In March this year we were all shocked by the COVID pandemic, causing a massive disruption in our personal and professional lives. One of the areas that, in particular, was disrupted were in-person gatherings, such as workshops, conferences and meetings. For those, like myself, who work on challenges that require innovation and collaboration of diverse groups of people, this provoked a major question: How can we continue to create engaging online experiences that are effective in moving our work forward?
In August of 2018 I had the good fortune to spend two weeks at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity for a Summer Writers Retreat. My project for that time was to write about the Energy Futures Lab. It was an intimidating program in the sense that I was there with people who were actual writers. I was one of only two non-fiction writers amidst a group of almost 20 very talented storytellers.
Dear Energy Futures Lab Fellows, Partners & Steering Committee Members,
Recent events demonstrate the importance of acknowledging and actively addressing systemic racism. Knowing these traumas are a part of Canada’s social fabric, we invite our community to lean collectively into this grief, discomfort, and moment of witness. We encourage you to reflect on the importance of being open to new ways of being, thinking, and doing.
There’s never a bad time for the Energy Futures Lab to meet, but the gathering in February in Cochrane was particularly timely. In the wake of Teck Resources’s decision not to proceed with its Frontier Oil Sands project, and in the shadow of both a national conversation over Coastal GasLink and Indigenous rights and a growing provincial one about the merits of separation from Canada, the time was right to ask some tough questions.
Since its inception, the EFL has had the intention to both include Indigenous people, partners, and perspectives as well as acknowledge and address, in its work, issues related to Indigenous people’s relationships to the energy system. As we step along our Truth and Reconciliation journey, we are embracing a knowing that this aspect of our work needs to be improved and deepened if we truly intend for the Lab to represent what is possible for today’s energy system in Alberta, and beyond.
For as long as the EFL has existed, its work has been creating productive and solutions-oriented conversations about energy and climate as well as expanding the dimensions of what we like to call the “radical middle.” But with political polarization on the rise, and the dialogue around the energy transition becoming more binary by the day, we thought it was time to expand our reach — and our ambitions.
We are excited to announce our newest Fellows! The EFL has been steadily welcoming new Fellows since its inception in 2015. We now have over 65 Fellows from different organizations and communities to advance EFL initiatives and continue to shape the energy system the future requires of us.
We are thrilled to share a number of connections to the recently announced Clean50 awards. David Hughes, President & CEO of The Natural Step Canada, host organization for the Energy Futures Lab, has been named as a member of Canada’s Clean50 for 2020.