Sustainability speaker series revived in January 

Coro Strandberg, an expert on responsible investing, will kick off awareness campaign

After almost two year, the Early Adopters of The Natural Step sustainability framework are bringing back their popular speaker series to Whistler, hoping to revitalize the sustainability movement that got underway in 2001.

"People around town have started asking about Whistler. It’s Our Nature , and we decided it was time to bring back the speaker series and get things moving again," said Tina Symko, the events co-ordinator for Whistler. It’s Our Nature.

"We never really left, but we’ve been laying low while the whole Whistler. It’s Our Future program ran its course. We didn’t want everyone to get confused between the two things, so we sat back and let it happen. We always intended to bring Whistler. It’s Our Nature back."

Whistler. It’s Our Future was created to look at the future of Whistler develop a Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. An open house was recently held and the public was given a chance to choose from five different future scenarios, including one option to maintain the current bed unit cap.

That input will be included in developing the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan, which should be finalized by the spring.

Whistler. It’s Our Nature was created to encourage individuals and businesses in Whistler to embrace sustainability principles. The first step was to educated the public on sustainability, which was to be followed up by a program that makes it easy to adopt sustainability principles into homes and businesses.

It’s been more than two years since the Whistler. It’s Our Nature sustainability initiative got underway with the Leadership Through Sustainable Innovation speaker series, featuring five well-known authors and scientists in the field.

The speaker series wrapped up in March of 2002 with a special presentation by Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert, the Swedish creator of The Natural Step framework for social, economic and environmental sustainability.

The speaking events filled auditoriums, attracting between 300 and 600 people to each lecture. They were free to attend, and were sponsored and organized by a local group known as the Early Adopters of the Natural Step Framework. The group includes Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, AWARE, and Whistler One Hour.

AWARE is helping to launch the next round of speakers starting in January, with funding from the Community Foundation of Whistler, the RMOW, and the support of Tourism Whistler.

According to Symko the lineup of speakers is already taking shape, with Coro Strandberg making the first presentation: Achieving Sustainability through the Market: Our Role as Investors, Consumers and Concerned Citizens, at the Telus Conference Centre at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22.

Strandberg is a renowned expert on responsible investing, and will share her knowledge on investment and purchasing strategies that allow individuals, communities, businesses and non-profit organizations to advance sustainability in the marketplace. She believes that we can spread sustainability by making smarter purchases and investments, and backing companies that embrace sustainable principles.

Other speakers are planned for February, March and April of next year. Symko can’t say who those speakers are yet, but says there are a few big names in there that should draw a crowd.

AWARE and the other Early Adopters hope that bringing back the speaker series will resurrect the Whistler. It’s Our Nature movement, and put some flesh on the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.

"Hopefully other parties will use the opportunity start talking seriously about sustainability again, which is something we want to see happen," said Symko. "We’re hoping to follow the speaker series with workshops and other programs, once the idea is fresh in everyone’s minds again, and has a bit of momentum through the speakers."

For more information on Whistler. It’s Our Nature or the speaker series, visit the Early Adopter’s Web site at www.whistleritsournature.ca.

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