Bill Totten's Weblog

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sail Transport for the Good/s of the Future

by Juniper Elk

For ten years, the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium has been committed to the halting of car culture expansion. Bicycles are rather familiar to the readers of the Auto-Free Times, as are buses and other mass-transit alternatives. Unfortunately, even if our individual transportation needs are met sustainably, many of us find ourselves using products and services delivered many miles to our locale aboard polluting tankers and semi-trucks.

Trans-oceanic shipping via sail is a viable alternative for our sustainable future. In the past, for centuries, traders and explorers used the power of Mother Nature's breath to propel them great distances over sea. This art, lifestyle and economic keystone has been reduced in recent times to a mere recreational activity. As we look towards the day when toxic gases are no longer habitually spilled from the apparatus of our human culture, and people are reinvested in their local strengths and ecosystem, we must consider the role sail freight and transport will play in maintaining healthy connections around the world. Here in Arcata, California we see the potential for sail trading, as navigable waters stretch towards citrus, coffee and cocoa regions to the South, tropical fruits to the Southeast, treasured spices and culture to the East, and a wealth of indigenous crafts and flourishing sea foods to the North. These products serve to enrich our lives. Receiving them under real time conditions and with the understanding that they are sent from the hands which produced them, in exchange for that which we as recipients have to offer, promises to rekindle our human potential for creation and pride.

When we reduce the scale of such a project to a self-contained marine bio-region such as the Puget Sound area of Washington State and British Columbia, we see that launching such a venture now is feasible, inspiring and helpful in beginning to untangle the corporate knot of global "free" trade. Without alternatives to big-business' exploitive labor and policies and their pollutive shipping, we are either at the mercy of their reforms or cut off from these goods via conscious abstinence. And besides, before the mass forced extinction of native livelihoods, boat trade and cultural exchange in this area had been traditional via kayaks and canoes for millennia.

Let us all truly consider a fossil-fuel free world. May we have the capacity and know-how to venture to distant places and maintain healthy, mutually beneficial relations with local economies around the globe. Hemp may return for canvas and rope. Let us start to visualize the role that sails, and the wind that drives them, will play in the glorious future we fight for. The Earth and her atmosphere are ready for us to live amongst her and in awe and praise of her power. Sail freight and transport are integral to our sustainable future.

For more information contact the Sail Transport Network at

Culture Change mailing address: Post Office Box 4347 , Arcata , California 95518 USA
Telephone (and fax) 1-215-243-3144



Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit organization.

Bill Totten