I am a professional engineer. Prior to my involvement in climate change, I worked for 25 years managing quality for a rapidly growing and expanding electronics design and manufacturing company. I changed careers in 2007 to work on climate change. With Climate Change Connection, I work to educate Manitobans on climate change and on mitigation and resilience. I work with groups involved in active transportation, public transportation, sustainable buildings, sustainable energy, and local food and agriculture. I am sustainability consultant with Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba. I also work on sustainability projects with northern Manitoba First Nations communities. I am on the Climate Reality Project Canada Board of Directors.
Why did you join the climate movement/what pushed you to become interested in climate change issues?
I've long been concerned about the impacts that humans are having on the planet's environment. But, I think there were two events that really focused my environmental concern toward climate change and what it means to my children's future: The first was a news report in the early 2000s about the shrinking polar ice cap. (That seems like a big deal. Why aren't more people making a fuss about it?) And then the second was in 2006 after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" in the theatre. (Man, are we in trouble.) Within 8 months of seeing that film, I was no longer working in manufacturing but full-time on climate change education and action.
What is one achievement you are proud of?
A few years ago, I worked with Winnipeg's "Functional Transit" advocacy group and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local to bring transit guru Jarrett Walker to Winnipeg. While he was here, we organized opportunities for him to share his knowledge: public presentations, meetings, and workshops with City councillors, Winnipeg Transit managers and concerned citizens. This seemed to change the thinking about what good transit looks like - focus on frequent service rather than just meeting schedule and covering impossible-to-serve areas. This thinking is now part of the Winnipeg Transit Master Plan. And just a few weeks ago, I noticed the Blue Route bus on a Winnipeg street - the first bus route focused on 10-minute service - and the beginning of a Frequent Service Transit Network for Winnipeg.
What was your most iconic/memorable Act of Leadership?
I think my most memorable Act of Leadership was helping to organize a breakfast meeting for Al Gore with local Manitoba business and community leaders. In 2011, Mr Gore came to Winnipeg to present at Winnipeg's MTS Arena for WeDay. Canadian politician, elder statesman, and academic Lloyd Axworthy was chancellor of the University of Manitoba at that time. I contacted Mr Axworthy's office to let them know about Mr Gore's visit. Turns out these two gentlemen knew each other from their earlier work together. Once they were connected, we were able to invite some very important and influential people to the breakfast meeting and really raise awareness of, and gain credibility for, climate change concern here.
What are some climate change initiatives you are currently taking part in?
Climate Change Connection is working with four other organizations in the Manitoba Climate Action Team (Na na na na na na na na CAT Man!) We're working with community leaders to develop "Manitoba’s Road to Resilience: A Community Climate Action Plan for a Fossil Fuel Free Future". This one differs from the ones governments have put out. Government plans don't have the urgency and scale of work required to get us to zero emissions. At present, it is up to civil society (the community) to think at this level and to show the way. We can “think the unthinkable” or at least the "currently impractical". I'm excited about building a blueprint for a positive, and we believe, achievable fossil-fuel free future.
What do you think is the most effective way for people to take climate action?
To prepare for and address climate change, we need to build resilience - we need to provide our essential needs ourselves without fossil fuel. This means: Food - Can you feed your family food that is locally grown without synthetic fertilizers or diesel for machinery? Shelter - Can you heat your home affordably without natural gas? Transportation - Can you get where you need to go without gasoline or diesel? (In Manitoba, our electricity is from hydro, so it helps us achieve those challenges.) First, people need to ask themselves those questions seriously and do everything they possibly can to achieve those things on their own. BUT they also need to see what they cannot do without government support. They need to make sure their elected representatives know that we need them to make bold policy to help us do the things we can't do on our own. It really helps to get involved with advocacy groups for support and companionship.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
When I was much younger, I spent 5 months travelling around Europe all by myself on my bicycle. I went from art museum to cathedral to sites of historical importance staying in my tent or in hostels, reading, learning history & art, and experiencing new (for me) cultures.