How I became an activist in the fight against global warming

You might think I’m an activist, but I’m not, exactly. I work for an environmental charitable organization. David Suzuki is not my boss, contrary to what some folks might think, but he’s certainly involved in a lot of the work I do. I buy green cleaning supplies (or make them, sometimes) and I switch off lights and computers and obsess about my energy and fuel consumption. I’m a self-proclaimed tree-huggin’ hippie.

Except that I recently bought a little crossover pseudo-SUV thing. I don’t always take a reusable mug with my coffee. I have plastic lunch containers and I buy non-organic produce. I have a weakness for mac&cheese in a box and pizza pops on occasion. I sometimes just don’t care that my clothes might have been made of questionable fabrics in poor factory conditions somewhere in Asia because dammit, that shirt looks so cute on me and I like it. Also, sometimes I enjoy a juicy, rare steak made of dead cow meat.

According to some of the real activists, the real treehuggin’ hippies out there, I am a poser who isn’t doing nearly enough because I don’t chain myself to oil tankers or tell politicians in person how I want them to represent me. I will never be that kind of activist, and I am fine with that.

Ten years ago, a friend told me that I wanted to save the world. I didn’t really believe him. I was struggling to make ends meet, like everyone else – trying to get through the month with enough cash left over for an occasional meal made up of more than noodles and sauce. I didn’t have time to think about saving the world, although I cared quite deeply about all sorts of issues. I was too socially awkward and terrified of strangers and large groups to consider going to rallies or protests. I stayed home and talked to my friends on the internet, where things were quiet and safe and manageable.

I’m not the same person any more. Ten years is a long time, and life has turned upside-down at least three or four times since then. I’ve changed (although I still like sitting quietly on the internet). The world has changed. In the words of author and astronomer Carl Sagan, For the first time, we have the power to decide the fate of our planet and ourselves. This is a time of great danger, but our species is young, and curious, and brave. It shows much promise.

What do I do that makes me an activist? I can tell you what I don’t do. I’m not mobilizing groups to march up to Parliament Hill. I don’t ram boats into whaling ships or light things on fire to illustrate my point. I’m not doing anything that will get me arrested. I don’t argue with climate change deniers who are ready for a grand battle – it’s just not in my nature to argue, and I know a debate with me isn’t going to change their opinions.

I finally made it to my first rally – on September 21st of this year, I went to Vancouver’s Global Climate Wake-up Call. I forgot my cellphone and couldn’t call the Prime Minister (the lines were jammed anyway) but I was there.

What I have done is transform myself. I am still transforming myself. I’ve changed so many of my own thought processes and habitually do small actions to personally fight global warming in so many little ways that I don’t keep track any more. I make efforts to set a good example, to show friends and family that it’s actually pretty easy. I have hope for the future, and I’m not afraid to express it in the face of those who tell me it’s hopeless.

And I will try to raise my little girl to love the outdoors, and to understand our connection to the ecosystems around us. I want her to know that we are animals, the same as the fish and birds and bugs and furry creatures that still fill our world. I don’t want her to turn off lights and computers and televisions because I tell her to – I want her to know why turning them off is important to the air, the water, the land, the animals – including, but not limited to, ourselves. I want to nurture her sense of wonder about everything on this planet and off it.

I am the product of many years of incremental changes. I know that it’s overwhelming to feel like you’re the only voice speaking quietly about saving the world amidst a sea of 30-second clips for the Magic Bullet or the Slap Chop. I lose myself in it regularly, and I get overwhelmed and want to throw in the towel, because I really do want to save the world. The thing I often forget is I’m not the only one, and all the people like me who are quietly changing the way they think and act are the ones who will turn the tide. The waves are rolling in, the world is forever changing. So yes, I am an activist. Just not the kind you might think.


Photo of me at the Global Climate Wake-up Call (caring about things!) by Eli

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2009.

Fifteen months and counting

If we’re counting months (and at this point we still are I guess) Lyra is fifteen months old as of yesterday. A year plus three months. She’s practically in college!

Touristing at Granville Island

This week she transitioned from walking occasionally as a novelty into walking as a means of getting from place to place. She’s still quite wobbly, and it’s very cute to watch her step oh so carefully in sock feet on the slippery hardwood floor. In the past two days she has also neglected to take a morning nap, simply because she didn’t seem tired enough to actually sleep. This makes me incredibly happy.

I’ve never really liked naptime. For the first few months she mostly napped with me all the time, which I was fine with. I was very well rested. When she got older and started napping on her own, it was tough for me – she never stayed asleep for longer than a half hour to 45 minutes, so I never had time to really do anything but try and decompress – but since I was on edge the whole time listening for her wake-up, I never felt relaxed. I was better off napping with her, but I really didn’t want to… I wanted to do things that I could only do when she was asleep.

Once she started daycare, her napping became a lot more consistent. I once asked them how they managed to get her to nap… I didn’t really learn their secret, other than the fact that they aren’t me. Something about not being mommy or daddy (and also having years of experience convincing babies to nap) seems to work quite well for them.

Yesterday she and I slept in till 9am, which was fantastic. Morning naptime came and went without a hint of her being tired, so I didn’t bother trying to put her down. Afternoon nap was a bit earlier than usual, but she went down easily and then napped for an hour and a half. It was good.

Today she was up by 8am, which is still sleeping in for me, and is awesome. We went out for a walk, and spent some time playing at home, and generally had a great morning, followed by lunch. After lunch I put her down for her nap (and again, she went down easily) and she’s now been out for an hour and a half again. I feel awesome about this. I have some quiet time to myself (Adam’s out riding with Chris) and I can do things like write this stuff down, make myself lunch uninterrupted, and maybe play a video game. And I don’t feel on edge waiting for her to wake up.

So I hope this is a trend, and that maybe the two short naps a day are going to become one longer one.

Some random Lyra observations and developments:

In other news, we got Katamari Forever, and Lyra loves to help her daddy play it:

Playing some Katamari Forever

Today we watched a bit of a baby video that has Twinkle Twinkle little star in it. She started to sing along – not with words, but she was saying bah bah bah bah along with the tune. It was so awesome. She has also learned how to not only pull the fridge magnets off the fridge, but also put them back on so they stick. Knocking them off the fridge is a lot more fun, however:

My older brother Mike and his fiancee Norina came to visit a couple of weeks ago and brought her a little rocking chair that used to belong to my little brother & sister in Ottawa. It didn’t take Lyra long to figure out how to climb into the chair, turn around, sit properly in it, and then slide back out. This kept her entertained for hours.

In the mornings when I’m at home on my own with Lyra, we often walk together to Brazza (the coffee shop around the corner.) She holds my hand and we slowly make our way there, where I get coffee, and then we slowly make our way back. She loves climbing up the stairs by holding both my hands and walking up them very, very clumsily.

Her favourite foods are currently applesauce, grapes (cut up into bite-sized pieces), plums, cheese (old, mild, stinky, whatever, just bring on the cheese), goldfish crackers, and really just about any fruit you offer her. She’s not really interested in much meat, although she likes pasta and breads from time to time. And she’s got at least twelve teeth in her mouth with which to chow down.

And some random news about non-Lyra things

My birthday came and went last week with little fanfare. Adam kept asking me what I wanted to do, and I was too busy with work things and a sick baby (and not getting nearly enough sleep because of it) to really think about it. Ideally I wanted someone else to throw me some sort of party or something, which eventually kind of happened on Sunday. I got some cash, which I promptly went out and spent on some awesome new shirts and a necklace. And I got a giant ball of Edam cheese, which was fantastic.

Work has been absolutely crazy lately, with all sorts of changes afoot. I’m carrying on doing what I do, coasting along with the changes as they happen. It is an interesting time.

I have tried riding to and from work a couple of times, but it has been really hard. I’m still not equipped enough for it to be easy, and I am not a morning person, so it kind of has to be easy for me to get it done. The riding itself isn’t easy – but that part I’m fine with. It’s the complications of getting up early, getting Lyra ready and dropping her off, and then getting myself to work, without having more stuff than I can manage with me on the walk down to Daycare. Panniers are my mantra. If I had panniers, that’d fix everything. At least that’s what I tell myself. I could’ve bought panniers instead of shirts with my birthday money, but I really needed the shirts, too. And I desperately want an Android phone, but that won’t happen for a long time I think. I also have to get pants that fit me, since I have none that fit properly at the moment. I’m still between my pre- and post-pregnancy sizes for pants. It is frustrating.

None of these things can be acquired this month, however, because for Halloween weekend we’re going to Tofino with Chris & Jinni, and that’s where I’m putting extra cash right now. It will be nice – the first time I’ve gone without camping. I don’t think we’ll have enough for surfing lessons, sadly, but it will be lovely nonetheless.

And that’s an extremely long update on my life at the moment. Things are pretty good. Lyra is changing every day. The world keeps spinning round and round.