Academy students discuss 3% Project

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PICTOU — Students at Pictou Academy have learned about a project designed to solve current and looming world problems.

Steve Lee, 27, a public speaker and executive director of the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship and its 3% Project, visited the school last week to address a class assembly and to conduct a classroom workshop with more than a dozen students and teacher Adam White.

Numerous subjects surfaced that included genetics, transportation, building items with reusable materials and energy use.

“The main narrative is the way we solve climate change on a global level, how we have to solve all these other things, how we hold each other accountable,” he said.

Pictou Academy is among schools he contacted that invited him to make a presentation. This is his second year visiting schools after developing the project in the first year.

He called climate change and technology the most challenging global issues and stressed how important it is for students to improve problem solving.

“There are people who want to be sustainable but don’t know how to get there,” he said. “Climate change affects everything. Climate change is not just how many gas particles there are in the air.”

The project’s goal is to mobilize one million students, or three per cent of Canada’s population, and educate them on climate change action in their communities.

Pictou Academy is the 367th school Lee has visited in his quest to visit 500 schools over four semesters. He has travelled west to east and will end his current trip in Newfoundland and Labrador. He generally visits two schools a day but ended up following his morning visit with an afternoon event when the second school cancelled.

Lee described the current linear economy where goods are made, purchased, used and discarded. It has resulted in material shortages because only a fraction of the materials are recycled worldwide.

“At some point, we’ll run out of stuff — iron, copper, nickel,” he said. “Phosphorus is just about gone. It’s important for us to live sustainably. We need to replenish nature if we take from it.”

Colonial attitudes established long ago persist and post a drag on problem solving, Lee said. He noted how England and France exploited materials and goods from North America for their own interests, how Britain behaved that way with eastern Canada and how eastern Canada has treated western Canada that way.

“We haven’t graduated from the mindset of the colony,” he said.

Lee urged the students to gauge their activities based on how they generate passion. “If you are not passionate about something, you will stop doing it,” he said.

He also drew a connection between engaged residents living within engaged communities.

“If you are in a community, chances are you have something in common,” he said. “Why celebrate on the basis of trying? We have to measure our impact, but we tend to overinflate our impact. We should celebrate on the basis of results.”

Steve Lee stands in front of Pictou Academy students doing an exercise after sharing the potential for the 3% Project available to young people across Canada. (Goodwin photo)