Education and Community Engagement

The Education and Community Engagement Working Group continues our commitment to educate both ourselves and our broader community in a mutually enriching way. We recognize and value our interconnectedness and diversity. We strive to be both teacher and student. We encourage communication with youth, for they understand contemporary social currents and can provide education and guidance to us as we choose our project work for the year. Working from an elder perspective, individually and together, we provide our experience and energy, in collaboration with others, to help society prepare for and embrace positive change to make our environment a healthier place for ourselves and for future generations.

  • 2018/2019 was another year of lively thought and conversation while planning processes, sharing ideas, building/deepening relationships, and laying groundwork to ensure the success of future projects for education and engagement regarding the long-term health of our natural world. Highlights of last year’s activities include the following, with various members taking the lead on each project.
  • We continued to explore ways to convey new ideas and tools for innovative and creative use of social media and sought to provide consistent, meaningful messages for linking, educating, learning, and community engagement via our available platforms. Several members contributed to our blog, the Suzuki Elder Facebook page, and our website.
  • We participated in various roles with younger people including members of the youth contingency to the COP 24 conference in Poland. and youth involved in actions to raise awareness of the climate crisis. We sometimes served as mentors, but just as often as learners and supporters.
  • We extended our intergenerational work in other ways as well: attended a three day intergenerational climate action initiative on Pender Island hosted by The International Institute of Child rights and Development; planned and hosted an evening in partnership with Check Your Head and The Pie Shoppe called Youth, Business and Elders where we explored issues of social, environmental and economical justice; dedicated our January salon called “Generations Rising: Inspiring Climate Action” to working with youth as presenters and participants in helping to plan action regarding our environment for the up-coming federal election.
  • Other Suzuki Elders salons that we developed and offered to our membership and the general public were “Your Health and Climate Change”, “Climate Conversations: How to Have Them Without Everyone Walking Out of the Room” and “Stepping Stones: The Growth of Technology and Its Impact on Society and the Environment”. Extensive background work was done on the topic of “Green Burials” which was not offered as a salon but the information about this is available on the SE website.

The salons were highly regarded, well attended, and intergenerational in presentation and participation. Each one has been/will be followed up with a blog posting expanding the educational aspect of the topic. Our guiding definition of salons is the following: Salons are incubators where ideas are conceived, gestated and hatched. Experts may be invited in to provide background information and inspire participants to consider what was discussed and be motivated to take some action. All of our events have been evaluated with the hopes that the responses received will help with future programming. Our topics are varied and with each one, we hope to attract some new people and build deeper a relationships with repeat attendees.

  • We worked with the other SE working groups and the Council on their projects in support of the SE mandate, and have continued to partner with various programs within the David Suzuki Foundation as well as the broader community.
  • Translated our Climate Change Brochure into Chinese language and culture and fine-tuned the English version.
  • There have been various spin-off opportunities to customize and consolidate our salon presentations that we have given over the years. We responded several to community invitations which included the following:-

– a Lunch and Learn presentation at the Art World Expo at the Science Centre on the topic of the polluting aspects of fast fashion;

– a roundtable on Women and Climate Change hosted by SFU Environmental Studies;

– a book presentation event titled “A Whale in the Door; Fold for the Orcas” at the Vancouver Public Library;

– a seminar/workshop to the seniors program at the Richmond Library on “Plastic Pollution”;

– a session titled “What’s the Solution” presented as part of an Ecohealth in Action Webalogue series on Environmental Health Movements and Advocacy to CoPEH Canada (Community of Practice in Ecohealth Approaches to Health);

– a roundtable at the 2018 City Summit on “A City for All.”

  • How-To” Tool Kits corresponding to our experiences in hosting salons and community circles are in the final stages of development and we hope these will be of use to other groups who might want to sponsor similar events.
  • Held a pilot learning session on the book Drawdown by Paul Hawken on the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The session included Council and working group members, and we plan to offer this to our entire membership and the public during the coming months.
  • We were not “all work and no play.” We came together over the summer for a beach picnic, as well as enjoying a holiday potluck in December.

Our members continue to inspire us with the work that they do outside the group in trying to create a healthy and sustainable environment for all; they report their accomplishments and challenges to us regularly, and we love to hear about all of it. Thank you everyone for a job well done and for caring and sharing in such useful and positive ways; you provide us with unwavering support and resources and help lay the groundwork for future work. This coming year promises to be one full of stimulating challenges – and we are ready!

Active Members: Cynthia Lam, Stan Hirst, Erlene Woollard, Jim Park, Don Marshall, Jill Schroder, Patricia Plackett, Diana Ellis, Eva Waldona, Ros Kellett, Joan Sutherland, Suzanne Blundell, Martha Saunders, Brynn Craffey, Lillian Ireland and Rob Dramer.