Gen Why Media and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives are co-hosting an “intergenerational dialogue” in Vancouver on Tuesday, December 11 to explore various existing and proposed energy projects in Western Canada. Titled “Power & Energy: Connecting the Dots”, the program is the third in a series of “Bring Your Boomers” events, sponsored by Vancity, designed to debate key social issues from different generational perspectives.
In addition to musical performances and a keynote talk by the CCPA’s Marc Lee, the evening will feature a three-way dialogue, with each panelist representing a different generation. I have the privilege of representing Generation Y (a.k.a. “Millennials” – born from the late 1970s to early 2000s), while leading energy and public policy expert Ben Parfitt of the CCPA will represent Generation X. Rounding out the panel is Boomer Karen Cooling, National Staff Representative at the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Adding further generational depth to the discussion will be 11 year-old moderator and First Nations singer/songwriter Ta’Kaiya Blaney – a vocal critic of oil tankers on BC’s coast.
Cooling’s union represents workers in the energy sector, among other areas, and has actively raised concerns about proposed oil pipelines to export Alberta bitumen to Asia and the United States. Her colleague, union president Dave Coles, recently told a crowd of thousands gathered in Victoria to oppose pipelines and takers in BC, “these pipelines are job killers” because they export bitumen without refining it and threaten the environment.
Ben Parfitt has published a number of highly-regarded independent reports on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in BC. Fracking is also a key focus of a film I’m currently co-directing with Gen Why co-founder Fiona Rayher, called Fractured Land, which examines energy issues in northern BC and Alberta through the eyes of a young First Nations law student named Caleb Behn. The film will discuss the concept of the “Carbon Corridor” – an interconnected web of fracking and tar sands projects, dams, coal mines, oil, gas and condensate pipelines, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants and tankers on BC’s coast – designed to transform Canada into a major hydrocarbon provider to new markets in Asia.
Founded in Vancouver in 2010, Gen Why Media describes itself as “a production group that collaborates across disciplines to create media, events, workshops, public art and intergenerational dialogues that engage society in new forms of public engagement.” Says Tara Mahoney, Gen Why co-founder and organizer of Tuesday’s event, “Our goal with this dialogue is to engage a broader audience in a discussion about energy policy – a topic that isn’t always very accessible, particularly to young people. We hope to use culture as an entry point into a conversation about energy policy and to find ways different generations can work together to shape these issues going forward.”
Gen Why’s previous “Bring Your Boomers” events have examined topics such as technology, globalization, activism and intergenerational cooperation and featured an impressive list of speakers – including former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, journalist and activist Judy Rebick, filmmakers Nettie Wild and Nimisha Mukerji, Vision Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, and LeadNow.ca Executive Director Jamie Biggar.
Tuesday’s “Power & Energy” dialogue will also feature a musical performance by popular Vancouver band Brasstronaut. The event takes place at the Rio Theatre – 1660 East Broadway, adjacent to Commercial-Broadway Skytrain Station. Door open at 6:30 and the event starts at 7 pm. Tickets can be purchased online here.