Green 13 in Bloor West Villager

Earth hour turns into Earth Week
By LISA RAINFORD
March 05, 2009 10:32 AM

As he walked up Windermere Avenue to Bloor Street West to participate in a community candlelight vigil in recognition of Earth Hour last year, Christopher Holcroft remembers he and his wife agreeing that it would be great to see at least 50 people show up for the event.
"We were completely blown away, there were hundreds of people," Holcroft, an organizer of the vigil, said. "Climate change is a big issue. We're citizens of the world, we're keepers of the climate and I think this community wants to act."

In fact, more than 500 people showed up for the Bloor West Village gathering. Following the success of last year's event, organizers who were thrilled with the outpouring of support, decided to get to work at the grassroots level, Holcroft said, and founded the group 'Green 13.' This year, Green 13 is working with a number of community partners to turn Earth Hour '09 into an entire week jam packed with activities.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million households and business owners turned off their lights for the duration of one hour. The following year, the message had transformed into a global sustainability movement with 50 million people switching off their lights. Landmarks all over the world went dark from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to Rome's Colosseum to the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square.

Earth Hour '09 has reached an entirely new level. Its goal is to reach one billion people, asking them to turn off their lights as part of a global vote. Its theme is Vote Earth, a global call to action. More than 74 countries and territories have vowed to take part and the number is growing, according to the official website earthhour.org

As well as encouraging residents and businesses to power down for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28, Green 13 is helping to organize inorganic markets, town hall meetings and candlelight walks. The group will also be distributing Earth Hour kits with tips on energy consumption, fun facts for kids and relevant information about putting a stop to climate change, said Holcroft, a co-founder of Green 13. These kits will be delivered to all the schools in the community and will be made available to local residents and businesses.

"People are quite interested," Holcroft said. "This is a real community effort and we're really proud of that." Not only is Green 13 encouraging people to power down by shutting off lights and turning off computers among other initiatives, it is asking people to think about conservation, about recycling and about our natural environment. "All these components compliment each other," said Holcroft.

On March 28, residents are encouraged to join their neighbours by powering down and taking part in three candlelight walks through Bloor West Village, the Junction or High Park. The Junction and Bloor West Village Business Improvement Areas (BIA) will be participating. A community reception sponsored by (Parkdale-High Park) MPP Cheri DiNovo will follow at Runnymede United Church.

For more information and regular updates, visit www.green13toronto.blogspot.com

Week-long calendar of events

- Saturday, March 21: An 'Inorganic Market' in the parking lot of Tim and Sue's No Frills at 372 Pacific Avenue and Dundas Street West 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

- Sunday, March 22: An 'Inorganic Market' in the parking lot of Nicholson's No Frills on Bloor Street West between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

- Monday, March 23: A lantern making class with the High Park Nature Centre, 430 Parkside Drive at 6:30 p.m.

- Tuesday, March 24: The Toronto Debating Society debates the issue 'Be it resolved that nuclear power is worth the environmental risk,' at Swansea Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

- Wednesday, March 25: A lantern making class with the High Park Nature Centre, 430 Parkside Drive at 6:30 p.m.

- Thursday, March 26: Swansea Town Hall Meeting on Nuclear Energy sponsored by the Swansea Area Rate Payers Association at 7:30 p.m.

- Friday, March 27: Local schools hold Earth Hour events. A critical mass bike ride starts at Keele Street and Dundas Street West at 6 p.m. There will be a free public screening of Tales of a Yellow Bike at the Revue Cinema, sponsored by MPP Cheri DiNovo. Director Tina Hahn will be in attendance at 7 p.m.

- Saturday, March 28: Three candlelight walks take place in Bloor West Village, the Junction and High Park. Reception to follow.

For more information please contact Christopher Holcroft at 416-760-8557 or green13group@gmail.com.