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Of bombs, bikes and building playgrounds

Whistler helps out

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RMOW Policy and Program Development

What do olive oil, dreadlocked musicians, Palestinian playgrounds, second hand bicycles, global citizens, Whistler2020 task forces and emerging Chinese ski resorts have in common? How about a connection to Whistler through outreach, compassion and capacity building as Whistler shares information and core competencies to try and make the world a better place for all.

The valley is still abuzz from Stephen Lewis’s passionate stories about his compassionate and vital work regarding HIV/AIDS in Africa last week, thanks to the Social Sustainability Speaker Series. Tomorrow, Millennium Place should be full of desire to help when the international not-for-profit organization, Playgroundbuilders, screens I Know I am not Alone , a documentary film by musician Michael Franti. Set in war-torn countries of Palestine, Iraq and Israel, Franti touches on the human cost of war, focusing on victims, not politics. Sadly, the innocent victims are the most tragic component of this tale of woe and war.

Whistler’s Keith Reynolds saw these struggles firsthand while backpacking through the Middle East in the mid-80s. After a successful business career and some wise Whistler real estate deals, Reynolds found himself traveling the world, often ending up in regions torn by conflict and calamity.

“I was traveling in Iraq and I realized this conflict, which had nothing to do with children, had taken away their ability to be children,” Reynolds says of the moment he decided to help. “Children are the seeds of the future, yet in these war-torn regions they really don’t understand why they don’t have a safe place to play.”

Through his connection with Playgroundbuilders.org, Reynolds invested his own money and time in funding the creation of three playgrounds in 2006 in Palestine and Israel. By going out to a competitive, local bid system, the playgrounds were built by locals, for locals. In the end, Reynolds says the multiplier effect goes far beyond the original investment. So far, 14 playgrounds have been built throughout the mid-east, with Cambodia and Afghanistan as the next regions on the playlist.

“These are so much more than playgrounds these folks are building,” he says. “They are rebuilding their communities. Through these projects, locals take responsibility, action and ownership of their future… and they build hope. I really hope happy children turn into happy adults.”

Whistler’s shared community value of knowledge and resources is represented in Whistler2020 through our commitment to social sustainability: to eliminate Whistler’s contribution to undermining the ability of others to meet their needs. In addition to taking care of each other locally, Whistlerites can meet this objective by reaching out to developing nations, emerging destinations and sharing resources, core competencies and community lessons.

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