In 1969, during the Vietnam War, John Lennon and Yoko Ono held two week-long Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal, which were their non-violent ways of protesting wars and promoting peace. It was a memorable event, iconic even, representative of how one voice can be the voice of millions, heard by millions. The success and impact of the event is debatable, but one thing is certain, their voice was heard.
The Bed-In has since been re-created, re-interpreted and re-used by many over the years, in protests of various kinds by a number of artists since 1969. Well, I’m no artist and I’m not making a protest but the opportunity to take a stand and raise my voice for something I care about is what this event is all about.
In the spirit of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, I’m bringing the Bed-In to Calgary. I’m not protesting war, or promoting peace, instead I’m using the Bed-In to highlight another issue that affects us all: the future of our city and our world.
On June 24th I’ll be hosting the Bed-In for Sustainability with my friends at the Obasan Mattress shop in Kensington. Obasan has graciously allowed me to use their beautiful new store with the bed in the window to stage this Bed-In for Sustainability. Joining me will be several community leaders in the sustainability movement to share their insights and ideas about making Calgary a more sustainable city.
You’re welcome to join us too. Stop by the Obasan store at 106A 10th St. NW in Kensington anytime in the afternoon to see what it’s all about.
In the 16 years years I’ve been living and training in Calgary I’ve seen it transformed from a small-ish city in the West to a mega-sprawl, cosmopolitan, traffic-ridden, smoggy and congested, yet prosperous, dynamic, vibrant and innovative city with loads of potential. With the recent election of Mayor Naheed Nenshi I feel more optimistic than ever that Calgary can remain prosperous, dynamic and vibrant while tackling the issue of sustainability. I look at massive cities like Chicago, Seattle and Copenhagen and see the amazing things they have accomplished in such a short time, like inner city on-street bike lanes, green roofs on office towers, city-wide composting, green space revitalization and so much more, and I know that we can do the same in Calgary.
We’ve been slow to start, but the potential is there.
I’ve made some progress in reducing my own personal impact; by installing a new high-efficiency furnace, low-flush toilets, energy star windows, a front-load washer, and a smaller energy efficient refrigerator, by composting, ditching the clothes dryer, replacing light bulbs with CFLs, riding my bike, buying local meat and produce when possible, choosing Bullfrog Power, and a low-flow shower head… with much success. Our little house only uses on average 170 kWh of electricity, 4-6 cubic metres of water and 2-7 GJ of natural gas each month, significantly below the national household averages of 800 kWh, 26 cubic metres and 3-23 GJ of natural gas each month.
And I joined up with Clean Air Champions to reach school kids and deliver the message about the issue of climate change and air quality. I signed up to David Suzuki’s Play it Cool program for athletes to offset carbon emissions from travel. I helped establish a Sustainability Committee for Speed Skating Canada.
But lest you think I’m tooting my own horn, let me tell you, I’m no saint. Far from it in fact. I’m well aware of the impact my occupation has on the planet. I fly all over the world to race in circles inside massive, artificially refrigerated indoor speed skating arenas. I sometimes drive to places when I know I could bike or take the train. When I renovated the bathroom some of the leftovers went to the dump. I buy stuff I don’t always need. And why do I make these choices? Because it’s often just plain easier to jump in the car, throw stuff out or throw down the plastic. Somehow, no matter how little I drive, what improvements I make to my little house, or what kind of food I buy, none make up for the massive toll my lifestyle has on the world around me.
But what if became easier to make a better choice? Where jumping on the train is easier, faster and cheaper than taking the car, or renovating an old bathroom means having easy places to recycle or reuse old materials, or where the things you buy last forever? The great thing about Calgary is that it is constantly changing. There is so much potential for this city to grow in a sustainable, intelligent and progressive way that will make it easy for people to choose sustainability. Complete streets, bike lanes, work where you live, community shared agriculture, public transit and so much more can, and should, become a natural part of our lives – where you don’t even question car vs. bike because it’s so obviously bike.
So, the Bed-In. The idea is to have a conversation. A conversation about ideas and solutions. A conversation to determine a vision and establish a goal for what we think this city could become. A conversation about how we can choose to make that choice so easy it’s not even a choice anymore.
When I first started speed skating I was terrible. I mean really terrible. I was a skinny, weak, awkward little kid with gangly limbs. But I had potential. And over the next twenty years I transformed myself into one of the best speed skaters in the world. You have to start somewhere, and to you, Calgary, I say let’s start today. It may take twenty years but we just might end up being one of the best cities in the world.
June 17, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Kristina, you are so inspiring! Way to use your community profile in a positive way! Love what you are doing.
PS- I am Chairing the Calgary Run for Water and wanted to tell you that Green Calgary has been a great partner for us. I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear from you as well! Seems like it could be a great fit!
xx- Jen Gibson
June 22, 2011 at 5:43 AM
While lying in bed on Friday, you might want to highlight another issue in Calgary’s urban sustainability agenda — one with noisy repercussions as well as energy-wasting ones:
June 22, 2011 at 6:02 AM
Interesting to borrow the bed in idea from John Lennon and Yoko Ono . I problem I see with environmentalists (one in Canada being very famous) is the formation of foundations with agenda’s of fund raising for the sake of fund raising. The same weekend you will have your bed in Kristina I will be part of the opening for a Library in Antigonish, Nova Scotia that will probably be a world’s first. The 40 computing terminals will be powered by solar and these Ncomputing terminals use 90 percent less power then conventional computing. Perhaps Kristina you could do some research and bring this technology to the attention of your guests . The Famous Environmentalist well he or she ignored a similar event with Canada’s first carbon neutral that my company created in 2007 in Kimberly BC. Thanks Kristina for hopefully starting some dialogue.
June 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM
This is something I thought I would never see in Cowtown!!!!! I think this is a good idea. People forget that the reason John and Yoko did this is that they understood that they would get publicity for this cause as they would for their own celebrity. John once said that if he could get people to listen to “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, then he could get them to listen to a song about peace. This could be a way to get people to think about other ideas. While I am generally not a person who cares at all about any sports(physical activity, yes, very important)but I am glad when I see a sports celebrity dedicate themselves to a cause like this. You are an example of the power of sports that sports writer, Dave Zirin, focused on his book, What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States. Good luck and have a good summer!!!!
June 23, 2011 at 10:10 PM
The event sounds awesome. Your bed fellows are many of my friends and acquaintances and I would have loved to have shared a pillow with all of you but I’m going to Sustainability for breakfast in the morning at RIVAs in Inglewood. After that I am at my kids school for “Activity Day”. I’d really like to come by in the afternoon and find out more. I would have liked to chat with you about this but I guess I’ll see it in action. Good luck and see you tomorrow.
June 24, 2011 at 10:09 AM
I am sorry to missing this sugar! This is my kind of PROTEST! Keep up the good work. xxo