Category Archives: 2010 Olympics

Last Paradise Film Director Clive Neeson Interview

Sustainable World Radio Host Jill Cloutier interviews Clive Neeson, Director of Last Paradise Film:

Interview with Clive Neeson, director of the documentary Last Paradise.  Last Paradise contains 45 years of footage from beautiful places all around the globe, and chronicles the adventure of extreme sports pioneers.  As kids, they played in nature.  As adults, they protect it. 

http://pdcastsusworldradio.libsyn.com/last-paradise-an-eco-adventure-film


Last Paradise is a cheerful showcase of early pioneering adventures in extreme sports that doubles as a poignant look at how much our world has changed in 40 years—culturally, environmentally and technologically.  By rekindling a love of the wild and tapping the powerful forces of nature Neeson suggests tomorrows potential protectors of the planet are the kids that play in it today.

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Sarkozy Honors Sundance Kid

Nicolas Sarkozy confers French Legion of Honor on Robert Redford at Elysee Palace, October 14, 2010. Photo by Francois Mori, Pool.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday afternoon honored Robert Redford, 74 years old, with the French Legion of Honor. The Sundance Kid and film director was honored by Sarkozy for his lifetime of achievements as well as his support for the protection of the environment. Sarkozy made Redford a Knight in the Legion of Honor.

Those who love cinema long remember…(your) films, which we watch and re-watch with the same emotion each time… – Sarkozy

We need friends like you who have the courage to try to wake up people’s consciousness about the environment… – Sarkozy

Redford’s environmental activism spans back decades. It is one of the principles upon which he founded the Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival held every year in January in Park City, Utah.

Redford’s wife, Sybille Szaggers, a German born artist, accompanied him to the Elysee Palace, the official state residence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on Thursday afternoon for the intimate ceremony. Previous inductees include Clint Eastwood.

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X Games Take Over Downtown L.A….and Scream Green!

X Games 16 Skateboard Vert Men’s Final Results

Final standings from the ESPN X Games 16 Skateboard Vert Men’s event held at The Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. on July 30, 2010.

Name– Hometown– Score
1. Pierre-Luc Gagnon – Carlsbad, Calif. – 93.00
2. Shaun White – Carlsbad, Calif. – 85.00
3. Andy Macdonald – San Diego, Calif. – 79.00
4. Bucky Lasek –Baltimore, Md. –60.00
5. Sandro Dias –Santo Andre, Brazil –60.00

Jamie Bestwick at X Games 16. Credit: Pete Demos/Shazamm/ESPN Images

X Games 16 BMX Freestyle Vert Final Results

Final standings from the ESPN X Games 16 BMX Freestyle Vert Finals event held at Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. on July 30, 2010.

Name – Hometown – Score
1. Jamie Bestwick – Derbyshire, Great Britain90.00
2. Steve McCann –Melbourne, Australia80.00
3. Simon Tabron – Newquay, Great Britain80.00
4. Chad Kagy – Gilroy, Calif. – 79.00
5. Coco Zurita –Santiago, Chile – 70.00

Global Inheritance, the non-profit that thinks green and out of the box, presented attendees of ESPN’s X Games with these activities this past weekend at L.A. Live.

X Games Energy Playground. Will also be at Lollapalooza.

+++ TRASHed Recycling Store (only currency accepted is empty bottles/cans/biodegradable cups)

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Olympic Mascots 2012 London Games Unveiled Today

(London, England May 19, 2010) The 2012 Olympic Mascots were unveiled today in London. They have yet to make any announcements on record about their sustainability policies.

It is thought that London will compete with Vancouver to be the “greenest” Olympic games.

Wenlock, Orange and silver in colour, has been named after Much Wenlock, the Shropshire town whose Olympian games inspired Baron de Coubertin to establish the first games in Athens in 1896.

Mandeville is the mascot for the 2012 Paralympics, named after Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire, where the first 1948 paralympic games were conceived.

In related- green – news, London’s double-decker buses have shifted to Green Tech energy.The new design uses the latest in green hybrid technology and will be 15% more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses.  Read More HERE

Is it just us, or do these mascots look a little bit like scary Teletubbies? Watch the videos below and decide for yourself!

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Can’t See The Video? Click HERE

Can’t See The Video? Click HERE

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Olympic Echoes

Echoes of the 2010 Winter Olympics are all around. A mere 48 hours after Canada won the definitive hockey game in overtime, and the streets are filled with poignant echoes of these past two weeks of historical moments, indelible memories.

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

And how incredible those moments were, these memories are.

As people scrambled onto their trains, planes and buses this past day and a half, Vancouver has been left empty. Canada Hockey Place echoes with the glory of games won, victories lost; the Olympic Athletic Village is now bereft of its glorious inhabitants;  BC Place echoes with the emptiness of the silence left after the golden podium moments, the Neil YoungLong May You Run,” sung lyrics.

Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue

The echoes, the emptiness are a dramatic reminder that people, energy, living organisms and the essence of being alive are what animate our Earth.

And isn’t that what is at the heart of this whole discussion of the “greenest Olympic games in history.” An urban landscape, without people, people who are alive, energetic and dynamic, is simply a lonely concrete urban landscape.

Men’s Short Track Relay

To come together and celebrate the glory of a select few athletes who have trained hard to be at the pinnacle of human athletic excellence is the Olympics. It’s as much the Olympics as the competitions themselves.

To leave a lasting legacy, a healthy planet, for these young athletes and their progeny, and all of the rest of us who currently call planet Earth home, is what is at the heart of this whole carbon neutral conversation, this ongoing dialogue about Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Shaun White
St. Gelais

Whether the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games were the greenest in history is not what is the most important criteria by which to judge. What the most important criteria by which to judge is that there was significant attention placed on the importance of Greening the Olympics.  And the threads of green were evidenced throughout the games, like an intricate brocade of spun gold, in this case, spun green.

Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn

Three billion people worldwide watched the Winter Olympics. Hundreds of thousands walked the streets of Vancouver where no matter where you looked you saw recyclable trash cans, alternative energy showcases, streamlined public transportation, carbon offset programs…and pedestrians. Visitors to the Olympics no doubt learned a lot about Vancouver, and also couldn’t avoid learning about environmental practices while they were there.

Jasey Jay Anderson

The power of sporting events to galvanize people, to galvanize nations was once again on display.

On the fuel-cell powered shuttle bus ride back from the NRC fuel cell research center, I was engaged in a friendly discussion with a fellow journalist from Reuters. “Are the games really the greenest?” she asked me.  My response to her, and now, is that it depends on where you focus and it depends on your mindset.  Sure, a Zamboni or two may have malfunctioned on the ice a couple of times, but where else has it been achieved to focus 3 billion people’s attention on the issue of environmentally friendlier ways of throwing sporting events where the whole world comes to celebrate?

Women’s Curling Team, Canada
Simon Ammann, Swiss, Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky, AssociatedPress

We will leave you with one last thought.  Bio Plastic Ski Boots.

Atomic Ski Boots Made From Bio Plastics

Hnh?  Yes, although plastics are simply, for the most part, solidified oil, DuPont has come up with a Bio Plastic called Hytrel® RS. It  contains 35% to 65% renewably sourced material. The plastic is made with carbon captured from coal-factory smokestacks, some plastics can be made from 55% captured carbon; the goal is 100%.

Atomic Ski Boots manufactures the ski boots. The newest boots in the line are the Renu 110 and Renu 90. They are billed as the first carbon negative planet positive product in the ski boot world. They use a style of plastic called Pebax Renew Bio Plastic. Atomic says all components of the boots are reusable and recyclable.

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Ice Matters

Winter Olympics 2010, The Green Games

Up in Canada where ice is integral to lifestyle and where, during these 2010 Winter Olympics, it’s all about ice – ice hockey, ice skating, curling, luge, skeleton, skiing, bobsleigh … ice…ice…snow and more ice…Ice really matters.

But there’s a whole other reason why ice matters and matters in a big way. And that’s because ice is melting.

James Balog, Artist, Scientist, Explorer and Adventurer has produced his Extreme Ice Survey, a compelling time-lapse photographic presentation depicting the world’s ice melting at a speed heretofore unimagined. Balog is Olympic 2010 sponsor, Samsung Corporation’s, Eco-Ambassador.

James Balog Presents Extreme Ice Survey at Samsung Rendezvous to Vancouver School Children, Winter Games 2010

On February 16th, Canada’s Federal Government Minister of Environment, Jim Prentice [Twitter @JimPrentice] announced that they would offset the estimated 7,600 tons of GHG emissions created by the thousands of government employees participating/volunteering in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter games.

“Canada is proud to be the first host country in history to help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its Olympic Games,” said Minister Prentice. “This commitment is one of many ways our Government is contributing to sustainable Games and meeting our global climate change responsibilities.”

And while we all know, somewhere in our brains, that these numbers are significant and meaningful, it’s the visuals that really sink in.

And here’s where James Balog, a world-renowned nature photographer, can communicate the urgent nature of the state of our affairs so graphically. With his Extreme Ice Survey.

“Ice is the canary in the coal mine,” said Balog in his TED Global talk delivered in Oxford, England a few months ago.  More recently at Vancouver’s Live City he explained, “We are able to communicate the reality of Climate Change through our Extreme Ice Survey (.org) time-lapse photography essays.”

“We are encouraging government leaders to allow us to bring out the story of what the cameras are seeing,” noted Balog.

Balog has shown his Extreme Ice Survey to audiences as varied as sophisticated scientific minds at NASA to academics at Oxford to…kids from Vancouver’s Mackenzie Elementary School (pictured above in their February 23rd Eco Classroom led by Balog).

“When people see my photography of landscapes melting, they understand it immediately. From the time you are one-years-old, everyone understands melting ice. From the moment you feel an ice cube melt on your tongue, you understand the concept that warmth melts ice,” explains Balog.

Why does the melting of glaciers matter? Because they offer a tangible, visible manifestation of a dramatic change in climate that’s underway.

It’s a worldwide change; Glaciers are the visible manifestation.

Photographic documentation also provided undeniable evidence for these claims. Evidence that flies in the face of the Climate Deniers.

“Climate Gate was a ridiculously absurd and overblown event. It was a campaign of confusion and misinformation. The Climate Change deniers stepped up their game right before the Copenhagen Conference,” said Balog.

“Scientists are not wild-eyed radicals. They are everything but. History is going to judge the Climate Deniers as irresponsible, criminal even.”

“There are people who say that Obama is selling off the future of the U.S. with his big spending campaign. Climate Change Deniers are selling off the the future of our Earth’s resources,” says Balog. “You can liken the campaign of today’s Climate Change Deniers with the cigarette companies of a couple decades ago. The more the status quo makes money in their status quo industries, the more they want to preserve the status quo.”

Even giants such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates has gotten on board with the cause of climate change. At lat week’s TED conference in Long Beach, California, he said that climate change is the world’s “most vexing problem,” and expounded on the need to find a cheap and clean energy source, saying it is even more important than creating new vaccines and improving farming techniques.

For artist-adventurer James Balog, with the backing of a global electronics leader such as Samsung, he now has the means to spread his message wide and far.  His EIS has already been the subject of  a Nova/PBS TV special and a new book, Extreme Ice Now.

Balog on Photography:

We’ve been finding that visuals presented properly can captivate people in a way that the qualitative cannot. Visuals makes it real.

Eyes are the primary organ of human perception.

Numbers are an abstraction. Numbers must be processed by the brain and then interpreted. Only a small percentage of the population really speak the language of numbers easily.

Everyone gets the eye/visual thing.

Balog says that  British Columbia is one of the world’s regions on the front lines of climate change.  A private foundation recently funded a reconaissance aerial tour to observe the area between between Mt. Garibaldi and Mt. Waddington.  He admitted that he was “stunned” to discover the amount of glacial retreat there was.  He said he had never seen such dramatic change in landscape. “I have seen a lot of changing mountains but I have not seen such a change like this,” said Balog.

With his Extreme Ice Survey organization, James Balog monitors other key areas of the globe:  “We have time-lapse cameras posted in the Andes, Alps, Iceland,Greenland, N. Rockies U.S., and Alaska.”

Canada’s Minister of Environment Prentice said, “In addition to promoting sustainability at the Games, these innovative approaches will also showcase Canadian environmental technology and ingenuity to the world.”

More of VANOC’s [Vancouver Olympic Committee] and Canada’s Olympic environmental initiatives:

  • Environmental assessments of Olymipic venue sites to reduce the ecological footprint of the Games;
  • The Canada Line representing 19 kilometers rail transit system that links downtown Vancouver with central Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport funded under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Program;
  • The BC Hydrogen Highway project showcasing hydrogen and fuel-cell technology including fuel-cell vehicles and fuelling stations, and;
  • The wave roof of the Richmond Oval made from recycled wood from trees destroyed by pine beetles.

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Olympic Medalist Makes History

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For the first time in Olympic history the games partnered with a luxury jewelry company as one of the sponsors of the world competitions. Birks & Mayors, Canada’s iconic jewelry company, nearly as old as the country it has sprung from, has proved itself a Golden choice for this partnership.

Birks & Mayors,  along with Tiffany’s, has been rated #1 by the internationally recognized Earthworks organization for their adherence to the Golden Rules, a set of social, environmental, and human rights principles that are part of the No Dirty Gold campaign which guides more responsible and ethically sourced gold production. “Responsible is beautiful” is their motto and the reasoning behind their multiple programs to give back to the environment and the community.

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Birks & Mayors, a “world-class brand with heart,” has done more than simply gift 42,000 pieces of fine jewelry to the Olympic family, they have also stepped forward with designs commemorating the games, from charm bracelets fashioned with 3D replicas of the Olympic mascots, to pendants inspired by the Four Host First Nations artistic symbols, to a complete line of earrings, pendants and bracelets designed by Brand Ambassador and Olympic Silver Medalist, Canadian Jenn Heil.

Heil was asked by Birks & Mayors to not only be the brand ambassador for the Olympic games but also to design a line of jewelry. She chose to use the five rings of the Olympics as her design motif. Five percent of the proceeds from these pieces are donated to the Canadian Olympic Committee to benefit the Olympics and Paralympics.

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“Everyone at Birks & Mayors have been so behind me. Thanks to Birks for trusting me and giving me carte blanche when it came to designing the Olympic-inspired jewelry designs.”

She explained that the five rings, each with a distinctive demarcation imprinted on the silver rings, symbolize:

1. Dream – “It’s important that we dream big and that we go after our dreams.”
2. Focus – the design motif is like “a target.”
3. Team – to symbolize that a great achievement such as the Olympics are a “team effort”
4. Courage – “It takes a lot of courage to go after our own dreams, carrying with us our own values.”
5. Joy – “I constantly have this bubbling up feeling of joy with everything I do. That feeling of joy needs to come with me everywhere I go and with everything I do.”

Heil spoke to an assembled crowd of journalists and dignitaries recently on a bright Vancouver morning.

Mr. Thomas Andruskevich, President and CEO of Birks & Mayors, said to Heil, “You not only won the Medal, you won the hearts of all Canadians.”

The Honorable Gary Lunn, Minister of State Sport & 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games, said, “The relationship we’ve had with Birks is amazing. They’ve been very involved in the torch celebration. Fifteen million Canadians came out at some point along the torch relay to welcome it here in Canada. Birks made the commemorative plaques that now mark the route all across our country.” He also had nothing but great esteem for Heil, of whom he said, “A more genuine human being as you’d ever like to meet.”

Heil’s values match those of the iconic Birk’s: playful, stylish, fluid fun. And ethical. In 2003 Birks subscribed to the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, a commitment to the long-term sustainability of Canada’s Boreal region. In addition, their Mammoth Tusk Gold program, “includes partnering with the local mining community and respecting their right to engage, with self determination, in every aspect of the mining operation.  This initiative is not only a pledge but a certified operational business practice unique to Birks.”

For More Information About the Green Gold Standard, Read Here.

In addition, Canada’s North West Territories are the world’s third largest producer of rough-cut diamonds. They are clean diamonds, as opposed to much of Africa’s “blood diamonds.” In 2008 over $2 billion diamonds were produced from the region.  Read More Here about North West Territory Diamonds.

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Whistler Wins With Biodiversity

Lindsey Vonn Wins Gold at Whistler Blackcomb 2010 Winter Olympics

Lindsey Vonn, who just moments ago took Olympic Gold for the U.S. in women’s downhill skiing, did so up at Whistler-Blackcomb mountain.  She started from the No. 17 position and  completed the long, 2,939-metre course in one minute, 44.19 seconds. She was 0.56 seconds ahead of her teammate Julia Mancuso, who was the 10th skier down, and a full 1.46 seconds ahead of the bronze medal winner Elisabeth Goergl of Austria.

Whistler plays host during these 2010 Winter Olympics to some of the most exciting sports of the competitive games:  Bobsleigh, Luge and  Men’s and Women’s downhill Alpine skiing and .  It bills itself as the “best ski and snowboard resort in North America.”  It is also playing host mountain resort for the Paralympic games.

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Runs

Locals will ask, “You know what they say about Whistler?” And then they’ll tell you: “The billionaires kicked out the millionaires.”

Whistler-Blackcomb is celebrating more than the Olympics this year. It is also celebrating the International Year of  Biodiversity in 2010.  Residents from the local Resort Municipality of Whistler are working to reduce biodiversity loss and protect habitats.

Biodiversity is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities. This weakens the ability living systems, upon which we depend, to provide us with food, fuel, medicine and other life essentials.

Whistler has a biodiversity challenge. You can check it out at: Whistler

And if you are a skiier as well as an Olympic enthusiast, keep in mind that more than 90 per cent of Whistler Blackcomb’s terrain will remain open to recreation skiers during  the Olympic Games.

The Olympics’ participating countries and also Canada’s Provinces are all hosting hospitality houses for the athletes, their friends, families and fans.  Today is Alberta Day and the Province is running the Alberta Train from Vancouver to Whistler every day during the games, to help eliminate CO2 emissions from vehicle exhaust pipes that might otherwise be driven up and down the mountain.  Home to more than just the country’s repository of Natural Gas reserves, Alberta’s cities of Calgary and Edmonton both have healthy environmental agendas.  In addition, the Alberta House in Vancouver has been built with environmentally friendly design. The reclaimed wood lattices that adorn the outside of the building will all be donated and re-purposed once the building is turned back over to the original owner. The owner, a native Albertan, is also pleased with the interior upgrades the House designers bestowed on her business; upgrades that will be left intact once the Olympic Team packs up and leaves.

Whistler’s Austrian Passive House

Austria has gone all out up in Whistler with its hospitality house.  It built the Austria Passive House as one of only 12 passive houses in all of North America.  Their mission, “to enable the future with the help of innovative and ecological ideas.”

Your task is not to foresee the future but to enable it.   – Antoine de Saint Exupery

The 2,700 square foot house was inspired by traditional building of the country’s Alpine Regions, is a south-facing structure and is covered with a gable roof. The passive house was built using ecologically sustainable materials and without any glues, using instead diagonally dowelled fir structures.

The patented DD-Diagonal Dowel system is an example of the superb craftsmanship on display throughout the house. Natural insulating materials such as cork and sheep’s wool are used for the houses, windows and doors are made out of wood. These factors contribute to the top-quality ventilating system that’s at the core of every APG house and offers a “climatic spa” healthy living environment.

The Austria House was built as a “Legacy House” meaning that after the Olympic games are over, it will be handed over to the Resort Municipality of Whistler to become the home of the Whistler Nordic Ski club and the Whistler Outdoor Recreational Cycling Association (WORCA) in the summer.  The Austrian Passive House Group and the Resort Municipality of Whistler worked together to develop this Legacy House.  It expects to be a role model in Canada insofar as the house’s energy efficiency goes and claims to represent an “archetype of ecological architecture.”

And over on that Other Mountain (Cypress)

Everyone tuned into the Olympics is excitedly anticipating U.S. Snowboarding magi Shaun White’s upcoming run later today. On Monday, America’s Seth Wescott won, in an upset, the men’s Olympic snowboard cross gold medal. Mike Robertson of Canada took Silver in the same competition.

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Canada Owns The – Gold – Podium

Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada’s Olympic Gold Medalist, First to Win Gold on Home Soil, Ever

Marking Olympic History, Alexandre Bilodeau is the first Canadian in history to win Olympic Gold on Canada’s home soil.

“It will be a special moment tonite,” says the Olympic Gold Medalist at a COC press conference today, referring to the Medal ceremonies. “Obviously I have goosebumps inside to touch an Olympic Gold Medal. I looked at Jenn’s [Heil] medal  but I didn’t touch it.”

The humble and self-reflective Bilodeau credits his older brother, who suffers from cerebral palsy, with inspiring him. He says his brother wakes up with a big smile and goes to bed with a big smile. “Whenever I feel like complaining I just shut up and get on with it. My brother is such an example of perserverence and happiness,” said Bilodeau. That perserverence has paid off…now the young 23 year old has won Olympic Gold for Canada, on home soil, in downhill Mogul skiing. “This medal is for my brother,” said Bilodeau.

Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada’s Olympic Gold Medalist

“The first Olympic Gold Medal for Canada is not worth more than the second or the third…”

In conjunction with the Canada Olympic Committee’s Own The Podium program, a group of Canadian businessmen got together after Salt Lake City and formed B2Ten.  This B2Ten project is one of  private business mentoring and supporting a select group of elite athletes with the goal of winning Olympic and other world-class sports feats and medals.

B2ten supports athletes by providing access to training resources, support services and technology that  meet the specific needs of each athlete.

Since it’s inception in 2005, B2ten-supported athletes have delivered a long-list of World Cup, World Championship and Olympic medals for Canada.

Bilodeau is quick to acknowledge the incredible support as an athlete he has received from both the B2Ten and Own The Podium programs, working in conjunction with the COC. Support came in the form of extra physio, massage, training, mentoring, and even bio-mechanic expertise.  And the business leaders who fund the B2Ten ask for nothing in return – no logos displayed on the athlete’s uniforms, no formal or public recognition. They just ask that the athletes do their best. “I’ve been having cocktails with the biggest business leaders in Canada; people who themselves have thousands of people who work for them, who they are responsible for.” He says this helped him prepare for the pressure of competing in the Olympics on behalf of his country. “I thought of that in preparing for my run down the mountain.”  A run that won Bilodeau, and Canada, the first-ever Olympic Gold Medal on home ground.

Tonight, at B.C. Place when he is awarded his medal, he will be standing on a wooden podium harvested through sustainable forest management. The Province of British Columbia is a leader, worldwide, in sustainable forest management.  Each podium was assembled from more than 200 pieces and built from one of 18 different wood types donated by communities from all over the Province, including companies, individuals and First Nations. Twenty-three podiums will be at 11 venues.  There will be nightly ceremonies at B.C. Place to award the victors their Olympic Medals.

“It’s just the beginning of a big party for me right now,” acknowledges Bilodeau, who admitted to getting a whole 3 hours of sleep in the 24 hours following his historic run.  Even Premier Campbell was on hand to congratulate the Olympian.  “All of us in Vancouver were up until 3 a.m. celebrating with you,” rasped the Premier of B.C. whose voice had gone slightly hoarse over the celebrations. “You make us all proud. And give my best to your brother.”

Peter Judge of the COC remarked that, “I’ve seen many extraordinary accomplishments but what I saw last night will live in my memory forever.” Judge has been a strong advocate of both the Own The Podium and B2Ten programs for the Canadian athletes. He pointed out that the technical expertise lent to the teams resulted in the downhiill mogul skiing, as a sport, being measured also by optical timers, a refinement that has had impactful results on the sport.

Today, February 15th, also marked B.C. Clean Energy Day.  Premier Campbell and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Blair Lekstrom, resident of Dawson’s Creek, were on hand to announce several clean energy programs for the Province today. British Columbia operates on 90% renewable energy.

British Columbia the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber, paper and bio-energy products that help mitigate climate change and provide innovative solutions to green building and energy needs.

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Canada Owns The Podium

Jenn Heil, Vancouver 2010, Olympic Silver Medalist, On Right, Kristi Richards, Olympic Athlete; Photo Courtesy BCMC

“And while the pursuit of athletic excellence is the point, the Olympics are  a celebration of the fundamental aspects that unite people.” – P.M. Stephen Harper

Sustainability is a concept that has wide applications.  Presently you often hear it used in the context of environmental programs. However, “sustainability” can be applied to a wider band of disciplines, such as sports. Here in Canada, at the 2010 Olympics, the idea of sustainable podium performances is what defines their Own The Podium program.

Jenn Heil, the Canadian Team’s first claimer of Olympic metal, stated consistently that “Own The Podium really gives us the support to win the medal for Team Canada.”  Heil gleefully announced at a February 14th press conference that “Canada’s medal train has now left the station!” She will be awarded the Silver at this evening’s first 2010 Olympic Games medal ceremony for her mogul skiing performance at last night’s Cypress Hill competition. Follow the Canadian Team on Twitter: COT_ALL_UPDATES.

Own the Podium is an innovative and collaborative initiative without precedent in Canadian sport. It was created to bring together the key parties involved in leading and funding excellence in Canadian sport, with specific emphasis on achieving excellence at Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Jenn Heil, Vancouver 2010, Olympic Silver Medalist, Photo Courtesy BCMC

Kristi Richards, also an Olympic Contender, and the 2007 World Champion for women’s moguls, has put her momentum behind sustaining athletes by starting her own “Supporting The Dream Legacy Fund.”  She explained that her hometown of Summerland, B.C. stood so strongly behind her while she developed as an athlete that she decided to start a foundation which has the kids fundraising for themselves. “Through the Adopt An Athlete program, I actually turned it back around for the kids. I help them fundraise and then the funds go back to develop them as athletes.” Her program is known as the I Can Be Legacy Fund. She showed true Olympian sportsmanship, taking her competitive crash in stride and acknowledging that it allowed her “a second start. I got to get the crowd excited again.”  She’s also a supporter of the 1 Step Foundation, a sports oriented environmental foundation.

On this Valentine’s Day 2010, love is in the air. Love for team, love for country and love for the competitive spirit of athletes,… that spirit that pushes us, as the human race to achieve unprecedented excellence.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invested a personal presence to these historic winter games. He has shown up at the Olympic Village to galvanize his team to win gold and bring home medals for Canada in 2010; he also “waited for about 10 minutes in the rain, with his daughter” to congratulate Jenn Heil on her win, she said, the heartfelt appreciation apparent on the athlete’s face.

Appreciation, recognition and support are all ingredients that form the alchemy of sustainability.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and wife Mrs. Laureen Harper, along with the Right Honorable Michaellle Jean, Governor General of Canada, whose official duty it was to open the Olympic Games of 2010 in Vancouver,  hosted heads of state at an Olympic Reception just prior to the opening ceremonies in downtown Vancouver Feb. 12th.

Faster, Better, Higher…than has ever been attained by human beings before… is what these assembled Olympians, from across the globe, are here to achieve, the Prime Minister reminded the gathering at the special reception hosted in the city’s downtown Fairmont Hotel. Just below the second story windows, a crowd of several hundred protesters to the games had gathered just prior to Opening Ceremonies. Thousands more, all suporters of the games,  jammed the streets, decked out in Canadian flags, Olympic Gear, their country’s colors and maple leafs on their way to watch live or view on humongous outdoor/indoor screens peppered across the city,  the Opening Ceremonies to the games.

Opening Ceremonies, the first ever to be held indoors, were a spectacle, as in the Francophone take on the word, “Spectacular.”

Dignitaries on hand included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and V.P. Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden. Dignitaries and representatives from other countries in attendance included Belarusse, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, France, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, USA, Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom, Cayman.

Canada’s P.M. Stephen Harper welcomed the international delegation to “one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world,” speaking in both French and English.

He described the 5500 Olympic athletes as a “colorful procession that showcases how easily disparity can be swallowed up by a sporting event.”

He continued by saying, “And while the pursuit of athletic excellence is the point, the Olympics are  a celebration of the fundamental aspects that unite people.”

He cited the feel-good example, being used concurrently in a running Visa commercial, of the Turin Games’ Sarah Renner who broke her ski pole and was then aided by the Norwegian Olympic coach who sprang forward  to lend her his. This type of sportsmanship is what sports should be all about, he concluded.

The somberness of the day’s events, however, were not to be ignored.

“There are also moments that break your heart – such as today’s death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, Georgia’s Luge athlete’s death. These athletes live the Faster, Better, Higher credo, meaning Faster, Better, Higher than has ever been attained by human beings before. These aspirations, he said, come at certain costs.”

Canada’s Harper ended his greeting to his international guests by observing a minute of silence in respect for the Georgian Athlete.

Governor General:  “Thank you so much for standing together with Canadians.The Olympics are a celebration of solidarity among all peoples. To honor the best in all of us. “

Right Honorable Michaellle Jean, Governor General of Canada also spoke first in French and then in English when she told her guests that “The world is yearning for change, the kind of change to uplift us. The kind of change with which everyone everywhere can achieve their highest potential. The Olympic flame was received and greeted with so much fellowship and community.” she noted.  “Humanity is linked in a cosmic circle of interdependence, with the shared values of:  peace, inclusion, solidarity all at the core of Olympic values.”

These values have been expressed in more than words.  For the first time in Olympic history a third brand, the brand of the Four Host Nations Society, in addition to  the IOC and the host city of Vancouver – has been allowed official Olympic communications.

Shawn Atleo

For Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, this is significantly meaningful. “These games are about sports, arts and our culture. It’s about bringing it all together and putting it out there for the world to see. This is what these Winter Games are all about for us.”  He spoke to guests gathered at a fashion show celebrating First Nations fashion designers Dorothy Grant, Pamela Baker and Angela DeMontigny on February 13th just as Jenn Heil was winning silver for her country.

Sophie Pierre, Chief Commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission, commented that seeing the Opening Ceremonies to the 2010 Olympics were once-in-a-lifetime memorable. “They gave us all a drum, drumstick, a battery-powered candle and white cape as we entered B.C. Place. All 55,000 of us. It’s how they created the effect of snow and ice as a backdrop for the ceremonies,” she explained, adding that the audience participation was unprecedented. A friend and guest of Dorothy Grant’s at her fashion show, she remarked that she wondered when will we see a male First Nations fashion designer?”

During this hyper-competitive time, when countries from around the world are assembled to display the zenith performances of their athletes, Canada once again displayed its quality for compassion when the crowd of Maple-leaf-bearers began to applaud for U.S.’s Hannah Kearney who took gold this round after finishing 22nd in Turin.G

***It is estimated that 24 million Canadians watched the Opening Ceremonies.  In a country whose population totals just over 30 Million, that’s enormous solidarity!  More Info at CTV

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