April 17, 2013

Climate activists hoping film sparks a revolution

As published in The Erin Advocate

Don't be too alarmed, but you should be aware that some people in Erin are talking about Revolution. It is of the polite and peaceful nature, of course, but it is definitely radical – prodding people towards new ways of thinking about the survival of our species, and towards action.

Climate change might seem like old news by now, or too political, or too complicated to fit into a busy lifestyle, but it is not going away. About 120 people did come out to the Legion last week to see Revolution, at Erin’s 2013 Fast Forward Environmental Film Festival.

Presented by the Climate Change Action Group of Erin (CCAGE) and Transition Erin, and sponsored by Treehaven Natural Foods, the film starts out with the fight to stop the slaughter of sharks for shark fin soup.

Director Rob Stewart of Toronto goes on to document the death of coral reefs and the acidification of oceans due to carbon dioxide emissions, which could wipe out the fishing industry within 35 years.

He heaps special scorn on Alberta's tar sands, as a blatant example of corporate greed and environmental degradation, and covers the efforts of environmental activists to influence global climate change negotiations.

Erin District High School student Sarah Graetz helped introduce the film, saying it is important, especially for young people, to rise to the challenge presented by climate change and be aware of what others are doing.

"I'm definitely not going to sit around and do nothing about it," she said. "As part of today's young generation, our biggest crime so far is ignoring what's going on, and turning away from it.

"I'm looking forward to making a difference, but it's a little hard knowing the facts. I'm just a speck, this one little person in a big world full of people who know more than me, talk louder than me, and have more money than me. But, even being a speck, I can make an impact – a small ripple, if you will – and hopefully it will spread."

The movement has become apocalyptic in its tone, forecasting the extinction of the human race if we don't change our ways. We may be more ambitious than the sharks, but perhaps less resourceful, since they have been around for 420 million years and survived five mass extinctions of other species. Our Homo erectus ancestors evolved only 1.8 million years ago, and Homo sapiens only 200,000 years ago.

Liz Armstrong of CCAGE urged people to promote the Revolution, which opened at major cinemas in Guelph and Brampton last weekend.

"We think this film can be a huge force for positive action on climate change, led by youth," she said. "We can make it truly revolutionary, help it make an indelible mark and a turning point."

Erin's film nights are made special by organic snacks, and last week's featured a spicy Marinated Goat Cheese, from What's Cookin', and Parsnip Chips by LolaJean Gentles. There was promotion of Erin's "FoodShed", which like a watershed, refers to our local resources.

"We try to put people in touch with a really easy, accessible way to be part of the beginning decline in carbon dioxide emissions, by eating differently," said Cathy Hansen of Bernway Farm. "We talk of organic food, of local food, of seasonal food, of simple food, and of storied food – food that has a story that we can relate to that comes from our community."

Armstrong asked people to contact local MP Michael Chong (866-878-5556 or michael.chong@parl.gc.ca) to support stronger climate change policies. And she asked them to take personal action to reduce their carbon footprint, suggesting the website: www.12simplethings.org. For a wide range of local initiatives (and FoodShed recipes), go to: www.transitionerin.ca.

This Saturday, April 20, there's a hands-on gardening workshop called Way to Grow, Erin, 12:30 - 4:30 pm, at Field of Dreams Farm, 9347 Sideroad 9. It will cover seeding, composting, backyard chickens, fruit trees and raised-bed gardens.

On May 4, Erin Trails, CVC, the Rotary Club and other groups are teaming up for a community tree planting at the Deer Pit next to the Elora-Cataract Trail behind the tennis courts starting at 9 am.

That same day, Transition Erin is having its official launch, or "unleashing", noon to 2 pm in the Shamrock Room at Centre 2000. There will be a free hearty soup lunch and author Mike Nickerson will speak about the philosophy of the Transition Movement.

Also on May 4, Erin residents can pick up free trees to plant at home, at the Works Yard on Trafalgar Road. Wellington's Green Legacy Program is providing 5,000 trees, and there is a limit of 50 per family. Donations to the Food Bank will be welcome.