Found: Wallet in Alpine Landfill
Greg McDonnell doesn’t dig on suits, does
not feel at home swaddled in threads so strict. In fact, he doesn’t even feel
at hotel, not even at slumping tree fort. A suit is simply not the dress code for
his comfort zone.
But this is Beijing, and he has a
presentation to make. So, clad in a blue shirt and tweed-type blazer, his tie
decorated with red spots, the executive director of the Whistler Community
Services Society (WCSS) takes to a podium in the B.C. Canada Pavilion and
begins a stirring talk on sustainability.
This is the second stage of the Whistler
Forum’s Harmony Project, a two-day affair that has a raft of delegates descend
on China to exchange ideas on sustainable and accessible tourism. Yesterday’s
speakers dealt with the latter topic; today’s are on the former.
Think of the Harmony Project as an open
invitation to a massive and burgeoning tourist market some 8,500 km away
— a stroll through the marketplace of ideas before lunch, maybe an
exchange of business cards over dinner.
Slotted near the day’s end, McDonnell is
one of several speakers to take to the mic. He comes on the heels of a number
of presentations, some dealing with community planning, others with leadership
history and progress monitoring. Though McDonnell arrives late in the program,
his presentation serves up an ideal summation of a hazy buzzword:
Sustainability, he says, is a complicated
fabric, something sewn in social, economic, environmental and cultural threads.
Taken together, those threads produce a warm blanket, something for locals and
tourists alike. Whether Chinese or Canadian, it just makes sense, both for
prosperity and for longevity.
“Currently,” he says, fingers drumming the
podium, “as you all know, the world economy cannot sustain itself indefinitely.
We have this decline in life-sustaining resources, the world’s resources. And
we have an increased demand on those resources. As humans we’re living here
trying to survive this narrowing action.”
His fingers stop their nervous patter and
his arms go momentarily akimbo. All heads are cocked in his direction,
translations chattering through earphones as he goes.
Now, at home with his subject, relaxation
takes hold. “This is really important for me,” he continues, “as a community
development worker and as a social services worker.”
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