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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction December 21, 2009

As I headed home from Copenhagen yesterday afternoon, I left with a feeling of dissatisfaction and exhaustion, not much unlike many of my IFLRY colleagues and NGOs. I’ve been feeling rather muted and paralyzed since my arrival in Denmark and it’s not only because of my little to no internet access (I must apologize to all of those who were following me on my voyage as I feel like I may have let them down). I’ve been extremely frustrated and upset with the little voice I’ve had thus far, but I will promise that this will not set a precedent as there is still much work to do.

I arrived last Sunday afternoon filled with enthusiasm and hope, ready to jump right into the thick of COP15. Arriving on Sunday was both a blessing and a curse. The Conference was not open for business, which meant that I could settle into my accommodation and catch up after my flight. That evening, we enjoyed a conversation with the Right Honourable Paul Martin to discuss our role at COP15, how climate change is affecting Aboriginals around the world and his work in the Congo-basin as part of a developing country NGO (see previous posts for more detail).

The curse of arriving Sunday meant that I could not register at the Bella Centre until Monday morning – the start of the second week of negotiations and arguably, the most important week of the Conference with the arrivals of heads of state and the ramping up of talks. I was ready to wake up early and wait in line, but little did I know that I would have so much difficulty. I got lucky (which speaks volumes of how disorganized the Conference was), after arriving with my YLC co-delegates who had previously registered, I was told I needed to move into another line as I did not have my accreditation yet. This line was outside the gates and was at a standstill. Many of the registered delegates were flowing right through, while I got stuck at the front of the line for registration. We waited for nearly an hour there, before joining a larger and slower line into the Bella Centre. We waited there for nearly 3 and a half hours before security, at which point my toes felt like they were going to fall off. The disorganization of the UN was already apparent here, but I was relieved to be inside. I registered myself, received my badge, checked my coat and found a place to sit and charge my laptop so that I could contact my delegation to meet with them. It took me a couple hours to settle in, recoup my energy, dethaw my limbs and buy a cell phone. The next thing I knew, it was time to leave and go to an IFLRY networking event. What should have been an early warning sign of total disorganization on behalf of the United nations, was overlooked. That afternoon, word broke that the UN would now require secondary badges for at least Tuesday and Thursday to limit the amount of people into the Centre. It was later revealed that this limit actually discounted about two-thirds of NGOs from COP15.

The bad news continued as the hours passed and we found out that these secondary badges would be required for nearly the rest of the week, with the exception of Thursday and Friday, which would have extremely limited access to 1000 and 90 delegates, respectively. Tuesday, I was slated to have a badge from early afternoon onwards. I received my badge just after 1, too late to get tickets to an event with some Ministers and politicians from the US and Canada, but still optimistic about going to some cool events. On our way in, Will and I were given tickets to an debate hosted by CNN and YouTube. Miranda, Will and myself attended and enjoyed the debate with former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, journalist Thomas Friedman, U.N. Executive Secretary Yves de Boer and author Bjorn Lomborg (blog post to follow on this event). That would be my first and last event I attended at the Conference, as I looked through the schedule and got my bearings around the Bella Centre, time crept away from me. I spent the next hours checking out the countries’ delegation offices and waiting to watch the Opening Ceremonies (which didn’t end up being screened there, so we ended up watching them at the EU Pavillion). At this point in the day, I was exhausted and thought that it would be best to check out for the day and recuperate for Wednesday. I really felt that Tuesday was my one day to warm up to the Bella Centre and get the feel of the Conference. Unfortunately, I spent the next 3 days of COP15 outside the Bella Centre, with almost no internet access to stay tuned to the going-ons inside and around the world. Needless to say, while I was on the ground and supposed to be part of the NGO delegations to the UN Conference, I felt ironically out-of-touch (and still do).

I will try to have a couple more posts on my experience in Copenhagen and thoughts on the outcome in the coming days before Christmas. Additionally, there will still be news filtering out post-COP15 so there is still much commentary to come. I hope as well that climate change will remain at the forefront of people’s minds leading into the New Year and COP16 . Let’s try to keep the focus and enthusiasm everyone! This is not the end, merely a tipping point for the climate crisis.

 

Climate Crisis Forum Part I – The Good December 11, 2009

It has now been almost a week since I held my Climate Change Town Hall and I promised a post last weekend that I had yet to write until today. Better late than never, right? Plus I am leaving this Saturday, so once landed I will be blogging about all the meetings, conferences, youth events, protests going on as part of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, rather than what happened last week. So I will catch you up now.

On Friday December 4th, from 7-9 PM, I held my Climate Crisis Forum at Oakville Town Hall. The purpose of the town halls (that we were mandated to run as part of our role as IFLRY and YLC delegates) were to discuss the direction of climate change policy moving forward from Kyoto in preparation for my voyage to COP15. I decided to make the forum a community event with local experts with different perspectives on the issue. With much help from my local environmental organization Oakvillegreen Conservation Association, I was able to assemble a diverse and compelling panel to discuss the ever-more pressing issue of climate change. My panelists were:

– Blake Poland, an Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Co-Director of the Environmental Health Justice Research Network of the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives, former Director the Collaborative Program in Community Development (2007-2008). Dr. Poland is also co-principal organizer of Transition Oakville, lead organizer of Halton Green Screens eco-film series, and Board member of Oakvillegreen. Increasingly, his current research and teaching focuses on building community resilience for the transition to a post-carbon society.

– Liz Benneian, a former newspaper editor and current president of Oakvillegreen Conservation Association, who will talk about how citizens can become effective advocates for action on the Climate Crisis.

– Stephen Williamson, a former oil industry businessman who, since retirement has received an Honours BA in the Conflict Studies Program and a Masters in International Relations from the University of Toronto. Since 2007, he has volunteered with several NGOs especially The Climate Project Canada, headed by Al Gore.

– Cindy Toth, the director of Environmental Policy for the Town of Oakville, who will discuss what action the Town of Oakville is taking to reduce its carbon footprint and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The evening began with a quick and compelling video, which Steve had stumbled upon and thought would be appropriate in captivating the forum guests.

Afterwards, I welcomed all the guests and gave a brief introduction to one of the guests of honour, Mayor Rob Burton. Early on in the planning of my town hall, I was in touch with his assistant who helped to ensure that the Mayor would at least stop by and say hello. I was very glad to have the Mayor just stop by, but was very pleased to see that he stayed for entire duration of the event! While I was preparing my introduction to the event, I wanted to briefly speak to the Mayor’s accomplishments, prior jobs/careers and political involvement. What I found out was that Mayor Burton has been a long-standing environmental advocate. He had been very supportive in my efforts leading up to the event and I had participated in a tree planting with Oakvillegreen and the Mayor for a 350.org International Day of Climate Action event; However, I did not fully realize the extent of his interest in environmental issues until I looked into his biographical information. Not only was he a successful TV and film tycoon, but he was an investigative journalist with a fervor for environmental issues; as well as a leading community activist against a new power plant in the area and further development in North Oakville. He also created the Oakville Environmental Fund to help residents fight the developers in hearings over OMB proposals. I feel very honoured to have had the Mayor at my event, but I am elated knowing that his interest in climate change is not of pure political convenience, rather it is a raison d’être.

Mayor Rob Burton and I

The Mayor of Oakville and I during introductions at the Forum

Next, my panelists each took about 15 minutes to tackle one aspect of the climate change issue. Blake focused on social justice issues involved between the Global North and South, peak oil and it’s close relationship with climate change, as well as the transition to a post-carbon society. He also described how social change does not happen gradually, rather it seemingly happens overnight. If we think about many notable and historic social changes, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the abolishing of slavery and the fight for gay rights, we can see just how quickly they were realized. Blake briefly talked about some sacrifices that people can make in their lifestyle choices, such as limiting or eliminating air travel (which he had recently pledged to do). Cindy spoke next about the initiatives that the Town of Oakville has implementing such as the expansion of public transit and carpool programs, energy efficient town buildings and waste diversion strategies. Steve’s perspective focused on the campaign against the truth about the Climate Crisis and described how powerful the forces (big OIL $$, greedy PR firms and green turfing organizations) are behind this manipulation. It was truly fascinating to hear just how coordinated and persuasive the skeptics/deniers can be.

Liz was the final panelist and took the initiative to speak about how to be an effectual and efficient activist. We wanted to stay away from the usual tips/advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly as there is already plenty of this type of information out there. Besides, with the belief that real social change occurs spontaneously and due to a relatively sudden change in public opinion what we need is first the grassroots effort led by a small group of dedicated and impassioned individuals. Liz emphasized that we do not need to convince those people on the other end of the spectrum (the skeptics or deniers); we only need to tip the scales a little bit to change the dynamic of social change – to change the balance from the status quo towards activism . This means that we do not need to preach to the converted and waste our time acting with those who are already convinced that we need action on climate change (these are futile efforts to take part in as activists). The goal with enacting social change is to push people along the spectrum of the social barometer: to take the leading opponents of social change and move them towards active, then passive opponents and eventually to neutral parties; to take the neutral people and edge them towards passive and subsequently active allies; to change those who are allies of the aim, motivate them to turn their knowledge and understanding into passion and action. The tactics in which one can achieve this shift from opponent to ally in social thinking are: reveal motives of parties,building relationships, giving the opportunity to change position, encourage participation, empower with knowledge and resources, increase cohesion, encourage and then through active support and nurturing of those now activists. Liz, as president of Oakvillegreen, provides a seminar on exactly how advocacy groups (especially environmental) can “Organize to Win”. This seminar is truly inspiring and empowering for both individuals and groups. Liz travels around Ontario with this seminar to help out environmental advocacy groups become organized to enact that social change that is needed.

Following our panel discussion, we opened the floor up to the forum guests for comments or questions to the panelists. We had some great feedback from the crowd. Surprisingly even a few who did not understand simple climate change concepts such as the “greenhouse effect”. It sure was a shock to me, having learned for almost 4 years the science behind climate change and all the media attention it has received over the last 10 years. One question asked about making public transportation free to the public to promote it’s use. This got me thinking that at least allowing a trial period for all residents to see the routes now available would be a highly valuable exercise in persuading people to make a switch from their cars to buses.

One question from my sister asked what advice the panelists would give to me as I embark on this adventure to COP15. Some of the advice given was to make as many connections as I can and learn as much as I can so that I may bring this knowledge base back home and into my future endeavours. The advice from Blake was to engage with youth not only from the Global North, but as well as the Global South as we have a lot to learn from developing countries. He also emphasized again how important it is to bridge the gap among countries in the North and South with this new post-Kyoto agreement. This advice resonated within me, especially since the recent disputes among the strength of the developed countries’ emission reduction targets versus those of developing nations and responsibilities for funding. As I head out to Copenhagen on Saturday, I hope to make connections and and partnerships with youth – not only with those from the developed world, but with those in the developing world. It’s potentially more important than vital to network with the Global South than North since they have so much to lose and us so much to learn.

My next post will focus on the invasion of my forum discussion by a climate change skeptic, the aftermath of this incident and the “Climate-Gate” ridiculousness. Again I apologize for my wordiness, I hope you enjoy reading!

Check out the pictures of my Climate Crisis Forum below…

 

Cooperation not Co-dependency, please November 25, 2009

The Toronto Star’s Editorial Cartoon today sums up some of my recent frustrations with Harper’s [lack of] initiative on climate change and contained enthusiasm (my nice way of saying total apathy and dissent) for acting as a major player on the international stage during COP-15. Stephen Harper, you are one lame, co-dependent, weakling of a leader. Even before Obama committed to attending the summit last Wednesday, he had fully acknowledged his role as commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation in the world and pledged to take on this role through a spirit of cooperation. Talk about a completely different approach from our North American leaders: one epitomizes collaboration and leadership, the other is an embarrassing example of weak leadership and co-dependency. I don’t have to tell you which is which.

While it’s not surprising to most of us that Mr. Harper does not care, it’s unbelievable just how much he has managed to erode our global reputation as trailblazers on a number of fronts, notwithstanding the climate change and environmental files. And so, on Thursday (just like clockwork) Harper announced that he would also be attending the Conference. A very muted response by our Prime Minister to what ought to be and IS considered the most vital (literally) issue of our time, both politically and personally.This would be a prime opportunity to raise his profile, to prove his commitments to climate change action (despite Kyoto being a socialist scheme) and start digging Canada out of this pitiful hole we have plummeted into under this Conservative government.

Alas, we are still playing catch-up, pretending we are just as “cool” as the U.S. We can sound like we’re in the in-crowd as long as we ride on the coat-tails of Barack Obama’s climate action plan. As Don Newman so simply puts it, Canada will do whatever the U.S. will do – the if-your-friend-jumps-off-a-bridge, you-should-too strategy. Real mature Scradley.

His plan is to reduce greenhouse gas levels in the U.S. by 2020 to 17 per cent below what they were in 2005. Other than suggesting a “cap and trade” system, in which polluters could buy and sell emission credits from each other, the details of the Obama plan have been scarce.

However, that proposal fits closely with the approach that the Harper government has been planning to take. And that is the way the Conservative government wants it.

After coming to office as global warming skeptics, the Conservatives now say that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions will be curbed by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. And a cap and trade system with the United States is part of their plan, too.

In fact when you come right down to it, whatever the United States wants to do is part of the Canadian plan.

When they were in opposition, the Conservatives resisted Canadian ratification of the Kyoto protocol. They said its adoption would put Canada at a competitive disadvantage with the U.S., because the Bush administration was not going along.

Now, with Obama ready to adopt greenhouse gas standards, the Harper government understands that Canada will have to do the same.

Particularly if U.S. legislators enact penalties on countries with less restrictive regimes — much like some in the EU are threatening to do.

The problem Harper still faces is that imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but it is just barely enough for other participating countries. This is still giving far too much credit to Harper for bringing forth a very superficial climate action plan and intent for legislation. In fact, we’ve impressed our sister-nations so much so that they are seeking our suspension from the commonwealth family!

Harper is fearless. Or should I say more concerned with short term political gains and the Conservative Economic Action Plan. He may be able to ignore calls for action away from home, but could he really give his fellow Canadians the cold shoulder too? Yes. Don’t worry Harper, you have no responsibility to listen to the cries of woe from the very people who elected you to the highest office in the land. Forget about these guys too.

As Jack Layton said today in the House of Commons Question Period, Stephen Harper may as well not go since all we will receive is a slew of Fossil Awards. If only we could be more Quebec.

 

Lessons in Youth Involvement November 12, 2009

Filed under: Environment,Liberal,Youth — hillarybt @ 6:04 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I was never a camp counselor or part of school council/government or the captain of a sports team. This, despite being repeatedly told by teachers on report cards, employers, family and friends that I, in fact, was a natural leader. One of my few regrets in life is that I hadn’t fully realized this leadership potential until now. The culmination of my drive to become deeply involved in some extracurricular and volunteer activities post-graduation was likely due to my consumption in my academic studies, but also a feeling of  discouragement. I feel like there was a disconnect between what it meant to be involved or part campus clubs and volunteer organization versus being on the executive/board of that particular group. I’d like to elaborate on my frustrations below.

In highschool, I was a dedicated student (probably more so than I needed to be) but in comparison to many of my classmates I worked far too hard in highschool to achieve good grades and yet we both went on to postsecondary institutions. My lack of involvement, besides a playing field hockey and soccer for my highschool and figure skating, was likely part and parcel to school politics (essentially popularity contests) and the sheer volume of students at my high school. At the peak of enrollment when I was in grade , our school was pushing 1500 (I believe), with 30 portables to boot. The population remained high until I was in grade 10 and the double cohort year graduated concurrently (leading to quite a overwhleming amount of applicants to postsecondary institutions, of which my sister was unfortunately a part of but got through unscathed). Although this explanation may come off as just a lame excuse, it certainly limits the amount of people who stand a chance to participate in sports, extracurriculars and clubs within the school. When I tried out for the soccer team, (I believe I tried out 3 out of the 4 years) I was completely outnumbered (even as a fairly skilled house league player) by the many other girls who played in rep leagues around the GTA, who were essentially shoe-ins. Consequently, I only ever made the team once, and sat as a back up goalie to a team member who had rep experience until I was finally given the chance to play and didn’t comparatively well. Consider the competition I would experience for other school activities for my four years.

When I applied to university in my final year, I was enthused and amazed by all the clubs available at my chosen institution (over 150 at the time and growing every year). The possibilities were endless… not to mention that I would actually stand a chance to be an active club member, without limitations due to population or popularity! Going into residence I wasn’t worried about a shortage of social activities, but reveled with the thought that I could take part in anything from an improv club to day-traders to activism groups, such as STAND. What a thrill! As clubs week rolled around, I made sure to diligently explore all my possibilities before committing to a few carefully selected clubs, based on my interests and ability to commit to them. In the end, I made a few charitable donations to clubs that I believed in, but didn’t think I would have the time or energy to put into. I joined the Leafs Fans at Western, mostly for the opportunity to attend a Leafs game in Buffalo for a good price (having been a TML fan all my life, I had yet to experience a live NHL game). I also joined the Western Snowboarding Federation (and wasn’t able to go on any of their trips due to school work conflicts), and a club devoted almost entirely to celebrating school spirit by drinking (something I wasn’t legally entitled to do as I was 18 for most of my first year). These weren’t necessarily the smartest choices to hone my leadership skills or explore my interests, but they were all clubs I thought would allow me to have a little fun without disturbing my studies too much.

After first year, I smartened up a little and joined the environmental club on campus, called EnviroWestern, in addition to a few more charitable donations to worthy causes/clubs, plus my Biology Undergraduate Society. I had always had a passion for the environment and figured this club would provide an outlet for that, while I made a difference on campus. This commitment to the club was certainly a good choice, the club’s organization seemed to impede any real involvement in any meaningful activities. The emails to club members were merely notes to acknowledge what the board/president/executive few had accomplished, advertise a meeting to discuss future social activities and sell t-shirts. This was not quite the membership involvement I had anticipated. From my perspective, it appeared that the only time you could take part in the meaningful activities of a club was if you were an important member of the club’s board. If you did not hold a resume-padding position, the least you could do was buy some swag and come out to a bar night. I was still the diligent student, so I believed my priorities should still be to achieve good grades in my program first and foremost, rather than expend all my energies for a club. I had seen the toll it took on my sister, who had aspirations of journalism and spent every waking moment in the office of our daily student newspaper, editing and planning away the next day’s issue. Granted, she loved it and found herself a career path in something she loved and is now pursuing at a master’s level.

Unfortunately for me, I did not experience any real life-changing, self-improvement opportunities in university through some of the amazing extracurriculars and clubs at my disposal. Another factor in play here was a very consuming, long distance relationship, in which I realized only AFTER the split how much of myself I truly sacrificed personally for the sake of my partner. It was a very costly mistake in hindsight, but brought me to a much healthier attitude focused on my well-being and happiness by getting more involved where I could, going to the gym and becoming more social. This self-realization came 3 years too late, but did help me get to where I am today – ready and eager to get involved! My final year was more successful than all three years put together: FINALLY becoming a writer for the paper that my sister was now EIC of (after 3 long years of persuasion to come and write), joining the Western Young Liberals and a handful of other previously-joined endeavours with more energy and participation this time around.

Upon graduation, I had the unthinkable task of moving back home into the doldrums of the suburbs. I was not looking forward to being in a city where the flurry of activities I was accustomed to in a university town, pervaded the older, middle-class population that put a higher value on strip malls and big homes, than community and volunteering. I figured I would not be afforded the numerous opportunities for clubs, extracurriculars and volunteering that I took for granted at Western. Ironically enough, I soon discovered that it was raining opportunity here.

During the summer, my father forwarded me an email about an event for Oakvillegreen Conservation Association. My dad, who has not been an active member of the group for a few years, frequently received notifications from the group about upcoming events, news and calls to action. My dad was certainly well-intentioned, knowing full-well that I was bored to death (due to a poor summer work season, compounded by the recession) and so I decided to go for it. The event was a seminar dedicated to tutoring individuals how to initiate and run an effectual activism group given by the President, Liz. It was $20 to participate in “Organize to Win”, but I figured this would be a good place to start… afterall, my dad had suggested a number of times that I join the club, so I went partly to stop the nagging. The seminar was very informative (despite being an individual not concerned with starting a group of my own) and successful. Coming out of the seminar, I was in talks with the President and the Manager of Marketing and Outreach regarding working on communications strategies, memberships and a youth initiative! All because I made a stink about being the youngest person in the room. It was concerning to me that there was no one at this seminar even in my generation! I just thought..”this isn’t right”. This led to an initial meeting where I expressed my frustrations with involvement in the past and my keenness to get my hands dirty. I was immediately welcomed, ushered to take part in everything I could and given numerous areas where I could actually help.

Since that meeting, I’ve been working closely with them to emulate our sister organization, Burlingtongreen’s, Youth Network including using social media to target youth, work on improving membership, planning events and volunteering at as many Oakvillegreen events I can get to. As they say, “when it rains, it pours”… but in a good way. I’ve been awarded such fabulous opportunities here to gain some real experience in marketing, communications, event-planning, etc.. and they just keep coming in! It’s been exciting and heart-warming (not to up the cheese too much) to be given the chance to ACTIVELY participate in the going-ons of the organization. It’s quite a different experience from the poster-making, t-shirt buying memberships I bought before. This is something that Oakvillegreen does particularly well with all of their members, but I am still completely grateful. I forgot to mention that they are now offering their support to help me host a town hall for my trip the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this December. This is the kind of involvement I had only dreamed of, whereby I am now motivated to do as much as I can for them because they have done so much for me. This drives a cycle that encourages involvement when people see what they can actually do and thus go on to encourage others to do the same.

I am also a Young Liberal. I have to say I’ve become a little disenchanted by the differences in response to youth involvement between Oakvillegreen and the Liberal Party. I want to preempt this all by saying, I am a proud member and have a birth-right membership (my parents met at a Liberal conference), but I’ve discovered a flaw in their strategy to attract new members and develop a grassroots movement: a lack of youth involvement. When I came home from school, I also actively sought out my riding association to get involved in local politics. I’ve attended event after event since as one of the youngest people in the room (not such a bad thing, I guess), but it speaks to a weakness. I’ve been to a dinner with John McCallum, a wine and cheese event with Michael Ignatieff and Martha Hall Findlay (M&M), the Green Energy Act night with George Smitherman, BBQ’s with my local MPP and Liberal MP candidates, nomination meetings, debates….. many of these events were not particularly geared or targeted to youth, either due to price or the actual event proceedings. For example, the dinner event with McCallum was about $150 a head. My dad proudly financed my ticket to the event, I got a taste of a Liberal fundraising event and met lots of local Liberals. This is the type of event that draws out the long-standing, older members of the Liberal Party, which works well as a fundraiser; but there is a shortage of more affordable, fun and social events geared towards attracting youth to the party. This may be of course due to my riding composition being mostly non-Young Liberals, but I can’t believe that I am the lone youth interested in politics in Oakville. A lot needs to be done here to encourage young people to come out. This isn’t the story across the country (in the big cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal)  but it is likely the norm for the smaller suburban and rural ridings that do not have a strong local party association. This is something that needs mending. After months of practically begging to become engaged and enveloped in my local Federal and provincial Liberal parties, I am only slightly closer to playing as active as a role as I am in Oakvillegreen. I’m going to keep chugging along. You can imagine my shock that it was only recently that I discovered the Oakville Young Liberals behind the email contact on the Young Liberals website. I was told they need some help and I should let them know I am keen to get involved. I’m hoping they take me up on my offer because I’m ready to go! These are my excuses and struggles, but others have noted a similar trend and understand how to fix it:

<a href=”I was never a camp counselor or part of school council/government or the captain of a sports team. This, despite being repeatedly told by teachers on report cards, employers, family and friends that I, in fact, was a natural leader. One of my few regrets in life is that I hadn’t fully realized this leadership potential until now. The culmination of my drive to become deeply involved in some extracurricular and volunteer activities post-graduation was likely due to my consumption in my academic studies, but also a feeling of  discouragement. I feel like there was a disconnect between what it meant to be involved or part campus clubs and volunteer organization versus being on the executive/board of that particular group. I’d like to elaborate on my frustrations below.  In highschool, I was a dedicated student (probably more so than I needed to be) but in comparison to many of my classmates I worked far too hard in highschool to achieve good grades and yet we both went on to postsecondary institutions. My lack of involvement, besides a playing field hockey and soccer for my highschool and figure skating, was likely part and parcel to school politics (essentially popularity contests) and the sheer volume of students at my high school. At the peak of enrollment when I was in grade , our school was pushing 1500 (I believe), with 30 portables to boot. The population remained high until I was in grade 10 and the double cohort year graduated concurrently (leading to quite a overwhleming amount of applicants to postsecondary institutions, of which my sister was unfortunately a part of but got through unscathed). Although this explanation may come off as just a lame excuse, it certainly limits the amount of people who stand a chance to participate in sports, extracurriculars and clubs within the school. When I tried out for the soccer team, (I believe I tried out 3 out of the 4 years) I was completely outnumbered (even as a fairly skilled house league player) by the many other girls who played in rep leagues around the GTA, who were essentially shoe-ins. Consequently, I only ever made the team once, and sat as a back up goalie to a team member who had rep experience until I was finally given the chance to play and didn’t comparatively well. Consider the competition I would experience for other school activities for my four years.  When I applied to university in my final year, I was enthused and amazed by all the clubs available at my chosen institution (over 150 at the time and growing every year). The possibilities were endless… not to mention that I would actually stand a chance to be an active club member, without limitations due to population or popularity! Going into residence I wasn’t worried about a shortage of social activities, but reveled with the thought that I could take part in anything from an improv club to day-traders to activism groups, such as STAND. What a thrill! As clubs week rolled around, I made sure to diligently explore all my possibilities before committing to a few carefully selected=”></a>

<a href=”http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/705376″></a>
<a href=”http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/lets-not-blame-youth-for-general-voter-apathy/article1249910/”></a>

 

Oh, hello… November 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — hillarybt @ 4:57 am
Tags: , ,

Hey! I’ve been twittering for about half a year now, but I have never blogged. This week, I decided to take the plunge. So here goes. I am open to constructive criticism since there will certainly be a learning curve for me. Wish me luck!