September 15, 2007 - 10:12 — Rick Searle
One of the projects I'm currently working on is a proposal to create something to commemorate and celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of BC Parks in 2011. I'm working with a friend, Derek Thompson, who recently retired from the the civil service where he, among other things, served as the assistant deputy minister responsible for the province's protected area system. We are both members of the Elder's Council for Parks in British Columbia, a remarkable organization which aims to give individuals who have dedicated a major portion of their lives to the growth and long-term well-being of parks and protected areas - whether national, provincial or regional. What my friend and I envision is creating the tools and processes that would enable the citizens of BC to participate in a mass celebration of their world-class park system pretty much wherever they live. Through my company, EKOS Communications, Inc., we'll produce a website that easily permits people to log-in, engage with and contribute comments, articles, images, video clips or audio files to blogs, wikis, social network groups, and other Web 2.0 innovations. I have the job right now of carving into the block to reveal more of the details of this idea and then to provide some thoughts on what's needed to make this vision a reality. I'm exceptionally excited about this project. Parks and protected areas are "bred to the bone"; they're part of my DNA. To me, they are the becoming the last refuges of the wild. Everywhere, across the globe, tell-tale signs of humanity's footprint are increasingly and sadly evident. We have not yet learned to apply the ethic of "Leave No Trace"; as a species, we tread heavily on the planet, domesticating that which we can and destroying that which we can't. Parks and protected areas are the last stand as places where we have the potential to re-connect with that wild, free spirit conjures wonder, awe and humility, in the human spirit. It's there, for me, in the call of a solitary loon, the bugle of a rutting bull elk, piercing scream of a lynx or the electrifying howl of wolf. I feel it's presence when I'm hiking among the mountains of Waterton Lakes National Park (one of my personal favourites); when contemplating the pounding surf and the intertidal life of Botanical Beach Provincial Park; or when kayaking among the emerald jewels of the Pacific Northwest that are the Broken Islands Group, a unit of Pacific Rim National Park. Sure each of these places are far from pristine, having had a long history of human use. But most of the worst scars have been almost completely vanished, especially to the untrained eye. The other reason I'm excited about this project is that involves stimulating and facilitating citizen engagement on a province-wide scale. Much of my life has been dedicated to developing the knowledge, skills and experience to be as effective as possible in this line of work. I seriously believe that the severity of the ecological crisis now gripping the planet demands nothing less than the full-on engagement of as many people as possible. We need all hands on deck. Using technological advances being driven by the convergence of telecommunications, audio/visuals and the Internet only makes sense in attempting to reach this goal. This is the way of mass media in the 21st century. While the goal of our project to mark BC Park's 100th is to see that as many people as possible get to participate in the celebration, I also see it as an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the advancement of protected area literacy. Now you know why I'm so energized by this project. In the spirit of collaboration, I invite you to contribute any thoughts or ideas about any facet of this project by way of posting comments or responding blog. Let's work together to make BC Park's 100th the best birthday party ever!