"We live in a finite environment, and if you don't foster [a] concept of people working together, communities fall apart."
This is the message that Gerry Pinel, a member of the Golden Ears Transition Initiative (GETI), and his fellow exhibitors were hoping to instil in the about 2,000 attendees to Saturday's GETI Fest in Maple Ridge's Memorial Peace Park.
The festival, now in its third year, invites activists of all kinds to join together and raise awareness about external and global issues that affect the local community, and offer solutions.
"Its main goal," said Pinel, "is to build a resilient community, and create the network and systems within the community to become more self-sufficient, self-sustaining." The idea was reflected in the booths that lined the park's walkway, with exhibitors focusing on everything from energy usage to the health of local hatcheries.
Others looked to raise about abolishing hospital pay parking, or protesting the building of pipelines through B.C. A puppet show looked at the stickleback fish and its importance to the Alouette
River ecosystem, and children could learn how to make their own rope - by hand - courtesy of Scouts Canada.
"It all adds together," he said, "so that's what we do, we try to join people together and in that process we take care of all the things that are important - food security, waste management, energy reduction, arts and crafts, [and] spirituality."
Instilling the idea of interconnectedness and self-sufficiency in youth was the main theme of this year's event.
"If you look at communities, the youth are quite often the most forgotten part of it," said Pinel.
"And yet, they are ultimately the most critical, because it's the youth who take over our community. They're the ones that grow into it."
To that end, GETI has expanded its view and helped to create the Youth Action Coalition - a youthdriven committee that sees schools and programs like Scouts, Cadets and Guides.
Still growing, the end goal is for the coalition to undertake small and largescale projects throughout the community.
Their first project was putting together the festival's youth village.
For 14-yearold Sean Okawa, who got involved with GETI several years ago through a writing contest, it's an opportunity to grow and help in a supportive organization.
"There are so many good people, and they help each other out," he said.
"I think it's given me a really good experience in social interaction, and feeling like I'm making a difference in the community."
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