we don't need to change how we do conservation, we need to change why we do it

Eco-Tourism Proposal

Is there a pragmatic argument for viewing ourselves as ‘adaptive extremophiles’ who move  persistently to extricate ourselves as far as possible from dependency on Natural systems? How about this argument: The problem “in practice” is that anything less is negotiable. History shows that Humans always come first, and Nature second, when jobs and technological ambitions are in the balance. The only thing we can be sure of is that governments and policies will continue to change, so we need an understanding of our relationship to Nature that reflects Nature’s own intolerance for political caprice.  

It has been a dream of my brother and I to establish an eco-tourism project that would introduce our guests to the possibility of a future based on the Extremophile Choice. Our property includes 450 acres of mixed habitat, with a river running through it that opens into the Georgian Bay. If there is enough interest in this proposal we will consider a crowd-funding strategy. However, since Terry and I are both in our seventies now, and might not even live to see the end result of this endeavor, we will not proceed unless we also get the dedicated help of some intelligent and ambitious young people. Particularly helpful, I think, will be those with backgrounds in finance, hospitality, biology, food science, and journalism. (I have good access to the building trades.)

What Terry has to offer is his proven credentials as a rock climber and trainer of climbers; his background in fire & rescue rope development;  and his considerable experience with kite-skiing, off-trail biking, machine operation, and song writing and performance. (His recording studio makes our property the centre of a thriving musical community already, and his involvement with environmental activism has attracted a close community of climbers.)

What I have to offer is my registration as a certified building designer, and my lifetime experience as a contractor licensed in carpentry, electrical contracting, and plumbing. In fact I’ve already built a well-equipped 4000 sq. ft. contractor’s shop on the property (keeping the footprint on barren rock of course). My background in biological studies has prepared me to act as a guide to the natural history of the area, and I am also an amateur astronomer. (If the intention is to give our guests the experience of living in a ‘Man as extremophile’ future, then surely looking up is ultimately an important part of that perspective.) For what it’s worth, I also have experience facilitating mindfulness meditation practice.

But now, to complete this list of what my brother and I bring to the table, I must confess that in the past I have been a logger and Terry has been a hunter and a trapper. What this means today, however, is that we can offer a personal dimension to the question of “natural-resource management” from an Extremophile Choice perspective.

Some Attractions we might Offer our Guests
The usual eco-tourism staples: natural-history-guided hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing on the river, kayaking on the Georgian Bay.
Extremophile-tourism extras:
  • Off-trail biking (to reach land destinations faster in the summer)
  • Rock-climbing, bouldering, ice-climbing and arboreal zip-lining
  •  Kite skiing
  • I would like to maintain a zendo, if only for my own use and for friends on an informal basis. Perhaps we will even bring in a teacher once in a while and offer meditation retreats.
  • Restaurant with greenhouse above and trout pond below, blasted into the bald rock footprint. This would be located so as to overlook a picturesque little rapids on the Shebeshekong river.

Accommodation: This will be in compact extremophile demonstration living units with built-in and transformable furniture (Each unit might include prominently displayed information about its ecological footprint). For example:

      1. Underground units, possibly connected mall-fashion. (People living in close quarters take up less space and therefore make more room for un-fragmented wilderness. In fact this seems to have been the natural pattern for us “hyperprosocial” human beings from the beginning.)
      2. Maybe a cliff-dwelling. (Terry is also a powder-man.)
      3. Individual “cottages” contoured to bare rock outcroppings.
      4. Elevating “tree houses” on steel piles. [This might be appropriate for experiencing life in the swamp (swamps can be extraordinarily beautiful, and fragrant). We might want to provide Tyvek clothing for this even though mosquitoes do seem to stay close to the ground or water surface.]
      5. Small self-sufficient biosphere systems. [Note: it’s very important to keep in mind that self-sufficiency is a virtue only in regards to the human relationship to Nature: the human-human relationship generally gets more efficient when our inter-dependency is specifically scaled to each of our various needs. For instance, we will certainly want to experiment with distributed-power systems — this is part of my electrical contracting business already — but this doesn’t mean we have to be “off the grid” as a matter of principle, just as we don’t have to be vegetarian simply as a matter of principle. Humans are generally more productive in large — and philosophically diverse — groups, and pragmatism (the right choice for the right time and place) has always been the key to our success.