Suzuki Elders Members Newsletters


August 2016

Dear Suzuki Elders Members

So – here’s the Suzuki Elder news since last February.

Activities and Events: We’ve put on two Education Working Group Salons on Food Security, one Resilience workshop, two workshops with youth, one storytelling session at Camp Suzuki, one Annual General Meeting, and one Annual Retreat. We also completed the 2016-17 strategic plan. That might look like a short list, but it represents a big commitment of time and thought from the Suzuki Elders involved. Thanks especially to Erlene Woollard, Jim Park, Margo Elfert, Don Marshall, Carol MacKinnon, Bob Worcester, Stan Hirst, Patricia Plackett, Jill Schroder, Karl Perrin, Neale Adams….the list goes on. Do check our website ( for the AGM documents, the strategic plan, and photos/reports on the above events.

Council Meetings: The Council continues to meet monthly on the third Thursday of the month, 9:30-noon in the Terra Boardroom at the Foundation offices on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver and you are welcome to attend if you wish. The Council minutes are now being posted on to the Google Group site, which all Suzuki Elder members are invited to sign on to when they become a member. If you are not on the Google Group site, and would like to be, please contact Bob Worcester at Recent speakers have included David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) digital strategies specialist Nadege Vince on using social media effectively, and DSF’s Queen of Green Lindsay Coulter on her outreach/education (did you know she has 36,000 email followers, 40,000 Facebook followers and 11,000 on Twitter ?). Foundation CEO Peter Robinson also spoke to us of the factors that go into their decisions about nonpartisan advocacy. This last topic was especially relevant to the Elders’ own non partisan advocacy group, (chaired by Simon Wheeler), which aims to act on several issues this year.

Book of interest: We have also been reading and discussing James Hoggan’s book “I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How To Clean It Up.” (New Society Publishers, 2016, $20, at Amazon; $19.95 at Black Bond Books, Vancouver – James is president of the PR firm Hoggan & Associates, chair of the David Suzuki Foundation Board and founder of the DeSmogBlog website. The Elder retreat was designed around the content of this book and we encourage all involved in environmental and other actions to read it. Chapters entitled “The myth of apathy….The advocacy trap….Facts are not enough, Speak the truth but not to punish” certainly drew our attention.

Elders and youth: Several Suzuki Elders have run discussion/workshops with teen youth in the past while, and the students appreciated these opportunities to share their insights, worries and hopes about a future of sustainability and climate change. If you are interested in doing something similar with students in your area we’d be happy to share our discussion outlines – contact me at Recently Bob Worcester and Roger Sweeny successfully engaged 30 young adults in a Camp Suzuki storytelling evening – contact Bob (email above) for information on how he and Roger did this. Being with young people in this way is very gratifying.

Saying YES: Eight of us are already planning for a March 2017 Suzuki Elder public forum with this working title: “Saying Yes – paths to a sustainable world: engaging elders and youth in dialogue on the why, what, and how of actions to take.” The theme arose out of the frustration felt by many at being labelled as environmental forces of “no.” So we decided to turn things around. If you are interested in joining in the planning process, contact me at the e-mail above.

That’s all for now, and thank-you again for all that you do in your own communities as Suzuki Elders.

Diana Ellis, Chair

February 2016

Dear Suzuki Elders Members,                                    

We’ve been busy! The last update was August 2015 – here’s the news since then.

September – We co-sponsored an All Party Election Forum with Vancouver’s Unitarian Church that 120 attended. Debate was civil, with good questions and responses. (The attending Liberal candidate, Harjit Singh Sajjan, is now Canada’s new Minister of Defense). In September we also co-facilitated with students, a “What Moves Me” dialogue/workshop for 40 students in the Metro Vancouver Youth Sustainability Network.

October – We manned a table at the National Seniors Day event in Vancouver. We made a submission to the provincial BC Climate Leadership Plan. We wrote to the Globe and Mail on the importance of voting in the federal election – unfortunately the newspaper didn’t have room for it.

November – We sent a letter of congratuation to Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, hoping for strong environmental policy. We reviewed findings of the membership opinion survey sent to all members in October.

We got active in an muti country effort, joining with people in Britain, France, Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium, to form an International Alliance of Grandparents (and Elders) for the Climate. I wasn’t able to get to Paris for the founding meeting just prior to COP, but I was in London, England, and by email and phone put in our input. Attached is a joint letter to Heads of Government from the Alliance.

Many Elders invividuallymarched in the November Great Climate March (I did in London) as I’m sure many of you did, or attended rallies or other events to support action on the climate.

December – Your Elder’s Council held its regular monthly meeting, and then had a Christmastime Party with many great goodies. We were delighted that David Suzuki was able to join us for a short while.

January — A lively post-COP 21 presentation and discussion took place with 45 elders attending. The DSF’s COP 21 attendee Steve Kux, university student Kate Hodgson, and I spoke of COP 21 Paris experience, youth involvement and elder/grandparent international organizing.

Other events included hosting speakers at some of our monthly Council meetings (DSF senior editor Ian Hanington, DSF deputy CEO Andrea Seale),and responding to calls for speakers (Beacon Unitarian Church in October, Vancouver Unitarian Church Forum in February, National Energy Board/Kinder Morgan Rally in January).

Planning for these Suzuki Elder activities and events is constant – many thanks to the Education and Communication Working Groups for their commitment and time. Upcoming:  Food Security Salon, February 24, 1:30-4:30 in Vancouver, with a similar event for the North Shore Elder society on April 18.   The Elder’s Resilience Study Core Group is deep into planning a in mid May workshop in Vancouver which will be similar in style to the Joanna Macy “Work that Reconnects” presentations.

Your Elders Council and a few other members meet February 20 to do 2016-17 strategic planning. The Suzuki Elder Council Annual General Meeting takes place April 21 in Vancouver. We are booked into Bowen Island’s Rivendell Centre for our annual day long summer retreat on Wednesday, August 3. Themes and speakers yet to be decided!

So as you can see we’ve been doing a lot, and it’s been fun. If you want to get more involved, do contact me or any member of the Elders Council .Check our website for updates and the link to our blog. Consider submitting a blog!  Keep in touch with your news and views…..e-mail below or  And, thanks for all that you do in your own cities, towns, neighbourhoods and families.

As ever,

Diana Ellis

Chair, Suzuki Elders Council.

August 2015

Suzuki Elders all:

Apologies for the long gap in between updates.  No excuses – just busy, busy times.  But – here’s the news.

1. Federal election

-Suzuki Elders are co-sponsoring an All-Parties-Forum (federal election) on Thursday, September 16, 7:30-9:30, at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 49th and Oak Street.  See the attached poster – and feel free to distribute it widely – please!   And attend if you can – bring a friend!  The venue holds just over 200 people – we’d like to fill it.

-We are advising speakers this is a forum, (not a debate), with the opportunity for each party to clarify their core stance/policies on environment/economy, climate change, aboriginal issues and housing.  Written questions from the audience will be encouraged.

-We also could use some more volunteers – if you can help with set-up, greeting, clean-up, or manning the Suzuki Elder information table,  please contact me at

-we are also in the process of preparing a Suzuki Elder letter to the editor (Globe and Mail) regarding the federal election and will share it with you shortly.

2. Suzuki Elder annual retreat

-this took place July 23rd on Bowen Island.  Non partisan advocacy techniques and core energy issues were presented and discussed.  Please see the attached report for details of key learnings and some useful references.  Much to share….

3. Suzuki Elders recent work with youth – workshop module “What Moves Me”

-thanks to quite intense work with youth over the past year, we are now polishing a short workshop/dialogue module that is working well.  See the attached report from a summer session with youth campers from the Catching The Spirit Youth Society.  Read what the youth tell us about their hopes/fears, what moves them forward into action, and what holds them back from action.  Elders and youth think alike on this!  The module outline is in the attached document – feel free to use the module with youth – or elders –  in your own community.

-Elders and youngers who have laid the foundation for this work include Erlene Woollard, Cynthia Lam, Rosemary Chen,  Cathy Ye, Keanna Burns, Jay Matsushiba, Tesicca Truong, Aaron Leung, and Jessica Yang.  Kudos to them all!

4. Huffpost Green USA article about Elders/Youth/Environment

Follow this link to read a recent Huffpost Green article on elders and youth working together around the world –  including the Suzuki Elders.

5. Elder Emotions/Grief/Resilience and Climate Disruption

The past 7 months have seen several Education Salons, committee meetings and now the formation of a Resilience Core Group  – all focussed on understanding and dealing with emotions and feelings related to climate disruption.  Led by Suzuki Elder Council member Don Marshall, this work is innovative and exciting.    The group (Karl Perrin, Erlene Woollard, Jill Schroder, Stan Hirst)  will continue meeting this fall to develop a pilot workshop.  If you are interested in knowing more, or contributing information, please contact Don at

The following is an excerpt from a recent write-up by the core group.

Building Resilience to the Psycho-social Impacts of Climate Disruption

Climate change is a real, dangerous, and rapidly worsening crisis that is already producing, and will increasingly generate, significant physical, economic and ecological harm.  The health of humans has physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions and is intimately tied to the health of the environment in which we live. Climate change has impacts on all four dimensions and challenges the resilience we need to survive. It creates serious emotional, spiritual, moral and social impacts worldwide.  It stirs within us feelings of fear, anger, and sorrow. 

As social animals and by virtue of our humanity we share these deep responses.  To be conscious in our world today is to be aware of vast suffering and unprecedented peril.   While impacts on physical health are evident in daily news casts, the emotional and spiritual toll taken by a feeling of helplessness in the face of large social and financial forces is not so evident. Worse still, this unhealthy impact makes us less likely to take action we could take to make a positive difference.

Suzuki elders is in a unique position to help address this neglected area of the health impacts of climate change.  Our contributions might somewhat immodestly be called “wisdom”.  With the welter of data, information, media intrusions and a general feeling of threat we can focus on the longer and deeper game called for in the plaintive words of TS Eliot a century ago:

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

6. GMO’s and food security

The Education and Community Engagement Working Group mounted a successful salon on GMO’s in early June.  Scientists David Ng and David Steele provided intriguing information to the 40 or so people attending, including 20 teens from a nearby high school.  Looks like food security might be the next topic up for discussion?  Thanks to Erlene Woollard, Ros Kellett, Stan Hirst and Neale Adams for handling this event.

7. Intergenerational work – Elder Story Project (ESP)

For information on this project check out our website and blog.  If you click on the “Intergenerational Story Project” you’ll  find the link to our ESP video and a description of how the project began.  To read some of the stories (many more to come after some editing!), click on the line that says “read what we have written.”

8. Other – so much “other”!

– check out our – for regular updates, news, copies of reports, the 2015-16 strategic plan, and our AGM 2015 report to members.  Peggy Olive does a great job keeping the site looking fresh. If you (or your friends) want to know more about what the Suzuki Elders are up to please go to the website.

– you will also find all of the Suzuki Elder Blogs on our website – thanks to Stan Hirst for facilitating this.  And, don’t forget, if you have something to say in blog format, connect with Stan ( to help make it happen.

– if you are on Face book, check out the Suzuki Elder Face book page. Bob Worcester puts up regular posts to this social media venue.

-most Suzuki Elders carry on with activism in your own ways in your families, communities and other related groups. As our Orientation Handbook says – being a Suzuki Elder can be a ‘state of mind’!  When you are non-partisan, you speak as a Suzuki Elder. When partisan, you speak for yourself.  Here are some examples:

– Pauline Le Bel delivers workshops on Becoming Intimate with the Earth and keeps a regular blog – –

– Karl Perrin is active with Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) and networks with a wide range of BC environment groups.

– Eve Weimer, aka the Queen of Coal, works tirelessly out in White Rock on the coal port issues.

– Roger Sweeny writes feisty well-researched letters about the proposed LNG plant in Howe Sound and the Kinder Morgan pipeline.  He also helped to convince his municipality to join the Blue Dot movement and is knocking on doors to get folks registered for the federal election.

– Lillian Ireland and Rob Dramer, with their homegrown songs, music and engaging animal puppets, deliver innovative nature-based programs and entertainment to elementary school-age children in their region.

– David Laing, in Brampton Ontario, continues to advocate for all things cycling related.

– Bob Worcester has been appointed to the Senior’s Advisory Council of the City of Vancouver.  Elder Eva Wadolna also sits on this group.

Upcoming:  look for news about a Suzuki Elder collaboration with the Bill Reid Gallery (Vancouver) for their Land Sea People Exhibit opening this October.  And, in late November, I (Diana) will be in Paris attending a meeting that will hopefully lay the foundation for an international coalition/network of elder/grandparent environmental groups.

With thanks to all who keep moving the environment/sustainability agenda forward, every day, in our myriad ways.

Best wishes,
Diana Ellis
Chair, Suzuki Elder Council