by Arden Henley, GTEC Board Chair
This is a brief account of GTEC’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Like so many people, groups and organizations, GTEC is changing its shape to continue to be a part of creating a just and sustainable world with brighter days ahead.
By mid-March Vancouver was surrounded by dark clouds. The threat of the novel coronavirus had become real. Successive areas of our lives were shutting down and the economy slowed dramatically with more uncertainty on the horizon. Physical distancing imposed unfamiliar degrees of separation from one another. GTEC’s successful Neighbourhood Environmental Education Project with its community workshops and support groups had to be discontinued. Meetings were cancelled. Like everyone, we experienced a kind of shock.
But, as on so many previous occasions historically, the human spirit awakened and began to prevail. People reached out to one another in entirely new ways and learned much more about the advantages that online technology makes possible. We sang for one another from apartment balconies and banged pots to thank our health care workers. And amazing things happened in the natural world: smog began to dissipate over cities, skies cleared, birds sang and carbon emissions fell.
This is not to forget the suffering and the sadness, the sirens and hospital emergency rooms, the nursing homes and the loss of lives that continues to this day. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reminded us, “These aren’t just numbers, they are real people with families.”
In this time of sorrow, but also of new possibilities GTEC began to change in response. There are different things to do and different ways to do them. There is an emerging consensus across the world that one of the lessons to be learned is that what we thought was normal was abnormal. We were destroying our earthly home and making ourselves miserable. The COVID crisis, we began to see, was a foretaste of the chaos that would take place if we continued on the same path.
We re-doubled our efforts to produce a workable GTEC app. We made sure we got out Vol, 1, Issue 4 of the GTEC Reader. Our Board gathered for coffee on the internet.
GTEC formed the Council for the Green New Economy tasked with identifying the important lessons we are learning from COVID-19, developing recommendations for government and other key decision makers and strategically publicizing and presenting these recommendations.
On the airwaves and across the distance, whatever it takes and with whomever will join, we continue our work to create a new world for the generations that follow us and for ourselves. A just and sustainable world.
We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot