By Jesse Laufer
Thomas Martin spent his Earth Day surrounded by nature, but he didn’t feel connected with it.
He was speeding past it in a car on the way back from visiting the Site C Dam site, fighting to stop the mega project.
Martin turns 81 Saturday. But the avid environmentalist and published author didn’t start advocating for the environment until he moved to Vancouver in 2001 after 30 years in Saskatchewan.
It was there, spending time surrounded by the pristine scenery around Lynn Valley, that he not only became infatuated with nature, but also met his wife Ana Simeon who works with Sierra Club B.C.
They moved to Victoria six years ago. Over that time, Martin completed his second book, From Democracy to Biocracy: Finding the River of Life, which was released this month.
Martin said the easiest way to define biocracy is “democracy plus nature,” but the book itself is about making democracy more inclusive of nature.
To Martin, one of the unintended side effects of democratic capitalism has been humanity’s separation from nature. He believes as a whole, western society has focused on money and machines for too long, and that though everyone recognizes nature, it is primarily viewed as a resource rather than our own environment. Even when people talk about saving the environment, that thought is often motivated by the need to save resources, rather than our connection to them.
Looking around a café discussing his book, he explained that without nature no one would be able to sit around enjoying their buzz.
“We return to nature I think by allowing ourselves to experience it in a new way, and I’m not just talking about going to a city park,” he said.
“I’m talking about hiking along the West Coast Trail, climbing in Manning Park, and you’re surrounded by nature, it’s everywhere. You begin to recognize that ‘I wouldn’t be here without it.’”
He did his best to write From Democracy to Biocracy not too academically, though the book is non-fiction. That said, at times he tries to make his point through stories.
The book is separated into two parts, “Outrage” and “We are part of the Earth.” His biggest literary inspirations are authors Joanna Macy and Thomas Berry, though he acknowledges his wife and the ecosystems they visit together as his main inspiration.
From Democracy to Biocracy: Finding the River of Life, can be found online at biocracynow.ca/bookstore.html.