Monday, April 1, 20130 Comments
Earth Hour 2013.
Guelph holds the reputation of a community that values a low-environmental impact of living. With campaigns to completely eliminate bottled water on campus and the integration of a new waste management bin system, there is a clear desire for a move towards a clean city based on the principles of health, respect for the environment and community.
Guelph is the second official Transition Town in Canada, a movement started in Britain three years ago. It’s goal is to build resilience in communities in the face of resource exhaustion and climate change. This year’s festival, titled Resilience 2013, took place on Earth Hour day (March 22), celebrating with the other environmental festivals downtown like the Guelph Environmental Leadership Eco-Market and the H2O Go Festival.
I joined the community celebration with other Guelphites as we gathered in Mitchell Hall for a stuff swap, community potluck, short concert and poetry slam leading up to Earth Hour.
You don’t quite realize the kind of bubble you live in as an undergrad until you find yourself wondering at children and their tiny human sizes. Something complained about on campus life is how isolated students are from other age groups, increasing the barrier between the student body and the Guelph community.
Ecofest brought members of the community on and off campus together as they mingled in Mitchell Hall over great food and entertainment. The line-up to the community potluck spread into the main hall, the energy lively and generous as people took the time to engage with one another whether it was passing plates or letting people move ahead in line. There was a general feeling of pride in the gathering of so many in the celebration of Earth Hour, contributing in their own small ways for healthy, low-impact living.
Members from the Guelph Poetry Slam team hit the stage, featuring Magpie Ulysses from Vancouver, bringing some serious spirit to the event. The evening wound down with the candle-lit dinner, the excitement from previous events still buzzing among guests.
Cynics will wonder what does it matter? How will one hour really make an impact on the overwhelming issues surrounding resource depletion, growing pollution and global warming. Resilience 2013 seemed more about coming together as a community and generating a dialogue of the things people can do for their own well being while learning how to lower their impact on the environment and cultivate sustainable resources and relationships.
It was also a place for learning about the inspiring initiatives already being taken across Guelph, like the community orchard as well as services that provide affordable fruit bearing plants and help on how to care for them.
There was something nice in watching the lights turned off in homes during Earth Hour on my walk home, with candles burning in some windows as people relished in the unusual feeling of hanging out sans electrical apparatuses for entertainment. There was a hopeful imagining of hundreds of homes joining in that single hour of environmental consciousness. This feeling to most community members is what Guelph embodies-- a place that works to shape its own resilience and cares for it collectively.