It's been a little crazy here in Montreal in the past few months. Personally, the feeling of craziness started in March with the Anti Police Brutality march, which culminated a few blocks away from my apartment. Next was the start of the tuition hike protests, which celebrated the 100th day of protesting on Tuesday. On my walk to work, it became really common to see smashed bank windows, extra traffic, spontaneous groups of people shouting, and busses of policemen zooming by with the sirens on. Since I work at three English universities, it was all people talked (mostly debated) about. It has been interesting to get one perspective at work, and completely another from my family and friends, and a third perspective from the media. No matter my thoughts on the tuition issue, it's obvious to me that it is growing into a bigger issue: should we accept the norm, or fight for what we believe in? The older people I've talked to seem to say "suck it up, stop whining." and the younger or more open-minded (is that the word I'm looking for?) people seem to say "it doesn't have to be like this, but it will be like this if no one speaks out."
I haven't been too involved personally with the tuition hike activities, but I've found it really inspiring to see people speaking out for what they believe is right. A few weeks ago, the federal budget got passed, with scary implications. The government is budgeting $8 million on auditing charities like environmental groups. It will completely change the Environmental Assessment Act, so that projects like the Enbridge pipeline could get passed much more easily. There will be less emphasis on public consultations, so that politicians can pass things or issue permits behind closed doors. For a better explanation, see here: http://blackoutspeakout.ca/about.php
In a time when we need MORE transparency, MORE public consultations, BETTER regulations, LESS power of lobby groups, this is ridiculous. The government is getting more power to pass projects that certain companies (cough cough, oil) want, and gives less opportunities for environmental groups or the public to speak out about it. So people are speaking out. And blacking out.
On June 4th, organizations and bloggers will be blacking out their website, to represent the silence that the budget will entail. So I'll be blacking out, and speaking out.
Two days ago, before meeting up with a friend, I stopped into a pizza place to grab supper. (don't worry, I don't normally eat pizza for dinner). Choices for pizza: cheese, pepperoni, veggie, lots of meat. I knew that I should pick cheese, or veggies with no meat, but I went with pepperoni. This happens to me pretty much every time I go to a restaurant. And every time, I feel guilty about it, but I never eat meat at home, so I always see it as a rare treat. I'm tired of feeling bad about it, and I know I should do better.
New challenge: Factory Farm Meatless May. I can eat hunted, ethically raised local and organic meat, but no conventional, factory farm meat for the whole month of May.
I have to admit something embarrassing: I LOVE the taste of processed meats. I rarely eat a steak or a hamburger, but I could probably eat a hot dog every day. I know, I know: hotdogs, saussages, bacon, lunch meat...these are disgusting. But they taste amazing, and occasionally I indulge at restaurants.
I'm not really a vegetarian (I think in moderation, it's good to eat hunted or ethical, organic, local meat is okay) and I eat meat at a restaurant maybe once every week or two. At home, I'm a veg stir fry or pasta salad kind of girl. It's silly that I only eat meat at restaurants - if I'm going to purchase meat, shouldn't it be the kind of meat that I want to support, not from a factory farm? I kind of rationalize it by saying that I don't eat meat in the other 85 meals in the month, so 1 chicken quesadilla, 2 ham sandwiches, 1 hotdog, and 1 steak in a month isn't that bad. Lame excuse.
I had a really good experience with the Zero Waste Challenge for the month of March. My friends and family knew that I was doing it, my blog readers (...crickets chirping) knew that I was doing it, and I even got some random comments that people thought it was a good idea or that they were inspired to cut down on their garbage too. I already do most of the things environmentalists are "supposed" to do: eat organic and local, reduce packaging, turn down the heat, take a short shower, walk or take public transportation everywhere. So how can I keep raising the bar, especially without banning everything suddenly and making myself seem like an eco-nut? (Actually, I may have already reached that distinction.)
Bring on the month-long challenges. Two documentaries that I've seen lately have made me think that this kind of project can get people talking, and show others that another way is possible:
I'm an eco-conscious girl from Montreal, Quebec. I'm currently an adjunct science professor at Champlain College of Vermont (Montreal Campus). I'm interested in any opportunities to expand my experience with grassroots activism, climate change legislation, or environmental education.