Monthly Archives: January 2010

TedXWhistler Tackles Sustainable Tourism during Olympics

Whistler, BC is a town that has had sustainability on the brain for quite some time. From the myriad of community groups passionate about preserving the natural habitat to a municipal government making bold environmental decisions, this town is certainly one of the most progressive in Canada. And, I’m not just saying that because I happen to call it home!

The 2010 Winter Games – touted the “Green Games” by organizers – is, perhaps, the perfect time to create dialogue around sustainable tourism and Whistler’s role in that future. And there’s no better time to do that than on Day 7 of the Olympics.

TEDxWhistler, an independently organized TED event, will take place on February 18 in Whistler, and will also be broadcast via live webcast around the globe. You might recognize the TED talks for their “ideas worth spreading” videos on a variety of topics.

TEDxWhistler: Tourism’s Place in a Sustainable World, is organized by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, a non-profit organization that was created by Whistler citizens and the municipal government.

The four speakers are: Bruce Poon Tip, founder of Gap Adventures; Valerie Langer, the Director of British Columbia Forest Campaigns for ForestEthics; Wade Davis, a filmmaker, anthropologist and author; and river conservationist, Mark Angelo.

As Government 2.0 picks up steam, this event is reflective of the new transparency. Whistler will certainly be impacted by climate change – and this community will have to band together to find its role in fusing our tourism industry and sustainable practices.

TEDxWhistler runs February 18 from 1-4pm. There are a only total of 100 seats available so if you can’t be there in person, watch the livestream from the comfort of your own home, office or even classroom.

If you feel inspired, submit your vision of sustainable tourism in Whistler. There are 30 seats reserved for the best entries.

I’m intrigued to see what discussions will come out of this session and how the ideas percolated at TEDxWhistler will inspire the future of Whistler’s sustainable tourism industry.

Disclaimer: I know the organizers of this event. However, I am not writing this blog for monetary gain and am genuinely interested in the topic.

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Protecting Our Winters and Greening Our Hills

Climate change is top of mind for many as we head into 2010 on the heels of a disappointing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15).

This threat to humanity is, perhaps, most apparent to those of us who live in mountain resorts. As glaciers across the globe recede and the world’s climate systems become more unpredictable, many of us have found ourselves thinking: “What if the snow stopped falling?

Growing up in the lush province of British Columbia has reminded me every day how incredible Nature is – and how equally vulnerable she is. We rely on Nature for many things; from providing our drinking water to powering our homes to providing us with a plentiful outdoor playground. But as much as we take from her, we must also remember to repay the favour.

There are many passionate and dedicated people making great strides in their communities and “greening” the way to a more sustainable future. I need not look any further than my own community of Whistler and my own industry, the ski and snowboard world.

Whistler-based Hilltrip is a collective of mountain enthusiasts who describe themselves as a “Social Enterprise specialized in Social Marketing with a focus on Events and Promotions.” Through environment-focused events, they hope to educate people about climate change and how to fight it.

From organizing events for Earth Day, to Whistler’s Enviro-Fest, to benefit concerts, to film festivals Hilltrip has helped raise the profile of environmental awareness since 2004.

Hilltrip also hosts Green Drinks in Whistler at Black’s Pub from 8pm-10pm. It’s a gathering ground for like-minded people to get together and chat about our “environmental destiny.”

Participants receive a free Granville Island beer and appies with donation to AWARE. Then, the jam session begins.

Hilltrip has partnered with many groups along the way. One such group is Protect our Winters, founded by pro snowboarder, Jeremy Jones. The goal of POW is to unite the snow industry on the issue of climate change and to encourage mountain resorts to do their part in combating it. The organization already has an impressive roster of partners, including Burton, Vans, Rossignol, Dakine, Transworld Snowboarding Magazine, Teton Gravity Research, and even Whistler’s Origin Design and Communications.

According to their website, Protect Our Winters has donated more than $125,000 in grants to over 20 grassroots environmental groups since 2008.

Last year was a landmark year for POW. They funded the first human-powered film, “My Own Two Feet” and formed the POW Riders Alliance – which gives riders a chance to offset their travel by donating to protect rain forests.

Watch for their latest film, “Generations,” in 2010. This short film, produced in partnership with The North Face will screen at all major US film festivals throughout the year.

Join Hilltrip on Facebook.

Become a Fan of POW on Facebook and Twitter.

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