Windsor comes up big in The Walrus Magazine

picture-52You know how it feels to pick a magazine up, begin reading, and feel an immediate connection to the content being talked about? More than just an “I’m-going-to-cut-this-out-and-put-it-on-my-fridge,” kind of connection.

Something that makes you uneasy in your seat. An urge overcomes you to get the phone number of the article’s author or the people mentioned in the article.

Well that happened to me last night, with a twist.

I subscribe to the national magazine, The Walrus. It’s some great reading, ranging from Canadian to international stories of politics, humanity, economics, health, science, etc. I’ve been reading it for quite a while, and I’ve seen it change since its inception. I recommend you take a look if you’re wanting to know a “little more” than what the local papers tell you about the world. Ha!

So here I am, reading about a town in Germany, called Bitterfeld. A story by Chris Turner. It’s got a lot of parallels with Windsor. Except for one major thing. They are now a BOOMING, ex-industrial town, bringing in so many dollars from solar panel manufacturing that they almost don’t know what to do with all of it. I remember thinking many, many months ago that the things Sustainable South Bronx is doing could be done in Windsor, if Canadian legislators and parliamentarians made the proper changes to current energy legislation. It happened in Bitterfeld. It happened in Germany. People thought that Germany was acting too boldly by making way for these kinds of green-energy companies and initiatives…and who’s laughing now?

picture-6I just love how the conservative, stick-to-the-old-way mentality is driving the economy and environment into the shitter, and we still have the laughable propensity to keep listening to this drivel. ENOUGH ALREADY! Get on board with the rest of the bloody world, Canada! The US is sleeping. Obama (fingers crossed) might wake up that old can-do attitude, making decisions for the people instead of Wall Street and the usual suspects (cronies). But we are Canada. We can do something else. We can be an example. And better yet!! I’m in Windsor, where things seemingly can’t get worse! Why doesn’t this movement start here where all the skilled workers are!? Hello? This is THE spot to make this happen. Why are we not out wooing the green-energy companies to move to Windsor?!

Take Arise Technologies…in Ontario…even THEY moved to Bitterfeld! Because the government makes it attractive economically and legislatively! Here’s a snippet from the story about Arise:

Seemingly every green power company on the planet has set up at least part of its shop there in recent years, including Arise Technologies, a solar company headquartered in southwestern Ontario, which announced in September 2007 that it would establish its first industrial-scale production facility in eastern Germany.

I want Arise Technologies in Windsor dammit.

Without further ado, I think you should read this article for yourself. So here’s the link. WALRUS!

But the best part is yet to come.

As I read this, I was yelling inside, “This guy should mention Windsor! There are such obvious comparisons! Dammit, I wish he’d bring attention to Windsor!”

And as the article is wrapping up, not only does he mention Windsor, but he mentions none other than the very guy who’s name is in the title of my last blog post…Chris Holt!!! WTF!!!??? Chris Holt of! Windsor’s own!

It was a Christmas present.

I could taste solar energy at this point, as he drew a line connecting Windsor and Bitterfeld, Germany. It was so victorious, I wanted to spike the magazine like I would in an end-zone after a touchdown. I wanted to do a Risky Business, Tom Cruise running slide across my floor.

Here’s the second-last paragraph:

As I counted crumbling gdr guard towers on the train ride from Bitterfeld to Leipzig the evening after my tour of Solar Valley, my thoughts turned from Christian Puschmann’s boyish enthusiasm to the desperate edge I’d encountered during a recent visit to Windsor, Ontario. My host was a laid-off autoworker, a guy named Chris Holt. He was just a little older than Puschmann, I’d guess. He had two kids and a cozy house in the funky old part of town. Holt was one of only a few of his co-workers, he told me, who weren’t simply biding their time until the fix came in from enough levels of government to buy back some faded remnant of the city’s manufacturing glory. He was trying to build a green-minded grassroots revitalization movement in Windsor, but it had been slow going.


Chris Holt is responsible for this. It’s big. And we need to thank him. His e-mail is in my past posts. If you think wise of it, tell him, he’s the man.


4 responses to “Windsor comes up big in The Walrus Magazine

  1. I saw the story of this on 60 minutes about a month ago and was shocked that the factory was set to expand by many times… and that the technology had been born in Canada. World leaders are Germany in this regard, only because someone with vision had the political clout to pull it off.

    Sending our technology overseas, where it is embraced by leaders, and supported by grants and tax breaks…That’s a new definition of ‘Green Shift’!

  2. You’re too good for my ego, Tom!

    I was watching CBC’s Fifth Estate a while back and they mentioned this German dude, Herman Scheer, and like you, I was blown away and angry that we weren’t doing the exact same thing. Here’s a link to my reactionary blog post…

    My anger came to a full boil while watching CBC’s The Fifth Estate the other day. If you can afford the 42 minutes it would take to watch this episode, I highly suggest you take the time. In it, host “Bob McKeown and a fifth estate team travel to Germany to meet Hermann Scheer, called “Europe’s Al Gore,” a parliamentarian who is leading the way to increase Germany’s reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power. To date, 15% of Germany’s energy comes from renewable sources. Scheer estimates that if Germany continues on this course, by 2030 that will be 100%.“ They tell the story of Ian McClellan from Arise Technologies, a photovoltaic manufacturer who in 2006, on the brink of bankruptcy in Kitchener, Ontario, was lured to set up shop in Germany when the government offered them half of the funds ($25 million euros) to build a new plant. Today, they are in the process of building three more photovoltaic plants in Germany, where 1/3 of the globes solar cells are manufactured. Within the last ten years, Germany has witnessed a 500% increase in green energy jobs (1/4 million and counting) making the renewable energy sector their largest employer, over even auto manufacturing. “So, if one of the worlds major industrialized nations can achieve this, why can’t a country like Canada?”

    In that paragraph there is a link to the video of that segment. Watch it!

  3. The tides are turning! I saw that episode of the fifth estate as well and was completely blown away by something that is so simple – why invest in old broken unsustainable industries when we could forge a new direction, right here in Windsor, for the entire country. I still think that the only way for political will to be established is if we have to do it ourselves (run for office!). Maybe a slate of local progressives who have been lobbying and fighting for a new direction for quite some time (like Chris!).

    Anyway, as we’ve been on the path of the race to the bottom for quite some time, things are only going to get better. I’m so glad I decided to stay in Windsor and fight and organize!

  4. We’re glad you stayed too, Ron!

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