Ben West, CCEC member, has been an outspoken environmental campaign organizer and social commentator for over a decade. His newest project is The Great Climate Race, a crowdfunding run for local solar energy projects. Climate change is the biggest risk we all face. It has been described by the Pentagon as a “threat multiplier” leading to greater global instability. We have no choice but to make a transition towards renewable energy and smarter land use and transportation. The only question is will we do it in time. It will be very difficult to deal with the large scale changes needed without dealing with underlying issues of inequality.
“I see this as a way to give people something meaningful to do to address climate change.”
For over almost 15 years, Ben West has been working as an activist and organizer. His focus has been on climate change and other environmental issues but he has also dedicated himself to making the links with social issues and doing First Nations rights related solidarity work.
Why am I a member of CCEC?
I feel strongly that local autonomy and community involvement are critical to
solving the social and environmental problems that we face.
The concentration of wealth and power in the big banks is a huge problem.
CCEC embodies my values and puts them into practice.
I love knowing that the money I put in the bank is being invested
in responsible ways that helps my fellow community members.
As the Executive Director for TankerFreeBC, he has spent the last 5 years working to stop the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan oil pipelines and associated oil tankers. He says, “It can be frustrating spending so much time trying to stop bad ideas from becoming a reality.” He realizes that if he is successful at his job basically nothing happens. He continues, “A nightmare doesn't become real but still the status quo is not sustainable and so much more needs to be done. “
While Ben has always talked about energy alternatives and climate solutions, he has wanted to do more. Last year, while running in the East Side 10k, he realized that his new hobby was actually a doorway into a new opportunity to organize people around the solutions he was eager to focus on.
He tells the story that was the genesis of The Great Climate Race: I was part way up a hill close to the start of the race and saw a group of people with placard ahead of me. I felt guilty. What were they protesting? Was this race supporting a company doing harm in the world? Was the event negatively affecting the community? As I got closer I realized that these protesters were actually a cheer squad. I had spent so many years surrounded by signs that said STOP this or STOP that I had a time imagining people holding signs that simply said GO! I was so energized by their support and the event itself that I entered a bunch more races and was repeatedly blown away by the generosity and determination of this community.
The inaugural Great Climate Race will be on November 8th at Stanley Park in Vancouver to raise awareness about climate change and funds for local community solar projects. They will donate the solar panels to non-profit community groups. His objective is to see that everyone involved experiences a hands on connection with energy alternatives to help spread awareness that the solutions exist today. Also, he says, “It’s a great way to connect our health as individuals with the health of the planet.”
For more information and to get involved, contact Ben West.
twitter @BenWest or @ClimateRace