The Future of the Yukon (maybe): Radio Series “Yukon 2058”

We hear a lot about the future of New York, of San Francisco, of England.  Ever wondered what the NORTH would look like in 50 years? What would be happening, what kinds of trends here in the Yukon?  What kinds of possibilities?  Is it all going to be dark from climate change, or will we adapt as we go? I think it’s going to be a good Future if we can take better care of the Now.

Three years ago I created a five part series called “Yukon 2058” for the 50th anniversary of CBC.  They wanted something that celebrated their first 50 years, so I offered them a look at the next 50 years.  My theme was to eventually come back to why CBC is important, why local programming trumps National programming, why having a large staff in a small place like the Yukon is important.  I tried weave my opinions about what is good about CBC, and what is bad about the trends happening to CBC, into a narrative.  Yukon 2058 is the result.  5 parts.  The narrative of a CBC reporter wondering what his future will be, trying to find where he belongs in a rapidly competitive market.

You can go to the Radio Series page and look under YUKON 2058.


*image is Joyce Majiski’s “Racing Uphill.”  See more of her work on her website.

The Resonance of Flashforward for People of Faith

graph on the sidewalkThe ABC series, Flashforward, arguably one of the best written series in a long time, and the best using a science fiction concept, wrestles with a very old idea:  what if you knew the future?  The show expands it to ask: what if everyone knew the future? And by Episode 3:  What if everyone THOUGHT they knew the future?  This is not a new concept when you are dealing with people of faith.  Christians, specifically, have a vision of the future they hold on to.  Actually, they have two.

The first one is a concept of Heaven/Hell–that after they die, they will forever be installed in one of two polar extremes: a place of happiness vs. a place of sorrow–both eternal (also known as With God and Without God).  After that moment, there will only be a seamless future–one that never changes.  

This vision of the future does guide their/our actions to certain degree.  Some believe, still, that you have to hedge your bets.  Do a lot of good things to move your path towards Heaven, or ask forgiveness–quickly–and move yourself away from Hell.  This can also guide people’s actions towards you as they try to drag you to one path or the other–most often to Heaven by use of guilt, judgment or restriction.  Ah well, the path to Heaven, I guess is paved with good intentions too.

But really it’s the other vision of the future that is more worrisome for people of faith.  

Revelation was a book written based on John’s Flashforward.  In that vision he saw lots of stuff–lots of destruction, lots of wrath…it gets ugly.  And believers think they may have an escape route–the Rapture.  That miraculously they get to escape the major drama of the Earth’s end because they believed.  This is not unsubstantiated by the Bible, but it is questionable when it will happen. Trust me, I don’t want to argue pre-post-or mid-millenial tribulation/rapture.  And please–don’t discuss it in the comments!  

What I’d rather discuss is the idea that Christians may be creating the Tribulation themselves–or creating parts of it.

In Flashforward we are slowly beginning to believe that the main character, Agent Benford, is actually creating the bulletin-board he saw in his vision not because it has answers but because it was there.  In some ways, he may be creating his future, not actually solving the mystery of why everyone blacked out for two minutes.  We’ve already seen, in Episode 3, a man get hired to the position of airport security, not based on good qualifications, but because he saw himself in that future, and so did someone else.   

Many times I’ve watched Christians start to cringe if current events start to resemble events predicted in the Bible: the Anti-christ being a big icon to watch out for, as well as the Mark of the Beast, etc.  Credit cards, health cards, any kind of number that identifies you will no doubt bring a lot of fear–and have that implanted in a chip inside your hand or your forehead, and Christians will freak out.  (Hopefully lawmakers would NEVER pass an idea like that unless they want great opposition from Christians).  

I’ve lived through three people who were thought to be the Anti-Christ:  Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and now, Barack Obama, for various reasons.  Often each one of them had a mystical kabbalistic criteria (their names added up to three sixes as Reagan’s does, or Obama’s “name” was spoken about in the Bible as paired with Lucifer–a complete stretch of the imagination) and a few of them have been “assassinated” and come back to life (Reagan and the Pope).  Each time I hear that someone new is the anti-christ, I cringe, thinking that people are gonna start believing all us Christians are loony.  And some of them, those that seem to be magnets for the news, deserve that label, not the airtime.

But then I wonder how often I too look at events with Revelation in the back of my mind.  At what point will events start coinciding so well that there’s a tipping point in even the most casual reader of the Bible–where people start to say–Hey, I’ve seen that before?  How often do we reject good things based on a false premise that THIS moment is part of Revelation, when obviously time just keeps rolling on?  


In Christian circles, we often thank God we don’t know the future–because if we did, it might take away from “who holds the future” and make it Fate, not choice.  But maybe that fits more squarely in Christian mythos–that our fates, our destinies, are already written.  I don’t think so, myself.  Everyone has choices.  But if you see a glimpse of your future, you won’t know if it is meant to be, or if you are being given a warning. We ask all the time for God to guide our lives, for us to make good choices, but we fear getting on the road to the wrong destiny.  As if the roads are already there and once on them, we’ll go 90 miles an hour.  

From Cassandra’s ignored warnings to Oedipus fighting against his fate to modern day futurists who tell us what will happen based on world economic events…one of our eyes is always on the future.  But will we let our concepts of the future influence today’s actions?  Will we allow small evidence to convince us that we are living in  “the end times” and then make irrational decisions?  Or will we make good decisions based on evidence in front of us and walk knowingly into the future, brave, but watchful, not reacting to everyone who says—the anti-christ is here, the anti-christ is there, etc.

What’s probably most disturbing is the Christian concept that they will be persecuted in the End Times.  And certainly every time someone critiques a Christian we hear echoes of this “end times” fear resurface.  That the critique means that the critic must be an enemy, and that Christians are being targeted.  This most resembles “making the future happen.”  By letting ourselves be irrational, afraid of debate, sensitive to criticism, and dogmatically judgmental–I think we will create the discrimination and persecution that will probably come.  But it happens because we’re being a$holes.  I mean, spread negativity long enough, represent bigotry, discrimination and narrow-mindedness long enough and folks will be distrustful.  Eventually, yes, being a Christian will be bad publicity.  But NOT because the enemy is bad, but because Christians are unloving, paranoid judges.  We will create the future we don’t want to happen.  Just like Benford is creating in Flashforward.  

Flashforward is a great show, allowing us to be thankful we DON’T know the future.  What a burden.  Hopefully it will teach us to treasure the moments we have, without being afraid of what’s coming–and make us watch out not to create the fates we want to avoid.  Let’s be good to each other out there.  We’re in this world together.

Flashforward: the Excellence that “Knowing” could have been

flashforward Watch Flashforward, Episode One

Robert Sawyer’s Flashforward has been made into an ABC miniseries. It is a masterpiece. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how faithful the series is to the original book, but the book won an Aurora Award.

The premise is that everyone blacks out at the same moment for 2 min and 17 seconds. In that time, they glimpse their futures. When they return to the present, mass chaos has already happened. Planes fell from the sky, cars crashed, trains derailed. People died, lots of people died. Everyone had blacked out, so no one was in control of all those vehicles.

The main characters, and there are several, include two FBI agents, a surgeon, a man who lost a daughter in Afghanistan, a doctor about to commit suicide, and several others. The series will be about them either trying to avoid their futures, or trying to get to them, depending on what they saw.

Oddly enough, the date they jump to, April 29, 2010, will be the season finale of the show–and at that moment you get to see if they reenact their futures or not.

Obviously, I don’t know how they can carry this through after that episode…BUT, I’m thoroughly pleased with watching till they get there. After this first episode I know that we have a great team of writers involved.

Now, this is what “Knowing” should have been. In my original review of “Knowing” I talked about how the movie, though predicting disasters, left very few for the main characters to experience, and I was troubled by the fact that it seemed the directors had determined that no one could change anything, so why bother.  That movie dripped with errant theology and left no doubt that everything was predetermined.  I don’t mind that fate or God may be a part of my life, but free-will is a human trait,and makes movies much more palatable.  To see someone struggle against their fate, to see them try.  It is what makes those who are given two weeks to live all the more heroic for skydiving or organizing a political rally.  How we react to what seems to be inevitable–THAT is interesting.

Already, I can tell that the show has set up five or six different beliefs about pre-determinism.  Some believe God gave them a gift, others that He gave them a punishment.  Some want to avoid the future, some to run to it.  For some it predicted a horrible mistake they will make.  

“Knowing” passed up all opportunities for real drama with real people, skidded ahead with bad dialogue and coincidence, to an ending which tried to justify the movie.  

Flashforward is like Mozart taking hold of the Salieri “Knowing” and actually making a great movie out of it.  Yes, I know, Knowing only had two hours…but still, this series is good solid writing.

1.  The characters are individuals, who walk onto the scene with their own problems, their own pasts.  They are well drawn and WHAT they do will determine the plot, not what others do.  Now that the big blackout is done, the characters guide the series.  They will push things forward accidentally or on purpose to meet up to April 29th.  They will determine their plots!

2.  Great dialogue, great stuff that isn’t about “the plot”— that Dimitri has to dance at his wedding to “Islands in the Stream.”  That the chief of the FBI has to lie about his vision because he’s embarrassed.  

3.  The plot starts with the action.  I can imagine this series beginning without the crash first.  But who would have waited the whole episode to have the blackout?  Nope, have the crash first, back up, and then take it slow.  Maybe this is just the difference between TV and reading….but I think starting as fast as you can into the action gets people involved with you.  I noticed in Robert’s book, first chapter, that he has a description of each character first…but within a page, he gets to the blackout.  He knows the blackout is a great hook, and that everything of importance happens afterwards.  

4.  I like the music in this series, already, the building, the back and forth between plots so quickly so that you know they are happening simultaneously–the music and this choice to flash around gives you a sense that everything is tied together.  In some sense it is like a trailer—when the trailer starts shuffling between images so fast that you get excited: all trailers seem to end this way these days.  The director took the music and that shuffling sequence to build suspense.  

I hope Robert Sawyer makes a huge amount of cash from this.  This is brilliant stuff.  And I’m glad to see a Canadian Science Fiction Writer land such an opportunity.  I hope they do more interviews with Robert Sawyer in the States.  

Well, I will keep watching the series.  I’ve already become a HUGE fan. The Go-to Place for a Brighter, Greener Future





Just discovered this site. is a nonprofit media organization headquartered in Seattle, WA, that comprises a global network of independent journalists, designers and thinkers. We cover the world’s most innovative solutions to the planet’s problems, and inspire readers around the world with stories of new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future. We have brought awareness to issues like refugee aid, renewable energy and innovative solutions for improving building, transportation, communication and quality of life. Our readers are ready to change the world, and Worldchanging connects them with the latest ideas on how to do that.

In the five years since its founding, Worldchanging has produced more than 10,000 visionary articles and one bestselling book. and has become a go-to source for forward thinking, solutions-based journalism that takes a big-picture approach to sustainability. This approach has garnered us a great deal of attention, as Nielson recently ranked the second-largest sustainability website on the planet.

Our international network of experts and allies seek out new systems and ways of living from around the world. They report on those ideas with a healthy dose of curiosity and analysis, and ignite discussion and debate with you via comment threads on every page. Through our work, we introduce intelligent reasons for believing that action is possible, that better solutions are available, and that a brighter future can be built. 

The blog is full of good news, and the newsletter is free.  Find out what’s happening to make the world a better place.  


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Sample article:  China’s Growing Appetite for Climate Action.

Preparing us for the Era of Displaced Peoples: District 9

District-9-Wallpapers-Alien-Motherships-Guns-Helicopters-district-9-7039035-1920-1056District 9, Neill Blomkamp’s stunning directorial debut, is an intelligent science fiction movie, a disturbing Apartheid metaphor, but it might also be, unintentionally, a good look at the coming Global Diaspora and the problems of moving a whole nation of people inside another nation.  

The film asks what a country does when they are inundated, suddenly, with refugees or displaced peoples.  Johannesburg has a huge mothership hovering over the city, malnourished aliens trapped inside, and the city must make a quick decision.  To help or not to help?  They help.  But the problem of fitting a nation within nation becomes more than what the people can handle–more than what they want.  Long term care.   The people on the ground don’t want a whole nation moving into their world–people so alien.  The government had no precedent for what to do.  I know that Blomkamp is aiming for an Apartheid metaphor, but the sins of Apartheid will become our sins if we don’t come up with a plan on what to do with displaced peoples in the coming decades.

If Climate Change is occurring–whether man-made or not (the arguments shouldn’t stop precautionary measures)–Tuvalu, the island is sinking, and so are a number of other islands.  Their sinking isn’t the only problem.  The more water on the island, the more threat from disease, the more threat from storms, etc.  A very real scenario is that island populations will be forced to find other places to live–on the mainland.  That’s not a science fiction solution–that’s a practical prediction.  These migrations are not a bit of immigration for one country.  With the number of island nations we have in the world, this will be a LOT of immigration for every country.  

How do you put American Samoa inside Kansas, let’s say?  A nation within a nation.  WIll there be sovereignty issues to think about?  Yes.  What control do Samoans have over their life if they are in Kansas?  Or the Japanese inside Mainland China, or more likely, Canada?  

Climate change isn’t just about some places getting hotter or wetter; it is about changing the map entirely.

District 9, then, plays as a fable of what NOT to do, what CAN happen if governments are unprepared to consider wider immigration revision, sovereignty issues, incorporating whole cultures within nations, relocation plans.  I believe in the next thirty years that this will be a reality—that we will look at the country we’re living in and find separate, but integrated, countries within them, that people who lived on islands will have to choose new homes, erect temporary governments.  They will need everyone’s help.  

We can’t make it look like the photo from District 9 above.  But we have to have infrastructure prepared for a global movement of people.  I wonder when countries like ours in North America, China, Russia, with large land mass, and whole sections with low population, will realize that they may become the destination of a nation.  Johannesburg in the movie was caught off guard.  We don’t have to be.  We can be ready for large scale movements of people, ready to know how to integrate cultures.  

Canada has had some good prep already.  Known to be a country which allows new immigrants to keep their cultures intact, and a country that has been negotiating Land Claims and First Nation Sovereignty issues, they might start looking at ways they might use their plans for the Final Agreement on Land Claims to accommodate millions of new people looking for a home.  

I know, it’s freaky to think about, but I don’t think it’s far down the road.  

Immigration is about the resettlement of one or two families at a time, not whole cultures.  Refugees from Darfur come closer as a model.  Look at how that played out.  4 Million people were displaced in Sudan, and into Chad.  People escaping destruction.  They are still recovering, even as half of those people have returned home.  But what happens when it’s the whole nation and they can’t go back?  What do you do about their governments, their cultures, their possessions, integrating them into the workforce?  Can we wait to think about this?   Or will we have to build our own crudely-constructed District 9?  We are used to solving these problems by solving the political conflicts within a country—but water doesn’t recognize diplomacy.

Inaugural Poem: Take Out Your Pencils. Begin.

I just finished watching the Inaugural Events on TV. Many things to talk about, but I want to use the words of the Inaugural Poet, Elizabeth Alexander, as a call to writers, and a call to Americans, to face the challenges we face in the world today.

Her poem, Praise Song for the Day, was Whitmanesque in its description of everyday people doing their jobs, but when she came to the Teacher telling the students to take out their pencils and begin, it stirred me. It reflected Obama’s call to action, and I heard it as a writer.

In Canada, I feel a bit outside of history as an American. As if America has gone on without me. It was my choice to leave America and work and live in the Yukon. I don’t regret that choice as much as I seek to know what my role is now. If anything, the Inauguration of Barack Obama called out the American part of me to work hard for freedom and justice. But here I am, in another country, and not so skilled at building bridges or repairing roads or even close enough to move towards changing policies. But I am a writer, an American writer. And there is much you can do with a pencil.

Alexander’s poem reminded me that we are all at the beginning of a test. A fiscal test, an international test, a test of our ideals and the strength of our nation. Wherever we are, we have that test before us–and now is the time to bring out our pencils and begin writing.

On this Inauguration Day, let us all take out our pencils and write the future. Write new policies, new ideas, to “meld imagination with a common purpose” as Pres. Obama said, and change what needs to be changed with a pencil and an eraser. Because with pencils, erasers are standard issue–we make mistakes, but we can correct them. Still, we have to write. Write to inspire. Write to correct. Write to change. To remind. To call out. Envision. Direct. Encourage. Explain. Record. Unite. Obama said to the nations that would oppose America–“We will outlast you.” And writing can outlast a thousand nations, even as it forges them.

Yes, I can build a bridge, repair a road, strengthen infrastructure–even from outside the United States. Writing has no borders.

Writers, go forge. “Take out your pencils. Begin.”