Anyone reading or watching the news might agree with Bob Dylan, the times are indeed changing. For those in the Kootenays, there are issues such as climate change, environmental sustainability, physical and social well-being that predate what is currently in the news and are being addressed by various citizen organizations. This is part of the Kootenays’ long history of volunteer advocacy.
In late 2021, a new initiative was launched by a group of local volunteers concerned about the accelerating impact of climate change. They realized that many local organizations share a common philosophy – concern for the place and planet where we live and all the things we do here. The concept was to have those organizations come together for mutual collaboration and support – like spokes in a wheel all connected to a hub.
From a discussion in someone’s living room and further Zoom meetings, a hub organizational team was formed to develop the structure and a contact list of potential partner organizations. The West Kootenay Climate Hub was born. In a short time there were 22 partner organizations, and individuals were also encouraged to become members.
(Our focus is quite different from the climate innovation hub that Kootenay Association for Science and Technology that is setting up in the former rail station with a focus on enabling tech and economic opportunities.)
Being aware of each other, knowing that your organization is not a lone spoke, can be re-affirming, being part of something bigger. Each partner continues with their own advocacy without necessarily having to be involved with general hub activities, but knowing that when needed, there can be support from the other partners.
Many of the partner activities have a parallel with those at the municipal level. The City of Nelson, for example, is developing a climate action plan that includes building upgrades to reduce energy consumption. At the same time, a climate hub team is working to address local transportation emissions. The City of Rossland is also developing a climate action plan along with a plan to reach net-zero emissions for city operations. A local organization there has a working program to recycle plastics into other useful products. That group is a hub partner.
Within the West Kootenay Climate Hub there are at least three youth-led advocacy groups with a focus on climate and environment – they are the next advocacy generation working for a more sustainable future in which they will live. Some of those individuals were key contributors to the formation of the hub. There is also a group with a focus on health and climate. They, too are partners.
While the West Kootenay Climate Hub is unique to this area, there are similar collaborations or hubs across Canada. Close to home, there are the East Kootenay Climate Hub and the Okanagan Climate Hub. They are all parts of a larger Community Climate Hub network – all with a shared philosophy of increasing local climate action and seeing the advantage of working together.
Some of the West Kootenay Climate Hub activities are in development, but we are starting monthly webinars to give partners the opportunity to share their initiatives with the community. We also have quarterly gatherings for partners and members to share their initiatives and explore opportunities to collaborate.
As the hub continues to develop, we might recall a line from the Buffalo Springfield song For What it’s Worth: “There’s something happening here…”, but in this case it is becoming perfectly clear.
If you share similar concerns and would like your organization, or yourself, to become part of the hub, go to https://www.westkootenayclimatehub.ca/ where you can either join as a member or partner organization. You can also click on the partner logos to see what they are about.
The concept of having a West Kootenay Climate Hub really does fit with the culture of the Kootenays.
Ron Robinson is an organizer of the West Kootenay Climate Hub.