Archive for November, 2009

Planning for the Future has to Include the People of the Future

“The future depends on what we do in the present” – Mahatma Gandhi

“I skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been” – Wayne Gretzky

On November 12, the Town of the Blue Mountains held a working meeting with invited organizations to continue the process of bringing sustainability and building a more equitable future for the community. No one seemed to notice the irony that the event was being held in the club house of one of Georgian Bay’s most exclusive (part-time) communities. We were surrounded by the manicured green lawns of a golf course that has been exempted from the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban of 2009. And so they called up the usual groups, fed them a free lunch and praised the work of the various committees that had worked to put together The Vision. At the beginning of the meeting a mission statement, created by the municipal government, was read aloud, and it certainly was poetically read. Georgian Bay residents were given the Promised Land in this statement. For most of the all-white over-45 age crowd eating up dainty desserts, it was a splendid soliloquy. I was not so comfortable with it, however.
Where were the ones, I wondered, who will be bequeathed the community – and the planet – that our generation will leave behind? How can this finely honed sustainability vision for 2050 make any difference to the future if you have never included the thoughts and ideas of those who will actually be alive then? Youth were not present, nor were they part of the process. Moreover, people from other socioeconomic groups were not present either, to speak about their ideas for a better future and opportunities for their children and grandchildren. Certainly all the wildlife that had lost their habitat where that gleaming and sanitized golf club now stands had no voice.
There were glimmers of hope, however, when some citizens asked for more inclusiveness in future planning and visioning, as well as voicing a plea for greater awareness of the youth and other individuals not present in the community who have so much to give.
‘Leader’ is an over-used word. In Canada it seems it has been a long time since we saw a leader in the true sense of the word: a person of action, courage, compassion, and clear honest vision who can see what needs to be done and do it, regardless of partisan interests. Yes, we are supposed to call them ‘leaders’. Perhaps by calling them that we are trying to shape them into people who will take the right measures that lead citizens to a just and ecologically balanced society.
At one point at the meeting, an older farmer firmly announced that unblemished apples will always be chosen over those that have imperfections, and how lucky we are to have the chemical wherewithal to make it so. I wish Joni Mitchell had been there to sing:
“Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.”’
On November 26, 6 to 9PM, the Town of Blue Mountains sustainability meeting at the Beaver Valley Community will take place at the Beaver Valley Community Centre in Thornbury. I fervently hope that young people and others with a stake in the future will attend and make their voices heard loud and clear.

I recommend anyone who is interested in planning for the future of our communities take a look at one splendid alternative at www.transitiontowns.org. Leadership can mean many different things, and this is one site that shows us how to become leaders in our own right.

OTF Grant helps to bring Earth Day message to High School Students

Owen Sound, ON – The Georgian Triangle Earth Day Celebrations launched their environmentally-focused film festival for students today, thanks in part to a $25,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Leigh Butler, local OTF Grant Review Team member was joined by guest speaker Barbara Hayes, Director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, as students at the Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute gathered for the launch.

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