Earth, Wind, Water, Fire: Reflections on the Blue Dot Tour

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Last night I attended David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour in Edmonton, Alberta. Billed as David Suzuki’s last big nationwide tour, Blue Dot brings together artists and activists calling for an amendment that would see the right to a healthy environment enshrined in the Canadian constitution—a noble goal for sure.

The Edmonton date featured talks on logging, urban gardening, and the tar sands. The event also featured music from Royal Wood, Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, K-OS, and longtime Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn.

The keynote of the evening was, of course, a talk by Dr. David Suzuki highlighting the perceptual change that needs to take place if we are to truly live in a healthier world. He began his talk by explaining how his early activism focused on legal measures as if the environment and people were separate and that the most important focus was to regulate and enforce rules on how we interacted with the planet. He then went on to explain how his thoughts on the issue evolved, and how he now feels that it is people’s understanding of their role and connection to the planet that needs to change. Because in an age of rapidly developing technologies it is usually impossible to regulate or ban something until it is too late. We very rarely foresee all possible environmental consequences. This shift from nature vs. human, to human as part of nature, is very reminiscent of an essay by William Cronon entitled “The Trouble with Wilderness” that I have personally found very insightful and inspiring.

David Suzuki framed this concept of embeddedness in the natural world through the four elements:

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Cory’s Four Tips for Learning Fly Casting


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Over the years I have taught a few people how to do a basic fly cast and they almost always have some of the same troubles when starting out. Essentially, you want the fly rod to travel backward and forward in a straight line with a sudden stop in both directions. Sounds easy enough, but fly casting definitely has a learning curve and there is no substitute for practice.

Here are my four simplest and most important tips to help learn to perform a basic fly cast better.

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No Bull: Guest Blog for Nature Canada

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I recently had the pleasure of writing a blog post for Nature Canada on the threatened bull trout population in Alberta. Nature Canada is the country’s oldest national nature conservation organization. It has more than 45, 000 members and supporters and a network of more than 350 naturalist organizations spread across Canada at local, regional, and provincial levels. Amusingly, my first ever publication was in Nature Canada’s magazine when I won the Robert Bateman National Writing Award a decade ago with an off-the-cuff poem.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from the blog:

The bull trout (salvelinus confluentus) is a salmonid, specifically a char, and Alberta’s official provincial fish. Native to northwestern North America, bull trout of Alberta are listed as a threatened species according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and as a vulnerable species under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A recent Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development blog post estimates that there are only a total of approximately 20, 000 bull trout remaining in the province. That population estimate alone might not set off alarm bells to the casual reader, but when you consider that the Alberta Government’s fish stocking program planted 1, 667, 406 rainbow, brown, and brook trout (or roughly 83 times the total number of native bull trout) into local water bodies in 2014 alone, the significance of the estimate is infinitely more apparent. Continue reading

The Oldman River: Podcasts, Religion, and Ecology

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I was making the four hour drive to fish the Oldman River in Alberta the other day and to pass the time decided to listen to a podcast from the Princeton Environmental Institute featuring an interview with religion and ecology professor John Grim.

It was certainly an interesting podcast and touched on many topics I find myself concerned with and thinking about when I spend my time outdoors. John Grim notes that the first ecological connection he can remember is having grown up hunting in North Dakota. Like with myself and fishing, Grim mentions that being embedded in that sort of attention to the local environment and interaction with ecological systems opened him up to future inspiration from people, moments, and ideas. Continue reading

Angie’s Book Launch

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Today I went to Angie Abdou’s launch event for her new novel Between at Shelf Life Books in Calgary. It’s always a pleasure to see Angie, she’s a fantastic person and author, and going out for dinner with some of Calgary’s finest was a real treat too. Angie is going to be doing a little tour of Ontario over the next week and if any of you are out that way I would recommend stopping by an event.

I reviewed Angie’s previous novel The Canterbury Trail for the Sport Literature Association’s listserv, Arete, and it was a really enjoyable read. Chalk full of humour and the competing voices and claims of ownership that plague any discussion around development and the environment. You can read my review here.

Between might not be as outdoorsy or ecocritical as The Canterbury Trail, but Angie promised me it counts as sport lit. Then again, sex, globalization, and a focus on the body leaves a lot of room for an ecocritical perspective. I’m happy to add it to my always growing “To Read” pile.

Follow me on Twitter: @_cgwillard

Welcome: A Homage to Those who Came Before

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I would like to welcome you all to my small home on the web. You can also follow me on twitter @_cgwillard. On this site you will find a brief “About Me” page and my professional history under “Resume.” To receive my M.A., I focused my research on ecocriticism, fly fishing, and environmental rhetoric. These themes still very much occupy my research, writing, and general interests. As such, providing a few quotations that I have uncovered might be the best way to introduce you my world.

“‘[S]ense of place’ as a political force, a cultural allegiance, a way of daily life, a combative alternative to the industrial juggernaut that treats watersheds, people, soil, and forest as liquid inventory, strikes me as being as necessary to human beings as water or soil itself.”David James Duncan

“Those of us for whom the chance of trout is the chance to connect with the natural world through its wild, thrilling presence only hope that future generations will also have the opportunity to be enchanted by this magical creature.” –James Owen

“Many of us had taken up fly fishing not so much as a sport, but as a possible path to enlightenment, and as everyone knows, those routes aren’t the same for everyone and they’re never clearly marked. You just head out in whatever seems like the right direction at the time.” –John Gierach

“The real source of angling knowledge is experience. What happens to us on the stream builds up a fund of lore that is invaluable. Experiences are real. They actually happen. We live them—not only when they happen but in memory. We apply and contrast one experience with another and so continue to grow.” –Ray Bergman