The West Kootenay EcoSociety recently launched its new initiative, 100% Renewable Kootenays, supporting clean energy, green jobs, and a healthy planet. The aim of this campaign is to transition the West Kootenay from fossil fuels to renewable energy by mid-century. Over 70 community members came out to the Nelson Legion Hall for the initiative kick-off and fundraising evening.
Guest speakers gave short presentations on renewable energy solution projects already taking place in the West Kootenay and beyond. Speakers included: Erin Thompson, youth organizer with the EcoSociety; John Fyke, a New Denver resident who shared information on Lucerne School’s solar panel project installed with the help of students; Rebecca Dale and Swami Satyananda, Yasodhara Ashram teachers; Ray Keen, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Cindy McCallum Miller, president of the Castlegar local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Greg Powell, a Castlegar United Church minister; and Gillian Wiley, an L.V. Rogers student.
“I was inspired by the diversity of speakers already supporting the transition to renewable energy in their own groups,” said EcoSociety executive director Montana Burgess. “We had worker, faith, and youth constituencies present, as well as excellent West Kootenay regional representation from New Denver to Castlegar to Nelson to the East Shore.”
The EcoSociety hosted activity stations, like a silk screening station where the 100% Renewable Kootenays slogan was applied to shirts and patches, a silent auction with donations from dozens of local businesses, a used book sale, a Little Miss Gelato tasting station, and a Solutions Tree, where community members shared ideas for how to realize the transition to renewable energy locally on leaves and they were mounted to a projected tree.
“This was truly a community effort. As the months of planning went on, our organizing team grew and four high school students joined, including three sisters. The energy, creativity, and leadership the seven younger people on the team showed was very impressive. We also had over 35 businesses donate for the event,” said Burgess.
Now that 100% Renewable Kootenays has officially kicked-off, the EcoSociety will determine what research they should undertake on how the West Kootenay can reach entirely renewable energy by 2050 that will complement existing research from other organizations and local governments.
The EcoSociety will also work with supporters to organize in West Kootenay communities to find residents, businesses, organizations, and institutions that support the transition to renewable energy.
“This has been virtually all volunteer time to this point. We now need to fundraise so we can hire organizers to coordinate teams throughout the West Kootenay and get the necessary renewables research done,” said Burgess.