Renewal: We Can Do Something Different

By Fred Larsen – Special to SUNonline/Orillia

It’s April and as the days warm and daylight lasts longer into the evening, as the snow melts and earth reappears, as tiny shoots push up from the ground into the warmth of the sunshine, spring brings, for most people, a surge in spirits, a restored sense of life itself. After a long, cold winter, once again it is a time of regeneration and renewal.

This spring may well be like no other in recent memory. After a year of lockdowns, of masks and social distancing, of infections and deaths in Canada from COVID-19, it is no surprise the arrival of this spring—coming as it does with promise not only of flowers and warmer days but also of vaccines and greater freedom from fear of the pandemic – still feels more liberating, and joyful than ever before. There is a welcome sense of liberation, a re-creation, not only of the season, but of a time when we can rejoin friends, welcome family members with hugs, and look forward to life returning to a more normal pattern. It is a rebirth of hope itself.

And yet, just as the flowers of spring are not the same flowers that grew in our gardens last year, and just as the leaves appearing soon on the trees are not the same leaves that fell to the ground in October, so, too, as we emerge from the pandemic year, we will not be quite the same people that we were in early 2020. Some of us are mourning lost family members or friends. Some have lost jobs and even businesses. Others are apprehensive about getting together with others or being out in a crowd, while others find routines they followed prior to the pandemic are no longer those routines that they’re comfortable with whether at home or at work.

Life has changed. We have changed. We have been changed.

Some of these changes, of course, are for the better. All of us are probably more aware of our health services and grateful for them. All of us are probably more aware of the importance of small businesses in our community, many of which faced hardship during this pandemic. And all of us are probably more aware of the debt we owe to delivery people, warehouse workers, agricultural workers, store clerks, and others who have served on the frontlines during the past year keeping food and other products available during this difficult time. We may also have found solace being able to get outside whether for a walk in the park, to play in the snow, or to ski or ice fish on frozen Lake Couchiching. Many people appear to have gained a new appreciation of the natural world during the pandemic months.

Yet more change is required of us all this spring and with seasons to come. Hundreds and thousands of voices around the world – especially voices of the young – are calling on us to change our ways to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. The good news is, while required changes may be disruptive, they are doable and they are changes that will make our world a better place in both the short and long run; cleaner, less polluted, filled with plant, animal and insect life. In short the world will be a better place for us and for generations to come.

We have been warned in order to keep the planetary temperature increase to 1.5 degrees (if still possible with the inaction to date), we have to make significant changes in the way we do things by 2030. We all have more changes to make in our lives and livelihoods if we are going to meet this target.

What an opportunity we have as members of this generation, an opportunity through our actions and our urging of action by others to make a real difference for the world of the future. Surely we all want meaning in our lives. What greater significance could we have than to be the catalysts for changes required to prevent and mitigate the destructive effect of the climate crisis?

As individuals, as a community, we can choose to do nothing, or we can choose to make a difference.

Yes, April of 2021 is a time of renewal, but we can make it more. We can recreate and restore Earth. We can reform the way we do things, and, in so doing, transform our planet and our lives.

Millions of people around the globe are already working for a better world, including those of us at Sustainable Orillia, members of The Couchiching Conservancy, and hundreds of other citizens of Orillia who support organizations working to reduce CO2 emissions, to end pollution, and to change the policies and directions of governments, industries, businesses, and of each and every citizen from policies and directions we now recognize as destructive to our planet and to our lives. 

Join us. Be part of making a difference as we renew our commitment to a new and improved future.

(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


Fred Larsen is the treasurer of Sustainable Orillia and Orillia’s 2020 Citizen o f the Year.