Over 100 people gathered in Peter Clark Hall Thursday night at the University of Guelph to pick up where they left off in June in creating of a Green New Deal. This gathering of environmental activists and supporters leads off a week of climate action, including a gathering at City Hall tomorrow that’s part of the Global Climate Strike.
“Some of us are here today because we’re scared, I know I am,” said Horeen Hassan, VP External of the Central Student Association ,who opened the evening. “We’re terrified that we might not exist in the future. We’re watching our beautiful blue planet drift towards a climate catastrophe.”
The situation is dire, and that’s why Guelph needs to be part of a global movement, according to Hassan.
“We need a massive mobilization plan to move to a zero carbon economy, a vision both around a new set of social economic relationships and values, and In order to do this, we need to unite a diverse movement because the revolution is not a revolution if it’s not accessible to all people, or if it leaves people out,” she explained.
A couple of speakers talked about the opportunity in the revolution. Karen Houle, professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph, as well as a poet and a farmer, noted that the problem of solving climate change begins with appreciating how big it is compared to the usual problems we deal with.
“Climate change is really not the kind of thing we can wrap our heads around. It’s not that we can’t think about it, but we can’t fully understand it,” she said. “It means that there’s a kind of caution and modesty that’s built into our responses.”
Seb Ramirez, the co-owner of Zocalo Organics farm, expresses his fight against climate change through farming. Though he doesn’t come to farming through family trade, farming has become his passion for the way it unifies us.
“I find it incredibly moving that food is a unifying thing that all of us in this room share,” Ramirez said. “We all eat, hopefully three times a day, and hopefully that food nourishes our bodies and our minds. It’s something that’s so tangible when we get together with family and friends and share a meal.”
The tangible, and sharing with others around a table, is what the Green New Deal meeting was all about. After the speakers, groups gathered around their own tables and worked on the ways that we could act on fighting climate change from the personal, to the local, to the global.
Starting tomorrow, a whole week of activities will push Guelphites to think even more about theses things, and if you need a reminder, you need only to listen to the bells at noon.
Starting tomorrow, and for the next week, the churches of downtown Guelph will ring their bells to remind everyone of the climate crisis. The point, according to the Guelph co-ordinator for Bells For Future Mary Cross, is to capture a sense of the past when the local church would ring its bells to alert people in a time of crisis.
Three downtown churches – The Basilica of Our Lady, The Church of the Apostles, and St. George’s Church – along with other faith groups will synch up their bells at noon everyday until September 27. Cross is also asking people to set their phone alarms to go off at noon so that they might join the chorus.
“We are participating because in our Anglican faith understanding the earth is a sacred gift from God, and we all have a responsibility to treat it as such,” said Rev. Canon Ralph Blackman, Rector of St. George’s in a statement.
“Up here on ‘Catholic Hill,’ we believe that we are called to be good stewards of Creation. We are, therefore, happy to lend the voice of our bell to the voices around the world being raised in awareness of our need to take much better care of the world entrusted to us, added Father Ian Duffy, Pastor of the Basilica of Our Lady.
The first ringing of the bells on Friday will be timed to the start of the Climate Strike at City Hall at 12 pm. Cross said that the strike will take a moment of silence to observe the ringing of the bells before proceeding.
For the rest of a full week of climate action activities, see the calendar below: