Opinion » Alta States

Walking her talk — Sara Jennings takes the path less travelled



"It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true."

- American philosopher William James

You've probably seen her a bunch of times. She's the one pedalling furiously along the road, dragging a six-foot long trailer behind her electric-assisted bike filled with (literally) hundreds of pounds of groceries destined for Whistler's needier citizens. There's even a little sign on the trailer informing the curious that donations are welcome.

Yep. You got it. There goes Sara Jennings doing her usual community thing in her usual minimalist way.

"How to transport the food — that was the only challenge in my taking this job," says the WCSS Food Bank's indomitable coordinator. "I didn't own a car and I wasn't planning on owning a car. So how could I make this work?" She punctuates her remark with her distinctive high-energy laugh: "Heh. Heh. Heh." Then she continues. "Everything else was so perfect: the job was aligned with my principles, it wasn't full-time and the hours were flexible." She pauses. Takes a quick breath. "So I decided to buy a big cargo trailer... I always wanted one anyway."

And it's worked. Sort of. "I've been at the Food Bank for four years now," says Sara. And sighs. "The cycling thing was definitely do-able at first. But it's a lot harder now that we've moved." Indeed — the Food Bank's recent shift in locale from the bottom of Lorimer Road to Spring Creek has injected a bit of a stick into her cycling spokes. "We get most of our donations from Nesters and the IGA," she explains, "so it's a tough haul to drag all that weight across the town and up the hills to our new place."

Tough? Think Herculean labour. "It's not like people don't want to help," she's quick to add about her twice-a-week pickup. "There's always someone offering me a car to use." Another long sigh. "But I don't want to drive a car." And then she laughs. "Still, it is an issue. Just this morning my dad took a load for me." Pause. "There was so much weight in the trunk that the back of his car was sagging."

Sara Jennings is on a mission. Has been for some years now. Already boasting an impressive CV of global activism — from organizing post-Sept. 11 peace rallies in Southeast Asia to performing guerrilla theatre at anti-war demonstrations in Washington, DC; from cycling across Canada with a youth-group promoting social change to putting on giant-puppet shows in Israel and Palestine — the 36-year old has fashioned the kind of selfless journey of discovery that few of us are ever brave enough to undertake.

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