From April 17 - 23, 2016, Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) partnered with an outstanding group of community partners to host #PowerShiftWR: a weeklong series of events that sparked discussions about the Waterloo Region’s relationship with energy.
Founded in 2009, WGSI is a non-profit partnership between Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo that strives to encourage dialogue around complex global issues to help advance ideas, opportunities, and strategies for a secure and sustainable future. #PowerShiftWR was designed to further this work on a regional level, drawing collaboration from 13 community partners including Wilfrid Laurier University, THEMUSEUM, Sustainable Waterloo Region, Waterloo Public Library, and IdeaExchange.
"Conversations are a crucial part of change. Without conversation and knowledge sharing, change wouldn't be possible. #PowerShiftWR was a great way to get people talking and thinking about sustainability, which is the first step towards action and a more sustainable future."
-- Sustainable Waterloo Region
Welcoming community members of all ages to participate, the energy focused events featured a range of activities from art exhibitions and film screenings, to engaging public lectures, workshops for youth, community clean-ups, and even Earth-themed crafts. Innovative family programming, such as TREC Education’s Wind Design Workshop, engaged youth in learning about sustainable energy in new ways. Children ages 10 to 12 had the chance to explore the science behind wind turbines and how they turn wind energy into both mechanical and electrical energy. By working together in groups, participants learned how to design and build their own working wind turbines, providing them with hands-on knowledge about a viable sustainable energy source.
“With a topic like energy production, consumption, and future, this is a conversation that can start with our youngest community members. We were able to introduce kids to the basic types of energy, and get them engaged in thinking about how that applies to their life.”
-- Heather Neufeld, Science Outreach, University of Waterloo
WGSI hosted internationally recognized speakers who presented public lectures at Perimeter Institute, speaking to members of our community on energy and sustainability. Søren Hermansen, Director of the Samsø Energy Academy in Denmark and winner of the Gothenburg Prize, engaged and educated attendees about community driven sustainable energy projects. It is his goal to prove that it is possible for communities to use only 100% renewable energy such as solar panels and wind turbines. Self-educated author and TED sensation, William Kamkwamba, inspired audiences by telling his personal experiences with the transformative power of energy. Hailing from Malawi, at age 14 William a built windmill for his family out of scrap yard parts to power their home during a severe famine.
“Søren’s lecture was brilliant, engaging and very inspiring!”
-- Community member
By inviting others to share their personal stories, accomplishments, workshop skills and knowledge, WGSI and partners helped our community grow their knowledge and understanding about energy and sustainability. Through interactive workshops, informative lectures, and engaging events, #PowerShiftWR captivated community members of all ages about new ways of accessing sustainable and renewable energy, which will benefit future generations in the Waterloo Region for years to come.