Tim // Catching the buzz

I had the privilege of meeting an Aussie the other day, Tim, who has been traveling throughout Canada and Europe for the past few months. Sharing the same tent, we had a quick chat about what we’ve been up to over the last few months and our plans for the future. Tim was a younger guy who spontaneously decided to travel to Vancouver, Canada back in December and help out with the Olympics. After searching for a place to stay and work to keep himself busy, he eventually landed a construction job involved with the Olympics.

As we talked, I shared with him about the recent master’s program I had finished in Sweden focused on sustainability. When the term came up, we found ourselves talking about the controversy involved with “greening” the olympics in Vancouver this past year. If you hadn’t followed, Vancouver was hoping to be one of the greenest Olympics to date, but there were many instances that made some people question how true the claim was (such as flying snow in to the mountains because of the warm weather). From Tim’s experience, the city was quite split on the benefit that the Olympics brought to Canada and Vancouver, as well as it’s impact towards sustainability. For the weeks leading up to the event, there was very little buzz around Vancouver that one would typically associate with such an important event. Tim, being Aussie, could not quite understand how a city could be so calm knowing they would be hosting such a massive and important event. But that all changed as soon as the opening ceremony started, and Tim remembers the mood changing rapidly. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone was in full support and the skeptics were dwarfed by the excitement surrounding the city. As the event rolled in, the skepticism quieted down.

I wonder what this tells us about the sustainability movement. If it is still a concept that moves in waves and has the ability to quiet down depending on the context, has it really become a part of our lifestyle? Or, does it sometimes take an event like the Olympics to broaden our view of what sustainability might encompass and in fact the skepticism wasn’t quieted down but rather stretched to see the importance of what an event such as the Olympics stood for? What has your experience been related to the Olympics and what do you see it’s role being related to sustainability?

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