The final Green Wednesday environmental evening is next Wednesday, as the decade long initiative to make the community greener comes to a close.
The volunteer effort featured monthly documentary film screenings and guest speakers at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, explained Betty Cunnin, a KPU instructor and a Green Wednesday organizer.
“I would estimate that over the past 10 years, about 2,500 people have been to a KPU Green Wednesdays… many of them multiple times and for that we are extremely thankful,” said Cunnin.
But times have changed, making it more difficult to put on the monthly events.
Online streaming means it’s harder to find relevant films not already seen by the audience. There’s also the cost of bringing the films here, and their length.
“More and more of these films are reaching feature length and that makes for a very late night,” she said.
In that decade, organizers have noticed a social shift, so the messages were getting through to people.
“After each film, we host a discussion about the impact of the films on us personally, what we learned, what actions we can take to make change,” she said. “Multiple times we have heard from the participants how viewing the film has helped them reassess their values and consider their actions on our planet, and the all the living species that inhabit it. That coming to Green Wednesdays and learning more about how we can protect our planet from ourselves matters.”
Cunnin said the volunteers behind Green Wednesdays have taken inspiration from the filmmakers and speakers who have spotlighted key issues, such as living without plastic, changing their lifestyles to reduce fossil fuel use, making different choices about food and clothing, and asking questions about how consumer goods are made.
“The films show us that we all live on the same planet, that our choices are connected… and we all have an impact on our earth’s ability to provide for everyone,” Cunnin added. “Personally, while I considered myself somewhat knowledgeable about the issues of food security, climate change, energy, oceans and species extinction, [but] since attending and organizing Green Wednesdays, I have become more reflective and critical of the impact my actions have on our planet. I certainly shop less, and I shop very differently. It was at a Green Wednesday that I learned my favourite fish shop in Langley, 1 Fish 2 Fish, was one of the first fish stores to sign onto the Ocean Wise Program.”
KPU horticulture school co-chair Gary Jones was instrumental in starting Green Wednesday as part of his Horticulture Sustainability Class.
“Gary had the brilliant vision to bring students and community together through film. I was heartened by how many community members from Langley came out to view the films, and shared their ideas, their feeling and their suggestions with each other and with the students as to how we each can contribute to a better world.”
That includes having direct impacts in this community.
“Many folks don’t know this, but the Langley Community Farmers’ Market evolved from discussion after a Green Wednesdays,” she noted. “When Gary took a year for education leave to conduct research in food security in Africa, and it seemed Green Wednesdays would end without his leadership, I stepped in to keep the event going.”
Jones said his upbringing in the United Kingdom provided the inspiration to suggest the event.
“From my days as a kid watching Sunday evening BBC programs, when they ran a series called The World About Us. They would show us Brits the story of salmon in the waters of B.C. and all kinds of natural history events,” he explained. “Many years later I found myself living here with a salmon bearing stream in my own backyard – literally – Yorkson Creek.”
It started with Jones and others organizing three success eco-themed events.
“They were so sell received by the public that the idea of regular events was born, but of course they had to be manageable in a way that those other three higher input events were not. A movie and a chat was a simple answer,” Jones added.
The Green Ideas Network was first involved through KPU curriculum and then became part of the Green Wednesday crew.
“Since 2006, our non-profit organization, Green Ideas Network, Inc., had participated in many environmental events, especially hosting film festivals that coincided with Earth Day, Clean Air Day, Rivers Day, etc.,” explained Joyce Rostron, VP of the network. “During the time when I was promoting one of the film festivals for Surrey’s Environmental Extravaganza event, I decided to reach out to the local university campuses and ask if I could put our poster on their community boards. I just happened to go to KPU’s website and read a short article about an instructor from the School of Horticulture. His name was Gary Jones, and he was inspiring others about how one small action like composting your lunch waste was helping the environment. Housing a red wiggler worm compost box in his office was a first. I found it intriguing and decided to visit him, knowing that we were like-minded and he might help us to promote our upcoming event.”
There’s been some talk about the KPU library or others at the school offering some variation on Green Wednesday to keep sharing environmental information.
Anyone wanting to attend the Green Wednesday finale on April 18 is asked to RSVP in advance to Cunnin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about environmental issues at greenideasnetwork.org, which has had a hand in Green Wednesdays for several years.
The April 18 event will include the screening of Plastic Paradise, farewell speeches, refreshments and prizes. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is by donation.