Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WE CAN'T ALL GO BACK TO THE LAND (or we'll kill what's left)

SUMMARY: A journey to the "Ecoreality" post-peak-oil community, with UBC Campus Radio. Plus rap star Baba Brinkman's new album "The Rap Guide to Wilderness".

We begin with a slice from the new album "The Rap Guide to Wilderness." It's called "Tranquility Bank" with guest artist Aaron Nazrul. But the genius rapper behind the whole project is Baba Brinkman. I'll be talking with Baba from New York, a little later in the show.

Baba suggests we can't all head to the wilderness, without killing what's left. Along those lines, I'm going to play you a radio documentary which takes up where the film "Escape from Suburbia" left off.

Long-time listeners may remember my interview with the Director Gregory Greene.

Download or listen to this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)

Or listen on Soundcloud right now!


In this radio documentary by Gordon Katic, we find Jan Steinman. If the film, Jan and his wife sold their suburban home in Portland, Oregon, and travelled to British Columbia. They were seeking a safe haven to prepare their lives to live without oil, after peak oil threatened a decent from civilization. How did that work out?

We find out, in this program called "The Terry Project", which broadcasts on radio station CiTR on the campus of the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver Canada.

We are going to travel to the "EcoReality" intentional community on Salt Spring Island, a mild climate spot in the Strait of Georgia near Vancouver.

Our host at the station is co-producer Sam Fenn. Our tour guide is journalism student Gordon Katic, a dedicated environmentalist who seldom leaves the big city.

In this interview we hear the song "The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers, 1979. It's classic. Watch it on You tube here.

That's real radio. The producers were Sam Fenn and Gordon Katic. As you heard, you can get more of this program, "The Terry Project" at

Find more photos of the EcoReality intentional community here.


A listener sent me a link to something called the "Rap Guide to Wilderness". I was dubious, but I listened, and I was astonished. Where did such high quality lyrics - and music - come from?

The artist and possible founder of a whole new branch of green rap is a Canadian, Baba Brinkman. While planting over a million trees in British Columbia, he got a Masters of Arts Degree. That was partly by writing a rap version of "The Canterbury Tales" by the medieval author Chaucer. He's performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, on "The Rachel Maddow Show" and at the Sydney Opera House.

The conservation group "The WILD Foundation" asked Baba to create an album, and it's here.

I reached Baba in New York, where he is touring with his off-Broadway show, a complete one-man show, called "The Rap Guide to Evolution".

Frankly, after listening to so much bad rap from somebody's You tube, I was stunned at the quality of Baba's work. Check it out!

For me one of the biggest stories in the world continues to be the way humans are creating a more sterile world. There are only 5 Northern White Rhinos left on the Planet, after a 44 year-old creature died in a zoo this December. Where is "the WILD Foundation" on the need for nature to survive?

The Wild Foundation is advocating the "half for nature" concept promoted by the famous biologist E.O.Wilson. OK, we are going to take up vast amounts of the planet for our cities and our agriculture, but to protect ourselves and biodivesity we need to plan to leave half for nature. Imagine if a developer proposes to pave over 300 acres for a new suburb. The law should require 150 acres to be left in its natural state. Who wouldn't want to live there?

Find out more from the Wild Foundation web site.

Baba Brinkman isn't just a rah-rah green cheerleader. His lyrics take us deeper into the problems environmentalists must wrestle with. In just one example, Baba finds we shouldn't try to promote a big back-to-the-land movement. Dense cities actually allow more room for nature. There's several controversial issues in his rap music - including the idea that science should use DNA tech to revive some extinct species, like the carrier pidgeon and more. Not everyone will agree that humans should tinker with species creation, or recreation (especially since the original biosphere conditions supporting those creatures may be gone now...)

In our interview, I also asked Baba why he didn't do more on climate change. I know you are tired of hearing my complaint there isn't enough good climate change music. In this case, Baba takes climate change seriously, and hopes to find a sponsor or venue to help him present a whole new rap album and show just on climate change. I'm thinking the Paris climate negotiations in 2015 would be perfect. Now we just need to find a big green group to help fund the development and staging of a new "climate rap" show!

Find Baba Brinkman at his web site, on Facebook, and Twitter.


My holiday thanks to a ton of people who send in news links, tweet about Radio Ecoshock, write in with guests and generally keep this program going. N. in Boston, I got your letter and your ideas.

Hello to my listeners in Zurich and Sweden.

To my Australian correspondents, keep it coming. I love the feed-back from the UK.

I appreciate all my online friends in California, Arizona and New England. Carl, you saved the Ecoshock web site.

Hello to my informers in Colorado, and my friends in India and Pakistan. And of course, all the Canadians who gave birth to the show, and Kelly who keeps it on the air in Vancouver. My gratitude and best wishes to all.

Alex Smith

Radio Ecoshock

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