Veronique Darwin

Late Review #1: Suzuki at VWF

In Literary Events on October 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I am a new brand of reviewer, one who reviews late and not very accurately. I went to five events at the Vancouver Writers Fest and would like to review them in backwards chronological order.

On Sunday I saw David Suzuki and Tim Flannery in conversation with Linden MacIntyre at the Stanley Alliance Theatre. I took notes, though it just looked like I didn’t know anything about the environment, which was true. I’d like to share a variety of things that were said.

David Suzuki has written over fifty books! (I mean, that’s probably not true). I felt relief that I wasn’t obliged to buy this newest one. It seemed silly when someone walked by with one.

Tim Flannery was here from Australia. It was announced that he arrived here on Air Canada. He is a scientist, an explorer, a teacher, a journalist, as well as chief of the climate commission in Australia.

Linden MacIntyre is a writer I feel I should know. I listened to a portion of an interview with him on CBC about his new book Why Men Lie. It was about that.

Linden MacIntyre opened the night by saying that every individual is constantly making choices all the time. I thought that contextualized the night nicely, and I felt really proud that I had made a choice to come here and change the world.

Tim Flannery (I just feel more comfortable calling people by their full names, as though they are dolls) added that acting collectively is the great human genius and the great human choice.

Yes, added Linden MacIntyre who understood this: there is great tension between citizenship and consumerism. I wrote this down. Totally! I thought. I underlined.

At several points in the night David Suzuki ramped up the conversation into a fighting frenzy. This got people clapping in agreement after mostly every line. One of these was about how scientists who are saying it’s too late to save the world should shut up. I felt relieved when David Suzuki used the word shit a lot (I feel I say shitty a lot).

All three people on stage on Sunday kept telling me to get involved in the democratic process. By the end of the night I was sweating. I feel like it’s too late for me to start understanding about politics. Because of this, I never attempt to talk about politics, and so fall further and further down some hole I feel represents my lack of knowledge about politics. I turned on the Presidential debate for four minutes last night and tried to do homework at the same time. I turned it off and actually felt proud of myself for watching.

(from Jeff Edwards website)

This night was inspiring the way that gloom and doom with a spot of light in it is inspiring. It was inspiring to be sitting amongst people who knew a lot more than me and wanted to do something with it. It felt inspiring that maybe after I attend this type of thing a certain number of times it will start to make sense to me. It also felt inspiring that I am becoming an elementary school teacher and I can go back and help children find out about important things and eventually make important changes.

A friend of mine who is in my elementary school teaching program walked up to a microphone and asked a question: what change do you hope to see in the education system? Take the kids outside! intoned David Suzuki. Yes, I thought, scribbling that down. That makes sense to me.

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