Heather Menzies received the honour of the Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.
Here is what the jurors said:
“In this eloquent memoir written from the heart, Menzies takes the reader on a fascinating trip to the Scotland of her ancestors to examine and retrace life on the Scottish Commons. With a light and at times poetic touch, she offers her insights into how the venerable wisdom of sharing and caring for the land might be applied today. A unique combination of memoir and manifesto, Reclaiming the Commons urges us to become participants in changing our world for the common good.”
Dr. Richard T. Clippingdale, Suzanne Evans and merilyn simonds
Based on her presentation celebrating the re-opening of the LAC to the public
By Heather Menzies
Peter Schneider, Manager of the Public Lending Right Program and Executive Secretary to the Public Lending Right Commission (The Canada Council), and Heather Menzies chat at the re-opening of the Library and Archives Canada. Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada.
It might be rude when celebrating the Library and Archives of Canada being re-opened as a public cultural space to ask why this matters. But it still might be appropriate, considering how many people get their culture so much more conveniently now at home. It might also be timely to consider what public cultural spaces mean – by remembering and even re-envisioning them as a continuity of historical commons.
As I learned when exploring my roots in the Scottish Highlands, the word common, deriving from two Latin words, means ‘together as one.’ For my ancestors, it meant people coming together in mutual self-interest in shared habitat. It involved working out relations with the land for the common good, which at root meant mutual sustainability: the sustainability of habitat and inhabitants both.
On March 9, 2016, Heather Menzies spoke to the Canadian Association of Clubs of Rome in Ottawa, Canada, where she spoke on the theme “Living the Limits to Growth.” Have a listen and let us know what you think in the comments.
So sorry to miss it in person! It is excellent!! Inspiring. Just plain wonderful.
Susan Tanner, former Executive Director, Canadian Environmental Network
If we are to heal the earth, we must also heal ourselves, individually and as communities. Moreover, the two are inter-connected. It’s all about relations — relations of mutual recognition and respect and mutual support and sustainability. It’s also about the daily practices of mutuality and responsible self-governance that support these relations.
First, that we all have ancestral relations to the land; and,
second, that positioning ourselves to reclaim this, at first just in our imagination as a possible shift in perspective, is a critical step in reconnecting with the earth and the urgent task of transforming our economic and political relations with it, for mutual survival.
Countdown to Paris, Dec., 2015: The People’s Climate & 350.org
This article starts “The People’s Climate” blog series by Heather Menzies, author of Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good: A memoir & a manifesto.
In Reclaiming the Commons, I praise Bill McKibben and 350.org as Luddites for our times for championing limits on energy extraction.
– Heather Menzies
# One: On why a “People’s Climate” works, but only so far.
If you’d marched to the UN shouting “the people’s climate” 20 years ago, it wouldn’t have made sense like it does now. Two things have changed.
Back then, scientist-experts informed government decision-makers who spoke and acted to defend common-good things like the climate and the environment on behalf of people and the planet. Sometimes they needed a nudge from opposition parties and civil society groups, but that generally moved things along, sort of; though the crisis kept deepening, becoming more palpably obvious too. Now civil society groups –the people– are taking the initiative, informing themselves of the science and telling decision-makers what to say and do, NOW. The fate of the earth, and of its climate is no longer a scientists’ or official policymakers’ issue. It has become a people’s issue.