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System Change Project at the Alternatives Summer Camp

I attended the Alternatives Summer Camp this past weekend. I was asked to join the conference set at a picturesque camp facility near Saint Alphonse Rodriguez Quebec to lead a workshop on our exciting new System Change not Climate Change project and join a panel on social movement responses to a Harper majority. I was joined by over 200 participants, many from Montreal and surrounding areas, Quebec City and the Ottawa Gatineau area.

There were plenty of interesting workshops and panels on a range of topics, from the recent sweep of revolutions to a panel questioning who benefits from the Charest government’s Plan Nord and food sovereignty. Much of the focus was on social justice concerns in Quebec, Canada and internationally, sharing information towards building stronger social movements in Canada.

On Saturday morning I led a workshop on our System Change not Climate Change project. I began the workshop by setting the tone for the urgency with which we need to act in the face of a climate crisis, sharing recent updates on the crisis and the role of the Harper government. I then discussed the climate justice movement, where we draw hope from, referring to experiences at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen and Cancun and our participate at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba Bolivia. I then used the opportunity to talk about our new project: www.systemchange.ca .

Here is some of what I shared at workshop:

Inspired by the popular climate justice slogan System Change not Climate Change, www.systemchange.ca will feature over 25 videos with statements from a range of speakers, including academics, activists and workers. The videos which range from five to ten minutes in length, bring forward inspiring stories and information related to this slogan and the demand for climate justice.

Topics include climate debt repayment, rights of nature, the sectors of energy, transportation and agriculture and testimonies of resistance, transition and vision. Speakers include Maude Barlow, Peter Victor, David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, Ralph Torrie and many more.

It is a free, public, interactive website. It is our sincere hope that the speakers’ messages will be shared broadly. We are encouraging individuals and organizations to share the website and videos broadly.

We are encouraging Council of Canadians chapters and other groups and organizations to host teach-ins in the lead up to the next major round of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa, November 28 to December 9 2011.

While the climate talks likely won’t produce the meaningful actions our planet needs to halt and reverse the effects of climate change, they are a forum for dialogue about what needs to happen, an opportunity to demand better on the part of our governments and to start mobilizing for change.

Teach-ins can be held in a variety of settings including workplaces, classrooms, community centres, at conferences and even in your living rooms. We will have a map of teach-ins on www.systemchange.ca where we will encourage anyone collectively using the videos or project tools to register it on the map. This will help advertise those events that are public and give a sense of how the inspiring video messages are being spread.

While there is no set, or right way to plan a teach in, a step by step guide will be available on www.systemchange.ca for hosting a community-based teach-in using a model that features a public screening of three to five videos, optional local speakers, local refreshments (picking up on sustainable agriculture as a real climate solution) and collecting of emails for a follow up action planning meeting.

There will be a number of action toolkits available that provide examples of actions that can be taken. These will include examples such as organizing a garlic grow in, supporting public and community owned power and a Financial Transaction Tax.

I also joined a panel featuring environmental, labour and social justice representatives on Sunday morning on the topic of social movements versus the new Tory majority in Parliament. You can find my notes for this presentation at this blog: