The West Kootenay EcoSociety protects the natural environment while building a just and sustainable post-carbon world.
- We express the innate creativity, intelligence and generosity of the human spirit in our work.
- Our work is inclusive, collaborative, heart-centered and joyful.
- Our primary focus is increasingly ‘local’, both by design and necessity
- We believe the new paradigm of human civilization will be bio-centric and will take into account multiple, future generations.
- We recognize the need for personal and cultural transformation in order to create the social, economic, and environmental conditions for sustainability.
- We direct our work and build support on the basis of empirical evidence and analysis.
- We work creatively and constructively with a diverse array of partners.
It all began in 1994 when a some environmental, political and economic activists pooled their resources to rent offices in an old heritage building in downtown Nelson and built the foundations of a non-profit environmental society that is still going strong today.
Over the past 14 years we have expanded our horizons to include social, economic and food security projects, but the West Kootenay Community EcoSociety’s roots remain firmly planted in the belief that what is good for the environment is good for everything else. From saving grizzly bear habitat to printing Barter Bucks, the EcoSociety has brought together a wide range of local interests. By 1996 we had registered as a non-profit society in British Columbia. Through the early years the EcoSociety owed its existence and accomplishments to volunteers, memberships and donations, with a special thanks to Bob Hellman of Hellman Canoes who provided us with a canoe to raffle every year!
When we began to generate income through recycling projects and farmers markets in 2001 we were able to hire a part time co-coordinator (part time was four hours a week!) to direct our efforts. From there we have blossomed into an organization that has tapped into the growing concern for preservation of the environment, be it the wilderness or the family farm.
The early days saw us working on environmental issues with others such as the establishment of the West Arm Wilderness Park, mapping, networking and publishing. We also initiated an alternative currency system called Kootenay HOURS and published the Kootenay Barter Times and EcoCentric.
During the early days we supported or initiated:
- The Grizzly Project- West Kootenay efforts to preserve grizzly bear habitat and provide education.
- Forums on water and health, forestry issues.
- West Arm Watershed Alliance- spearheaded for 10 years the successful campaign to save Nelson’s watershed and 25,000 hectares in the West Arm Wilderness Park (Lasca Creek).
- Joy and Sacredness Art Exhbit- A month long art exhibit culminating in a hand bound book celebrating our spiritual connections with the Earth.
- Keep Jumbo Wild- The EcoSociety’s efforts have joined with those of many others for 12 years to keep Jumbo pristine.
- Kootenay Barter- Initiated an alternative currency system that brought hundreds of people together to trade, buy or sell locally.
Other notable projects in the early years included the mapping of the 5 year logging plans for the North Shore of Kootenay Lake, forest health forums, initiating an ongoing Caribou awareness campaign, sponsoring Clear Air Day, and a video outreach series.
The founders of the EcoSociety saw a need in the Nelson area for a pro-active organization that was willing to take on local issues and bring a voice to environmental, social and economic concerns.
By the year 2000 priorities had changed. The EcoSociety board scaled down the square footage we rented on Ward Street, and took a comfortable small uptstairs office on Baker Street. As attention to running a full time environmental society became more focused, the EcoSociety found new momentum.
In 2001, we were awarded the contract from the city to run the Cottonwood Farmer’s and Artisans market at Cottonwood Falls throughout the summer on Saturdays. Our efforts for a Wednesday downtown farmer’s market met with success and the EcoSociety is still responsible for both markets. In 2001, we also began operating the Regional District’s recycling centre, which closed in 2008. Through enterprises like these and support from community members and grantmaking agencies, EcoSociety has been able to:
- Present the 2007 Regional Forum on Climate Change
- Preserve Grohman Park through a successful BC Supreme Court challenge
- Operate the Kootenay Ride Share
- Initiate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Grain Co-op with Creston farmers
- Present Christmas Faires, Market Fests and the Nelson Garden Festival
- Support Jumbo Wild
- Lobby and network with other groups to preserve mountain caribou habitat, the Incommapleaux River valley
- Contribute with time and money to the effort to stop the privatization of BC Rivers
- Produce special events such as video series, special Earth Day broadcasts and speakers such as Captain Paul Watson
- Network with other organizations and co-ops such as the Kootenay Co-op Radio, Earth Matters, Kootenay Co-op food market.
We invite you to join with us to keep the environmental voice strong in the Kootenays.