A Vision of our Future 
 
  
It is 2015...
 
The Association of Suzuki Elders has grown to a membership of 400 people who have self-identified as “elders.” Most are in the 60s and above, but some are much younger, as young as 37. The group is an important part of the David Suzuki Foundation.  It has links with half a dozen senior citizen and other groups throughout the Lower Mainland. Two subgroups of Suzuki Elders are especially active, one in South Surrey, BC, fighting to maintain nature reserves and farmland in that rapidly growing suburb, and another in West Vancouver which focuses on urging governments to step up the fight against climate change – it has been instrumental in defeating efforts by some industrial interests to reduce the carbon tax.

 

The Suzuki Elders education team has evolved into a group of about 20 active members who form four teams and collectively give at least one presentation a month, primarily to senior groups but also to public and private youth and school groups. The presentations are in high demand, featuring fascinating story telling, learning circles and discussion groups, and several high-profile speakers. Each presentation usually ends with the audience being urged to take some action. Many write to their MPs, to the newspapers, or in other ways spread the word. Often people who attend these presentations express an interest in joining the ASE, and receive a Suzuki Elder orientation package that describe ASE’s activities and helps them get involved.  All members of the team work each year on the creation of a dynamic presentation for the annual general meeting each fall, which draws nearly half the Suzuki Elders on the membership roll.

 

Another group of Suzuki Elders maintains a large and well viewed website which attracts dozens of active participants monthly. There are password protected areas to facilitate the frank discussion between areas, and public areas of the website to inform and educate the public and recruit new Suzuki Elders. Three different blogs – on climate change, farmland preservation, and fisheries policy – are lively and interesting. Even David Suzuki himself occasionally participates, as well as several researchers and other staff members of the DSF. A Facebook page, which was lively two years ago, is only moderately active, since Facebook has gone out of style, but Twitter is still operating and a few Suzuki Elders with iPhone 7’s post constantly, reminding people of the need to keep working to make sure Government stick to the strict carbon reduction schemes agreed to in 2011 in Durban.

 

An active sub-committee of the Suzuki Elders is the Advocacy group, which includes several of the ASE’s founding members. Working from a comprehensive position paper on national and provincial climate change issues adopted in 2011, they have over the past four years gained wide recognition as a leading advocate in this area, and are considering hiring their own director of Elder Advocacy Operation, who would work closely with the DSF staff. Assisted by David Suzuki, the Advocacy group has published a handsome book which outlines in clear terms why all of Canadian society should work to save the planet. Members of the group, working with the DSF, are often in Victoria talking to provincial politicians, and occasionally have gone to Ottawa.

 

The Association of Suzuki Elders Executive Council continues to meet monthly oversees a smoothly running operation, with many people offering to take part in the work as officers or as members of its several committees: publications, membership, and the annual nominations committee. Every year in the fall it reviews and develops the Suzuki Elders annual work plan, and submits a budget to the DSF, which grows every year, but which the Foundation is happy to approve due to the good work that the Association of Suzuki Elders does. The Suzuki Elders have influenced the DSF positively in many ways. In some policy areas it has led the Foundation by taking an independent stand. But the more important contribution of the Suzuki Elders to the Foundation has come in showing it how to effectively enlist grass roots support to further environmental awareness and behavioral change.

 

 

Neale Adams

Suzuki Elder

December 2010