Christine Mettler, a graduate of the Sustainable Living Leadership Program in 2015, was recently awarded a $500 grant from the Rivershed Society of BC (RSBC) for her project titled The Social Life of Water in the Okanagan Valley. The project is a multi-media exhibition using art, audio, visual media and storytelling to explore the meanings water has held in the past, present and future for Okanagan communities, cultures and interest groups.
Speaking about the exhibition, Mettler said, “The Social Life of Water is a way to let people feel and explore water issues for themselves.”
Mettler developed her project while travelling down the Fraser River as part of the Sustainable Living Leadership Program (SLLP), an eye-opening 25-day journey from the Fraser’s headwaters to the shores of Vancouver. Run by the not-for-profit Rivershed Society of BC, the SLLP is designed for advocates of sustainable living who dream of starting—or who may already be working on—sustainability initiatives.
Starting near Mount Robson, the SLLP travels 1,400 kilometers downstream by canoe, raft, shuttle van and on foot. Along the way, participants learn about stewardship, work with a network of community leaders throughout BC, strengthen their leadership skills, and develop their own sustainability project to implement in their community.
“The SLLP was an amazing experience,” said Mettler. “Before moving to BC, I lived in the city and didn’t get a lot of opportunity to connect with wild spaces. During the SLLP, I went at the river’s pace, watching ecosystems slowly fade into each other. It humbled me to experience all the river sustains.”
Many SLLP graduates have gone on to do great things:
Suzanne Senger, another 2015 SLLP participant, is developing a Fraser Canyon Protection Plan aimed at protecting the vital 150 kilometer stretch of the Fraser River between Williams Lake and Lillooet. Working with BC Spaces for Nature, and partnering with RSBC, the objective of Senger’s project is to achieve conservancy status for this section of river under the Protected Areas of BC Act or Park Act.
Colin O’Neil, a 2013 SLLP participant, organized the Sustainable Spaces Dialogue on March 21st, 2014 at the Aboriginal Gathering Place in Douglas College’s New Westminster campus. A three-person panel led a discussion about sustainability and the way society views urban space. O’Neil hoped to attract about 30 people to the event, but instead it was a full house with more than 75 people taking part in the two dialogue sessions.
Mary Forbes, a 2010 SLLP participant, is the director of the Potato House Sustainable Community Society in Williams Lake. She started the society two months after returning from the SLLP. With community support, the society was able to purchase and restore the Potato House, a heritage house that now serves as a public space for sustainability and heritage initiatives and partnerships.
The SLLP, now in its thirteenth year, is seeking applicants for the 2016 trip. Anyone with an interest in sustainability and community development is encouraged to apply. To qualify, participants must be 19 years of age or older and physically fit. Community volunteer experience is an asset. The application deadline is April 30th.
For more information on the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, visit: www.rivershed.com
The Social Life of Water in the Okanagan Valley will be showing at the Okanagan Heritage Museum from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017. The project is being informed by the collective knowledge of Okanagan communities. People and groups are invited to share their knowledge using this form.
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Interviews with SLLP alumni and facilitators, and photos/video of past trips are available.
Rivershed Society of BC
(604) 992-4769 | firstname.lastname@example.org