From the Divest UVic Team: Written by Christina Price
Since February, Divest UVic worked hard to win the student referendum that was tied to the UVSS elections. By using the Nationbuilder program we were able to e-mail hundreds if not a few thousand students asking them to vote. We also printed off calling lists and called hundreds of students reminding them to vote. In the few weeks leading up to the referendum we had many tabling events and did many classrooms talks in order to build our petition and gather contact info. What was the result?
We won the referendum in March as 77% of students that voted, voted in favour of the UVSS lobbying the university to divest its holdings in fossil fuels! This was a crucial win for the campaign because now the campaign is sponsored by the UVSS which means we get more funding, personnel help in terms of UVSS staff time and a new flux of energetic student leaders who are passionate about the movement and wanting to see positive change towards sustainability.
An additional positive outcome of our Get-Out-The-Vote effort was that people who voted in favour of divestment also typically voted for UVSS candidates that were in favour of the movement as well as other sustainability initiatives. In this way, Divest UVic helped elect sustainability-oriented student society leaders. For example, Tristan Ryan, one of our most dedicated volunteers and organizers is now the Director of Finance and Nathan Michael, another Divest UVic volunteer and organizer is a Director at Large.
Emily Thiessen describes the activities of Divest UVic that took place over this summer:
"Over the summer, we began organizing in separate working groups. The research team read research briefs from Divest McGill, Divest U of T and other universities in order to inform our own report that will be sent to UVic's Board of Governors and Foundation Board.
The report will focus on how UVic-specific fossil fuel holdings have been performing, and how divested portfolios have been performing in the past year, as well as the benefits of divestment for the university's reputation. We also met with faculty, and staff from the Professional Employees Association, CUPE 4163, CUPE 917 and CUPE 915 to talk about upcoming staff resolutions on divestment, and how to collaborate in the future. We met with Jim Dunston, Associate Vice President Student Affairs, to discuss the possibility of collaboration. Divest UVic also participated in a nationwide action called We > Tar Sands in which students held sit-ins in their MP offices to call for stronger climate policy.”
Here are a few quotes from students who have been involved:
“Volunteering with Divest UVic has inspired me and given me hope for a better future because I can see the change that passionate, caring and committed people can create.” - Ida Jorgensen
“Volunteering with Divest UVic was great because it builds skills such as volunteer organization and public speaking.” - Jonah Timms
“I've learned skills in everything from volunteer coordination to writing a press release that will be useful for pretty much everything else I want to do.” - Emily Thiessen
“Being a part of Divest UVic has given me hope for positive change towards a more sustainable future and it’s such a privilege to work with such passionate people.” - Christina Price
It's that time of year once again where we celebrate the fall harvest, and ask the question: "what are we thankful for?" The common answers often involve family, friends, food, and while all these aspect of life are important, how about broadening our perspectives, and be thankful for the amazing free service trees provide: giving us clean air every day.
How about the amazing horse chestnuts which keep our house spiders away that scatter beautifully on the streets of Victoria. Or the amazing service the locally owned café staff provide you every morning? I always express gratitude to the people around me that make my life more colorful each day. I'm also very thankful for having the opportunity to make a global difference with my investment choices.
I choose fair-trade products because I believe in fair living wages not only locally, but globally too. I invest in clean portfolio funds because I know they are aligned with my values, and am thankful managers listen to stakeholder concerns, provide plans for improvements, and act upon it. Thanksgiving is a special time of the year, and although we get all excited about our giant turkeys, maybe try exploring organic turkey options this year, or have a meatless one, and go vegetarian! Check out 33 great vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes.
Think about everything you purchase. It's an investment choice. One choice can make a huge difference! Thanksgiving isn't the only time to reflect on the precious moments and things we all experience in our lives. One great way to remind ourselves is to ask the question; what am I grateful for today? Even on the darkest days, there is always something and someone to be grateful of.
In the Summer (2015), Kay from the CFUV Women's Radio Collective applied for UVSP sustainability project grant. Here are some of Kay's words on her experience:
I will admit it: this project made me really nervous. When Mexican artist Hector Espinosa asked me to curate a workshop on collective mural painting, including bringing 30 people together with big ideas about social justice and little or no art background, I just didn't know if it was going to work.
Could we all share space, have a dialogue, come up with something cohesive, and share skills fast enough to execute it well? In principle I believe in a world where people can come together to do things like this, but I just didn't know if it would work in the real world.
Maybe we needed more structure, or more time. Would people argue? Would the mural look bad? At the end of the day, I had to have faith in the participants that it was going to be good. And it was. 30 strangers came together, had a 3-hour dialogue in which they talked about how to affect community change through art, came up with a mural design, and shared skills and space beautifully.
Spirits were high as we painted the enormous mural in half the time we had planned. The workshop really helped participants build capacity to change their own communities too: since that day, I have heard of 3 participants who have initiated their own mural painting projects. I came away from this workshop with new-found courage. I learned that it is possible to build sustainable communities across difference when we reach out and believe in each other.
About the Author:
Kay Gallivan is a film, radio, and print journalist who lives and works in Coast Salish/Lekwungen Territories. In 2014 she co-directed the documentary "100 Layers of Beige", a social history of Esquimalt's Trackside Gallery Graffiti wall. This is Kay's third time curating a group mural, having previously curated mural work at Museo de la Ciudad in Ecuador and at the Slide Room Gallery. Kay is currently working on a film project about political graffiti in Mexico and co-curating a speaker series on street art with The City Talks.