Thursday, September 4, 2008


So I realize that I haven't been the most vocal person in the last two months. Maybe no one really noticed anyway because the dog-days of summer are just wiping your conscience free of the concept of time?

Either way, I feel compelled to write something. So what happens if I don't have anything to write. Let’s just have a glass of gin and juice, pick a cool word and let the writing times roll.

Gin and Juice - check.

Cool word...hmmm, how about Earth.

C'est tres cool, everyone loves the Earth.

Here we go. A few of you may have known that I spent 4 years working with my Dad, I took care of Springbank Cheese in Calgary. It was a great time, and all the while I kept my ear to the ground for what was happening around the world -

In January 2006, I fulfilled my two year resignation plan and headed to Quebec. My heart wasn't in it anymore, and not just the company, but development also. I didn't know if poverty alleviation was what I wanted to focus on.

Off I went to Quebec, completely directionless. All I knew was that my soft side wanted to help people, because that made me happy. My logical side wanted to prevent the extinction of the human race. Sure, maybe I'm a bit drastic, but I think I see some large indications that good ol' mankind was heading in the wrong direction. My first instinct wasn't to become a monk, it was to change peoples minds about consumerism. I read a few books and watched every TEDTalk I could -

After all that, consumerism still bothered me...but wait a minute, isn't there something called supply and demand? So if you want to live a consumeristic lifestyle, you'll just have to pay for it. As the Earth's supply goes down, the price will go up. (even for things which should be fundamental human rights, such as chocolate, cheese, HONEY, and beer)

Problem solved.

So what is the real problem?

There is an irreversible component. If you believe that driving your car causes global warming, and that this could trigger an ice-age or at least economic hardships, then hippity hoppity, lets stop driving our cars or at least reduce the greenhouse gases associated with it.

So maybe I believe in global warming to be man made, or maybe its caused by solar flares on the sun...either way, there are millions of people and enough money behind solving that issue. Plus, it's possible that one technical discovery could actually solve all the worlds energy problems AND global warming concerns. And it could happen almost overnight, something like....nano-solar?

What else could the real problem bee? What else is irreversible?

Pollution, species extinction, war?

It was interesting to see that the Nobel Peace Prize was won by a guy who started a Bank which helped extremely poor people get a fair price for the business they ran. Nobel peace prize and Banking, hmm, but where is the link? Peace and Poverty, Poverty and Peace. How are they related?

Turns out, the whole globalization thing is a fairly new phenomenon. Back before the advent of the airplane, the world never had to think as a whole. In fact, there are only two reasons to consider the people in a different part of the world.

1. WAR


Either you worried about them attacking, or you worried about the cost of those things which can't be produced locally, hence you needed to trade for them.

So there you have it. WAR and TRADE, now if TRADE is related to wealth, and WAR is obviously related to peace...then it becomes clear that Peace and Poverty must be related. (ok, I'll leave it to the Nobel Prize folk for explaining in detail, maybe its not perfectly clear)

Either way, the conclusion is that More TRADE = less WAR.


Less Poverty = more Peace.

My decision was to work towards less poverty via more trade. The trade doesn't need to be international per se, but the further away the customer the more peace it promotes. The underlying reason why more trade creates more wealth is because it causes specialization which effectively leads to more efficiency. Instead of owning my own land, planting my own crops, watering, cropping, storing and cooking my own food, I can divide up these jobs and choose to do what I do best. Maybe storing is my specialty. If I work with 50 people, the sum of our output can be triple what we could do individually. This is REAL wealth, there aren't even complicated outside forces to dispute it. With specialization comes technology, the more time you spend doing one repeated task, the more you can benefit from a tool which can help you do that one thing.

Engineers Without Borders - Promoting human development through access to technology.

Indeed a shameless plug for EWB, but maybe there is something to it?

Whatever the Logic, the work I'm doing feels right, so maybe I'm really just following a feeling.


Graham Lettner said...


Your stream of consciousness writing was a read all in itself. Maybe sitting down with a drink and an hour all to yourself is all that you need to let us know all about the ineffable, inner You.

Either way, I loved reading it.


jtourlouse said...

Mark, you are an amazing person! I have read all your stories, loved all your pics, you made me cry. I am so proud of you, and so lucky to personally know such an inspiring kind person. The next time you are in Chatham, the cookie jar will be full and I hope we can sit with a candle burning,sipping "drinks"and share stories. Keep safe,love Jo-Anne[Brad's mom]

Binnu said...

Mark, I loved following your logical thought connnections, overwhelmed by their simplicity and honesty! Isn't it great the way reason can merge with what feeling dictates! =)

Awesome to see your feeling of goodness, Mark.
Take care,

Olivia said...

Hey Mark!
It was interesting following your story and train of thought. Having the website links also gave me a way to explore what you were talking about further! I love TED talks, and just watched a really interesting one that challenged my thought process:

Check it out when you have enough electricity/good enough internet connection (sorry, I know that might be a while).

Love, Olivia

Crystal said...

I haven't looked at it myself, but I heard there's a good site about consumerism with a free download video - just google 'the story of stuff' - I'd watch it but it's going to be presented at a group meeting in a couple of weeks, so I'd rather just watch it then. It's nice to hear your thoughts...miss you!

Chelsey said...

Werrd Mark. I'm pickín up what you are puttín down and dig it. Seriously though good stuff, I think you are on to something.