By Erin Thompson

I am the new Community Engagement Coordinator at the West Kootenay EcoSociety. I am excited and honoured to be serving the West Kootenays by working toward greater food security, long-term conservation, and taking action on climate change as part of the EcoSociety team.

Unlike most people, I did not move to the Kootenays for the mountains, the arts, or the alternative culture. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the positive attributes of the area, which have made this transition easier. But the main reason I moved to Nelson last November was to help care for my mother who has been physically handicapped by chronic illness.

As a newly graduated political science and international relations major, uprooting my life from Ottawa to move to Nelson wasn’t exactly my plan. I was completely unequipped for the caregiving role that I took on, each day feeling increasingly overwhelmed and depressed. As I struggled through the winter, I isolated myself by drawing further inward, too focused on the magnitude of my mother’s incessant pain and my inability to relieve it.

While spring drew closer, I began to realize the impact that this self-imposed isolation was having on me. I felt drained and exhausted, and desperately wanted to use escapism to dull the stress of my daily reality. Yet I also longed for the sense of community, the satisfaction of meaningful work, the support of a team. I summoned the strength to reach out and get involved in the community on the issues that I cared about.

Luckily for me, Nelson is as diverse and wonderful in the not-for-profit sector as it is in the arts. At eleven years old, I saw the devastating pine beetle epidemic caused by warming winters where I grew up in Quesnel. As a result, both the local economy and the forests are decaying; this made me want to commit to a just transition off of fossil fuels. When I heard about the West Kootenay EcoSociety’s 100% Renewable Kootenays initiative, I saw an opportunity to make a positive difference and gain valuable experience right where I lived. I joined the West Kootenay EcoSociety.

Since then, the movement for renewable energy in the Kootenays has grown considerably. Together with 30 active community volunteers, we have had over 1,775 people from Nelson and over 2,800 Kootenay residents sign-on to call for the transition to 100% renewable energy in their towns.

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent some time reflecting on my year’s journey. I’ve realized that we all have reasons why we feel that we’re not ‘the one,’ why we’re too busy, why we’re the wrong person, or why it’s not the right time. I now understand that I’ll never be in exactly the right position, I just have to do all that I can in each moment. What this means for each person will be different. Whether you have time to get involved, skills to share, or resources to donate, each contribution is valid and important.

This holiday season join me and get more involved with the EcoSociety. You can feel good by gifting a loved one with a donation to the EcoSociety

Gifting a donation is the perfect gift for so many people. Whether you’ve got a friend who is a seasoned activist, a mother who loves trees, or an uncle who shops at the Nelson Farmers’ market, donate to the EcoSociety in their name so together we can keep the community projects you love going and take action for a better tomorrow. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving!