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CLASS ACTION - Franz Hartmann: I want to change the world - NOW Toronto

Compiled by Kevin Ritchie
NOW | October 27-November 3, 2011 | VOL 31 NO 9

Franz Hartmann, Executive Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance
Photo by Cheol Joon Baek

Education: bachelor of political science, University of Waterloo; master’s and PhD in political science, York University torontoenvironment.org

I run an environmental group that helps build a green Toronto for all.

When I went to university, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. I did know I wanted to be involved in working with people to build a more environmentally sustainable and better world.

Right after I finished my undergrad degree, I took a year off before graduate school. That year (1989), David Suzuki had a radio series on CBC called It’s A Matter Of Survival. I listened every Saturday and began to realize how dangerous the situation was becoming, especially around global warming.

I wanted to do something. That was the beginning of my getting involved, not just by studying but through volunteering for environmental groups and being active.

TEA focuses on what happens in City Hall, so having understanding of how politics works and the relationship between politics and the economy – things I studied in university – has given me very useful insights.

Waste management, transportation issues and how we deal with green space help determine our relationship with nature. I mentor, lead and facilitate all three of those issues, depending on the moment and the circumstances.

Good activists can pursue policy and organizing, they can do media or depute at a city council committee meeting. First and foremost, they need to be dedicated to improving the environment in a real way that also helps people. Some think if you help the environment and you harm people in the process that’s okay, but it’s not. It’s about finding the win-win.

When it became clear that Rob Ford was going to become mayor, we tried very hard to work with him and connect with him, but he’s not engaged with environmental issues. We can’t bend over backwards to be nice to the new mayor. We said, “Here’s where we are, here’s where you are, and we need to get past that divide.”

It hasn’t worked out all that well, because the mayor hasn’t shown any interest in promoting an environmental agenda.

As originally published here:

2011-10-27 CLASS ACTION_Franz Hartmann (NOW).pdf97.47 KB