Letter to Tooker, by Amanda Dainow

A personal letter I wrote but never had a chance to give to Tooker:

Dear Tooker,

I just wanted to let you know that though you have no way of knowing it, you have been an immeasurable inspiration to me.

I first became aware of you and your activism during the public meetings for the proposed Adams Mine in Ontario. I remember reading the green mayoral leaflet you had published, with your picture at the top, and the issues you were addressing, checked off on the side. I read it enthusiastically, then took it home and presented it to my dad, at the time, the only voter in the house, attempting to convince him to vote for you as mayor, explaining that you were a real novelty someone who was really passionate about the environment, and someone who I knew would make Toronto and Ontario better places, to live and to have a future. I think I somehow convinced him.

I remember you biking around the city and handing out these flyers, getting to know people and discussing the issues, as always, in the process. I thought you were so awesome that when the Student Environment Network (SEN) was discussing keynote speakers for our high school environmental conference, I insisted that we have you as one, and everyone agreed. Of course, politics became a bit of an issue, and it was discussed whether we should have Eleanor, our staff mentor and board rep, introduce you, or one of us students. Because I was so set on having you speak, everyone agreed that I should introduce you, and, needless to say, I was really excited.

When you gave your speech to the 200 plus high school students and staff at the conference, the entire auditorium was blown away. Even those who had been falling asleep woke up and were called to action. I was also lucky (and determined) enough to monitor your workshop, which of course had the same effect. Everyone in the room could feel the energy radiating from you as you spoke about the many innovative projects you had done, across the country, and there wasn’t one student who wasn’t inspired.

After meeting you in person, seeing your slides, and hearing you describe your many enthralling adventures, I was compelled to become even and ever more active environmentally. I resolved to do whatever I could, no matter how small, to help the planet, and help the people of Earth understand and get involved. I was so impressed by your presence, I wanted to invite you to speak at my high school’s Earth Week assembly, but unfortunately you were unable to. I checked and received updates from greenspiration, and was really impressed with the site and the continuity of your efforts. I knew that you and Angela must be a fantastic team, to do so many amazing things and so much outreach to defend the planet.

You may not remember these events, and it is totally understandable, having experienced so incredibly much, and having met so very many people in so many places as you have. I just thought you should know. It’s probably just me being silly, but it is a little intimidating to speak to someone so incredibly knowledgeable and talented as yourself. You are such a compelling speaker, a passionate politician (which has become an oxy-moron in this society), a sharp writer, a powerful environmental/social activist and a compassionate person. You have bravery the likes of which Canada has never seen, and I really admire how you apply your knowledge and know-how creatively, appropriately and intelligently. Your actions are eye-catching, original and direct, and your articles are very poignantly and intelligently written. You live a very simple life, while dealing with the most complex issues, and make them accessible and appealing to the public. I really appreciate the fact that you live exactly the way that you speak of; you are totally honest and genuine, showing that the personal is political; there could only ever be one Tooker Gomberg.

I was happily surprised and overwhelmed when I heard that Angela had been hired as the TRAX coordinator at the EAC, and that you were both living and working here in Halifax. I felt as if somehow fate had brought us all together, to join forces to fight for the planet. I had wanted to know you better personally and assist you in any campaigns or events you were spearheading in Toronto, but I guess it just didn’t happen maybe it wasn’t the right time.

I hoped that this was my second, real chance to have the privilege of working with you, and getting to know you. I was already getting a bit involved with the EAC, and then I met you both at various events. I brought my partner along, and we had the joyful and educational experiences of participating in the Car Free Day space demo and Critical Masses. It was really exciting for me to try out the space frames you had described to us at the SEN conference, one of the many ingenious patented Tooker Gomberg creations.

Your ideas amaze me: they are absolutely accessible, fun, effective, attractive and completely your own. We are always eager to read any of the many consistent articles you write, on a variety of topics, for a variety of causes and publications. You are so versatile, with such an extensive background knowledge, and such an immense amount of life experience that’s why I feel intimidated, though it has nothing to do with you personally you have always been very kind, generous and helpful to me. I will never forget how you helped me fix my kick stand in the EAC after a freezing protest against seismic testing; I felt so honoured to have THE Tooker Gomberg help me fix my bike!

I love your collaborative films with Uberculture; your large film repertoire is, of course, also really impressive. Your talents and knowledge never end. The saddest and most aggravating thing is when activists tire of being active, and distance themselves from the issues, fading into ignorance, and virtually giving up, becoming comfortable and complacent. I really admire you for not giving in, or giving up, continuously fighting for the future, and not sacrificing care for comfort. You are entirely true to your word, and that is a real, extremely rare virtue.

You work around the clock and around the country, doing more in a day than most people do in their lives. Your energy and efforts amaze me, and you always have several projects on the go. You have won many victories for the environment, and are, as you should be, a nationally-celebrated environmental defender. You make witty, radical but entirely plausible suggestions and use theatre and humour to poke fun at silly laws and politics, while calling attention to very important issues which are otherwise ignored. You and Angela are the best team anyone could put together. I know that you help her out constantly, which she appreciates, and so do I and the others at the EAC and in the environmental community. You add so much substance and life to everything you do, whether it’s something you’re participating in, like TRAX, or something you’re organizing, like a couch demo or a city-wide compost program. You always make me feel welcome, saying hi or offering me snacks (I’m sorry I wrote so much about myself in this letter.)

You inspired me throughout my high school years, and continue to inspire me years later, several provinces over. I am so grateful that I have had the chance to learn about you and the issues you have been raising, and advocating so hard for, and that I have a second chance, to get to know you as a person as well. You are the best activist in Canada, putting yourself out there and on the line all the time, never stopping, stepping back or stepping down. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate what you have done for me, for the people of Canada and the world, and for the Earth. You have shown the power of one person, or a small group of citizens, making change, encouraging others, myself included, to fight for what is right and what we believe in. In my eyes, you are a national hero, a true revolutionary, and Canada’s most effective spokesperson for the future. I’d be more than happy to help you with any future projects.

Amanda Dainow