I was late. It was almost 1pm and the Copenhagen Wrap up rally in North Vancouver was 1-3pm. I looked outside and it was a beautiful sunny day, maybe just hang out or socialize with friends. It was tempting. I reminded myself the rally was an important event for Vancouverites to tell our govt and the world we cared about climate change and global warming. Off to North Vancouver I went.
It was going to be a 45 minute trip, jumping on the #20 Victoria bus, going through Main and Hastings area, along the edge of Gastown, then across the water by Seabus to North Vancouver. As I started my adventure, I wondered how many people around me even knew about the two week United Nations Climate Change Conference that just ended in Copenhagen? On the Seabus I met a young man, Christian, who was an ESL student visiting here from Spain. We talked about our plans and he mentioned going to Grouse mountain to go skiing, I mentioned going to the North Van. Rally. He didn’t know about COP15, the rally, or Climate change. I explained about global warming, but I think he was mostly thinking about what a great sunny day it was for skiing. I must admit I can understand, it would be a great day for skiing! We both got off the Seabus, I took his photo and told him to enjoy the snow. On my way again, I trudged up the hill to 3rd avenue along Londale. I finally reached the rally in front of local MP Andrew Saxton at 130pm.
I arrived at the rally to find about 25 people with banners and gathering signatures to support more awareness of climate change in Canada and Vancouver. First reaction was disappointment after a more well attended candlelight vigil on Dec 12th in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, remember it on Granville mag?
I took some photos on flickr, then spoke with Kevin Washbrook who helped organize the rally. He told me the event had been organized in 3 days by Voters Taking action on Climate Change, Capilano Students’ Union, and Climate Action Network Canada. He said about 50 people attended in total, and 149 people signed the petition calling on Saxton to hold a town hall.
I was impressed that they’d been able to get the rally together so quickly using facebook page, twitter, and Avaaz and other mailing lists. I’m an Environmentalist from way back, so I’m excited to see how social networks are becoming powerful tools for bringing together for social and green causes. Tcktcktck.org had gotten over 15 million signatures to present to the COP15 conference leaders in support climate change. Yes, 15 million! Avaaz.org, 350.org, tcktcktck.org, and other non-profits have been very successful at gathering signatures and support for causes, but I wonder how this will impact smaller local events like the Wrap up rally?
I spoke with Hunter Moyes at the rally, who, with Kevin Washbrook helped organize the Bridge to a Cool Planet event on Oct 24th. Hunter told me that about 8,000 people across the Granville bridge in support of climate change. The Bridge event was part of an international day of action by tcktcktck.org | 350.org International day of action with 4000+ events in over 169 countries.
After speaking with both Kevin Washbrook and Hunter Moyes, it seemed that while the tcktcktck.org and the International campaigns attracted attention, the smaller local events didn’t do so well. I looked at the tcktcktck.org/realdeal page and saw photos from RealDeal photos from all over the world, but none were from the Vancouver event. Would the general public would feel less involved or motivated to participate if their own rallys and events were not promoted by global or local media? Social media is clearly making a difference in getting attention for big events, but moving forward how will it help raise awareness for local green or social causes
Pondering questions on social media and local causes, I left the rally and headed home. I took the Seabus across the water, then walked through Gastown and then along Hasting street. My thoughts were suddenly pulled from the clouds to the unusual sight of an urban garden in the midst of the rough Main and Hastings area. I walked into the garden and took photos, then saw a man at the far end of the garden moving dirt. I’d never seen this urban garden, so I was curious and asked the man about it. Jim Oickle, it turns out was the coordinator of this urban garden officially call the Hastings Folk Garden which was created on an abandoned lot on Hastings Street near Columbia. He described it as an organic space that didn’t have many rules except those doing drugs would be kicked out. It was a beautiful sanctuary for Vancouver’s lower east side.
It seemed I was meant to find this urban garden on Saturday, because it reminded that it’s the hard workers in the local trenches that really make the difference. It’s local endeavours like the Hastings Folk Garden that are actually making a difference in reducing global warming on a small scale. I’m not sure Jim cared about global warming or such issues, but he still ran a beautiful garden. At the end of our conversation, he said to me that a lot of photographers had taken photos of the garden. He spoke about plans to present the photos at the Urban Garden. As I was walking away he said “there’s no Art without the Artists”
I laughed and as I was walking along Hastings I thought no truer words had been spoken. I borrowed his phrase and thought about the North Vancouver rally and thought, there’s no climate change without people
I met some very inspirationing people in Kevin, Hunter, and Jim, so perhaps with them we will get there. Is anyone is willing to listen?
Article external links
United Nations Climate Change Conference http://en.cop15.dk/
MP Andrew Saxtonhttp://www.andrewsaxton.ca/
Flickr Vancouver rally trip photoshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/pixelate/sets/72157622910168429/
Granville Magazine Vancouver candlelight article– http://www.granvilleonline.ca/gr/blogs/editors/2009/12/11/copenhagen-close-home
Voters Taking action on Climate Changehttp://www.vtacc.org/
Capilano Students’ Union http://www.csu.bc.ca/
Climate Action Network Canada http://www.climateactionnetwork.ca/
facebook rally page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=216250721276&index=1
Bridge to a Cool Planet http://www.bridgecoolplanet.ca