It’s October 2019. I’m a 45 year-old white male living in Edmonton, Alberta, and life’s been pretty great for me so far. I was born and raised in Alberta, went to university (after some, shall we say, “poor decisions” as a young man), and got a great middle class job in my chosen field of IT. I married the best person ever, and we’ve been lucky to raise two healthy kids in the wonderful city of Edmonton. Our city, province and country have given us so much opportunity.
But I’m really scared. I remember when I first learned about climate change. I was the kitchen, age about 14, and I read a small article in the Edmonton Journal (children, once it was more than just a corporate mouthpiece – really!). This feeling of anxiety settled in my chest. In the 31 years since, it has never really gone away.
I’ve made several pushes in my life for a more sustainable world. I worked on a municipal campaign for councillor in 2001, organized a Stop Esso protest in 2002, and joined the Toxics Watch Society of Alberta shortly thereafter. (TWS advocated for a wiser approach to oilsands development in the early 2000s. We mostly got ignored.) In 2007 I launched www.greenEdmonton.ca. I wrote posts like You Should Carpool, Efficient Lighting: It’s the Right Thing To Do, and Hey Aren’t Cast Iron Pans Great? Oh, and we built Edmonton’s first single-family Net Zero Home. In recent years I started advocating for bike lanes, helping to organize the Edmonton Bike Coalition push for the 83rd and 102 avenue bike lanes in late 2014, and then co-founding Paths for People in 2015. I’m pretty proud of some of that work, especially the downtown bike grid.
It sounds like I’m writing a resume or humble bragging. That’s not my intention. I guess I’m just trying to put my new initiative into context. (Anyway I’m no saint. We have an obsession with travel, and we’ve taken a few walkabouts as a family that required way too much flying.)
Last year an IPCC report came out that scared the bejesus out of people. The world is in huge trouble, and we have to act quickly and in unison. So the kids are staging an uprising. I get teary-eyed when I even think about it. We didn’t have the courage, so the kids had to give it to us. The kids are rising, and a new push for climate is beginning.
I’m going to join the marches and make the arguments on Twitter, but when I feel that anxiety in my chest, I want to do more. When I read that climate emergency headline and feel that tension wrap around me, I want to do something about it. And I’m hoping some of you might join me.
I’m starting a new group – Climate Action Edmonton. We’ll support our allies in Edmonton, Climate Justice, Extinction Rebellion, and Beaver Hills Warriors especially. But we’ll also start our own projects. Our focus will be on specific, systemic change. No “education” campaigns or “here’s how you can sacrifice for the earth” stuff. Those approaches haven’t made a dent in the consumer and car culture that’s driving this world into a brick wall. Instead, we’ll initiate projects that make real changes in the system. We will have a laser focus on systemic change.
Let’s do something. Let’s help with the push to stop climate change. Right here in Edmonton, right now.