This is my charge to everyone: We have to be better. We have to love more and hate less, listen more and talk less. It is our responsibility to make this world a better place.
World Cup winning US Women’s Soccer Team
A Mountain to Climb
We didn’t want to have to climb a mountain. We worked hard and travelled far. We accomplished, we contributed, we sacrificed and we suffered. We were not expecting laurels, but sitting by the warm fire, maybe.
We didn’t see this one coming, not really. It was in our peripheral vision, but there was work to be done, family, friends, professional associations, meetings and conferences, projects to be completed and dreams to realize. It was surely troubling, a big issue, but somehow, it would be taken care of. In the same way an iceberg shows up on radar, then quite suddenly the ship is face-to-face with it, we have arrived at a crisis. An increase in global warming of 1.5° C is tolerable, 2° C is problematic. We are headed for 3.2°. Our backs are against the wall.
I don’t want to use this word ‘crisis’. I don’t want to scare children or disturb anyone who is sleeping well after working hard. At the same time, I don’t want to be deluded, nor do I wish that for you. I don’t want us to look back at ourselves from the future and realize that we saw it coming and turned away. I don’t want us to turn away because the issue is big and the hour is late. I don’t want us to claim that we recognize the importance of objectivity and then disregard the findings of science. I don’t want us to claim to be rational and behave irrationally.
We founded the Green Technology Education Centre or GTEC, as we refer to it, because we wanted to do something about climate change, income disparity and the dissolution of community. We had a dream of an education centre that would be a model for sustainable urban living and healthy community in the rapidly changing world of the 21st century. It was a grandiose and idealistic dream.
To make this dream a reality we needed to start somewhere and in 2019 we did. We got on the ground thanks to partnerships with first, one and now two Neighbourhood Houses and to the visionary support of the Vancouver Foundation. We got on the ground with the publication of a bi-monthly, online, free access journal called the GTEC Reader. We got on the ground by collaborating with Lunge Inc. in the development of GreenShift, an application enabling household users to assess their contribution to ‘greening’ their home and their community. We got on the ground and now we have a mountain to climb.
GTEC’s Neighbourhood Environmental Education Project (NEEP)
The convergent issues of climate change, income disparity and community fragmentation require a transformation of society on a unprecedented scale. Social change of this order is more likely to take place neighbourhood by neighbourhood in the currency of everyday relationships between people rather than solely by top down policy making and legislation. Because Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Houses are directly connected to over 100,000 people in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland we felt they would be ideal partners for a community development approach.
In fall of 2019 GTEC presented a series of 7 Wednesday evening workshops on environmental issues at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House. The following is a list of those workshops:
- October 2 – Emotive, BC
- October 16 – Environmental Youth Alliance
- October 23 – Saltspring Island Seeds
- October 30 – HUB Cycling
- November 6 – Nada Grocery
- November 13 – SPEC
- November 20 – Salish Sea Eco-retreats
- November 27 – Natural Capitalism
All workshops were video-taped and posted on the GTEC web site enabling persons unable to attend to view the contents of the workshop.
In addition, on the evening of November 18 GTEC hosted a Community Town Hall about environmental issues. Flowing from the Town Hall and in the spring of 2020, GTEC will provide a support group at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House, as well as a follow-up community planning session. Workshops will continue at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House in the spring and begin in partnership with Collingwood Neighbourhood House with a Town Hall on February 6th, 2020. Discussions with South Vancouver and Marpole Neighbourhood Houses are ongoing.
Beginning with its inaugural issue published on September 1, 2019, the GTEC Reader aspires to serve as a voice of change. The Reader provides a forum for addressing the inter-linked issues of culture, economics and the environment in a way that is more accessible than academic journals, but nevertheless well thought out and evocative. Issue 1 included an interview with Andrew Weaver; an article by prominent environmental economist, Coro Strandberg; an article by BC author and environmentalist, Scott Lawrence; a book review by retired City University Canada professor and author, Colin Sanders; a ground-breaking article about electric vehicles by therapist and author, Mary Kean; and original work by distinguished Canadian painter, Rod Prouse. Volume 1, Issue 3 comes out in early January.
GreenShift is the working title for software under development through a partnership between GTEC and AI based software developer, Lunge Inc. GreenShift development is currently being funded by Wellspring Foundation. We hope to have a prototype completed early in 2020.
In June of 2019 GTEC was awarded charitable status by Canada Revenue Agency. GTEC is thankful to Michelle Nguyen for her work on GTEC’s Neighbourhood Environmental Education Project, to Iola Girardi for her very capable copy editing, and to other important volunteers for their work on the website, and in administrative assistance. Our thanks to all those who have supported us with their donations, encouragement and interest.
Denial is entrenched at so many levels, but it is gruesomely absurd when hardware stores in Sydney are running out of particulate- blocking masks, and schools are open or closed on a day-to-day basis, depending on risk. Friends tell stories of the smoke haze setting off fire alarms inside their workplaces, so that they are evacuated into the same filthy air. Ash is turning beaches on the South Coast black.
Like so many others, I’m in mourning for a world that’s disappearing. The Great Barrier Reef has almost died in my lifetime; thickets of insects no longer spatter the windshield when we drive down country roads. As awful as it is, it’s almost a relief to have something immediate to plan for, something concrete to protect my child from, more real than my own fear.
January 4, 2020
Globe & Mail
Our greatest challenge at this time is the transformation of human hearts and minds on a scale that makes possible the social, economic and political changes we need to make to respond to the related issues of climate change and income disparity. We need to mitigate our tendency to self-interest and loosen our submission to the habits and norms of the past that may once have served us well and no longer do so.
To this end we have turned to the powers of community and education to mobilize the action required. To support the three initiatives we have generated thus far GTEC will need to:
- To continue to grow and consolidate its Board of Directors.
- To further develop its funding base.
- To evolve and further extend its community based programming.
GTEC Board Chair
January 5, 2020