes using subtraction of elements to bring focus. Deborah earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Victoria with painting as her major area of study. After university Deborah sat as a board member of the Kelowna Art Centre Society assisting in the development of the Rotary Centre for The Arts in Kelowna BC. As part of the building committee she worked with city planners to establish a venue for artists to create and showcase their work.

Deborah took a hiatus from painting after university, instead using photography to focus her visual knowledge. She has now combined her love of painting, together with her enhanced vision to create a body of work which feels familiar, with a touch of surrealism and irony thrown in. Working in her home studio it often takes many months to complete a piece as they need to evolve through time. Her work is influenced by artists such as Rene Magritte, Alex Coleville, Edward Hopper and many others who have come before, as well as her own life experience.

Recently Deborah has had a piece selected as part of the juried show “Salt Spring National Art Prize 2017”. Her work was selected from 2160 entries from across Canada to be part of a group of 51 artists whose works will be displayed. The show runs from sept 22 to oct 22 at the Mahon Hall on Salt Spring Island.

Deborah’s current work will be on display at the Pearl Ellis Gallery in Comox, BC from August 15, 2017 to September 2, 2017. There will be a reception on Saturday August 19, 2017 at the gallery from 1-4 pm. Please come by to meet the artist and see her show titled “And Now for Something…”



Aug 24 @ 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm

Gate 6:30/Show 7:30

Tickets are currently available online via or our FaceBook page @LIVEinFilbergPark


Evergreen Club Friday Night Dance

Aug 25 @ 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm

Evergreen Club is a 55+ active social hub! Grab your friends & neighbours and come on out for a night of fun dancing. Enjoy the live music in the lower Rotary Hall at Courtenay Recreation’s Filberg Centre! $7.00 members, $9.00 non-members at the door. Dancing is from 7:30pm to 10:30pm. With a break at 9pm. FMI call the Filberg Office at 250-338-1000.



Innisfree Farm Hosts Vegan Dine Out

Aug 28 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This coming Monday Aug. 28th at 6:00 pm Innisfree Farm and Botanical Garden at 3636 Trent Rd in Royston will host this month’s Earthsave vegan dine out. Hosts Thierry and Chanchal have put together a buffet menu featuring ingredients from their organic farm. The buffet will be served outdoors at the farm and guests are invited to tour the gardens before and after dinner.

The menu is: Gazpacho w’ garlic croutons. Mediterranean Timbale, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, spelt flour (can replace that with corn to make it GF) carrots, onions, garlic, lots of herbs, cashew cream with basil. Mixed Grain Pilaf. Mixed Salad. Fresh Raspberries w’ Chocolate Brownies and crystallized lavender. Selection of iced and hot herbal teas.

The evening is by reservation only and the cost is $25 for adults and $15 for kids to age 12 including taxes and tips. To reserve call Bob at Earthsave ph. 250-338-0751. For more on Innisfree Farm and their Green Dream Cafe visit

Mens Singing Workshop

Aug 28 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Do you like to sing in the shower? You’re the tops at karaoke? Want to sing but not sure what to do? Sing now, but would like to figure out what this harmony singing is all about? Like a safe place to try out your voice?

Why not take in this free (yes, free) 1 ½ hour workshop and have a try at singing with a group of men? Starting at 7:00 p.m., running for 1 ½ hours, we’ll finish at 8:30 p.m. and can then return to our families or take a swift pint at a local pub!

We will learn some harmony songs that we can sing together. There will be no music to read, you do not have to have sung in a group before. The event is open to men of all ages, and prior choral singing experience is not required.

The session is sponsored by Celebration Singers and will be led by Jenn Forsland, well-known local performer and choir director in the Comox Valley. She will be aided and abetted by Sean Mooney, the go-to piano accompanist in the Valley. There are some basics to learn, if you haven’t done singing before, and we will start with those. Very quickly the group will be singing together in harmony.

Group singing is on the rise in the Comox Valley, with a wide variety of choirs to choose from. The Celebration Singers are sponsoring this workshop in the hopes that the experience will encourage some men to think about joining our male singers in the tenor and bass sections of the choir. But there is no obligation, this workshop is all about having fun, singing together and learning in this one-time workshop environment.


Project Watershed’s Second Annual Salmon BBQ

Sep 9 @ 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Join Project Watershed Saturday, September 9th, 2017 at 40 KNOTS Vineyard & Estate Winery for the second annual salmon BBQ.  

Starting at 4pm, this wonderful event features  Cory Frank’s Catering of a salmon BBQ, a tasting from 40 Knots Winery and some sampling of locally brewed beers.

To August 15 – $55.00
After August 15 – $65.00

Contact Project Watrshed via email at to reserve your tickets.


Strathcona Wilderness Institute Nature Camp @ Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Centre

Sep 12 – Sep 15 all day

Strathcona Wilderness Institute Nature Camp 2017

September 12th to 15th

SWI announces its annual fundraising “Nature Camp”, being held this year at Paradise Meadows/Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Centre from September 12th to 15th. This SWI retreat event features two full-day field trips (on the Wednesday and Thursday) and three evening presentations, plus the possibility of additional half day walks from the
Paradise Meadows Trailhead on the Tuesday and Thursday.

Full day Field trips will visit a) Croteau Lake and b) McKenzie Lakes & Meadows. Pace will be slow, stopping to observe plant and animal life en route. On the field trips there will be instruction in Basic Mushroom Identification. Evening Presentations include the History of the Park and SWI (Marlene and Steve Smith), First Nations Foodways (Sharon Niscak) Subalpine Ecology (Loys Maingon) and the Vancouver Island Marmot ( Adam Taylor/ Cheney Jackson).

The Strathcona Wilderness Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire awareness, appreciation and stewardship of the natural world through education and participation. The Institute works through a cooperative agreement with BC Parks at two locations in Strathcona Park – the Wilderness Centre at Paradise Meadows and the Buttle Lake Information Hut – offering a range of programmes and publications for visitors to the Park. All activities are conducted by volunteers, with some help from students employed through the Canada Summer Jobs for Students programme, so this Nature Camp is intended as a Fundraiser to support SWI’s programmes and the operation of the Strathcona Park Wilderness Centre.

The Registration form is downloadable from our Website:

Please note that the Deadline for Registration is August 28th 2017.

For more information, contact Alison: or 250-331-0143.

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