Community and the environment vs. development in Bedford, N.S.

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Sandra Banfield and Mark Currie of the Save Bedford's Waterfront Society. They are committed to saving the natural shoreline in their community of Bedford, Nova Scotia, in the face of the powerful pressures of for-profit development.

There are so many ways that our society is constantly taking bites, big and little, out of nature. Of course that isn't quite the right way to think about it -- our environment is not something separate from us that we either consume or leave alone. Rather, it is a whole world that we exist in relationship with, whether we choose to recognize that or not. But in how we relate to specific places, or to other elements of these systems, the choice of doing so such that we work with that which is already going on versus doing so such that we override, displace, de-complexify, and commodify often looks a lot like a choice betweeen leaving it alone or taking a bite out of it. And for so many of the ways in which our society is taking these bites, there is little opportunity for a collective, social decision about whether this is something we really want to be doing. And even in those instances where past struggle has won mechanisms that seem to be doing this, such as around questions of property development in many urban and suburban municipalities, the space for genuinely participatory and collective community decisions about such things can be vanishingly small. To make an impact, communities often have no choice but to mobilize.

Bedford, Nova Scotia, is a suburban bedroom community on the outskirts of Halifax. Because of the location of a particular rail line built during the 1850s, Bedford's waterfront managed to make it into the 21st century relatively undeveloped. But with the possibility of profits to be made, developers began pushing forward various projects and plans, and after a particularly unsatisfying public event in 2010 that was supposedly about consulting the community but that came across more like notifying them, the Save Bedford's Waterfront Society was born. In the five years of its existence, the group has had remarkable success in researching the issues, and educating and mobilizing the public in Bedford and in Halifax more generally. Mark Currie is the group's president and has done much of its research, and Sandra Banfield is its vice-president and is in charge of its social media work. They talk with me about the issue, the group, and its ongoing work to save Bedford's waterfront.

To learn more about the Save Bedford's Waterfront Society, click here. To follow them on Twitter, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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