Building Bridges for Electoral Reform
My Story of Building Bridges across the Carbon Equation
I have been so excited about coming to speak today – to tell my story. I invited my friends to come. And got to thinking, Why I am I so happy to get to tell my story? I realized my story is about bridging – bridging between different groups.
I am part of Democracy Guelph and FairVote Guelph, and this week we brought together politicians from all sides to think together about reforming our Democracy. We invited Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Greens to discuss the book “Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy” – it is amazing what we can learn from each other when we listen to each other.
I am also part of the Bridging Group – we are a Christian Muslim friendship group, and we are building bridges of understanding between our communities. And I am here to be part of the celebration of solar panels on your church – I am a solar guy, but all rest of my family work in the oil and gas industry. So, I find myself building bridges there too!
I can tell a story of how high the roof of your church building is! It is great to be here celebrating with you how your roof not only keeps the rain out and snow out – but it generates electricity. Power right from the sun. What an amazing thing to be part of. Blessed by the sun. Receiving power from on high. It has been such a gift that I have received in the thinking about my life, and preparing to speak with you today. In preparing this message I have experienced God’s love and care in such a gentle way.
I grew up in Northern Alberta. My parents bought 640 acres of bush from the government in 1963, for $5000. We were mud poor – and mosquito rich. My parents had a dream of a farm, and what we had was a forest, and nobody wanted the wood from our forest. So all winter long we would cut down the trees and push them into big long rows with a bull dozer – the rows of trees would be piled high for ½ a mile long. In the spring it was my job to walk along the piles with a pail of diesel fuel, splash fuel onto the pile of trees, and put a match to it. We burned quarter section after quarter section. Nobody wanted the wood. We were doing what our neighbors were doing, we got permits from the government to burn, we were doing what the banks wanted us to do. It all when up in smoke. And yes, we built a beautiful farm – after we pulled all the stumps out.
Farming is tough business, and Dad wanted us kids to have a better life. I went away to University and eventually I got a job developing engines for cars. I loved it – I still love engines, and turbo chargers, and the smell of fuel – you can take the boy off the farm, but you can not take the farm out of the boy.
As it turns out, under our family farm is a massive store of tar sands. We sold the farm in 2001 - strange. All my family now work in the oil and gas industry – and their livelihood depends on carbon. And I rely on them – I think we all do – we use natural gas to heat our homes, to cook our food, and use gasoline to make our cars go.
I now work in the solar industry – so this makes my family reunions often challenging. We love each other, and try to respect each other, but our ways of making a living are on opposite sides of the carbon equation.
Our country and our world is in the process of a huge transition. This is the 10 year anniversary of the Iphone. What an incredible impact technology has had on us. The same stuff that goes into the Iphone is about to completely change the automotive industry and clean, quiet, electric cars are coming to these highways that we are building.
For me, getting ready to receive the sun, working with the power that rises in the east, and in our hearts each morning, just makes sense. I am very grateful I get to do the work I do. I love working with families, and communities and churches and businesses who are ready to tap into the power that we are surrounded by.
It is a beautiful thing when the sun shines on us and in us.