Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019
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Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

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Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

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Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Build It & They Will Come

14/01/2012

An Outpost of Sustainability

Robert and Robyn Guyton were determined to start a food forest instead of mowing a front lawn. And a forest did they grow,  when in the mid-’90’s,  they purchased some land and a house in the small coastal town of Riverton, New Zealand. Riverton along with its neighbor, Invercargill rank as one of the southernmost towns in the world, and back then Riverton was an affordable place to buy land. It still is compared to the northern resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the latter which graces its runway with  private jets, rivaling Aspen Colorado.

The Guytons worked  in earnest on their two lots planting trees and plants based on permaculture practices. When they first started, they received some odd looks from the neighbors, as their front yard started to take on the forest look. There were no other like-minded people in Riverton when they arrived, but undeterred, they started a cooperative learning center called the South Coast Environment Society.

Today the organization modestly states on its website it is an umbrella group for a “several” local environmental groups who have information,displays and meetings in the centre. Those several groups include:

Groups working for protection and enhancement of local ecosystems:

  • Riverton Estuary Care Society
  • Aparima Pest Busters
  • Aparima Nursery Enterprise
  • Seed Balls for Restoration projects

Groups working to promote sustainable lifestyles:

  • Riverton Natural Health Group
  • South Coast Permaculture
  • Sustainable Lifestyles project
  • Riverton Organic Food Co-op

Groups promoting sustainable growing methods

  • Riverton Organic Growers Gardeners Group
  • Southland Seed Savers
  • Riverton Organic Farmers Market
  • Riverton Community Orchard
  • Rivertonians for Alternatives to Toxic Substances (RATS)

Robert Guyton

My wife and I met the Guytons when they were giving a presentation on sustainability to the ultra small Garston School, (which deserves its own blog post),  New Zealand. We were intrigued with their presentation, which included a movie (to be posted on this blog) called “Welcome to the Food Forest”. We decided to take our chances and take the hour and half drive from our place and show up unannounced. Even though we had a standing invitation, we happened to miss them, when we stopped by to say hi. Nevertheless, I decided to interview Mark Baily while visiting the centre. You can see the video on my adjacent post.  We’ll have to get down there again when Robert and Robyn are home, so we can get the proper tour of their food forest!

Don’t Buy It

17/06/2011

Selling Success Thru Consuming

A recent full page ad on the inside front cover of New Zealand Alpine Club‘s The Climber* Magazine shows a truly burly shot of climber Alex Honnold in Borneo, doing a dyno move on what looks like a long potential fall on a big wall. Granted the sequence is impressive, (let’s be clear, I can’t do that), but the ad states, “ALEX IS DRY, His Meru Goretex Paclite Jacket allows him to focus on the next move.”

OK, ok, stop the music. Does this make we want to rush right out and buy a Meru Paclite Jacket? Not. But if  the Meru Paclite jacket allows him to focus on that dyno, maybe it will allow ME to focus on my next move too, just like the ad in the picture.  My criticism is albeit a cliche, nevertheless, I don’t buy it.

Kiwis are known for being a self-depreciating, humble bunch. They seem to buy used whenever possible, plus it blends into the backcountry better. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t go climbing with someone who has new gear?”  This doesn’t mean to avoid climbing and teaching new to the sport, but more it means watching out for a poser.

The Kiwi quietude is making me, in my conditioned Americanism,  feel downright goofy. I feel I may be tooting my own horn without even knowing . Mind you, I consider myself on the humble side, but New Zealanders make me look like Donald Trump.   I wonder however, how many climbers reading that magazine are taken by the ad. I would suspect a few more of my fellow Yankees stateside might be taken in. What do you think? Comment below.

Don’t buy it – buy used. Even though I’m able to buy on pro-purchase programs, I just bought a pair of Karhu BC skis on Craigslist, and it feels good. Did I even need them in the first place, yes. Maybe a step further, and a pair from the Salvation Army here in Queenstown for $40 would have sufficed. We can always improve.

Buying this Book? Share it.

Nope, I wouldn’t buy a used rope, or even cams,  but buying  most other stuff used just helps the planet, and you look better in a used jacket anyway. It’s another dirtbag move for the planet. Madison Avenue and the big corps who now own The North Face, (and now Karhu) don’t like guys like us. We’re terrible consumers – Have you joined the crowd?

According to a new book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, What’s Mine is Yours, The rise of Collaborative Consumption, the trend is huge – to buy less, buy used and share. I’ll write more about this book after I finish it. So far it’s fascinating.

*This is no way meant to be a slam on The Climber advertising policies, in fact the author encourages readers to support the magazine by supporting its advertisers, appropriately. A tricky one, eh?

By the way, nice move Alex.

MSI Gears up with Programs

17/11/2010

Mountain Spirit is advertising in Wisdom Magazine, and Spirit of Change aiming at people who might be at a crossroads in their life, or simply wanting to try a new challenge, or learn something new.

A non-profit educational organization

Creating a Sustainable Lifestyle program will be held in Northern Vermont next spring at a peaceful retreat center, focusing on the personal – sustainability and health. Learn how to plant a garden, the basics of yoga and meditation and of course time for relaxation in a beautiful place.

Drumming Jamaica program taught by well-known instructor Bob Bloom will be held in Treasure Beach Jamaica from Feb. 7-11. There will be about 20 hrs of instruction with plenty of time to explore the beaches and local culture. Lodging will be at the Calabash House.

New Zealand: Our other base. We will be based on the South Island near the Southern Alps. Aimed at active travelers but with flexible offerings, depending upon your interest and focus. Options are trekking, glacier travel, rock climbing, or simply walks and getting into the lessor known areas of the Wanaka and Queenstown area, with options of other parts of South Island depending  upon your availability, interest and energy. Be ready to step out and see something new.

For more info, see our website: www.mtnspirit.org

Your Food Supply #24: Saranac Lake, NY

19/09/2010

Meet Gail Brill, Founder of the very active Adirondack Green Circle in Saranac Lake New York.  She’s getting things done. Learn more….

Sustainability and the American Mind

07/04/2010

Another Tear-Down

Seminario, performing in Keene, NH

Guillermo Seminario, the director of Chimu Inka, the Peruvian band came to the U.S under invitation from Mountain Spirit Institute to run a program to perform and teach about Peruvian folklore music in 2008.  In one Vermont town, we were being housed in a very nice old residence in one of the more ritzy parts of town. At one point during the evening, Guillermo turned to me, shaking his head, saying, “In Peru, there are children without food, and a place to sleep.” He queried, “It confusing me, seeing such wealth in your country when Peru is so poor in many parts of my country.”

Our Peruvian Guests on the Coast, NH

We  have thought and discussed this much since that day. Tearing down a perfectly good house just doesn’t seem right.

It’s more than, “Finish your broccoli, there are people starving in other countries,” but it stems from the same disconnect. It’s true the U.S and other 1st world country’s inhabitants are happily oblivious to our role in contributing to The Empire’s excesses. It’s time to think small, and stop the waste. I have a gut feeling this level of living will not continue, mostly due to peak oil. It’s actually quite obvious.

The Salatin Family’s Ripple Effect

30/11/2009

The Ripple Effect of One Couple’s Decision
By Randall Richards

Salatin Family Farm

Because William and Lucille Salatin decided to moved their young family to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and purchase a worn-out  farm, they had the choice of how they were going to manage the farm.

Because they decided to “use nature as a pattern” in their farming practices, they established a way of farming that worked for them, the land, and the animals they raised.

Because they began using innovative ideas on how to farm sustainably in the early sixties, they knew what worked for them. (more…)

New DVD on Peak Oil

25/09/2009

Blind Spot: DVD by Media Education Foundation

DVD on Peak Oil

DVD on Peak Oil

We’ve been impressed with information and resources available from The Media Education Foundation, and this new DVD seems just as important and well done as their other offerings.

In this haunting portrait of America’s oil-fueled excesses, director Adolfo Doring explores the inextricable link between the energy we use, the way we run our economy, and the multiplying threats that now confront the environmental health and stability of our planet.

Taking as its starting point the inevitable energy depletion scenario known as “Peak Oil,” the film surveys a fascinating range of the latest intellectual, political, and scientific thought to make the case that by whatever measure of greed, wishful thinking, neglect, or ignorance, we now find ourselves at a disturbing crossroads: we can continue to burn fossil fuels and witness the collapse of our ecology, or we can choose not to and witness the collapse of our economy. Refusing to whitewash this reality, Blind Spot issues a call to action, urging us to face up to the perilous situation we now find ourselves in so that we might begin to envision a realistic, if inconvenient, way out.

Certain to inspire debate in classrooms across a range of disciplines, especially in economics, environmental studies, the natural sciences, and political science. More info and view the trailer.

Reduce Plastic Bottles

24/08/2009

Buy this product!

Buy this product!

By Randall Richards
We have been using the Pristine Water Bottle with filter in Peru for about two months now, and we’re ready to endorse this product with no reservations. We have cut our plastic bottle footprint by 95%. We still buy the occasional bottle water con gas, as a treat, but even then we’re about ready to stop that practice.
Another benefit of using this product is, I’ve never had a healthier stay in Peru. I have heard of bottled water sometimes having tampered caps, and this is the first time I’ve not had some sort of stomach upset.  I am pulling water right out of the tap here in Cusco, and it’s working well.

Although I like the Katadyn external water filter that I’ve had for years, which works well for high altitude and fail-safe longer trips, I have to say their water bottle filter is too heavy and takes up too much room (within the bottle for any water)  for my liking.

This thing works. SteriPen Classic

This thing works. SteriPen Classic

Another product we’re using, which although is new for us, but is working well,  is the SteriPen UV water purifier. It too has been easy to use and working without a hitch, also to purify drinking water from the tap. We recommend the Classic model as it takes standard Lithium or NiMH batteries.

Buy these products, cut out the plastic bottles, whether in South America or anywhere in the world.

Peru’09: To Ollantaytambo

02/08/2009

By R. Richards
In the next few weeks I’ll be journaling the Peru 2009 Cultural Immersion program which lasted 14 days. I won’t chronicle every day but the most important highlights of our experience.

We had 7 participants: Sally R. and her husband Scott S., Gail and Hal B. of Sunapee NH, newlyweds Tim Y. and Amy G. and Betsy S. of Grantham NH.  Most were teachers which made for good dynamics. On our first day in Cusco, we hiked up to Sacsayhuaman ruins. After walking the great walls, we had a little meeting as the sun set, setting the tone for open communication and willing to stretch outside of one’s comfort zone. The group all agreed they’d give it their best shot.  That night we had dinner at the Retama where Guillermo is the music director of his band Chimu’s/Chimu Inka and plays there almost nightly.

Guillermo plays "cane" flute at Moray

Guillermo plays "Quena" flute at Moray

After a night in Tika Wasi in Cusco, we headed for the Chinchero and the fascinating agricultural terraces of Moray.  Here, Guillermo took out his flute and played, setting a surreal tone in the ruins. You could hear the music echo through the terraces below. Then there was a hair-raising ride (not so much much for me, I’m used to the heights) to the Inka salt pans just before the sun set, then off to Anna’s pension.  Many thanks goes to Julio of Personal Travel Service for setting up our ride with Ernesto and the Mercedes bus plus all tickets and other logistics in the Sacred Valley.

Anna's Family, Guillermo & Ernesto

Anna's Family, Guillermo & Ernesto

It had been a few years since I’d seen Anna when I stayed at her pension for night. It was good to see Anna again, her daughter Katey and her other daughter who had been in Italy for four years, who I’d not  yet met. Anyway, we all settled in nicely, the participants heading off to stay in nearby homes, down the street. We’d all met up for dinner at Anna’s though. Although it was a bit of a switch from the four star Hotel Antigua in Lima, everyone adjusted well to Anna’s where we’d be basing ourselves over the next few days. Below is a short clip as we arrived at Anna’s. Ernesto our knowledgeable driver, Anna, her godchild, daughter, and Guillermo are featured.