The following is an excerpt (Chapter 2) from a book-in-progress submitted to JSC by long-time Bolton resident Bill Wilson
WHY I VALUE NATURE
I was born in 1942 and grew up in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario (The Soo). My early years were a peaceful time thanks to one of our best known peacekeepers: Canadian Lester B. Pearson. Pearson represented “The Soo” area in the Federal Government. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs. He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1957 for international service with the United Nations in resolving the Suez Crisis thereby avoiding a third world war.
My parents were educated at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. They were hard working and began their lives together in “The Soo” as the Depression began. They practised values that encouraged an awareness for my brother and I for the world outside as World War II raged. My older brother would often stand guard beside me if we went outside. My home was surrounded by a diversity of wooded valleys and wildlife. Year around I was experiencing nature. It certainly was a peaceful place and time and my home was a lasting positive influence on my valuing of nature and the rest of the world in peace.
My 1965 degree in planning from Michigan State University was strongly influenced by Stuart Chapin’s 1957 planning textbook “Urban Land Use Planning” in which he stated “In land use planning, the purposes usually identified with the public interest are five: health, safety, convenience, economy, and amenity. AND THEN HE STATED A MASTERPIECE OF UNDERSTATEMENTS: Each of the five public purposes has broader meaning than that ascribed to it by the courts alone”.
By the time I graduated as a planner “The Environment” would strongly broaden “the public interest”. My 25 years as an environmental planner with the Ontario Government began in 1972. Environmental planning at that time was driven by a strong Provincial policy direction to create environmental assessment processes for government real estate projects. I assisted in environmental assessments of Ontario Government realty projects all over Ontario. I was both inspired and informed by this new form of planning.
It became evident to me that government planning alone cannot succeed in sustaining nature. I began to write a weekly local Caledon environment column. My volunteering in youth sports and nature conservation groups were welcomed experiences. It became further evident to me that local governments, even allied with nature conservation groups, cannot make much progress unless there is also a steady supply of volunteer nature advocates for a host of tasks.
On a personal level I see nature reflecting, illuminating and informing human behaviour in many ways. I see nature in its multiple evolving forms providing us with endless inspirations for our actions, including our actions in relation to other humans. I see a degraded nature often reflecting a human disregard for, or an ignorance of needs of nature and human life. I see that healthy nature reflects humankind at peace with itself and nature. I see the endless physical forms of evolving nature to be revealing for me a great potential capacity for human adaptation and creativity.
On a more positive note I quote from Marston Bates who stated in 1955: “I have faith in man’s future, faith in possibilities latent in the human experience: but it is faith in man as a part of nature, working with the forces that govern the forests and the seas: faith in man sharing life, not destroying it”.