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Whistler embraces speaker series
I was once again humbled by Whistler’s helpfulness and generosity in the pursuit of last week’s Sustainability Speaker Series event. In honour of AWARE’s 20th anniversary of environmental activism, hosting someone of rock-star status such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was not easy. Regardless, we received tremendous support in multiple forms. A special thanks to Sue Eckersley, Arthur DeJong, the AWARE board, Barb Mares at the conference centre, and the various groups that helped AWARE to promote the event.

The positive feedback has been plentiful, and there’s no doubt RFK has people talking, thinking, and hopefully acting. Thanks again to the sponsors, volunteers, and the audience. Your support of events like this will allow for more inspirational speakers in future.

In the spirit of the need to act, Robert F. Kennedy’s Jr.’s father once said:

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation...

What will the future look like?  It’s up to you.

Brad Kasselman
AWARE

 

Uniting an inquiring public
Thank you AWARE and all the good people of Whistler who sponsored, supported and attended the Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talk at the Telus Conference Centre on March 4th. Public forums, dialogue and debate are a powerful way to inform, educate and build consensus over the complex issues facing us today as we seek to preserve the near wilderness, and balance economic viability with sustainable development.

In listening to the first 50 minutes of Mr. Kennedy’s remarks, I was astounded by how much of the information being conveyed was already known to me — thanks to the January Whistler Reads book pick (and excellent, local expert panel discussion) of “Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman. If you are one of the 50-60 people who attended the meeting, and still others who read the book, then you are nodding your heads in agreement.

Virtually all of the information Kennedy so charismatically presented was covered:

• The validity and urgency of climate change;

• The need to convert our “dirty petro-fuel system” to a clean-electron “smart energy grid” using a combination of solar, tidal, hydro, geothermal and wind-generated power — or “fuels from heaven over fuels from hell”;

• The deficiency of our present utility companies who predominantly use coal-generated electricity (resulting in environmental destruction from Appalachia to China) to meet surge demands that wastes power;

• The travesty of government and lobbyists who place corporate profit over public responsibility;

• The push to “zero energy” built homes on smart grids that power-down appliances in non-peak hours to save energy, and allow home-owners to be stakeholders in the system by enabling them to sell energy back to the grid from photovoltaic or wind energy off their property;

• The electric car story — all of it — would have been completely familiar to you.

For me, Mr. Kennedy’s most penetrating remark was his insistence that every individual take responsibility to be publicly engaged and informed on the issues of the day. As the founder of Whistler Reads, the village book group, we’ve got a pretty good track record of doing just that — and we have a heck of a time doing it. We read The Age of Turbulence before the economic meltdown. We read The Audacity of Hope before the election of Barack Obama. We read Three-Day Road before Joseph Boyden won this year’s Giller Prize, and now we’re reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist before $1 billion worth of VANOC security initiatives descend on us for the Olympics.

As a public literacy advocate, I challenge you to read, meet, and discuss the fiction and non-fiction titles together as a community. We strive to pick topics with relevance to our community, and that serve to enrich and inform our everyday lives. Whether it’s the economy, science and sustainability, our history or our culture — we’re into it.  The next Whistler Reads meeting is on March 19th at the Nita Lake Lodge. Go to www.bookbuffet.com and click on Whistler Reads. Become a WR member today.

Paula Shackleton
Founder & Director, Whistler Reads

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