Something Ventured, Something Gained…

By Angela Bischoff and Tooker Gomberg, Edmonton, Alberta.

We ran a dynamic, fun campaign for Mayor and succeeded in raising awareness of ecological and social concerns.

On election night I (Tooker), along with two 9-year-old friends Katy and Quinn, quoted the following Chinese Proverb:
If you are thinking one year ahead, sow a seed. If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree. If you are thinking one hundred years ahead, make people aware.

Well folks, we’re sorry to report that we didn’t make it over the top. But not for lack of spirit, enthusiasm, ideas and effort. And we managed to plant many seeds, trees, and ideas.

After all was said and done, 2/3 of Edmonton’s voters stayed home. And no wonder: the media kept saying that Bill Smith was unbeatable; that he would be re-elected; that there were no credible alternatives; just go back to sleep. Of those who voted, half backed Mr. Smith for a second term. We came in fourth, closely behind the second and third place finishers. Almost 22,000 Edmontonians voted for our vision.

Our team is happy: we seized the opportunity, and we articulated a compelling vision for the city. People debated and discussed it in classrooms, in the pulpit and at parties. Many folks were inspired by our proposals.

Our team of over 200 volunteers distributed over 130,000 excellent issues-based leaflets. One of our series of three leaflets had an endorsement of our campaign from David Suzuki.

We published a hundred page booklet of our platform called “Seeds Of Hope For A Healthy Edmonton” (available for $5, plus shipping). We also committed to planting two trees for every one cut down to produce our leaflets – we’ve planted three so far. (We have challenged the local newspapers to do the same!)

Tooker was in the news virtually every day proposing progressive alternatives to out transportation woes, homelessness, green jobs and energy conservation. The media gave him a fair shake this time round (guess they didn’t think he was was much of a threat). Our campaign catalyzed much debate, thought, and hope about the potential for cities to become healthy, life-enhancing and sustainable communities.

There were some real surprises. Some media outlets which last campaign were brutal, this time around were kind, even generous. But the unions, whom Tooker firmly supported while on council, seemed to have forgotten what ‘solidarity’ meant. Once they were a beacon of hope for a progressive future…

A group of friends videotaped much of the campaign, and we’re hoping to pull together a documentary of the effort. We’re still pondering what lessons we can learn from this campaign.

We ran the whole election campaign for about $18,000, and we’re short $6,000. Friends, can you spare any change, for real change? What’s next? First, a period of rest. We’re open to whatever happens. We have a short term contract to develop national funding for non-motorized transportation projects (more on this later).

And come May we will be travelling across Canada from coast to coast to coast continuing the Greenspiration Odyssey and documenting inspiring ecological stories. (Care for a visit?)

Thanks all for your kind words and support. Your ideas and thoughts helped us to keep the campaign cooking. And even though we didn’t make it into the Mayor’s chair this time, the impacts of our work will no doubt ripple through the community. We planted many, many seeds. Throw on a bit of compost, add some sunshine and rain, and we have no idea what will sprout. We may yet feast on some tasty morsels together.

For the earth,
Tooker and Angela