Image of ripples made in a large body of water

Environmental stewardship

Advocating for a sustainable future
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While focusing on issues critical to older Canadians, RTOERO promotes respect for all ages, encouraging generations to engage with and support each other. When intergenerational forces combine, strength, resources, wisdom and achievement abound.

Kelly and Katia Bannister are a dynamic team who demonstrate just that.

Kelly Bannister is the co-director of the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance at University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies. Bannister’s daughter, Katia, is a community organizer and current UVic student. Katia is also an executive member of the UVic Ecological Restoration Club. Mother and daughter have each blazed trails as volunteers and activists on matters related to climate, biodiversity, sustainability and other social issues, sometimes together, sometimes not. When Katia was only 17, they were featured speakers at an RTOERO webinar addressing environmental stewardship, an RTOERO advocacy pillar. Now 20, Katia remains steadfast in her commitment to the environment and Canada’s treasured resources.

The two Bannisters recently shared their observations on intergenerational collaboration. They don’t focus on age; they focus on how to get a team to work together regardless of demographic or cultural, ethnic or attitudinal background.

Katia points out that “we are all different people” and “we have to create spaces where people are willing to share and be open, no judgment and no lenses.” She emphasizes focusing on the “thread of connection across different ranges of experience” instead of the differences.

What counts: opportunities for people to learn from and mentor each other.

Katia was inspired by a man in his 70s to become involved in white-water rafting, which is also committed to water stewardship. She now instructs people of all ages and rafting experience on the ways of water stewardship — a focus that transcends demographic or cultural consideration.

The mother-and-daughter team shared their best practices that motivate teams to work together and achieve objectives.

Who will benefit the most?

It’s critical to ask for whom the goal in question is most relevant. When goals resonate with people, they are more likely to be invested, enthusiastic and commit to do the work.

Clear goals

Kelly promotes “courage in clarity” when defining objectives and values. Invite the team to contribute to setting the goals, a sure way to harness commitment. Mission and vision statements should be “living statements” so they can be altered or changed as the project moves forward.

Establish relationships

Build community within the group. Establishing respectful, working relationships calls for more than exchanging names. When you introduce the team members, encourage each one to share some personal information and tell the group why the project is personally meaningful.

Katia and Kelly believe that the rewards of intergenerational collaboration are boundless: broadening knowledge and sharing skills, stories, experience and problem-solving tools. Younger people working with older people and older people working with younger people inspires, uplifts, reinforces community and builds hope — and hope energizes and achieves objectives.

To learn about RTOERO’s advocacy programs and tips on how to advocate as individuals or groups:

To view or read a transcript of Kelly and Katia’s webinar on environmental stewardship:

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