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AWARE could fold this month

Environmental organization needs more people to run for its board

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"In the spring of 2010 we convened a strategic planning meeting to discuss our issues with the broader Whistler community and seek answers.

"However, our board has continued to shrink since then and is unsustainable at its current size and AWARE will have to discontinue its work if things do not change. The AGM (June 22, 6 p.m. at the Whistler Public Library) will be our final attempt to reinvigorate AWARE. The current board has decided that if we do not get at least a board of 10 at this year's AGM, AWARE will shut down."

In a recent statement Ruddy added: "What attracts people to volunteer for groups like AWARE are large campaigns that have tangible outputs so people can see a direct translation of the time they are committing to the successes achieved.

"While we had some great campaigns this year we lack the manpower to work on the campaigns and effectively communicate our work. Without the communication piece it is hard to promote through projects as a means of attracting new board members.

"We have recently done a lot of strategic planning as a board and had a well-attended stakeholder workshop, so we feel like we know how we can improve and a number of different options for AWARE should it continue as a group."

With the loss of AWARE will go a prominent voice for the environment that has thrived in Whistler since the late 1980s.

The association began with an ad in the October 27, 1988 issue of the community newspaper. Back then Whistler resident Michele Bush placed a classified ad asking anyone interested in starting a recycling program to give her a call. Fifteen people showed up at the first meeting at Citta, where participants discussed what to name their organization.

They got creative with acronyms and came down to two options. The first was the Whistler Association to Save the Environment (WASTE) and the other was AWARE. They went with the other because it was more positive.

AWARE's first act was to put together a community recycling program that would see members truck bottles and cans down to the city in the back of a van.

Dave Williamson, a board member for AWARE for three years and now principal of Cascade Environmental Resource Group, remembers it well. AWARE members would bring a van into which people would drop their tin cans and recyclables and haul them down to the city.

"Recycling was huge back then because there was no recycling program," he said in an interview. "It was early days, like I say, the municipality wasn't really interested and AWARE ran it for quite a number of years."

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