Monday, September 24, 2007

Competition and Zen

What is the Zen reaction to competition in the business world? The traditional model makes competition "the enemy", but the reality is that few businesses are so closely aligned with their competitors products and services that they are even reemotely a commercial threat. Further, a more zen approach to business immediately widens the gap in both products and service between the zen company and any competition, since few companies understand the way a zenentrepreneurial approach to business rapidly moves a business to a higher level significantly immune to competitive pressures.

I can quite honestly say that there is no real competition to my group of companies. Sure there are companies that import and sell food products, there are distributors everywhere ... but the essential elements that define Qualifirst also separate it from the pack. It frees up a lot of time when you drop any shackles of competitive fear. When you take the economic future of the people that work with you seriously and address financial needs fairly and insist on serious work, most people respond.

Happy people do not move to other companies and happy people make the company thrive. Turnover is - after all - people leaving, ... for a reason. It is both logical and Zen for business owners and managers to tackle the reasons people leave rather than get mired in the tarpits of recruitment. Alaska Airlines did this and discovered they were actually hiring 5% of their staff on a continuous basis. This costly churning of resources was stopped its tracks when psychological tests were added to the recruitment to ensure the people hired were fundamentally oriented towards the customer rather than ego-centric. Turnover dropped like a stone in a pool of water.

You spend your time on doing better rather than watching your neighbour for signs of prosperity. I wish people in the industry well, even if they sell into my customers similar products. In most cases I have the better product and "the high ground". I will take the high ground, in both quality and behaviour, every day of the week instead of an extra few thousand dollars. Every one of my competitors have some redeeming features, and I assure you many have horror stories, which I ignore. I wish them well, and since I have absolutely no input into how they behave, I avoid critical comment unless asked.

I recently spent a considerable amount of time lecturing a friend of mine on how to organize and international import export company. The owner was so impressed, she flew in from Germany to see this strange person and sit in one of the sessions where I went into some detail about how to run this kind of business. Time well spend? On the surface ... no. Zentrepreneurism is not about the surface, but about the depths of business ... and freely helping people creates business undercurrents of surprising strength.

-Yves Farges, Founder/CEO Qualifirst Foods

One hell of a woman and her mosquito

I've just been told that the woman in whose hands the world would always change for the better passed away. At 64, much too early, Anita Roddick, left us. What a brave soul she was, never afraid to address the painful issues in our societies. She was never interested in being politically correct or in even being sensitive to her audience, she would just speak from her heart. She fought injustice with all her energy and passion.

What a drive she had...! There were only a very few bridges too far for her. She got far, very far, because she dared to cross whatever challenge was in front of her. From a tiny shop in Brighton, she created, together with her husband Gordon, one of the first companies - The Body Shop - that really did business just for social change. Yet for me, the most important part of her legacy is not her company - it is the simple fact that every individual can indeed change the world. "Just do it", could have been her tagline. So she lived. No regrets.

Well, perhaps one, she said to me a few years ago. In hindsight, she would have never let The Body Shop go to the stock exchange. In the end, that decision made her instrument for social change part of the world of money and that meant that ultimately The Body Shop had to play by its rules. There is probably nothing that frustrated her more.

I remember the time she cooked a spaghetti dinner for me in her home in the English countryside (she was always proud of her Italian roots). That evening, I tried to convince her about the importance of the media being more positive and more optimistic to inspire and stimulate people. She listened as well as she could, but I could tell I wasn't really reaching her. In her eyes and thoughts I could read too much other pain and global injustice that needed her energy. And, I felt at the moment that she was probably right. The world needs troublemakers to stand up for the issues that we all know that we need to fight for but that few of us actually do.

The world needed Anita Roddick. The world still needs us to stand up for the good causes that keep calling us. When it came to spreading the word – about Ode Magazine, about anything, and whether or not the size of a campaign would matter, she would always say, "If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito."

There will be places where people will feel a sense of relief because they now know that they will never again be confronted by Anita's passion. Let's make a vow that we will stand there in her name. I will.

- Jurriaan Kamp, Publisher Ode Magazine

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Political Exploitation of Science

I have a fundamental belief in two sides to every story. So it is not suprising that I came across this rather interesting perspective from an author who has to remain nameless, beause I can't find the source. This is not my writing, so everything here needs to be quoted from an unamed source. It does however offer up significant arguments that make sense when it comes to the "global warming" debate, and the political and corporate opportunists that have been capitlaizing on fear and paranoia. It simply looks good when you are green! It's a long read, but worth the time.

"The exploitation of climate science for purely political goals is occurring throughout the developed world. For example, politicians in Canada have started to ban inexpensive and convenient technologies such as light bulbs, coal fired electricity generation and used oil heating to "stop climate change." They can't show how the alternatives being promoted will actually help the environment – we are expected to simply believe that such sacrifices for the climate will benefit us all, even if real pollution levels rise, food prices increase as agricultural land is converted to biofuels production and millions of birds are cut to pieces by wind turbines.

‘Believe' is the key word here, not ‘think'. Even the United States, previously one of the last bastions of common sense in climate wars, is being swept up in this dangerous movement. Besides the rise of ex-Vice President Al Gore to the status of climate change ‘superstar', rhetoric has reached a fever pitch in the U.S. Senate now that an environmental extremist, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, has taken over as Chair of the powerful Committee on Environment and Public Works. Exposing her extraordinary naivetĂ© Boxer maintains, "The American people have the will to slow, stop, and reverse global warming, and they sent a new cast of characters to Washington, and people are really hopeful that this new Congress will be able to do it." Claiming Gore as her hero, Boxer has even initiated an "online thank you card to Al Gore… -- thanking him for everything he has done to stop global warming!" To date, it has attracted over 77,000 endorsers.

Along with Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders and a handful of other Democrats, Boxer is promoting the ludicrously titled "Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act", also referred to as the" Sanders/Boxer bill, S.309". The phrase ‘global warming pollution' is wildly inappropriate but is used repeatedly by Gore, Boxer and others in the hopes that the public will look upon their actions as honest attempts to help the environment by reducing pollution. In reality, the major target of the act, Gore's crusade and other futile attempts to ‘stop climate change' (e.g. the Kyoto Protocol) is carbon dioxide (CO2), a gas essential to life and in no way a pollutant.

Using the sweeping and more threatening sounding term "greenhouse gases" (of which CO2 is only one), environmental alarmists clearly hope the public don't wake up to the fact that they are really speaking mostly about the benign gas CO2. While many politicians know very well that CO2 emission reduction is pointless and will have little if any impact on climate, some truly don't know the difference between CO2 and pollution – witness the Boxer-like statement of Canadian Liberal MP Joe Volpe before entering the House of Commons to vote in favour of Canada's ratification of Kyoto in 2002, "For all intents and purposes, there isn't anybody that I know that doesn't want cleaner air and a cleaner environment, so why would you vote no?"

Divorcing themselves entirely from science, political opportunists proceed to claim the moral high ground by appealing to our natural instinct to protect children. Combining such sentiments with religiosity and an adolescent ‘we can do anything' approach, they end up with assertions so removed from the real world as to be laughable, were the consequences not so serious.

"Just as we lift our children up to feed them, and we hold them close to comfort them, and to protect them from any manner of harm, just as we would never, ever leave them trapped in a locked car in the hot sun, we must protect them from global warming." Boxer told an April 14, 2007 National Press Club audience. "The ancient religious writings say, "See to it that you do not destroy my world for there is no one to repair it after you." Today for us, it should be simple. Working Together we can reverse Global Warming! We must lead on this issue, not follow; its our job. I truly believe when we do our job, our country and our families will be better and stronger and the world will be safer."

Of course we have no chance of "reversing global warming" (and why would we want to? Global cooling is far more dangerous and climate is never constant). Boxer's rhetoric is simply an appeal to emotion over rational thought. Such an unscientific stance is bad for society and, ultimately, bad for the environment as well, but political spin doctors seem to have concluded that it still attracts many voters. As the public learn more about the issue, this will eventually backfire politically. This is why groups like the Natural Resources Stewardship Project focus so strongly on public education. Once a majority of the public recognize that many of the assertions of Boxer, Gore, Dion and Volpe have no basis in reality, politicians will have little choice but to radically alter their approach – either that or be voted out of office in disgrace.
Besides ignorance and political opportunism, what is driving this movement?

The principle target in all this is fossil-fueled based energy sources. Boxer summed it up neatly in her introduction to the June 28 Senate committee hearing, "reducing emissions from powerplants is a fundamental part of any solution to global warming."

Besides vote-seeking politicians, who else would want to dismantle our fossil fuel-based economy? Some beneficiaries of such an agenda are obvious – alternative energy providers are already reaping financial windfalls from the scare. Nuclear power companies stand to make significant gains as well, provided they are not shut down entirely by environmentalists who oppose them even more fiercely than they do fossil fuel corporations. Many scientists and engineers who support nuclear power for its real benefits understand how today's climate scare is largely groundless and so do not boost nuclear power as a means to avert a climate crisis.
However, some spokespeople are not so careful. John Ritch, Director General of the London-based World Nuclear Association, uses language even more extreme than Gore and Suzuki.

At the October 2006 Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference in Sydney, Australia, Ritch said,
"The fact of this planetary crisis should no longer be a matter of psychological or political denial. For our best Earth-system scientists now warn, with ever increasing certainty, that greenhouse gas emissions, if continued at the present massive scale, will yield consequences that are - quite literally - apocalyptic: increasingly radical temperature changes, a worldwide upsurge in violent weather events, widespread drought, flooding, wildfires, famine, species extinction, rising sea levels, mass migration and epidemic disease that will leave no country untouched.

If these predictions hold true, the combined effect would be the death of not just millions but of billions of people - and the destruction of much of civilization on all continents."
NRSP scientists immediately sent Ritch solid evidence that his assertions were out of touch with modern climate science and expressed the hope that his "remarks are greatly tuned to a more realistic stance if the topic is brought up again in the future." NRSP continued, "Nuclear power clearly has important benefits to mankind but "stopping global climate catastrophe" is surely not one of them. [We] fear we undermine the whole effort when such extreme arguments are presented."

Ritch did not respond. Instead NRSP was answered by Jonathan Cobb, the association's "climate change advisor", who dismissed our concerns saying, "I can assure you that Mr Ritch pays close attention to the scientific discussion on climate change and he will continue to accurately report the overwhelming scientific consensus." That a climate change advisor would simply brush aside evidence that his employer had little need of his services is perhaps not surprising. However, that Ritch continues to use precisely the same language as above in his most recent speeches (June 2007) is inexcusable.

The specter of industry-caused "climate chaos" - a ridiculous term used by Canadian Green Party Leader Elizabeth May - ultimately leading to the ‘destruction of the planet' is a perfect vehicle for people who want to radically alter, or even dismantle, western civilization. Chief among these is Canadian Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and until recently, Executive Officer for Reform in the U.N. Secretary General's office. His comment, "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized nations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" speaks volumes about what is really going on in the minds of some environmentalists.

Industry runs on energy, but you cannot directly attack the energy source because this would alienate the vast majority of the public who benefit from industrialization. The easiest way is to show that the byproducts of industrial activity are causing a planetary collapse. Even though untrue, this claim provides another popular moral high ground for activists. Demanding carbon dioxide reductions provided the vehicle and the United Nations supposedly provided the science for the theory that human addition of CO2 would lead to uncontrolled global warming. The theory quickly became fact, and the scientific method of testing, and accepting or rejecting, was effectively thwarted. Scientists who tried to pursue a normal scientific approach to the issue were quickly branded as pawns of the energy sector.

There are negative side-effects of industrialization of course, but eliminating industry also eliminates its exceptionally beneficial impacts on quality of life. Besides ignoring the natural evolution of the human species, in the extreme, today's climate alarmism is decidedly anti-human. Human progress is seen, not as a natural evolution, but an unnatural aberration.
The following quotes illustrate the dangerous anti-human nature of cells within the environmental movement, many of whom have adopted today's climate crusade as their primary raison d'ĂȘtre:

Biologist David Graber (U.S. National Park Service): "They [natural things] have intrinsic value, more value - to me - than another human body, or a billion of them. Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. Somewhere along the line - about a billion years ago - we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."

Philosophy Professor Paul Taylor, City University of New York in "Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics", p. 115): "Given the total, absolute, and final disappearance of Homo Sapiens, not only would the Earth's community of life continue to exist, but in all probability, its well-being would be enhanced. Our presence, in short, is not needed. And if we were to take the standpoint of that Life Community and give voice to its true interests, the ending of the human epoch on Earth would most likely be greeted with a hearty "Good riddance!"

Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!: "Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental."

Earth First! Journal editor John Daily: "Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs."

An equally extreme case is Peter Singer, a ‘bioethicist' at Princeton University. He maintains that the suffering of a crippled ant deserves equal consideration to that of a crippled human child. If we could only save one, he says, we should decide by the flip a coin or else we would be "speciests".

And of course the macabre " Voluntary Human Extinction Movement " is apparently alive and well with its "volunteer" class members agreeing that, "All of us should voluntarily refrain from reproducing further, bringing about the eventual extinction of Homo sapiens." Asserting that "Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth's biosphere to return to good health", the group's motto is "May we live long and die out."

In the extraordinary book "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" written 150 years ago by Charles Mackay, is written, "Men … think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." Let's hope that Mackay's pessimism is no longer quite so applicable in a world where instantaneous and inexpensive mass communications is a fact of life – certainly society cannot afford to continue to sleep at the switch while eco-activists rapidly come to dominate governments. Environmental extremism is the real threat to society, not the miniscule contribution human-emitted carbon dioxide might make to global climate. It will take time for the general public to finally recognize this but, when they do, expect the whole environmental movement, its good aspects included, to be set back at least a generation. That will be the sad legacy of Al Gore, Barbara Boxer and David Suzuki. "

Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's not the Planet that's in Crisis it's the People

Remember years ago when there was this commercial that kept buzzing in our ears; "When EF Hutton talks, everyone listens". It was for a fund investment company, intimating that they had all the answers and we should pay attention. Well today it's not EF Hutton we are listening to, it's the Dalai Lama, and I for one listen when he speaks.

Recently he was interviewed for Ode magazine about his up-coming documentary that will be released in October. 10 Questions For the Dalai Lama. Against the backdrop of an exotic land, a lone filmmaker is granted one hour to ask ten questions of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Containing rare historical footage as well as footage taken inside Tibet, a story is woven between a journeyman's personal observations, the troubled history of a government-in-exile, and the life and wisdom of one of the premiere spiritual leaders of our time.

The Dalai Lama shines as a universal symbol of peace and unity, promoting a greater understanding of philosophy and cultures. Inspired by the man himself and its film 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama monterey media has invigorated hundreds of community organizations, churches, and national groups to join in a national effort to "put the Unity back in their Community" by creating the national “Weekend of Unity & Peace”.

October 19 - 21, 2007 has been designated as this weekend of individual events designed to bring our communities together in a celebration of understanding, unity, tolerance, peace, and oneness. This enlivening event occurs while His Holiness is in the U.S. touring and just prior to the highly anticipated DVD release of the film Tuesday, October 23rd, which enjoyed a critically acclaimed national theatrical release this summer.

The world's first Executive Zentreat sponsored by the Centre for Zentrepreneurism will take place on that weekend to mark the event on Galiano Island. For more info go to

In an era when many religious and political leaders are viewed with suspicion, and when cynical agendas rule both government and clergy, the Dalai Lama is undeniably authentic. Along with Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Jesus, this great leader inspires millions and has influenced the world in so many ways. This is his story, as told and filmed by Rick Ray during a private visit to his monastery in Dharamsala, India over the course of several months. Also included is rare historical footage as well as footage supplied by individuals who at great personal risk, filmed with hidden cameras within Tibet. Part biography, part philosophy, part adventure and part politics, "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama" conveys more than history and more than answers--it opens a window into the heart of a great man.

Here are some excerpts:

"Everything is interdependent. Everything is interconnected. So my interest is very much linked to everyone's interests. Our survival and our future are very much linked to one another. Therefore the destruction of your so-called enemy is actually the destruction of your self. The concept of war-"destroy your enemy"-is old fashioned. It is out of date. "To use the power of the gun is a sign of weakness. The power of the gun is short-term. Very decisive, very powerful, but in the long run, the power of the gun cannot remain. This violence it won't work.:

There is too much greed , a limitless sort of desire. This is a source of problems, a source of suffering. If you always keep the feeling "oner more, one more, one more." until the last day, you are never satisfied. Mentally, you are a very poor person, always hungry. If desires are without self-discipline you want to kill someone, you want to tell lies, you want to take alcohol or drugs. That's self-destruction, in order to be safe from self-destruction, you need some self-discipline. Not some order from outside, but you have to analyze the value, the consequences.

Use your intelligence."There is too much emotion, too much negative emotion: frustration, hatred, anger." I think that's the greatest obstacle. So I think as a first step this should be cooled down. Reduced. Forget these things. And I think for the time being, we need more festivals, more picnics. Let us forget these difficult things, these emotions, and make personal friends. Then we can start to talk about these serious matters."

believe nothing,
no matter where you read it
or who said it,
not even if I have said it,
unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense.

- buddha


Is it really green?

An IpsosoReid survey in Canada released yesterday says 63 per cent of people suspect goods marked as environmentally friendly are designed to sell the product. The tactic, called “green-washing”, is increasingly popular with marketers vying for shopping dollars. People suspect certain goods are labeled environmentally friendly as part of a tactic to sell the product rather than save the earth. UBC marketing professor Dan Putler said “such image overhauls don’t dupe shoppers easily”. “People have an understanding that companies want to look good even when they’re not doing good.” The results from the survey of 1,285 Canadian homeowners showed shopper’s doubt marketers intentions when it comes to the environment: Here are some results:
  • 56 per cent of people who consider themselves green savvy consider some products sold as green to be a marketing tactic.
  • 63 per cent of the total people surveyed consider some products sold as green to be a marketing tactic.
  • 40% of people would not be willing to pay more up front for items such as green building products.
  • 31 percent of people admit to not knowing much about environmental issues.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Breach of Trust

It smacked me right in the face, a headline in today's Vancouver Sun. "High Flying Canadian conman lands in U.S. jail. "He was a Canadian, the article said, who seemed to be living the American dream on the sunny California coast- a yacht and a 2006 Ferrari, country club and golf memberships, and a sprawling, multi-million dollar mansion in a wealthy enclave at seaside Monterey. His wife sported a $50,000 diamond ring and his four children attended private schools. He spent time collecting expensive works of art and rare sports memorabilia."

To dozens of his friends and clients, Jay Zubick was a popular and trusted investment adviser from Toronto, who had made a great life for himself and his family in his U.S. home -- all the while pursuing his passion for athletics at Ironman competitions across North America.It turns out, however, that the 42-year-old business whiz was, in fact, an English literature grad from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., who was running a marathon investment swindle. The scam lasted seven years and drained some $16 million US from the savings of 29 victims in the U.S. and Canada.

At a California court this week, a "truly sorry" Zubick claimed to been "saved by Jesus" following his arrest earlier this year on 71 counts of fraud, money laundering and forgery. But a parade of embittered victims told a sentencing judge they felt cheated by their "best friend" who, in one woman's words, had left her "financially raped."

So what are the lessons to be learned here. First of all you never do business with your friends. Friends are just that "friends". Here's Webster's definition of friendship. The state of being friends; friendly relation, or attachment, to a person, or between persons; affection arising from mutual esteem and good will; friendliness; amity; good will. I don't see anywhere in there; "and thou shalt do business with a friend, thou shalt borrow money from a friend, and thou shalt trust thy friend with your entire life savings. You see I have only recently learned through my own life's experience, that the only person who really should be trusted with his/her money is the person who earned the money, namely yourself. If you don't trust yourself with money why should you trust others.

The article opened, he was Canadian who seemed to be living the American dream. If I hear those two words again I'm going to stand on the top of the New York Stock Exchange building and holler, "I' m tired- and I can' take it anymore. Stop selling the American Dream". The American dream has become it's worst nightmare, and why any self respecting Canadian would want to pursue it is beyond me.

Try this for a while, be a soft spoken, respected, ethical, and authentic Canadian, and begin to pursue your own personal dream of compassion, gratitude, and have a life of purpose and passion for what you love to do, not about what you don't have and need to get, because trust me their are more Americans who would love to be here rather than there.

Stop apologizing when people bump into you, stop apologizing for being slow to sign deals, stop apologizing for not being as hot a celebrity , stop apologizing for playing in the CFL instead of the NFL, and above all stop apologizing because you haven't quite fulfilled your American Dream. Pick door number two and be happy with your choice.

And please stop watching Howie Mandell's perpetuation of the myth that people will never be happy unless they have it all, "Deal or No Deal" has become Greed or no Greed". I don';t know about you but aren't you a little tired of all the Canadians who travel off to the U.S., to pursue "the dream" and always come home for a visit with the same quote; "Canada will always be my home". Okay here's a concept; have less, make less, and make Canada your home. Live here and enrich our lives instead of selling out.

We are too gracious to those movie or music stars who take flight and then know that we will always welcome them back with open arms.. "it's like bowing and flapping our arms downward in a simultaneous whoosh of "We're not worthy..we're not worthy. And finally, just as Jay Zubick, claims to have found Jesus, maybe it's time we find our Canadian "souls " again. It's as simple as this....sit down with a pen in hand and write down everything that you feel grateful for about being Canadian. It took me a lifetime to finally appreciate my birthplace, I hope it doesn't take you that long. Oh yeah about that breach of trust thing, Buddha says to forgive your enemies, but not forget them.

And one final peice of advice, when your best friend says he would like to offer you a spot in an "exclusive limited partnership, that is "very special", something just for my closest friends". You say...repeat after me, "that's nice except I'm not your friend", close the door and never look back. As in business and in life, you need only ask one question of anyone; so what part of this is a lie?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Going Green for Good or Greed?

Recently I received my complimentary copy of a new Vancouver magazine on sustainable living, called GRANVILLE It occurred to me as I leafed through the ads, and tried to find some articles of substance, that indeed the "Green Ad Revolution" has begun. First of all, you'll wonder why I got a copy and you didn't. Well, I just happen to live on the edge of Kerrisdale and Shaugnessy, two of the wealthiest areas in the Lower Mainland. So what does a magazine that caters to the wealthy look like. Well, this one kind of resembles a "Green" GQ, but instead of advertising Rolex watches and Armani suits, all of the purveyors of fine clothes, food, high end spas/resorts, and gourmet dining are cleverly incorporating the "green" word within their new re-designed logos.

Now given that Madison Avenue always smells money before the small do-gooding little organizations in any small town America or Canada, it's no wonder that Vancouver, who always likes to thumb their nose at the rest of Canada for being small town and well, just not hip, would want to capitalize on the "Green Revolution".

On a typical day in a downtown ad agency in Vancouver, if an associate gets a message to call either someone in Regina or LA, guess which one they return the call to . So in Vancouver's race to be LA North and be "cool", if they see that Madison Avenue has told Corporate America that it makes good money sense to stamp "Green" on everything, then you follow the American need for greed and start your own "Green " Magazine.

Fighting global warming has suddenly become big business., and America's addiction to celebrities, has now come together for one huge marketing machine that is now unstoppable. Forget the fear of terrorism, that's yesterday's news, and besides the defence industry has made enough money out of that. So I present to you the new buzz word and mantra on Wall Street, "Sustainability".

Given that America is now convinced that they need to be afraid of two things Terrorism and Global Warming, Madison Avenue has decided that this has created the "Perfect Storm" for a marketing windfall. Let's get back to Granville Magazine for a moment . I called the Editor, David Jordan and offered to submit a "free" article on excerpts of my book that deal with "ethics" and creating "values based" businesses, in other words creating profits with integrity. His response was interesting and surprising to say the least. "Thanks but no thanks, that's not our mandate." In other words as long as you talk about sustainable living or advertise about sustainable living you can be in the magazine.

So here's my question, if you hang a sign "We're Green" on the front door of your business establishment, does that immediately qualify you as a business I can trust to be; honest, fair to your employees, committed to improving the quality of life in your community, sympathetic to fair trade, and compassionate about the people you do business with and who buy from you. In other words a "Value Based Business". Now not only can I trust you but I can now also believe that you must have the best interest of me and the planet at heart because you paid between $1,500 to $6,000 for an ad in a magazine.

First of all if I lived in the East End of town, was on a low income, a student, homeless, or lived in Regina I'm not even going to get a comp. copy. For obvious reasons, I won't be able to buy the latest dress made out of soy for my wife for $2,500, or the latest hybrid car for $42,000, or have an organic gourmet dinner for $200 at a local fine dining eatery. How about those face treatments and massages with the finest in organic "save the planet' oils. You see where I'm going with this .

Leaving your eco-footprint is one thing, capitalizing on the latest 'Green" trend without any need for accountability for "telling the truth" perpetuates the endless parade of "get rich quick schemes that inundate the t.v. air waves between 2-4 a.m. This new upscale magazine waving the "green " flag is just another in the long line of Madison Avenue tricks to exploit your hard earned dollar. But hey, if Leonard DiCaprio says the planet needs saving, it must be so, because after all when Al Gore said it, he was just a loser politician that was trying to make a comeback.

Here's' a concept, Al Gore has been fighting to get peoples' attention on global warming since he was a young congressman with noble intentions. He never built a business around saving the planet. Remember if you combine America's addiction to celebrities and harness the power of Madison Avenue, you have hit the mother lode. The Dalai Lama has said we need to save humanity and teach compassion, one person at a time. "We must stop war, famine, and man's injustice to man." At no time did he say " Oh yes and on the subject of global warming you must capitalize on this fear, use it, go forth and make lot's of money"! And so I ask you the question, Is Going Green for Good or Greed?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Vancouver Has Lost It's Soul !

It's been a steady decay, not one that happened overnight. But clearly Vancouver has lost it's soul. Not that it really ever had one, in this city of narcissists and "do your own thing" lifestyles. Hedonism is alive in this corner of the world. Don't let the mountains and the ocean fool you. I've been here for over forty years now and never really called Vancouver home. My birthplace is Edmonton, Alberta, and have lived with the constant teasing from the locals as to why anyone would want to be proud of coming from the prairies. I am, and can still have a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I re-visit my home at 133rd St. and 107 A. Avenue

The smugness and arrogance of locally born Vancouverites has given way to a feeling of "what's happened to our city"?. The answer is simple, if you never build a sense of community from within, you have a city with no heart, no soul. If the sole motivation of your move to another country is to buy yourself in--you bring with you an attitude, not of greatfulness, but of entitlement. The price of homes become inflated, neighbourhoods become ghettos and entire communities turn into that countries territory , rather than becoming part of the local fabric. Vancouver is no longer multi- cultural, it has become bi-racial, Caucasion and Asian.

Vancouver is now a global city that is one stop within the Pacific world. Two thirds of male Canadians of Hong Kong origin between the ages of 25 and 40 live and work outside Canada. Large numbers of Vancouver residents have multiple homes throughout the world, creating great demand for real estate in Vancouver, but also leaving many condominiums unused for portions of the year. Like Switzerland for Europe, Vancouver is considered a safe place for storing money (not in banks, but in real estate) and a good place to send children to school.

In his article of June 30, 2007, "Chinese Vancouver: A decade of change- How the Lower Mainland became the leading Asian metropolis on the continent", Miro Cernetig of the Vancouver Sun writes;

" Remember "Hongcouver?" You don't hear that word much anymore in the polite society of Vancouver, a city that has grown into Canada's - and North America's - most effortlessly Asian metropolis.But a decade or so, ago you could hear the term "Hongcouver" everywhere.
It was an era's impolitic catch-phrase for the xenophobia and palpable occidental unease in Vancouver at the prospect of a profound upheaval in society. A sleepy city had suddenly found itself a magnet for one of the most significant - and wealthiest - immigration waves to ever hit Canada: the Hong Kong Chinese, who sought out Vancouver as a safe haven for their money.

"The Hong Kong immigrants were really a new kind of Canadian," said Henry Yu, a history professor at the University of British Columbia. "They were educated, spoke English and middle class or wealthy. They weren't going to start out as pizza delivery men and working in Chinese laundries."They expected to be first-class citizens, they wanted to live in the best neighborhoods, wanted the best schools for their kids.

Recall the words and debates - now rarely worth a headline - that polarized the city a decade or more ago, when Hong Kong's human tsunami began hitting Vancouver in the mid-'80s and late '90s.There was the volatile debate over "monster houses" - the name for the large homes many Hong Kong immigrants built in such rarefied and resolutely anglo enclaves as Shaughnessy and Kerrisdale, often knocking down trees and old-style houses to do so. Non-Chinese tended to see the word monster as an apt adjective for the grand size of the new homes they thought ugly and out of place; Chinese saw the word as a racist put-down, suggesting that "monsters" lived in such new homes designed to hold multiple generations.

Then there was the "University of a Billion Chinese" as the University of British Columbia was sometimes dubbed. The number of Chinese-Canadians students was soaring at the university, thanks in large part to the new Hong Kong immigrants who brought with them a diligence that made them academic stars and made it harder for the less competitive to gain entry to UBC.Many non-Chinese parents, as University of Washington academic and Vancouver native Katharyne Mitchell chronicled in a paper about the Hong Kong immigration wave, complained the new arrivals were "too competitive" or "too one-track-minded" compared to their own "more balanced" children.

And don't forget the simmering tensions in Richmond, where many of the Hong Kong immigrants first gravitated, radically changing the racial mix of the community in a few short years -- not to mention its shopping habits. Malls opened up full of Chinese stores, in effect creating a new, well-heeled and modern Chinatown on Vancouver's outskirts. On hot summer nights, you could hear the exotic clicking off mah-jong tiles on Richmond's quiet streets, where half the residents were suddenly Chinese.

Then there was, of course, the unforgettable Hong-Kong effect on the local real estate market.Billionaire Li Ka Shing started it by buying the Expo 86 lands and transformed them into a miniature version of the towering condos of his hometown Hong Kong. That accelerated a radical change to the city's skyline, with the luxury condos of Coal Harbour following, along with a profusion of downtown condo towers that have densified and energized the city's core, and made it more congested.

Predictably, real estate prices skyrocketed as the Hong Kong arrivals put their money into city property, new and old, often astounded at the houses they could get on the West Coast for the price of a two-bedroom apartment in Hong Kong.

Old-time Vancouverites who owned homes generally liked that consequence of the new Asian money. But even here there was a new angst that lingers on: those who didn't own property suddenly wondered how they could ever keep up with this new monied slice of Canadian society from across the Pacific."

The whispers at cocktail parties and behind closed office doors today is "how come I feel like a visitor in my own city". Not all immigrants who come to Canada or Vancouver for that matter have the kind of money brought by wealthy Asians, nor do they have the same sense of entitlement . My parents were poor Jewish immigrants who came with nothing and were just happy to have survived the Nazi concentration camps. They were so grateful to Canada that they made every effort to assimilate. What happens is that when you come here with an attitude of entitlement and there is no demand on you to assimilate and you are given the same privileges and access as others who have worked their whole life to value, then its no wonder that local Vancouverites will feel resentment, threatened and angry.

Add this to the Olympic nightmare, cost overruns, broken government promises, no help or compassion for the suffering of the merchants on the Canada line corridor, huge traffic jams, construction delays at every corner with every new development, no solution to massive homelessness, warring gangs, fueding drug lords, and epidemic breaking and entering of cars and homes, and you have "sin city", not the jewel of the Pacific. But don't bother calling 911, they'll just add you to the list of complaints that gets as much attention as committing jaywalking.

Here is the reality; we have a police force that is severly under manned and underfunded, with a mayor that can't organize a parade with one car., a mayor who is single handidly responsible for a 6 week garbage strike. Don't ever question the huge social benefits of the 17 day pep rally in 2010 in this town or you'll get a slap in the face from the Campbell Gestapo. Vancouver has sold whatever was left of it's soul to the people who care little for the soul of others. If you can buy a home in Kerrisdale, have a charge card at Tiffany's, own a BMW, lavish yourself and your children with clothes from Holt Renfrew, than you can have the "Vancouver dream", and enjoy the good life without feeling any guilt or remorse for anyone you might hurt. You've made it, heck you'll even get written up in Malcom Perry's column of the rich and famous. You won't however find any columnist covering the poor and ugly.

It is this attitude that has spilled over on to the streets of Vancouver. There is a simmering anger and distrust from people, who instead of talking openly about how they feel, swear at you and give you the finger in traffic, and murder each other at the slightest provocation. This is a city rotting from within it's core, and nothing can stop the juggernaut. Even a dose of "Zen" will cost you, they're called Spa Salons and Resorts, a refuge from reality. Maybe the Dalai Lama had a reason for wanting to have the worlds' first Centre for Peace here in Vancouver, he intuitively knows something we are not admitting, that Vancouver has lost it's soul!