I saw a quick news story (aren’t they all quick though) the other day about a woman carrying the torch on an electric scooter. Touted as an environmentalist, she once was being dragged off a Clayquot logging road blockade and today is the executive director of PowerUP Canada and a cofounder of ForestEthics both of which work with huge corporations in trying to protect the environment. While you may expect to see her leading a protest against the Olympic games, here she is carrying the torch. News stories being what they are, the clip ended just as my questions were beginning. I google her to get my answers.
Basically, I find out that her name is Tzeporah Berman and she is indeed controversial. Many of her fellow environmentalists label her a traitor, even before holding the torch. I will leave it to you decide if her environmental work is authentic or a sell-out. But what I would like to note here is the diverse articles I was able to pull up to read about her. Everything from the mainstream city newspaper to her personal blog to what Huffington Post writer Andy Miah calls new media activism. I could read differing viewpoints, insights and angles to this woman and her work and I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed deciding for myself what I thought of her.
Along the same time I am reading these articles, I come across that same Huffington Post writer and his article predicting that this new media activism is what is going to be the most controversial about these Olympics. This will be the first Olympic games in the time of social networking sites and blogs. At a time when the IOC seems to have gone overboard in protecting their sponsors and trademarks, anybody can say whatever they want, however they want to anybody who has the wherewithal to find them.
Gone are the days where we are at the mercy of the sponsoring network and media’s portrayal of the event. Now we have the independent reports, the bloggers, the environmentalists and social activists to weigh in through social networking sites, cell phones and blogs. Now we will hear the good, flawed, memorable and misrepresented. It’s not the truth we will get so much as a more rounded, realistic view of the games. Will the two styles of media battle each other? Contradict one another? Or will it be more complimentary? Time will tell. I for one, look forward to the differing views and coming up with my own opinions and reflections.
The political spectrum of Vancouver is diverse and its people should be, both, permitted to enjoy their Games, as well as draw attention to the perceived social injustices the Games process has highlighted and even augmented.
Let’s show the world the real Vancouver-Whistler. Not the pretty, glossy brochure one but the complex, diverse messiness that makes us fascinating. I’m betting that all these new forms of communication will give layer to our city. The more layers, the more to discover. And let me tell you, us westcoasters know a thing or two about layers.