Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"The Green Beast", Sustainival, and Visionaries

I first met Joey Hundert last year during the Big Spirit Festival. He had sent out a media invitation, asking local media types to come and check out Sustainival, his brain child of carnival meets sustainability, and being a curious type I of course took him up on the offer. I have always been glad I did, because it brought Joey, his genius, his passion about sustainability, and his carnival into my life.
Joey might not be from Fort McMurray – he is from our neighbour to the south, Edmonton – but I think he has adopted us as a second home. And there is a good reason for that, because there is tremendous synergy between Joey, what he does, and the vision we are creating for this community. We live in a place where I think more than anywhere else sustainability matters. We are fuelled by the oil industry, and we are proud of it – but we also recognize the vital importance of preserving our environment and exploring other options. We believe too in sustainable resource development, and so Joey and Sustainival – his carnival that runs on biodiesel produced from used cooking oil – fits very nicely into this community. That is why I am beyond delighted that Sustainival will return to Fort McMurray this year, over the Labour Day weekend. But this time Joey isn’t only bringing the carnival – he is also bringing “The Green Beast”, an amazing race-type adventure that is designed to use the carnival to educate about sustainability. It is designed to make the concepts of sustainability accessible to everyone, and doing so in a fun manner. And, along with everything else Joey does, I think it’s brilliant.

You see Joey is a visionary. He is, however, the very best kind of visionary, one who translates his ideas into action. He takes his dreams – like a sustainable carnival – and makes them into reality. And this is exactly what he is doing once again with “The Green Beast” – a new vision that he is launching for the very first time right here, in Fort McMurray. Why here? Because this is the land of visionaries who take dreams and make them into reality.
Sometimes I think we forget how fortunate we are here. It is easy even for me, after a decade, to forget that not everywhere is like this. Not everywhere embraces new ideas with enthusiasm and zeal. Not everywhere has the “why not?” attitude, stuck instead in the “why should we?”. Not every place is as open to innovation, creativity, and novel ideas. Not every place is as welcoming as Fort McMurray is to those who have passion, drive – and vision. I would guess that is why Joey has chosen to launch the very first “Green Beast” competition right here – because this is a place that values the creative, innovative, and bold. And Joey Hundert is all of those.

“The Green Beast” is a race utilizing the carnival, and it will be immense fun for those who participate. There is a fundraising portion, too, benefitting local social profit organizations. There will be prizes for the winners, and there will be bragging rights. But even more than that there will be learning along the way, and a sense of accomplishment in yet another of the string of “Fort McMurray Firsts” – the first ever “Green Beast” race, a success due to a community that believes in vision, drive, passion – and sustainability.
Last year when I met Joey I was deeply impressed. He is one of the people I would like the Intrepid Junior Blogger to look up to, because he is a tremendous role model for youth like her. He is someone who is creative and brave, innovative and ambitious, and he has a shining passion for what he does. These are the traits I would like to see in my own child, and to be able to have her meet people like Joey is one of the huge benefits of what I do. The funny thing is that I find Joey inspiring too, because at times I think even people of passion and vision can lose their drive. They can get bogged down by the everyday (in my case, like a house move and a chaotic life involving one teenager, one dog, and three ferrets, and, oh yeah, a fulltime job). You can still hold the passion and the vision but the drive can falter – until you meet people like Joey, who recharge your drive with their own. I defy anyone to spend 10 minutes with him and not be inspired to do something to better the world – because Joey is one of those people who make you believe that you can.

As for Sustainival? Well, I remember the old Blueberry Festival days, and the carnival. We went when the IJB was little, and this year we will go to Sustainival on the Labour Day weekend, at MacDonald Island Park where the old carnival used to be. This time though we will ride rides fuelled by biodiesel while we snarf down mini-donuts and elephant ears. And while we may feel guilt about the donuts and the elephant ears we will, I think, feel proud of participating in a sustainable carnival, one fuelled by the very kind of oil that fried those donuts and elephant ears.
I was at the press conference yesterday where Joey, Mayor Blake, and others announced Sustainival coming back to town, and the launch of “The Green Beast”. It was an honour to be there, because this initiative is something special, and we are incredibly fortunate in this community to be in on the ground floor of something that is destined to be a tremendous success. I had a chance to chat with Joey a couple of weeks ago, and was pleased to hear that he and Sustainival have logged significant success since they first came to town a year ago. I was pleased, but not surprised. You see I happen to have faith that anything Joey does will succeed, because Joey is a man of vision – and one of action. It has been my privilege to simply be a witness along the way of the success of Sustainival, Joey Hundert, and now “The Green Beast”. I sincerely hope all of Fort McMurray comes out on Labour Day weekend to be part of it too – because I think one day you will look back and be grateful to have been there. I suspect you will be incredibly proud to have been in on the beginning of something spectacular. I know I will be – because I already am.

Learn more here about
The Green Beast!

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