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'Rough Weather Ahead': A Reader-funded Exposé

You who gave made possible Chris Wood's powerful series on global warming and BC.

David Beers 10 Aug 2006TheTyee.ca

David Beers is the founding editor of The Tyee and serves as current editor-in-chief.

He started the publication in 2003 as an experiment in new ways of doing online journalism in the public interest, including solutions-focused reporting, crowd-funded support and a humane work culture. He loves what The Tyee has become thanks to amazing colleagues and readers.

He has lived in Vancouver since 1991. Before The Tyee he was a senior editor at Mother Jones Magazine and the Vancouver Sun, and his writing has appeared in many U.S. and Canadian outlets. He is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia's graduate school of journalism.

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Chris Wood, Tyee Investigative Reporting Fellowship recipient.

We are proud today to present the first fruits of your generous donations to The Tyee's Fellowship Funds for Investigative and Solutions-oriented Reporting.

Read Chris Wood's two articles revealing B.C. communities at serious risk: Fraser River Will Surge over Dikes and The Coming Catastrophe.

Wood's proposal for a series on how global warming will affect us and what we can do about it was among the four selected by the independent panel of judges to award the fellowships.

The fellowships are intended to promote independent journalism that educates the public about important issues facing British Columbia. We believe Wood's stories today perfectly fulfil that mandate, as they reveal the dire threat of drowned communities along the Lower Fraser River due to inadequate dikes and early warning system cutbacks.

Reader power

This, and three more very important articles to follow in this series "Rough Weather Ahead" will reach the public thanks to you, Tyee readers who contributed to the funds last year, helping us raise over $36,000 in our first effort.

In the months ahead, look for three more series from the other Tyee Fellowship recipients. Rhiannon Coppin will report on a critical, fascinating mining issue. David Olsen will explore a simple, yet sweeping potential change to our public transit system. And Sandra Shields will chronicle attempts to reconcile First Nations and non-native communities.

For these recipients, your funding is supporting the kind of in-depth research and reporting rarely afforded independent journalists anymore. Chris Wood, for example, conducted more than 30 significant interviews and reviewed a score of major provincial, municipal and federal scientific and other studies. He also toured the GVRD's water system from source to sewer, and his inquiries took him all over the Okanagan and into other corners of the province.

Challenges and solutions

Wood, who freelances from his base in Ladysmith, B.C., won two National Magazine Awards this year and is working on a book about global warming. He says the $5,000 Tyee Investigative Reporting Fellowship was essential to digging out the B.C.-specific information you'll find in his Tyee series, including today's startling exposé of a Lower Fraser dike system that experts say is destined to fail catastrophically.

His series, says Wood, is a sobering wake-up call about the droughts as well as deluges in our future, but he is hopeful people will heed the message. And his series offers some positive responses as well as disturbing news.

"I'm looking at what's bearing down on us, what it means and the choices we have to make in order to cope with climate change in order to maintain our lifestyle and the environment on which we depend," says Wood.

"We are playing a very dangerous game of Russian roulette with our cities. Much of this province's population lives at the mouth of a vast river basin. And all the weather bringing that water down the river basin is changing. And we don't know when our number will come up."

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to The Tyee's Fellowship Funds please read this.

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