Successful Annual General Meeting means more than a Full House

By Courtney Baker

This year a combination of climate change and an El Niño meant that we didn’t have our usual Ontario Snowbelt winter. It feels as though the world really got to sleep. It tossed and turned all winter without a comforting blanket of snow. It was particularly noticeable to me, not because I have some secret environmental knowledge but because so many people shared their concern with me. 

Working for an environmental non-profit can be a place of privilege in the era of climate change. It gives you a chance at work to be in the know, read and learn about the climates effect on the world around you.  But, with privilege comes responsibility and in this case it is the responsibility to do your best to answer the questions of people who aren’t as ‘in the know’. 

Friends and family often ask me about the environment, but this week alone my lovely hairdresser was voicing her climate concerns to me, when we normally are nattering on about our pets. Tuesday my massage therapist was asking me about the warm weather’s effect on wildlife that would normally hibernate and Wednesday my dental hygienist lamented what a sad winter it was for people who enjoy skiing and snowshoeing. People are absorbing the change. 

Sure, there was an El Niño this year, but when you compare data year on year, it is plain to see we are heating up. You may wonder, when I’m asked, what do I say to my community? My response is “Climate change is real, and it’s bad, but there are things we can do about it.” It is with this response that I give that secret environmental knowledge; the most important part, is the doing. 

When I attended our Annual General Meeting on March 2nd, being surrounded by over 200 other environmentalists was like relieving a climate anxiety valve. That feeling of community empowers you with the knowledge that we will keep moving forward and protecting more of nature, together. I know that being in that room makes me feel better, supported and like I’m not the only one who cares. 

We also have dozens of volunteers being trained at the minute. Normally I would say they are coming to the office in droves, but there are now so many we can’t even host all of our trainings! The library, rotary place, and other locations that can hold more people are now needed to train the number of people who want to help our planet in our community alone. 

Also, the passport to nature committee is getting ready to launch this year’s booklet on Earth Day with 13 events for the community to enjoy. Bike rides, paddles, hikes and more await those wanting to explore. This volunteer committee understands the importance of a connection to nature and works to get as many people out as they can. 

So, don’t let your climate blues get the better of you, don’t succumb to a ‘nobody cares’ attitude. We care. If you’re ready to take some action, pick up some garbage on your road side. Head out for a hike on one of our many nature reserves. Attend a Passport event and learn about your beautiful region, or donate to support our work. Take solace in knowing that there are wonderful people in your community who are out there doing.  

Courtney Baker is the Office and Acquisition Coordinator at The Couchiching Conservancy, protecting nature for future generations.