Creating a Vision for PERC
The Peace and Environment Resource Center (PERC) held a visioning event on Sept. 22 at St. Giles Presbyterian Church to determine the direction it will take over the next few years.
PERC members and Peace and Environment News (PEN) readers assembled in the church basement to the sound of piano music wafting from a rehearsal upstairs.
"The visioning event is about getting ideas up and out and circulating" said Pamela Schreiner, chair of the PERC board.
The information generated during the evening will serve to guide the decisions of the PERC's board as they meet this month to decide what PERC should become.
"Our mission is to educate the public about peace, environment and social justice issues, empower people to get involved in these issues and support local groups who are involved," says Schreiner.
Part of the evening was spent remembering important milestones in PERC's history. The group evolved out of the peace movement in the 80's to become the first of its kind in the national capital region. The energy of the 90's-the "turn-around decade"-waned as the new century began. Now, a new wave of excitement seems to have taken hold in the environmental world.
"Previously, PERC was one of the only organizations in Ottawa that was focused on peace and the environment" said Diana Brushey, PERC's coordinator. "Now there's this big movement, and it's almost like we're lost in this ocean of excitement, thinking "Well, how do we float on that?'"
Important questions arose from the visioning event: what could be the PERC's new leading edge? How can it recapture the pioneering spirit that originally launched it and that got people so excited?
One of the most uplifting moments of the evening came when assembled members were asked if PERC has run its course and should stop its activities. They answered with a unanimous "No!"
The consensus was that PERC should become a neighbour and a trusted friend in the community, a place where people can share their stories and educate themselves on peace and environment matters.
"I really feel there's a sense of a new awakening for the organization," said Kristina Inrig, PERC's financial coordinator. "The last five years have been really rough years for the organization. I went away from so many of the meetings feeling (...) maybe this is the time for PERC to end, and I don't feel that way anymore!"
PERC members will have an opportunity to discuss and vote on recommendations from the Visioning session at the AGM next spring.
Louis Turcotte is studying journalism at Carleton University