Monday, November 15, 2010

Groundswell...the day we imagined pirate ships...

All Souls Day this year was also the D&P Educator's day.  On Nov. 1st over fifty educator's from across the archdiocese gathered at St. Bonaventure's parish hall to hear from ALCDSB trustee John Brisbois.  They came to hear how the ALCDSB became one of the only school boards in the entire country to have a board-wide policy banning bottled water.  John is a retired educator with over thirty years experience.  He is a long-time D&P member and did a stint on our National Council.

Schools are probably the hardest spaces to create bottled-water free zones.  Vending machines bring in much needed extra money for school sports teams, bands, choirs, and all manner of extra-curricular activities.  They are also an easy fundraiser.  John shared that he too had sold bottled water through the school without much thought in the past.  That changed when educator's got board approval to form a board-wide social justice committee.  That committee decided to take on the bottled water issue.  Over three years they did all kinds of work educating students about bottled water.  In this way they created a groundswell of support which eventually culminated in the board-wide policy passed January 29th 2009.  John believes the campaign was successful because it was run bottom-up instead of top-down.

Of course it wouldn't be a campaign workshop without an appearance by the D&P supersoaker, which vigilantly denies people access to clean drinking water at all our workshops.  This time Sylvia Skrepichuk did the honours, I was the victim and it was caught on film.


In break-out groups participants brainstormed how our school boards in the Archdiocese of Toronto could create a similar groundswell to that in ALCDSB and eventually go bottled water free.  These ideas were then developed further in the educator's group mtg. following the workshop (i.e. the day's planning committee).

One school when taking on this issue in the past had created a pirate ship out of discarded water bottles.  We soon hit on the idea to have each school create one of these ships.  Each school's ship will carry signed D&P pledges from the student body to the board office on Bottled Water Free Day, March 10th, 2011.  Our idea is to raise this armada and deliver a "Message in a Bottle"  - Students want to work with school board leaders to create bottled water free zones!  The first student day is November 9th for Dufferin-Peel. Ship's Ahoy!

1 comment: said...

Great post Luke - this information is really helpful for us in Ottawa working on a ban on bottled water. The information on Elkay bottle filling stations is really helpful!!