Water

I don’t even know where to begin with this…

I’m not certain how wide the coverage globally is of the flooding here in Calgary, and Southern Alberta, although I just saw it on Sports Center so I assume you guys have heard. Still, its hitting home and authorities are warning it is not over yet, with more rain to come. Three people are confirmed dead in the High River community, with another still missing. Entire homes have been washed away in Canmore. Calgary has evacuated 25 neighbourhoods, displacing approximately 75,000 people. My former neighbourhood, Mission, (which I wanted to move back to) is underwater. The zoo animals are headed to the jail cells if the Bow River continues to rise. 17th Avenue, and Kensington, my favourite shopping spots are also flooded. Two weeks to Stampede opening day, the Saddeldome is full of water up to the luxury boxes, and the grounds are an ocean. It’s certainly the top story nationally, if you are reading from outside of Canada, check out links for the stories at NATIONAL POST, CTV, and CBC.

Calgary Police Car in flood

All the reports compare this to the flood of 2005, which I also experienced first hand, although in Rosebud, not Calgary. You can see that flood for yourself as well, in the CBC documentary that follows my mother and our family, Burning Water. This is the second time I have experienced a flash flood, and there is nothing like it; and this is NOTHING like the first time. The photos hardly do it justice, the murky water only shows the spread, not the depth. If you aren’t familiar with the landmarks you might not know quite how extensive it is. You might not realize how much has been effected. If you have been watching any news coverage you may have seen helicopter footage, its unbelievable, to view it click HERE.

This video gives a pretty good idea of how severe it really is. The flooding is widespread; shallow in some places but extremely deep and fast moving in others, and full of debris. Calgary at this point, is not nearly as hard-hit as Canmore and High River, where 3 are confirmed to be dead. Hundred’s of soldiers have been deployed as Southern Alberta is in a state of emergency. As much as I go on about my displeasure at living in Calgary, I do love the people here, at a time like this its really clear how strong of a community we have. Watching all these videos, seeing my running trail and an entire community under water is heartbreaking. Its fortunate that in Calgary we have no deaths and minimal injuries.

The overwhelming sentiment seems to be one of complete disbelief; no one imagined anything like this could happen here. My mom and I felt the same in 2005, when our farm in Rosebud flooded. I can’t explain to you the feeling when you are in the middle of the storm like that. I’ve always loved being in the middle of the storm, I love the rain, in 2005 when the flash flood hit our home, I was outside walking in the rain when instead of just pouring rain, suddenly, there was water everywhere. The footage in Burning Water (its only a few minutes in if you click HERE) shows flooding in my yard, was shot by me at the time and cut into the film later. When a flash flood comes, you really don’t realize how quickly it hits, and when it hits a city of a million people, the 4th largest in Canada, it’s devastating.

The footage is unbelievable, nothing like this has ever been seen here, and in times like this my inner environmentalist is begging for people to see the larger picture. More and more in the news all over the world we hear of natural disasters, each seemingly the “worst in history.”

In 1895, Nobel Prize winning Swedish chemist Svante August Arrhenius predicted that the excessive burning of fossil fuels would eventually alter the earth’s climate. In just 118 years, we have burned though an unbelievable amount of those fossil fuels, almost certainly faster than anyone, even Mr. Arrhenius, could have ever predicted.

Downtown Calgary was built on the money of the oil and gas boom, and is set between two rivers- the Bow and Elbow. “The Bow”, Encana’s landmark building- the tallest in Canada West of Toronto, just opened to the public a few weeks ago, and is now completely shutdown due to massive flooding. It almost seems biblical, though I do not consider myself a religious person. If there is one thing I do believe in, as I have posted before, it is the balance of nature.

Like I said, there is nothing like being in the middle of a storm, there is nothing like seeing it for yourself. The massive, awe inspiring power of nature. What forces does man have at his disposal when nature strikes? You realize then how powerless we really are. What does man expect from nature, that it will not strike back? That it will not find a way to create balance?

It is tremendously difficult for me to write this post because I do not want it to be misunderstood. I have compassion for every single individual affected here, for every individual affected in every tragedy around the world right now. I cannot imagine having my entire home swept away, its devastating.

At the same time, nature does not care for the whim’s of man. Man is a vile beast; a greedy creature with the tools to do more damage than any other animal on this planet, but mother nature will not accept mistreatment at the hands of her children.

When EnCana/Cenovus Corporation came to the the Rosebud valley with its experimental drilling techniques circa 2005, our water started lighting on fire out of the taps. The CBC passionate eye documentary, Burning Water, follows my mother’s fight with corporate Alberta, and the Alberta government for her water rights, after Encana used an experimental method of hydraulic fracturing in the Rosebud River Valley. In the midst of this political storm, 3 successive rainstorms flood Southern Alberta. In 2005 it wasn’t even CLOSE to this bad; in just 8 years, it is at least 3 times worse than the last “worst flood in history”. Just a few weeks ago EnCana opened the doors to “The Bow”, its premiere head office- they mention its construction in Burning Water.  Just a few weeks ago I was joking in a post that I would dance on its ruin and explaining that it is symbolic with all that is wrong with our culture.  I had no idea it would be evacuated and shutdown due to flooding, who would have? Who could possibly have ever imagined flooding so widespread, in the middle of the Alberta prairies?  After 118 years of relentlessly burning fossil fuels, and 8 years since our last water disaster, we have still learned nothing.

This isn’t a Calgary problem, its a global cultural problem. Our society is fatally flawed and if we carry on our current path we will destroy ourselves. As individuals we put ourselves first, because no one else will. In this age of luxury and technological advancement we are led down the rabbit hole of capitalistic greed. We get caught up in the nine-to-five, comparing our cars and our clothes and our houses and we forget that nature can take it all away in a heartbeat when it’s time to pay your debt.

It’s why I keep talking about the water issues, even though I know most people are content to justify their apathy. I understand entirely the temptation of pretty things, I battle with my materialistic, consumer side every day. I understand wanting to make some money to put yourself through school, or support your family. Temptation is always there but we must not gorge ourselves, lest our swollen bellies burst. Some of the most expensive real estate in the oil capital of Canada is now underwater.  Regular home insurance won’t cover it, millions of dollars of damage has been done. You might not realize it’s karma coming when she gets you, but it is. Everything will balance in the end.  This disaster has galvanized an already strong community and Calgary will rebuild, rebound and be reinvigorated.  Mayor Nenshi even says we can do it in time for Stampede!

Will Calgary really change? Not anytime soon. Sure it will rebuild and get back to business, but real change?   No.  It’s not just Calgary that needs to change, though certainly we have dug in our heels determinedly pushing for “economic value ” of the oil sands. Environmentalist friends (friend?) lets not delude ourselves. Prime Minister Harper “knows this is not what the rivers are supposed to look like” because he used to live here, and he took a helicopter tour so he could REALLY TELL. Premier Redford said something so dull I couldn’t even quote her, in the meantime her ex-husband represents the Defendants in Jessica Ernst’s million dollar lawsuit [Ernst v. EnCana, Energy Resource Conservation Board, Her Magistey the Queen in Right of Alberta] which has just been delayed again, because back in February Mr. Harper called the Justice hearing the matter up to a higher court. Quite convenient. Jessica goes back to phase ONE of her litigation- an application to rule whether an Albertan citizen even has the right to sue her government for failing to uphold its own regulatory standards when a corporations experimental CBM exploration destroyed the her Aquifer and contaminated drinking water in the vallye. Despite the fact she’s been dealing with this for a decade Encana hasn’t even so much as had to put forward their Statement of Defence, thanks to the legal gymnastics of a team of government lawyers. What did she expect suing the government and the corporation that pays the government’s salaries? I Nothing less, but that’s the point.  It seems an unattainable goal, to change the landscape of our intertwined government and corporate world, which is all the more reason why we must fight so hard.  I love it, Jessica is an absolute champion, she know’s what she’s up against here, the dynasty of conservative Alberta politics and the oil empire. The most important thing at this point is to spread awareness, add your voice on Alberta Voices and check out Jessica Ernst’s website.

For everyone who has suffered at the hands of nature; whether you have lost your home, your family, your friends, your pets or your life, know that the strength of an entire country is behind you.  For everyone standing on the edge of the storm waters, asking yourself, “how could this possibly have happened?”, do not forget that question when the flood waters recede.  This is a warning, a wake-up, a call to arms.  How could this possibly have happened?  In 118 years, just 18 years longer than the world famous Calgary Stampede has run, we have burned though more than half of the world’s oil reserves, the half that was easy to get to.  Now we use techniques more dangerous than ever before to extract oil, or natural gas, and the price we will pay if we continue to do so is honestly unimaginable.  How can we be so arrogant as to think what we do to one part of the earth will not have an effect elsewhere?

Take a rock.

Now smash it with a hammer.

Will the rock ever mend itself?

Will the cracks meld together and reform?

Of course not.

Once broken, the rock breaks down more.

It does not heal.

Imagine giving a company the power to drill hundreds of thousands of wells, to allow them to send seismic explosions though underground rock formations to release gas.  Imagine trucking in thousands of gallons of water to wash down the hole, mixed with trade-protected chemical “frac fluids”, to pump up a minuscule amount of natural gas in comparison.  Though I believe the only way forward is to end reliance on fossil fuels, I recognize that it will be a lengthy endeavor to get there.  It is absolute madness, however, to contaminate thousands of gallons of water and pump it into the ground, for only a minimal return.  The amount of gas wasted on tanker trucks bringing in the water to each CBM sight probably negates the “gain” even further.  Imagine a government that streamlines this process, so that companies never have to release the composition of those frac-fluids, and so the company can never be found guilty based on the lack of evidence.  Imagine a government giving the power to review cases like Jessica Ernst’s, or my family’s, to a SINGLE regulator with absolute power, appointed by whom? Harper? Redford?  Imagine for a moment that this goes too far, that companies like Encana are allowed to continue their assault on the water system.  Safeway was selling flats of water for $60 because of a weekend of flooding.  Imagine what will happen if our water supply is truly compromised?

Calgary pride’s itself on a sense of community and western spirit.  Coming home to the yyc airport compared to Amsterdam, I welcomed the sight of white hats and friendly faces eager to help.. because really, that’s what Calgary is all about, helping one another.  We see that now more than ever as the community bands together in this state of emergency, but we must take care to see the larger picture.  To live contextually and understand that we must actively plan for future generations, rather than blindly barrel forward with dollar signs in our eyes.

Money means nothing when the water comes and goes.

Europe >>>>> Canada

danish style

DK style

leather jacket, sandals, blouse by LeCHATEAU  || printed leggings THRIFTED  || bag by CO-LAB

Simple look today for shopping in Vejle – printed leggings, a tunic and sandals. Stole these sunnies from little bro, and he already called me out on it!    This is my absolute favourite leather jacket, another super good deal from my time working in le shithole. Shop similar here and here.

travel the world

 

 The best part about traveling is seeing how different everything is from home. Well… best and worst, because though I live in Calgary, I spare the place little affection, and am planning on leaving at the earliest possible juncture.  Being in Europe with my grandparents, who immigrated here shortly after they were married, really makes me question their decision making skills.  Possibly because Calgary is one of the ugliest cities with its disgusting urban sprawl of suburban cookie-cutter homes and at the center of it, the oil giants monolithic structures looming over the “landmark” Calgary tower.  The biggest one of all (boasting to be the largest Canadian structure West of Toronto) The Bow, is home of Encana Corp and perfectly representative of every single thing in Calgary that I absolutely LOATHE- particularly the company that resides within. If it crumbled to the ground I would do a happy-dance on the ruin, no word of a lie. Compared to home everything in Denmark just seems infinitely more charming, with their cobblestone streets, beautiful boutiques and stunning architecture. (Oh, and no well-sites dotting every inch of the countryside… sorry guys, but I just read the latest from Harper on the Keystone Pipeline and have been extremely angry ever since… OH, AND… just after typing that, I read confirmation that his election was rigged.  I hate you Harper, I hate you Canadian Politics!) Okay, back to the point.. 

   I find it funny – whenever I go anywhere, or tell anyone where I am from – the comment I ALWAYS get is “you don’t look like your from here” (even when I’m walking around Calgary!) interestingly enough people often guess Toronto, so apparently I look like I’m from Toronto …which I am not.

TORONTO style

Visiting Toronto in 2010 with my Mom – we were there for the film fest,  presenting the CBC documentary, Burning Water,  if you would like to understand source of my political rage please check out the link at the top of the page for more info, or go to  Rosebud’s Burning Water.

My home is actually a little farm, but I don’t look very farm-girly either.  I sometimes think that maybe I don’t look like I’m from “here” (where ever that may be) because I don’t feel like I’m from “here”.  My grandparents are Danish and  my mother emigrated from Scotland, so I was raised by Europeans living in Canada.  If the above rant didn’t tip you off, I have approximately zero pride in being Canadian… it’s not that I hate our country, in fact I love the land more than anything.  I hate what we are doing to our land in the name of energy progress, what we have done and continue to do to the natives of this land, our justification of our actions, our cultural apathy, our government, and our winters.  Being proud of your nationality is like being proud of your race or skin color –  I didn’t choose to be born here, I have done nothing to contribute to Canada, and thus, feel no nationalistic feelings of pride.  When I look at the people who do represent Canada, like Harper, or Redford, or the many examples of ignorant racists among my acquaintances I feel less than hopeful.  At my brothers graduation I laughed a little to myself at the very few people who joined in mumbling the words to the national anthem, while mentally comparing it to the Americans belting out the Star Spangled Banner with such vigor.  It seemed to me that I am not the only one with so little pride in our home and native land. (More like our home and stolen-from-the-natives-but-we-don’t-like-admitting-it land.)

North Americans often express the sentiment that Europeans “think they’re better than everyone” sorry to break it to you, but that’s because they probably are.  See in Europe, they’ve kinda run out of space, they’ve been around a little longer, and they understand what it means to have to actually PLAN for future generations.  Canada (and America) were taken way back in the day by the Europeans who wanted MORE.. and thus the foundation of our nations is the desire for MORE than is rightfully ours. Greed can easily go un-checked when you have the one of the largest, most sparsely populated countries in the world combined with massive energy source deposits of oil and natural gas, right next door to the biggest military power in the world.

The moral of this story is I have been reading the news (which never works out well for me) and I may not ever be coming home.  

xo, aiyanajane

sneekpeek

I had a great time shooting with my BFF, twirling around in my cape, feeling a little like Blair Waldorf and pretending Calgary is New York. (New Yorker’s like to complain about winter, I would like to note that Calgary is generally about 20° colder.)  It was freezing out taking these right as a storm was coming in. Such lovely weather we have here, so stay inside and maybe catch a flick.  What better outfit to wear out than a cape, liquid leggings and boots? Simple and chic. I can’t wait to show you guys the rest of these photos! 

Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf in New York on the set of Gossip Girl

sneekpeek

Emerald City – “You’re Golden Cape” in green by Steve Madden

Oz, the Great and Powerful is released today… inspiring my title, and while my city may not really be Emerald, it did seem a little magical.  March in Calgary means lots of white but temperatures do start rise, the light lasts longer and green slowly but surly starts sneaking though!  Even though I’m not actually headed to see that movie… I like my James Franco a little less child friendly and a little more smoldering.

Enjoy the weekend girls, think of beautiful things!

Read the full post here for more photos!

always, aiyana

Free Clinique Bonus at The Bay

from february 6-24th get a FREE CLINIQUE BEAUTY BAG

with a $31 purchase at The Bay Clinique Counter.

If you read on the regular, you know I’m a huge fan of clinique beauty products. I absolutely swear by their Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion and I keep a Chubby Stick and an Eyeshadow Trio in my purse at all times! Their high impact mascara and lipstick are classic favourites as well! Basically what I’m saying is the ONLY makeup I splurge on is Clinique- because its so worth it!!!

However, I am a bargain hunter by nature, so I always wait to buy until the bay has their bonus days, its usually once a season or so, I just keep my eyes open! I spotted it and thought I would share it with my lovely readers! I always buy their face lotion, one thing my mother taught me to never cheap out on- and she’s a scot! So no, its not exactly free, but if if buy my face lotion for $30 a bottle, then I get a cute travel bag packed with goodies!

What is your favourite beauty splurge? let me know below!!

xo, a

WIN IT HERE- Signed Burning Water DVD

For those who see no problem with the Oil and Gas development, I thought maybe you’d like to take a second look. These are the wells I see every day on my 5 minute drive to work, these photos represent a TINY percentage of the development in the area and this is only the beginning of what they have planned.

The warning signs are everywhere, and yet we continue to ignore them.

I’m painfully aware that the vast majority of my readers care little for my “save the environment” posts and would much rather I just make with the pretty pictures. I say painfully because it truly saddens me that anyone could care more about an outfit than about the future of the planet.

It’s easy to delude yourself into believing that in this big wide world your little voice will make no difference, but I assure you the only way you can be certain of that is if you never bother to speak up. Perhaps it’s because the problems in this world are so immense it feels insurmountable; or perhaps its simply ignorance, or unwillingness to accept things as they are. Whatever the reason for it, its nothing more than an excuse to do nothing, and that is absolutely unacceptable to me.

My stake in the situation is personal. My family moved from our home and sold our farm after our well water was contaminated by fracking. We got chemical burns in the shower, our animals got sick, and suddenly our water lit on fire; none of this could never be conclusively proved to have been caused by fracking. There were lab errors, there is naturally occurring methane, and obviously, we’re just crazy farmers who neglected our well. I could go posting all the proof of corruption that we’ve dug up over the years, but what would be the point? The idea that Oil and Gas companies are an economic savior is so deeply ingrained in the mentality of Albertan’s that trying to dispute this “fact” leaves one cast as a leper. Even among my closest friends if I bring up the topic it’s generally met with eye-rolls and I’m informed by them of how “safe” all the development is, and that it’s a ridiculous concern to even have. The beliefs of their parents have been passed down for generations, and that residual ignorance and unwillingness to consider an alternative stymies any potential progress.

This is because the companies have gone to great lengths to buy our compliance. And do not be mistaken, because we have all been bought and paid for. Farmers are paid land rent for each well-site, sometimes its the only reliable income in such a fickle profession. Local communities and business’ receive grants and generous donations to improve playgrounds or schools or theaters, and countless individuals are employed in the sector. In our capitalist based society the economy is the number one concern. In the upcoming US Presidential Election economic policies are central to the candidates chances of being elected. What matters is the bottom line, what matters is money. And while a strong economy is indeed crucial to a strong country, will it matter when we have nothing left to drink?

Fresh water, like oil and gas is a finite resource, and we are wasting all 3 at a phenomenal rate. We have the technology (and have for years) needed to make the change to green energy sources, and yet we continue to rely on oil and gas despite ever-increasing prices, emissions and environmental effects. Why? For one, the billions of dollars in revenues would disappear, giving anyone who financially benefits from the oil industry the incentive to continue to be set in their ways. Billions of dollars at stake and yet no one questions it when those billionaires tell us “everything is fine” all while continuing to rape the planet and get rich off their plundering.

Consider what is at stake here; on the one hand, billions and billions of dollars in revenues and, on the other, our fresh water. They will tell you it’s not that simple, but I promise you that it is. And while we can always find other ways to make more money, and already have alternatives to gas power, we cannot un-pollute the water after the companies frack it full of carcinogens.

 

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proceed with caution, our apathy today will effect the children of tomorrow.

Also please check out http://citystylecountrysmile.com/burning-water/ and like or share the page!

Want more? Win a DVD of Burning Water! Signed by myself and my amazing mother; Fiona Lauridsen. Like and leave a comment below!

And get involved! We will be in Camrose, AB November 2-3 2012 for the Alberta Surface RightsConversations on Fracking conference.  Our presentation is on Saturday afternoon, please come check it out if you have the chance! 

I’d absolutely love to meet you! XO, a