When anthropologist Margaret Mead proposed we heed the power of a small group to change the world – she could have been referring to small groups of moms who advocate for our air. It’s a group of mom’s advocating for healthy air that has prompted this post.
We work with governments and NGO’s across the country to shift how people think and behave related to air pollution and its impacts on health. Now, a force of moms in our own community has taken up the cause. Hosting their first meeting Feb 28, this grass roots group called Kamloops Moms for Clean Air simply wants to ensure a healthy environment for their children to grow and thrive. They are encouraging other moms to join the cause.
Their primary motivation is likely to oppose a proposed open-pit mine within the city limits of Kamloops, BC, which they report would see many children attending school within less than 8KM of the operation.
Regardless of what’s prompted this specific group to action, we’ve seen similar groups around the globe take hold, and be rooted by their own local air quality crises, or in their view, a crisis in the making. They are all doing great work in their respective backyards.
What they may not see is what they are accomplishing, collectively, on a larger scale.
The air pollution crisis in China in the past year is a case in point. China’s “airopocolypse” created high media interest and personal awareness about air quality. Perhaps it even brought about changes in some behaviors that contribute to air pollution – with the exception of omitting fireworks from New Year celebrations.
Here’s the rub. The Chinese government is now professing ways in which air pollution will be better monitored and controlled in the future. It may seem like a policy change brought about in response to international pressure. But look below the surface and you will see efforts of citizen advocates; a real estate mogul Pan Shiyi who made air quality his core cause or the high profile Chinese philanthropist Ghen Guagbiao who sold over 8 million cans of “fresh air” to bring attention to the crisis, or the group of do-it-yourselfers and hackers who created and distributed air quality monitoring kites throughout China.
So in the spirit of Margaret Mead and her sentiments that the power of small groups is indeed the only thing that has ever brought forth change, we applaud this Kamloops Moms for Clean Air group. Not because we think their advocacy will indeed change whether this open pit mine is developed in our backyard or not – but from our professional perspective, because they are going to stimulate dialogue about air quality. And because we know that dialogue; getting attention, increasing awareness and fostering improved understanding, is the foundation to any and all changes in how people behave.
It’s what Moms Clean Air Force – a US-based air quality advocacy group – is doing really well, with the support of Hollywood star power, political lobbyists and thousands of followers.
The work of Kamloops Moms for Clean Air may not move a mine but it might make people pay attention to their City’s recently approved Airshed Management Plan. It might make someone turn their car off while parked and waiting. It might get kids wanting to do their next science project on air quality in Kamloops.
Who knows, their efforts could even create a shift in how KGHM Ajax plans to do business in the community.