Monday, April 5, 2010

Triple Action Line: the Earth Hour Super-Drive

(Written for Root Issues in the Barrie Examiner, published under the title "Earth Hour event designed to paint the town green ")

Politics can lead us in unexpected directions.

Mike Schreiner, new leader of the Green Party of Ontario, is touring all the province’s ridings, including Barrie. Which is normal political behaviour; new PC leader Tim Hudak has been here recently, and presumably new NDP head Andrea Horwath isn’t far behind.

But when Mike contacted us about visiting, he had an unusual request. He wanted us to set up an event for him, but not a press conference. Not a rally or a canvass. Not a political event at all. Instead, he wanted to roll up his sleeves and do something good for our community alongside us. All we had to do was create the activity. (Is that all?)

So we scratched our heads, then noticed that his visit on March 27th would coincide with Earth Hour, when everyone is thinking about conserving energy. Somehow we should link to that. Gradually the idea evolved to help people conveniently dispose of broken, obsolete, or just plain out-of-date electronics. What a great way to make Earth Hour permanent – instead of just unplugging something for an hour, get rid of it altogether!

Thus it began. And since it’s not always convenient for people to load and carry away cast-off electronics, we’ll drive to their homes and pick it up for them. Everything will end up at GreenGo Recycling Solutions on Morrow Road, where it will be re-used or broken down and recycled. And not only computers, printers, or monitors – they accept anything with a plug, battery, or circuit board. We’ll collect old blenders, coffeemakers, lamps, power tools, cell phones, whatever.

But with an activity like that going on, it’s easy to piggy-back more good works. So we’re also doing a clothing drive for Nifty Thrifty, Barrie’s free clothing centre. They’re always in need of jeans, especially for boys, teens, and men. They go through baby and children’s clothing quickly, and plus-size clothing is always in high demand. Nifty Thrifty is an amazing project, completely volunteer-driven without any government assistance. But they can only deal in clean, wearable clothing – nothing torn, broken, or worn-out. They provide good clothes people can wear to work, school, or a job interview.

Finally, there’s an agency in Barrie filling a special role, the Grocery Assistance Program (GAP). They are a second food bank supporting anyone in need without restriction, and are always in danger of running low on supplies. So we’re asking people to include a canned good or toiletry for the GAP alongside whatever old clothes or e-waste we pick up.

Mike’s humble request has spawned the first “Earth Hour Super Drive”. If you have any e-waste to discard or clothing to donate, please contact and we’ll make arrangements. We’re trying to get it all the morning of Saturday, March 27th. We’ll also have a drop-off location at the same time (9 – noon) outside Nifty Thrifty, which is behind 110 Dunlop St. West, off the private parking lot. While you’re there, donate something for the GAP and watch GPO leader Mike break a sweat pitching in.

For some, politics is a route to power and prestige; for others, a way to serve and better the community. So perhaps this isn’t such a strange direction after all.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a teacher, father, volunteer, and politician.

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