*30th Anniversary guest blog post*
I first discovered Green Action Centre (then called Resource Conservation Manitoba, or RCM) in 1998 when I returned to Winnipeg after five years in Victoria, B.C. I had been working at the Victoria Compost Education Centre and was keen to continue spreading compost’s good word in Winnipeg.
As RCM was (and Green Action Centre still is) Winnipeg’s composting authority, it seemed like the obvious starting point for environmental community networking. That phone call was the start to a very rewarding relationship with Green Action Centre; a relationship that continues to this day.
Over the last 17 years I’ve watched Green Action Centre deliver programming, services and solutions focused on fostering sustainability in Manitoba. Its efforts championing active transportation, waste reduction, energy efficiency and green living have been inspiring and impactful.
I have been involved with Green Action Centre as a member, donor, volunteer and client. In all of these instances I have benefited from the experience. So with that in mind here are a few of my favourite things about Green Action Centre.
In 2000 I was working at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). RCM was actively promoting the first Commuter Challenge and looking for partners to support the event. The planning team came to IISD with a funding request. This wasn’t something IISD had ever done before but their presentation and the Commuter Challenge concept was so compelling we couldn’t say no. Sixteen years later the commuter challenge is still going strong.
I’ve participated in every single Commuter Challenge since 2000 and my current employer, Assiniboine Credit Union, is a proud sponsor; we’ve won gold in our workplace population category three years in a row. So we are also committed and enthusiastic participants. Coordinating our participation in the Commuter Challenge is one of my favourite things to do at ACU.
Workplace Commuter Options
In my opinion Green Action Centre is a green and active commuting powerhouse. I’ve turned to the experts in the Workplace Commuter Options team for over five years to support Assiniboine Credit Union’s employee commuting programs and our greenhouse gas management efforts. The tools, resources and insights Workplace Commuter Options provides to organizations looking to promote green and active commuting are invaluable.
Through Workplace Commuter Options we’ve been able to create programs and policies that support moving away from drive-alone commuting. We understand impediments to green commuting and, because of the data captured through employee commuting surveys, can effectively address these barriers. We want to promote green and active commuting because it promotes health and fitness, reduces stress, is better for the environment, saves employees money and makes us an attractive employer.
Living Green, Living Well E-Newsletter
If you don’t subscribe to this e-newsletter, do it now! It’s one email that I that I eagerly look forward to receiving. It’s thoughtful, fun, informative, inspiring and motivating. Content, as they say, is king and the Living Green, Living Well e-news delivers. I point to it frequently as an example of a well thought out e-newsletter.
For 30 years Green Action Centre staff and volunteers have championed the implementation of provincial and municipal policies that support and advance sustainability. Green Action Centre representatives frequently provide thoughtful input into deliberations on transportation, energy, pesticides, green economy, climate change and waste management.
Because of the care and thoroughness taken in their development, many of the positions advanced by Green Action Centre have come to pass. These successes are a testament to the capacity, commitment and tenacity of the organization and its members.
A recent favourite effort focused on Winnipeg and transportation. The Green Action Centre brief submitted as part of the City of Winnipeg’s 2015 Budget Review process drives home numerous critical points concerning the ‘free ride’ motor vehicles receive in contrast to other forms of transportation and points to the fatal flaws inherent in continuing down this road.
Strong positions like these do much to change the conversation in Manitoba. The transition to sustainability is happening right before our eyes because Green Action Centre continues to highlight tools and policy approaches to support this shift.
I hold the staff and board at Green Action Centre in high regard; they are deeply committed to the organizational mission, are exceptional advocates for positive change and are generous with their expertise. Green Action Centre staff and volunteers have achieved a great deal in the last 30 years and will continue to nudge Manitoba in the right direction for many years to come.
Pursuing sustainability means that you appreciate all achievements- small and large. You note them and celebrate them. You look to understand how each success occurred, how it can be replicated and how one change can bring about more change. Working this way, you quickly realize that a better, healthier, and more fair and equitable community is within your reach. You realize that your efforts have meaning, your energy has value and that the returns on what you’ve given are greatly compounded and long lasting.
Dennis Cunningham is a former board member of Green Action Centre and is Assiniboine Credit Union’s Manager of Environmental Sustainability. He is active in the Riverview neighbourhood serving as Vice President of the Riverview Community Centre, coordinating the Riverview JackRabbits Skiing program and is the race director of the Frost Bite River Run – a five mile running event held in January. He composts and green commutes year round.