Creating Change in the Community

6 02 2010

Upon listening to our guest speakers today, the mayor of Colowood David Saunders and councilor Judith Cullington, I was intrigued to check out the website for the city of Colwood.  I was pleasantly surprised (surprised) to discover the amount of links, such as “Westshore Harvest” on the website promoting local food producers, local restaurants, and recipes for cooking with farm produce.  The website has promotes lots of tips for saving money by “going green,” energy saving tips, a recycling guide, community events information, and the list goes on.  They have a posting for council meetings right on the home page, encouraging residents to get more involved and voice their concerns and ideas at the monthly meetings.  As a non-resident of Colwood, the mental picture I have for the area surely does not match David Saunders’.  It was really inspiring to hear someone speak so passionately about their work. Saunders, who was born and raised in Colwood, having “no intention to ever leave”, may not be the image of the typical Colwood resident, but his love and respect for the place that he calls home is a noble trait to have.  Ultimately, if everybody had the same level of respect for our land, our neighbors, and our place on this earth-don’t you think we would forgo more of our “conveniences” if it meant saving one more piece of the environment for our children to enjoy?  This brings a bit of a hypocritical thought to mind: how can we make being “green” convenient, exciting and beneficial so that people jump on the wagon?  The city has identified their current assets such as local producers, festivals, facilities, community events and clubs, historical sites, parks and trails . . . but these assets are not being advertised to the extent that people notice and think about them more so than the A&W sign on the main strip reading: two momma burgers for $4, on their morning commute.  When I began to think about Colwood’s assets such as the Royal Roads property, its beautiful waterfront, Fort Rodd Hill, the First Nations History, local producers, and artisans, I began to see Colwood as more than just the commercial strip that I drive down most days. 

When it comes to change- we need to know where to grow, and take a holistic approach (in the words of Robert Bateman) because ultimately we are heading in a direction of chance . . . no matter how clear the “vision” is.  Resilience and balance are very important, because ultimately we don’t know how the future is going to play out.  As humans, we have the gift of choice, and in places like Canada, we have the blessing of (too) many choices because of the type of society that we live in. Appropriately, our following lecture explored the theme of persuasion and tools for changing people’s attitudes, behavior, and beliefs.  Perhaps the “sustainable lifestyle” will catch on if people feel the need to “keep up with the norms.”  Find a creative way to showcase green living by providing incentives, showcasing unique qualities about green products or actions, and maybe people will feel more of a need to play a role on the road towards a carbon neutral society.  The Tools of Change website offers some insightful ideas, case studies and planning guides for creating positive change and maximizing social capital within communities.  There is a great section on overcoming barriers such as cost, cynicism over environmental claims, and the very real problem of consumers unwilling to put much effort into locating and buying greener products and participating in community activities.  The website provides some case studies to show some of these barriers can be overcome, which I will spend more time investigating as the week goes on . . . more to come!

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One response

12 04 2010
Richard Kool

“It was really inspiring to hear someone speak so passionately about their work. Saunders, who was born and raised in Colwood, having “no intention to ever leave”, may not be the image of the typical Colwood resident, but his love and respect for the place that he calls home is a noble trait to have.” I’m really glad to see you have this kind picture of Dave… anyone who gets involved in local politics (or nearly everyone) deserves thanks for their involvement.

“This brings a bit of a hypocritical thought to mind: how can we make being “green” convenient, exciting and beneficial so that people jump on the wagon?”

This is a tough question to answer, and yet answer it we must because if don’t become ‘greener’ voluntarily, it is likely that nature will force us to do so…. at least that is the history of the world so far (as in Jared Diamond’s Collapse)

This is a very thoughtful and interesting posting, Charlene!

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