Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Doin’ it for the Cause

Oh Cope378...

The My Generation, A Festival of Power was a powerful event indeed, powerfully-strange. I’m Having a hard time reconciling the various groups I saw represented at the event.

One the one hand we had the union, “trying to raise awareness.” By raise awareness they actually meant work to bring back the BC Hydro monopoly to create a larger number of unionized jobs for the cope378 union to represent.

On the other hand, various groups more concerned with fighting coal based power than with rebuilding a monopoly.

And on the third and final hand, a group of musicians with absolutely no connection to the issues up for discussion at the day-long event.

When I first arrived at the daytime festivities (held at the VPL) I met Brad Hope at the Save Our Similkameen booth. I was glad to see a group opposed to coal-power because I’m a guy opposed to coal-power and I’m pretty freaked out about a plant starting up near my home town.

Brad and I had a great chat about how people in Princeton are really disturbed by the planned power-plant, and how his group is trying to link up with the Peace Energy Cooperative to look into alternative energy sources.

The other thing we chatted about was why nobody my age, or really any age other than nearing retirement, are getting involved in social and environmental justice issues. Brad wondered how to attract the younger crowd to these types of events, and while I may not have the perfect answer I’ve got a couple of suggestions now that I’ve had a few minutes to reflect.

a. Don’t stack a concert with notable artists who have no vested interest in your cause. Sure Buffy Sainte-Marie inspired millions back in the day, but there’s the problem. It was back in the day, and the issues were different. Buffy (and Jim Byrnes) telling me to keep on fighting for my cause reeked of insincerity.

Prep your performers or choose ones with a real interest in your issue if your goal is to inspire more than a hankering for a doobie and some bellbottoms.

b. Focus, focus, focus (read as if you were whatever Brady-daughter was jealous of Marcia). Don’t confuse visitors with different booths delivering different messages. I got a pro independent-power-producer viewpoint at one, a pro hydro-monopoly view at another, and a “hydrogen power is bitchin’” view at a third.

c. Localize your issue. Is expensive power your concern? Tell people in Vancouver what it may cost them in the future to heat/light their Vancouver homes. Is green-energy your concern? Show people from the GVRD some regional solutions.

In closing, Final Fantasy was amazing. Mindblowingly amazing, and not at all connected to the debate around greenhouse gas emissions or independently owned and operated coal-burning power plants in British Columbia.

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