- KEEPING THE PEACE: TAKING A STAND AGAINST THE SITE C DAM
- SOLARIZE OUR CITIES
- PORT MOODY BI-ELECTION
- PULL TOGETHER TO STOP KINDER MORGAN
- VOTE KINDER MORGAN OUT OF OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS
- 2016 & PRIOR: THE STORY OF FORCE OF NATURE
APRIL - DECEMBER, 2017
The Site C dam, currently under construction, will put the Peace River Valley at significant risk, raise hydro rates for all British Columbians, violate First Nations rights and title and threaten our province’s food security.
From April to December 2017, Force of Nature partnered with the Sierra Club of BC, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, and the grassroots activists at Fight C to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of the Site C Dam, galvanize public opposition, and organize thousands of residents across Metro Vancouver to advocate the project's decisive and expedient end.
We organized a major rally against Site C at Vanier Park, turned out hundreds of concerned British Columbians to the BC Utilities Commission public input hearings, delivered three thousand petition postcards to the provincial government, and arranged countless meetings with our newly-elected MLAs.
Sadly, the provincial government announced it's decision to move forward with Site C in December of 2017. If you want to join our allies as they continue to fight this devastating project, we urge you join the all-volunteer Fight C organization, and support the legal challenges of the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations, whose court challenges represent that last legal line of defence against the Site C dam.
JANUARY - DECEMBER 2017
Force of Nature is working to promote solar power as a viable, accessible clean energy alternative to conventional sources of electricity. Our Solarize the Cities campaign involved a four-pronged approach that integrated research, education, advocacy, and fundraising for local infrastructure projects right here in the Lower Mainland.
RESEARCH: Our teams compiled high level data about the potential for photo voltaic energy in Metro Vancouver, assessed obstacles and opportunities to uptake, and addressed myths and misconceptions that were coming up on the door. To learn more, you can check out our solar factsheet, our solar brochure, and the detailed reports our teams compiled for the cities of New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, and West Vancouver. You can also check out the solar slideshow we presented in New Westminster.
EDUCATION: We shared our findings with the mayor and council of five municipalities and tens of thousands of Lower Mainland residents as we canvassed at farmers markets, festivals, and in local neighbourhoods throughout the spring, summer and fall. We also hosted a packed Mission: Transition town hall in January with Chief Phil Lane Jr. and Rob Baxter from Vancouver Renewable Energy Co-op, and a number of smaller slideshows and presentations on solar within the community.
ADVOCACY: We advocated for the reduction of bureaucratic barriers to residential solar, with an emphasis on expediting the municipal permitting process and reducing building permit fees. We collected over five thousand petition signatures calling for these changes, and presented our case to the municipalities of Burnaby, Port Moody, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam and West Vancouver.
INFRASTRUCTURE: A core objective was to directly support a local solar installation that embodied the principles of authentic sustainable development and community leadership. The Tsleil Waututh First Nation has taken a powerful stand against fossil fuel expansion in their traditional territories, and are demonstrating leadership and initiative by incorporating photovoltaics and renewable energy into their new developments. Our teams fundraised through distributed events and a solar charger raffle to raise $5000.00 from our community, and donated the funds to the new public solar installation at the Tsleil Waututh nation in December of 2017.
Organizer Jake Hubley took the lead on the Solarize project - you can read his blog about the campaign here.
A huge thank you to Lush Cosmetics who provided the bulk of the funding for this project.
This September, the City of Port Moody held a bi-election to determine who would take the place in council chambers of former city councillor, now newly elected MLA Rick Glumac - who had arguably been one of Port Moody's most environmentally minded councillors to date.
We spent an incredible month organizing in Port Moody, though if you'd asked us just a month earlier, we'd never have guessed how exciting a municipal by-election could actually be - and how important. A number of excellent candidates grappled with some big questions on how the city will evolve to accommodate its growing population, and Force of Nature volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure that sustainable development and climate action remained front and centre in this dialogue.
There was no doubt that our effort had a big impact... at least three of the prospective councillors strengthened their position on environmental issues over the course of the campaign and the need to improve solar bylaws - a key priority in Force of Nature's Solarize campaign - was articulated at an all-candidates debate.
Hunter Madsen, a local community organizer who has has worked tirelessly to save Bert Flinn park and committed in his platform to solarizing Port Moody, won in a landslide victory and has gone on to championing climate-related issues and working to support the community's transition to a low carbon future.
JANUARY - DECEMBER 2017
First Nations court challenges constitute the last legal line of defence against many massive industrial energy projects. They were integral at putting a stop to the Enbridge pipeline, and are currently keeping fires of hope alive in the hearts of many environmentally-minded Canadians when it comes to putting an end to Kinder Morgan and Site C.
The fact that so many Nations are compelled to channel limited resources into fighting costly legal battles simply to defend their constitutionally-guaranteed rights is a shameful reality of business as usual in Canada, and we need to be be fighting for our governments start living by their own laws proactively, instead of illegally perpetuating the cycle of violence against First Nations, and expecting Canadian taxpayers to pick up the tab for their legal missteps.
In the mean time, RAVEN Trust (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) has been partnering with environmental non-profits, community groups, and First Nations to raise funds to offset the costs incurred by the Nations at the front line of these court cases. It was an honour for Force of Nature to be invited into RAVEN's 2017 Pull Together coalition along with the Sierra Club of BC, where we worked side-by-side to run an amazing and inspiring campaign that raised over $625,000.00 for the Tsleil Waututh, Squamish, Coldwater and Secwepemc challenges to Kinder Morgan.
As usual, our role in this campaign was to roll up our sleeves and put our powerful on-the-ground organizing capacity to work, mobilizing hundreds of community groups, businesses, university clubs and individuals across the continent to organize their own creative distributed fundraising events. From bake sales to art auctions, drag shows and swim-a-thons, the list of creative actions was virtually endless. We also organized our own solidarity rallies for the nations and hosted two fun and stylish "Pints not Pipelines" parties with craft beer, creative prizes and killer tunes.
The highlight of Pull Together was the incredible team spirit that brought thousands of groups and individuals together working creatively and democratically for a single goal. Organizers Mary Lovell and Jake Hubley took the lead on the project, and you can read more about Mary's experiences here, read Jake's blog here, check out some of the amazing project examples here, and, most importantly, go to the Pull Together site to donate to fund these ongoing legal challenges!
JANUARY - MAY 2017
At Force of Nature we don't endorse political parties or believe that fundamental transformation arises solely from the outcomes of our elections, but we do perceive the value in stronger democratic institutions, engaged constituencies who can hold their leaders accountable, and great candidates of all political stripes who will champion environmental justice across party lines. Our vision is folks across the environmental community collaborating to elect more like-minded representatives who will fight for energy transition and climate justice at the federal, provincial, and municipal level.
In the spring of 2017 we ran our biggest campaign ever, working to elect environmental champions Janet Routledge, Katrina Chen and Rick Glumac in the ridings of Burnaby North, Burnaby Lougheed and Port Moody Coquitlam respectively. Three field organizers built high-capacity volunteer teams whose intensive door canvassing efforts brought our supporter numbers up to 2500 in each of our target geographies, while a fourth phone bank organizer led the charge in a massive distributed phonebanking program which over twenty five thousand get out the vote phone calls. All three of our chosen champion candidates won their seats on May 9th.
While Janet, Katrina and Rick have continued to act as good allies and strong advocates for environmental justice close to home, the inadequacy of our new provincial government in pushing back against Kinder Morgan and Site C serves as a strong reminder that organizing around electoral politics has a limited impact, and highlights the need for us to continue working in our communities for meaningful and authentic systemic change.
SEPTEMBER 2014 - DECEMBER 2016
Force of Nature was founded in 2014 by a group of climate organizers who were deeply concerned about the two tar sands pipelines that were slated to be built in British Columbia. Inspired by engagement organizing tactics pioneered in the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns, we formed a small but mighty group of volunteers that met at coffee shops and kitchen tables to discuss how we could integrate strategic election organizing with environmental advocacy to bring about the change we wanted to see in the world. We registered Force of Nature as a non-profit society a few months later, and began organizing community conversations on pipelines, climate solutions, and electoral change through the spring and summer of 2015.
Through intensive canvassing and mass distribution of a publication by West Coast Environmental Law that raised awareness about Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, and the gutting of environmental laws through bills C38 & C45, we helped to raise the profile of our issues and eventually amassed a supporter list of tens of thousands of concerned citizens! In the run-up to the 2015 federal election, we launched a massive phonebanking effort to make sure our supporters got out to vote.
Following the victory of Justin Trudeau's BC Liberal government, we hosted town hall meetings about Kinder Morgan, collected over a thousand letters and postcards demanding an new environmental review process, and advocated tirelessly for the reversal of the Kinder Morgan decision. When the government announced its new consultation process the following spring, we worked with the For the Coast coalition to turnout our supporters to consultation meetings from Kamloops to Victoria. We also convened private meetings with six Lower Mainland Members of Parliament, and pitched in to raise thousands of dollars for RAVEN's first Pull Together against Enbridge campaign.
The First Nations legal challenges put some of the final nails in Enbridge's coffin, but to our great dismay, the Trudeau government ultimately gave the green light to Kinder Morgan. This outcome, though not entirely unexpected, came as a devastating blow to us all, but it also highlighted the need for us to integrate a positive and proactive vision of a just and sustainable future into our climate justice advocacy work, and inspired us to create opportunities for Lower Mainlanders to build the future they do want, in addition to rallying to oppose the projects they don't.
It's this path that has ultimately brought us to launch our Mission: Transition campaign in 2018, a project that is focused on bringing about climate solutions at the municipal level. As we speed headlong into the uncertainty our ever-warming planet will bring, we hope that the next leg of our Force of Nature journey will lead us to new victories in the quest toward a more just, equitable and sustainable world.