Youth survey the local environment

They’ve been moving through the community for a couple of weeks now, eight young people armed with clipboards or laptop computers, dropping by businesses to ask what they are doing for the environment.

Carmen McAnulty

Carmen McAnulty

They’ve been moving through the community for a couple of weeks now, eight young people armed with clipboards or laptop computers, dropping by businesses to ask what they are doing for the environment.

They aren’t, however, a government task force out to ticket those lacking in environmental consciousness. Rather, they’re part of the Okanagan Network for the Environment (ONE), looking for tips to compile into a book that will be published this spring.

“I’ve had people run away from me,” said Brennon Synnuck, who recalled stopping a pair of people to interview — one was happy to talk to him, while the other took off.

The eight youth are surveying local residents to obtain tips, ideas and stories for inclusion in a book titled South Okanagan Sustainability, Local Solutions to the Global Revolution. The concept is to engage the community, getting tips under the categories work, home and play, and subcategories of transportation, food, land, water, energy and commodities. Businesses, organizations and people of all demographics are encouraged to provide tips, ideas or solutions on how to live more sustainably.

Many of the tips collected so far revolve around recycling, but some stand out, like one lady who explained how she saved water in the shower but only running it while wetting herself down and rinsing, shutting it off in between. Other hints were more demanding, like the gentleman who wanted to make it a requirement that before anyone got their driver’s licence, they would have to plant 100 trees.

The response from people they interview has been varied, ranging from well wishers to those who feel guilty and overwhelmed.

That’s not what the project is intended to do, explains Alyshia Olsen, another of the youth involved in the project. They are not asking questions in any official capacity, rather they are just trying to involve the community in the project.

“We are doing this to generate tips and ideas to make our community more sustainable,” said youth participant Carmen McAnulty. “We also want to increase our community connections and raise the environmental awareness in Penticton and in the surrounding Okanagan region and beyond. As aware youth, we recognize that even small actions make a difference.”

Though they started at the beginning of January, the first five weeks for the youth team were wrapped up in education, learning how to interview and developing other skills, explains Deb Thorneycroft, agency co-ordinator for ONE. Now, they are out on the streets doing their interviews, but they will also be compiling and writing up the tips for the book.

The book itself needs to be ready for the printers by the middle of March, so the team is requesting that anyone with an idea they want to share contact them before the end of February. Plans are for the book to be launched by April 16.

“The goal is to provide every South Okanagan school, library and Penticton waiting room with a copy,” said Thorneycroft. “Businesses or organizations will have the opportunity for advertisement in the end pages of the book. And for every full-page ad, the youth will be able to distribute an additional 20 books.”

“Combining environment and employment seemed to have been a golden combination for ONE. Even though the group just formed last July, they have already managed to get funding from the federal government towards this 18-week environmental youth employment project.

Anyone interested in contributing information to the book can contact ONE at 778-476-5944 or sustainable_choices@hotmail.com. They are also online at www.theonesociety.ca and on Facebook at Sustainable Choices.