100% Renewable Kootenays volunteers have conversations with residents on clean energy community solutions

By Montana Burgess

I thought Donald Trump would be president. I knew it was logical for so many reasons, but I still didn’t emotionally prepare for the reality. Yesterday, I stayed in my sweatpants and spent most of the day reflecting on how this happened. I had a hard time doing much else. I think there is a big lesson for people like me, people who consider themselves “progressives” with university education and privilege. We need to reach outside our bubbles and connect with people of all social realities. We need to listen… like really listen.

I was in New York City in September during the UN General Assembly. I was out for dinner with colleagues at a hotel bar. I chatted with a guy sitting next to us in a large group. He said his group all were White House staff. When I asked him what he would do if Trump won, he responded, “people aren’t that dumb, it won’t happen.”

I was raised in a family that was very anti-NAFTA and many of my peers are against the TPP. Some of Trump’s words on trade deals resonated with me. Sometimes all it takes is for one sound bite at the right time to connect with the ears of a very busy person, someone who is just trying to get by, and that is how they decide who they will vote for.

If we want to make the world more fair and just, then we need to have real conversations where we listen to people of all backgrounds and actually consider their views. We can’t stop listening because we don’t like someone’s view, that pushes us further apart.

I’m very proud of how at the EcoSociety we have already started down this path of listening. 100% Renewable Kootenays is EcoSociety’s initiative to get 100% renewable energy in the Kootenays. Our team of volunteers has already had thousands of conversations with residents on how we can get to 100% renewable energy. These are conversations not lectures. The path for our communities to get off fossil fuels does not yet exist, we have to create it. The only way to build this future is together. We need ideas from people of all backgrounds and social realities.

We’re asking people to sign a petition to show support for this transition to renewable energy, but as you may have noticed we haven’t been pushing the online petition very much. We’ve been focusing our on-the-ground efforts on having conversations where we take the time to listen and exchange ideas. Our volunteers have had lengthily discussions with people to eventually find common ground and shared values. Sometimes residents still don’t sign our petition, but that’s ok, we are taking the time to listen and discuss ideas and I know it will make us a better team, a better organization, and a better social movement.

In this time of reflection, join us to have conversations with your neighbours. Sign-up to volunteer or donate to keep our team connecting with residents on local solutions. Instead of dividing, this will bring us together for a renewable energy future with healthy communities and will keep our wilderness pristine.