How might we influence change? Face to face versus angry Facebook comments

So, Mike Douglas went to Ottawa. The “Godfather of Freeskiing” has recently been leveraging his influence in the snow-obsessed world, co-founding Protect Our Winters chapter, and advocating for climate change to be taken seriously. Recently, POW Canada went to Ottawa on their first big federal advocacy mission, and I appreciated reading Mike’s take-aways…

Sometimes I have to log off social media and take a few minutes to calm myself down… something has sent my heart racing, something I usually forget about long before my body is able to return to some kind of functional equilibrium. The science is pretty solid to show that this state of hyperarousal and outrage is what the platforms are trying to create – it keeps us hooked, engaged, going back for more. (Incidently, I find it renders me largely dysfunctional in the real world, where I might be able to effect real change… because I’m either too amped up, too scattered, or have banged out enough comments that I have said my piece and assume everyone’s going to get what I have to say. Mike’s reflection that no-one in power, who you’re railing against, reads the comments, is another good reminder for me to work out how to cultivate the real-life interaction zones and spaces where we can have conversations that might alter the texture of our realties, our interactions, and the ways things are around us. The people in my life who tend to reach for the phone before they log on to Facebook are some of my favourite people. I want to be more like them.

We are recently back from @protectourwinterscanada’s first official trip to Ottawa where we met with Canadian lawmakers. Thanks to a huge effort made by Milton MP @adamvankoeverden we were able to meet with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Stephen Guilbeault, Minister of Sport, Pascale St Onge, Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkenson, and my local MP, Patrick Weiler. Here are 6 things I learned from my time on the Hill:

1. Speaking clearly and respectfully is the most effective way to ensure you are listened to. 
2. Politicians are people too. They can often be as frustrated by the circumstances and decisions made around around an issue as we are. 
3. For every person in Canada who thinks like me, there is likely someone who thinks the exact opposite. 
4. Governments are a reflection of the people. Canadians are more deeply concerned about the price of gas than the environment at the moment. IMO it shouldn’t be that way but that’s the reality. If POW Canada walked into parliament with 10x the number of current members, we’d have way more clout than we currently do. Numbers help the govt feel more confident making meaningful environmental decisions. Are you a member?
5. The best way to instigate change is to speak up and get involved. Become a member of a group, call your MP, take on a local issue. Politicians are much more likely to take meaningful action on climate change and other issues when they know the people have their backs. 
6. Complaining and arguing on social media is a waste of time. I already knew this but nobody in power reads the comments. 

Now that POW Canada has a seat at the table we will continue to pressure this govt into taking the most aggressive and ambitious path forward in the fight against climate change. We don’t have time to waste. Please get behind us. Photos by @melanie.provencher#protectourwinters#climateaction

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