Overview and Introduction


My name is Bruce Witzel – I am a journey carpenter keen on conservation, renewable energy and social ecology. My wife Francis Guenette, and I, live in an off- CROPPED SEL PORTRAITgrid home on Vancouver Island, part of Canada’s west coast. The past few years we have been enjoying the wonderful experience of 2 irresistible grandchildren.

My interests include politics, ecology, photography, architecture and reading – novels, biographies and current affairs. I also plink the piano and sing songs (sometimes out of tune) from Neil Young to Bob Dylan.

Now I am exploring the blogosphere and being introduced to a plethora of discerning people, from all over the world – the world wide web! “The increasing connectivity of the human race is advancing personal awareness of all relationships that make up a complex and diverse world,” writes Jeremy Rifkin in his book The Empathic Civilization. (pg594)

My blog is primarily visual and entitled Through the Luminary Lens. You may find it useful and intriguing to dovetail Francis’ writing blog, Disappearing in Plain Sight, as a useful counterpart to my photo blog, and vice versa. Besides, Fran is way funnier than I am and she is a gifted novelist with a past career as a trauma counselor, university researcher and an educator. Her acclaimed novels, Disappearing in Plain Sight, The Light Never Lies, and Chasing Down the Night are available online, or from the Vancouver Island Regional Library and a few select stores on the North Island.

My educational background is through BCIT where I obtained my Diploma of Building Technology with an Architectural Option.

Fran and I are members of Amnesty International and the Council of Canadians (a progressive non-profit citizen’s organization).

I am also a past member of the British Columbia Sustainable Energy Society.

If there were only one post I recommend you read here, it is Transformation and Age of the Earth,, with beautiful photography and an uplifting message from my good friend Charles Brandt. He is a hermit priest on Vancouver Island and a world renown conservationist.

Thank you kindly for visiting these pages and I hope you will find the posts enjoyable, informative and uplifting.

Namaste – The Sacred in Me recognizes The Sacred in You (translated form Sanskrit)

                                                                        Our cabin – Powered by Renewable Energy


127 thoughts on “Overview and Introduction

    • Thank you so kindly Cindy .And you are an amazing nature photographer! A bit of history on our local Orca’s… Dr. Paul Spong founded the Orca lab research center near Robson Bight, way back in the 70’s. He and his partner pioneered the study of Orca’s, their dialects and the different family pods. Also, a solar pioneer… Originally a neuroscientist, he was then captured by the beauty and brilliance of the Orca’s. If you head out to Knight Inlet from Telegraph Cove, make sure to drop into the General Store and pick up a copy of Disappearing in Plain Sight, my wife’s first novel of the Crater Lake Series… her novels capture the essence of the North Vancouver Island wilderness & people. May you truly enjoy your holiday up here & thanks for visiting, again! I look forward to a future post about it.

  1. Hi Bruce – I came across your blog when reading about the incredible life of Charles Brandt – do you know if he is still living on Vancouver Island?

  2. Pingback: Earth Day, California. Changing the focus. | breathelighter

  3. Bruce, thanks for dropping by my blog spontaneous presence.net. Other than knowing, I can see the how and the why we are connected. Nothing like grandchildren to focus your intention, eh?

    • Yes, they teach me to live in the present moment, like little gurus. I enjoyed your story of driving in the autumn and the transformation you felt with the Pema Chodron retreat. All the best in your journey to the east. Peace and love – Bruce

    • Thank you kindly Kitty. I am working in a sort of Slow Blog manner, so I decided to not participate in awards. I do appreciate the hard work and diversity you share on your many posts, in regards to social justice and ecological issues. Keep up your good work. Bruce

  4. Bruce, thank you for visiting my blog as like that I discovered your incredible blog. The stunning pictures and your writing including my favourite quotes. It is so lovely to visit Canada this way! Thank you!

    • Thanks Joanne – in regards to the chubby little birds shots, most have been taken by my friend Fr.Charles Brandt, who trained as a ornithologist almost 70 years ago. Glad you enjoy the photos.

  5. Hi, you have a great page!

    I am sorry my friend, I have understood what you mean and I agree with you.
    I don’t have time a lot, so ı post one times a week… yes I know sometimes too much.
    Have a nice weekend!

  6. Dear Bruce, Yes I am glad to add to this list of connected global hearts. Probably the only thing which we as human animals can do best on a global perspective. Two weeks ago I started a studies programm on environmental science and management. This insight into some hard given facts concerning our ecological foot prints, is making me all the more conscious about choosing well the people I wish to share my energy with. Every single one of us is making the difference and every single soul really matters a whole lot. Feel blessed for your cause and enjoy, as I am sure you do, your wife and grandchildren :-). Kind regards, Gogofish

    • Thank yo so much. My friend Charles Brandt started his studies on the environment, conservation and ornithology about 7 decades ago, and you too will do the earth well, I’m certain.

      Throughout my life I have felt despair about what we as a species are doing to the planet and each other. I have come to understand and realize that we may not be able to survive on this planet if we continue the way we are going. I am no longer under any illusions, and paradoxically this disillusionment seems to nullify my despair and makes me more committed to working for the paradigm shift we need to save ourselves, and the other disparaged species that we are dependent on – and the grandchildren.

      I am heartened and strengthened in this resolve, knowing that they are so many others, as yourself, who are actually making a positive difference – walking the talk, so to speak. And as you say “every single soul really matters a whole lot.”

      Although I’m not a baseball fan I think of how Jackie Robinson was an agent of change, against all odds. Another great ball player also once said, “it is not over, till it’s over.”

      Kind regards, as well, and peace. Bruce

      • Dear Bruce,
        A piece of science if you haven’t read, “the revenge of gaia” from James Lovelock. It is for sure not over, if the earth is made of the same substance as myself, it will be a hell of a ride, but we will survive :-)!
        Thank you kindly for your support.

    • Thank you kindly. I briefly glanced over at your blog, and noticed many beautiful photos of nature & some nice macros. I’ll head back again to look more closely, but I have to go to work soon. Bye for now. Bruce

  7. Hi Bruce,
    I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen your posts in the Reader in a while. See if you can find out why that’s happening. It can happen, for instance, if you use too many tags for your posts. I lost track of your blog for a while because I didn’t see your posts in the Reader. 😦

    • Hi Tanya. It’s interesting you mention this, because I too haven’t seen your posts in my reader… well I just saw a few today. Hmmm . . . I am careful to not have more than 15 tags, etc., so I have no idea what is happening to cause these problems. 😦

  8. Hi Bruce, nice to meet you. I’ve been travelling around your blog – beautiful photographs, and some very thoughtful pieces. Thanks for visiting our blog and the ‘likes’. What made you pick out the Mexico City post?

    • Hi Alison – I had three trips and 8 months living in Mexico between 1982 and 1992. I got to know Mexico City quite well, and this brought memories back – the zocala, the ruins, and the canals at Xo—— (sp). Also travelled and stayed in Oaxaca and Chiapas – I look forward to checking some of your other Mexico posts as well.
      Namaste – Bruce


    • Yes. Absolutely – I only ask that you give credit of the photo by linking back to my blog, if you could do that?

      Back about 10 years ago during the review on the moratoriun of oil exploration on the BC coast, I was part of the groundswell of opinion and submissions that ultimately led to a decision to keep the moratorium active. I’m also with you on on minimizing oil tanker traffic today. In my view, less moving oil equals more conservation of energy plus less oil wasted and more renewable sources of energy installed.

      One clarification. The photo was taken right after the Nestucca oil barge spill in 1988, not in 1998. Later, some of us volunteers involved in the cleanup of the oil spill filed a class action suit against the owners of the barge – the company then laid a counter suit called a SLAPP suit – Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. What an Orwellian mouthful, eh? We had to drop the suit.

      I am definitely honoured that you would consider using the photo for such an important issue. Thanks Ian.

  9. Nice to find your blog, Bruce. I’ve never been to Vancouver but I hope to visit some day. My son is really interested in off-the-grid living and would be fascinated by what you’re doing. Love your photography! 🙂

    • Vancouver is definetely a beautiful city, nestled between the coast mountains and Georgia Strait.

      In terms of the off grid living, I have been at it for 36 years now. Your son would love this link to the website of Homepower.ca – , the small company that worked on our most recent energy upgrade. If you (or he) scrolls down the page to Home Power System # 2, that is me and my wife Francis’ home! It shows briefly and consicely how our system works, along with great photos. My friend Peter T. has a great knack to explain (and design) in simple terms, renewable energy systems.

      I appreciate your comments. Your photography is wonderful too. Best regards – Bruce

      • Thanks for sending me that link, Bruce. I shared it with my son; he attended an Earthship conference recently in Montreal about off-the-grid living. It looks very cool.

        Thanks for the nice compliments! 🙂 Take care!

    • Tanya – this looks like a great endeavour, and I have been following the progress. Great logo and name by the way. Presently I’m going hold off and observe for awhile for a few different reasons. For one thing, as a selkf employed carpenter this is my busy season. Secondly, if I commit to something, I don’t want to commit half-heartedly. I appreciate dearly the work you are doing. and I hope you con’t misunderstand my hesitation.Thanks for the invitation. Bruce

  10. Hi Bruce; Your blog and your wife’s blog both look interesting and I’m glad I found you! Thanks for dropping by The Doglady’s Den and commenting on the Rolling Stones post. I sent you a reply as well. Cheers!

    • Thank you Debby, for your comment and for your interest in following Fran and my blog from over here on the west coast of British Columbia. Fran and myself visited Toronto for the first time about 5 years ago, and we loved it there.

      Your ‘Stones’ post was very comprehensive and I loved the listen to some of those old classics. Having just heard the keith richard comment on CBC radio’s “Q”, I had to comment. I’ll drop by again.

      Peace and love, as we used to say – Bruce

  11. I’m glad you understand! I struggled with how to respond to award nominations, as well, so that’s why I wrote some blog posts about it. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in how I feel about awards. I’m flattered to hear you say I showed leadership!
    Honestly, I had a feeling you were the kind of person who doesn’t care that much for awards- your posts aren’t usually just about you, but how you want to help people and the planet. People like yourself don’t usually have big egos!

  12. Thank you so much, Tanya, for your heartfelt explanation; both here and on your recent blogposts. To be honest, I haven’t liked the awards, though I do like and understand the genuine aprreciation people show in giving them.

    The first few times I was nominated I attempted to graciously decline – then I sort of started saying “ah thanks”, but not much more – and I have felt a bit guilty to not explain to other bloggers why I wasn’t following up. And I don’t want feel guilty – or be guilty. I was just sort of avoiding the issue – and that is not usually a good strategy in life.

    In a meaningful and real way, your speaking out about this shows your careful discernment and leadership by example, It is something I have wanted to say (and i’m certain other folk to), but I haven’t done so. So thanks for having this courage yourself. I appreciate this deeply. Bruce

  13. Hi Bruce! I don’t know if you’ve gone to the link I sent you in my post nominating you for an award, but it’s no longer there because I decided to take it down. I’ve taken down the pages that displayed my awards, which also had the list of award nomination rules you have to follow when you are nominated. If you still need the rules for the award, I can send them to you on your About page. I talked about why I’ve decided not to participate in the awards process in 2 of my last posts.

    I still love your blog! I just think that it’s enough to send someone a message about how you appreciate their blog without giving awards. Writing a nice message to someone is more personal, I think.

    Take care! Let me know what you think!

    • I am so sorry that this comment slipped by, and I hadn’t responded yet . . . so I revisited you, and it was wonderful to read and learn about Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Moslems. Inter-faith knowledge and sharing is so important to get by misunderstanding and prejudices – how better than talking about our faiths or philosphies? Namaste and Peace – Bruce

      • Bruce, never mind the slip! Although I want to comment on blogs, I find that I’m pressed for time. There must be a secret in how to keep up:-) May peace and blessings come your way today too.

      • Yea – in some ways it what i enjoy most about blogging . . the comments and the community. I try to check in with wordpress every few days, but time is always short. I am self employed so that helps – and I don’t watch TV, except for the occasional movie or documetary I get from our local library. This frees up some time. By the way – a blessed holy day to you . . and don’t worry about replying to this – I know your out there somewhere on this beautiful blue-green planet earth 🙂

  14. I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! Someone just nominated me, and even though I don’t know what “Liebster” means, I was flattered anyway! People nominate blogs they like and that have 200 or less followers. You have a bit more than 200, but I love your blog, so I’m nominating you anyway!
    There are a few rules that bloggers who are nominated have to follow to accept the nomination- it’s a little weird, but I did it anyway. You probably don’t have to follow them perfectly.
    You can find the info on my blog– http://illuminatebytanya.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/thanks-ive-been-nominated-for-the-liebster-award/.

  15. Bruce my friend, I like what you are writing about but please do not shout so loud, I can still see what you are writing, promise. 😉
    Font #10 works great? 🙂

    • Thanks for wink, wink – nod, nod. Font 30 for Power to the People, was a little ‘loud’ – I admit. 🙂 I think in future, sticking to 14 or 16.5, (and judicious use of 18 for an occasional header), will be a more ‘happy, humble and quiet’ medium.

      I forgot that capitalization and large font is sometimes analagous with shouting on the internet. And I realize now, that I have gradually gone bigger. ‘Less is more’, does comes to mind. And i do struggle with clear communication.

      To explain my choice of a larger font size, is partly due to my ‘need to be different’. And partly it is because some older people have mentioned they like larger font as their eyesight begins to fail them.

      I appreciate the gentle feedback and your ‘wisdom of an elder’. Through the ‘blog-o-sphere’, I have found a wonderful way to express my voice, and for my voice to be heard. I don’t want to be seen as a voice shouting in the wilderness!

      Thank you for honoring me with friendship, Sachem Speaks. Sincerely – Bruce

    • Wow – thanks Ann marie. The speed of cyber-space!!! Guess you’d call this syncronicity . . . and timing 🙂

      I love your digital art, and your about page, too! Peace and best regards . . . Bruce

  16. Pingback: Thank you Julianne Victoria | theseeker

    • Thanks Lisa – My wife and I have explored your neck of the woods a bit, even though we’re a hop skip and a jump across Georgia Strait and Puget Sound. I look forward learning more about the area and of your day to day experiences. Your DIY gardening tips will be an added bonus. 🙂 Cheers, to you and yours . . . Bruce

      • We are starting a big landscaping project next month after losing three trees in our front yard and I plan to share our progress as we go. 🙂 I am also looking forward to seeing more of Vancouver Island!

  17. Hi Bruce,

    Thanks so much for the recent blog follow. It led me to your blog and the beautiful images you have captured. I am now following your blog 🙂

    I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

    Happy blogging!


    • Thanks Nancy. I appreciate your kind comments. Your blog has many useful, interesting and diverse posts! I run a small carpentry business and sharing your MBA knowledge is generous.

      The post about your going on a recent drive in the country and remembering your dad, and realizing the sadness you felt of his passing had changed to good memories of his love for country drives – that moved me – and I remembered my own father with good thoughts as well. 🙂

  18. Namaskar Bruce-ji, It was nice to come across your interesting blog, though there is not much of a difference between the world Namaste & Namaskar, the minor difference is Namaskar is the original sanskrit word which got a bit modified as the use of Sanskrit language diminished over a period of time. You may say that Namaskar is a little more sanskritize way greeting vis-a-vis Namaste :-). Both the words are still commonly used in India, along with many other versions of them – different words and phrases used across India by people speaking different languages and dialects. But the essence remains the same, humility in our behavior by offering greetings which basically means an acknowledgement of their superior personality. Its very similar across Asian/ oriental cultures of India, China, Japan, Korea, etc.

    The young generation may say Hi/ Hello/ Wassup outside home but even they use Namaste/ Namaskar when interacting with family/ relatives/ elders.

    • Thank you for explaining more about the use of ‘namaste’ and ‘namaskur’. For me I use Namaste as an awknowldegement of the other pesons basic goodness – and I use it in respect of their being many spriitual paths.
      It is good to get the historical pesrspective and understand how it is used in India, today.

      Thank you for your generous comments and I’m so glad you visited my blog ‘through the luminary lens’. I was brought up Catholic, and although I’m not ‘technically’ practicing – here is a catholic greeting that is quite universal – Peace be with you, Bhuwan

      • 🙂 Thank you sir.

        The catholic greeting has universal value, key message from all religions in the world is unified, teaching peace, love and compassion.

        No matter how different we may seem from outside, inherently most of the human beings, or if I may say, all living creature on this planet have so many things in common. I could very well repeat how you describe yourself, I too was brought up in a Hindu family, and for years I also considered myself to be a Hindu by birth only and not ‘technically’ a practicing one. Things changed when my mom passed away around 6 years back and I felt the need that someone needs to carry on the technical/ ritualistic part of Hindu religion that was close to her heart throughout her life,

  19. Bruce! Hello out there. So glad to meet you (off-grid in Vancouver? Exotic, mindful and I’m sure beautiful). I hope to follow your thoughts had, and want to thank you for stopping by my blog and paying attention with a “like” and another “like.” You’re welcome any time. Much warmth from Switzerland, and I hope to learn much from you.—M

    • Thanks Melissa. That’s Vancouver Island – it is a common mistake people somtimes make. Here is a link to a Feb. post that shows, our “cabin in the woods’. (Thoreau). Weekly photo challenge – Home in the Woods . . . If your interested.

      You’re story about the death of your son, and your parents not talking about it – “giving you distance” – was very powerful. I am sorry about your loss, and can’t imagine how much pain you have been through, in this regard.

      You made a very good point, about how wrong it is for us not to talk about death to one another. I commented to my wife Francis, about this as I read your post, and she said “it is like people don’t even see you.”

      Francis was formerly a trauma counsellor, and you may find value and wisdom in her blog as well Disappearing in Plain Sight. Here is a link to post she did a few hours ago – A Glass of wine and a chat about Disappearing in Plain Sight, and amazinly it speaks about loss and death – albeit of a character in her new novel.

      Just thought I’d mention these things. I do concur with you, that the `blogoshhere`does seem to create a sense of community – sort of like a global vilage (to borrow the term from Marshall McLuhan.) And this feels authentic to me.

      Best regards, and a special condolence for you and your family in the loss of your eldest son. Bruce

  20. Hello Bruce,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and also liking my post. It is now my return visit to yours, which I found very interesting.
    I’m following yours now 🙂

    • Hello Chris – I will follow yours as well and we will get glimpses into each others worlds. Your photography is very well done, and Indonesia looks fascinating. Thanks for putting captions on the photos. Best regards from Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada. Bruce

    • I too enjoyed pondering over yours . . . “the gadgets diminish us” blog made me almost think “things” diminish us . . . and yet as you pointed out, “gadgets” are (at times) useful . . . ah the paradox. It is neat to meet a person from UAE. Best regards from this canadian earthling.

  21. Thank you for dropping on by.. The community of bloggers are now joining together in like minded thinking as they send their collective ripples out into the sea of consciousness…. Change of awareness is happening as people start to see We are the ones who have to make Change happen.

  22. beautiful introduction and i like how you and your wife are striving towards a kind and gentle lifestyle. so needed these days. thank you. peace + love ♥

    • Ah shucks, Patricia . . this is the first award I’ve been nominated for. Graciously I decline, as I’m keeping my blog in a minimalist form – “less is more” to quote architect Mies Van Der Rohe. By the way, I’m really enjoying your beautiful and informative blog about Vancouver and environs – to quote Van Der Rohe again, “God is in the details”. Best regards bruce

    • Heh, thats wonderful Victoria. Frans blog is soooo interesting (I’m biased 🙂 ) And her novel is just hot off the presses too! The setting of it is this lake! If you can imagine? Thank you so much for visiting!

  23. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and liking my photo! I appreciate it very much. You have an interesting blog and I look forward to following your posts. 😀

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