SpruceRoots Magazine - April, 1999

Water flowing to the sea

... the Tlell Legacy Project ...

There's a lot going on in the Tlell, the community and the watershed. There's soccer fields and an OCP. There's a CHN Protected Area, a TFL, a TSA, private lands. There's a Timber Supply Review, a SMOOP, a Forest Development Plan, an LRUP with an Interim Development Plan, soon to come a Regional Landscape Unit Plan (per the BC Forest Practices Code), and maybe even some day an LRMP.

And then there's fishing trips, hikes to the falls, looking for elk. Steelhead moving up, Ta'an lifting a sleepy nose into the breeze. The rain falls, filling channels, flooding wetlands, coursing through the canyon and forest, under the bridge and out to sea.

And then there's ICSI - the Islands Community Stability Initiative - and its brand new proposal for a Community Forest in the Tlell, the goals of which are stated:

Into the mix the Gowgaia Institute has assembled this project to create yet another plan. Or rather, we hope, a plan that will inform and touch all other plans. So what makes this one different?

For starters, this project, and the gatherings to come over the next few months are not about why the Tlell should or should not be logged. This is not a debate about balancing stakeholders' interests. That will happen in other places at other times, probably for the rest of the foreseeable future.

This project is about legacy. Some people may remember a recent visitor to the islands named Julian Dunster, a forester who has travelled the world to see how other people manage their forests. He spoke at the Community Forest Symposium in Skidegate in September 1997 and said:

"One aspect of successful community forests seems to be about legacies. I was particularly impressed by this in Scandanavia. In one of the Danish forests I was shown the management plans for the area as they had evolved over centuries.
The old plans, originally written in the 1700s, were reverently taken out of the library and laid out. Imagine. A community forest that had been in operation for several hundred years and its management history still clearly laid out with the plan and results right there.

And there was an immense sense of local and national pride in the area. In other words, a legacy created by their ancestors and maintained through to the current times. Not only a cultural legacy, but also a biological legacy.
And I think this concept of legacy is really crucial to understanding what a community forest might offer you."

So when we're talking here now and in other gatherings over the next few months, we want to encourage people to think and talk about this idea of legacy. A legacy plan for the Tlell.

Where do we begin to build a legacy? Not with the logging debate. Not with any of the issues about ownership, resource use or management plans.

We begin by building a picture of everything we know about the Tlell. We bring together as many people as we can to tell and hear stories about events, experiences and places in the Tlell. And while people talk, there will be maps on the table to make marks on, and scribes to record what people say.

The first step in building a legacy plan is building a collective picture. The sum of our knowledge, an "expert system" built by the people who live here.
What the Gowgaia Institute will do next is pull all of the information together into a magazine for publication (including maps) that portrays the places people go, the things they see and do, the memories they hold.

If you're still having difficulty thinking in terms of legacy, remember that everyone becomes an ancestor. One day, when your children or great-grandchildren are as old as you, this magazine will be taken down from a library shelf and read by them. So tell them your stories, and give it your best. Talk to them about what you want today to hand into their care tomorrow. Be a good ancestor.

UPDATE: The Gowgaia Institute has held 9 group meetings at Cacilia's Bed and Breakfast in Tlell. At these gatherings we have talked to about 70 people. We are now starting to interview individuals; if you have information, photos, or anecdotes that you would like to contribute to this project please call Patty Daniels at 559-8920.

SpruceRoots Magazine - April, 1999