The NWEP AGM went very well. There were four departing board members, we refreshed with three new board members and a fourth person is returning to the board after a one-year hiatus. It is good to have a combination of old and new ideas, and I look forward to working with the new team (which should give you the hint about who the returning-after-a-hiatus person is).
Speaking at the AGM were Mark Allison, who is a Senior Planner for the City of New Westminster, and Ann Rowan, a Senior Policy Analyst for our regional government, MetroVancouver. They spoke of community engagement and how individuals and organizations can make a difference in their community.
There were two big ideas I took away from the discussions.
First (to paraphrase Mark), when it comes to community planning and municipal government the decisions are generally made by “those that show up”. At open houses, at council delegations, at community meetings and advisory councils. Those that take an active part in the discussion are the only ones whose voices will be heard in the discussions.
Second (to paraphrase Ann), there are easy things individuals can do to improve the situation in the world from a sustainability standpoint: drive less, live in a more efficient house, conserve energy, buy local food, and generally buy less. However, talking to politicians is also one of those things, and it is one that it is often easier for groups to do than individuals. Bringing ideas to, sharing knowledge with, and providing support for the elected types is an important way to empower them to make the right decisions.
I’m glad to say: these are two things the NWEP does well locally.
This is what I hope to talk about (if I ever get a speech written….) at the City of New Westminster’s Envision2032 event this Friday. Besides taking part in the Saturday workshop (see “showing up” above), I am taking part in the Friday night social – an inspirational event where people who work or advocate in Sustainability Planning will talk the talk, hoping to inspire the Saturday participants to walk the walk on Saturday.
Yep, another “City Consultation” process for yet, another “Plan”. But I hope to emphasise that the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan is the big one. This is the over-arching set of community standards and goals that will inform subsequent Official Community Plans, Master Transportation Plans, Local Area Plans, Affordable Housing Plans, etc. etc. Once approved in 2013, the ICSP will provide guidance for the next generation of community development. How will we grow? How will we manage the volatility in world energy markets? How will we care for the homeless and the economically disenfranchised? How will we prioritize our taxation and spending? This Plan will set the stage upon which our City’s resurgence will play out. Take it from the City’s Sustainability Planner– this is a rather big deal.
If you live in New West, own property in New West, run a business or work in New West, you might want to drop by on Saturday and spend a couple of hours helping to sketch out that plan. This is your opportunity to show up, and your opportunity to speak to politicians: in other words, your opportunity to make the change you want to see happen.
You need to register before Thursday, mostly because they need to know how much lunch to order. Yes, if you spend a couple of hours on rainy Saturday when there is no Hockey on TV helping out the City – your City– you will get a free lunch!
Also, show up Friday night for the inspiration event, and find out if I ever got a speech written. I’m thinking of talking about this guy’s contribution to Sustainability thinking: