July 3rd, 2007

Biofuels: The Five Myths of the Agro-fuels Transition
Biofuels. The term invokes a life-giving image of renewability and abundance—a clean, green, sustainable assurance in technology and the power of progress. This image allows industry, politicians, the World Bank, the United Nations, and even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to present fuels made from corn, sugarcane, soy and other crops as the next step in a smooth transition from peak oil to a yet-to-be-defined renewable fuel economy. Drawing its power from a cluster of simple cornucopian myths, “biofuels” directs our attention away from the powerful economic interests that benefit from this transition. It avoids discussion of the growing North-South food and energy imbalance. More fundamentally, it obscures the political-economic relationships between land, people, resources and food. By showing us only one side, “biofuels” fails to help us understand the profound consequences of the industrial transformation of our food and fuel systems—The Agro-fuels Transition.

Inuit art set to go digital: Industry primed for global expansion
Ancient artistic expression will finally meet the digital age as the government of Nunavut plans a sweeping revitalization and expansion of its $30-million Inuit art industry. Over the next five years, the territory hopes to increase the economic impact of carvings, prints, textiles and jewelry to $50 million — and dramatically change how one of Canada’s most iconic cultural expressions is produced and marketed here and around the world. "If we’re able to get that going, it would be a lot easier for artists," said Mathew Nuqingaq, a carver and silversmith from Iqaluit who has exhibited across North America and from Japan to Europe.

U of S prof writes, rewrites history
Bill Waiser wants his history lessons to be engaging, entertaining and educational. Those in his history classes at the University of Saskatchewan know he delivers. For those without the classroom opportunity, he reaches out with a superb collection of 10 books, each producing a distinctive, sometimes previously untold, slant on the province's history. "People who say the history of Saskatchewan is boring just don't know our province," says Waiser.

Cadbury Schweppes closure crushes Canadian grape juice industry
That's how Ontario's 134 juice grape growers, most of whom live in Niagara, are feeling after operations at the Cadbury Schweppes plant in St. Catharines dried up Saturday. The closure of the Yale Crescent plant, the last of its kind in Canada, marks the virtual end of this country's juice grape industry. It's a milestone being mourned by growers, many with multi-generational ties to the industry, said Debbie Zimmerman, Grape Growers of Ontario chief executive officer. "Acceptance is what you have to do. Resolve is something you have to do. On the other hand, there is the sad part. We've lost a generation of farmers," Zimmerman said.

Grant helps artist begin painting career
A few years ago when Andrea Duffy wanted to start painting, she turned to the hamlet of Rankin Inlet to get some money for paints and paintbrushes. Five years later, Duffy has turned her heart's desire to paint into a successful career. Duffy previously worked as an artist selling wall hangings. Duffy heard about grants through the community's sustainable livelihood fund as she became interested in painting. She applied, and was happy to receive enough money to buy all the supplies she needed. "I just wanted to paint, so I got this grant and just spent the money on all these paints, brushes, and canvases," said Duffy.