Energy Perspectives

"Talk Energy" with Canadians

 

Stacy Wakeford, Executive Director, Strategic Engagement for the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation.

Stacy Wakeford is Executive Director, Strategic Engagement for the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, a Crown Corporation of the Government of Canada. The mandate of this organization is to foster scientific and technological literacy in Canada, which is accomplished through building and caring for a collection, and sharing knowledge with the public through exhibitions and programs at their three national museums: the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Stacy has degrees in industrial design and in criticism, and a graduate degree in comparative literature. She has been working with the science and technology museums for 14 years.         

For the past few months I’ve been talking with Canadians about energy: 

  • How important is energy to them?
  • What do they know about energy in Canada and around the world?
  • What do they wish they knew about energy and how it works?
  • What do they think Canadians should do about our energy future?

You might find it strange that a group of museums is interested in the public’s relationship with energy. But this curiosity is natural for us, because we are interested in the story of Canada – how it came to be, how it has transformed over time, and what the future might hold. And Canada’s science and technology story is an energy story! All the great narratives throughout our country’s short history are related to energy. Without fuels and energy systems, we would have no roads and railroads to connect us, no communications to help us build our political and cultural identity, no way to manufacture goods or to cultivate and transport agricultural products, no way to support innovation and build a strong economy, and no way to follow the progress of our Olympic athletes as they represent us on the other side of the world. 

I have been talking with museum curators about objects in our collection that help tell the energy story. Canadian people and organizations were responsible for many important early developments in hydro and nuclear power, and our museums are preserving special artifacts from those early days. We also have collected important new energy technologies, such as a tidal turbine, a prototype for a modern fuel-efficient aircraft design, and a modern drill bit from the oil industry. These artifacts are like bookmarks, highlighting key passages in stories about Canadian innovation, ingenuity, and our commitment to improving people’s lives at home and around the world.

I have been talking with educators and industry people about energy and how it works. And I have been talking with regular folks, of all ages and backgrounds, to find out how our museums can help them get involved in the energy story. I have actually been quite surprised to find out how interested people are in energy! They want to understand how we can make biofuels out of soybeans or other crops. Want to know “how dinosaurs turn into fuel”. They want to feel and smell the soil from the oil sands. They want to understand how electricity works, and to learn how they can help create a bright energy future for the country. I have had some great conversations that have helped me see that energy is one of the most complicated, and most important, topics of our time.

Many Canadians are very concerned about energy and how it affects things that they care about – so concerned that they have become suspicious of other perspectives. In such a polarized environment, it’s hard to have meaningful and productive conversations. After all, it’s human nature to want to avoid talking to someone who thinks we are wrong, or ignorant, or disruptive. But these “hard conversations” are the most important ones. That’s why the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation created the Let’s Talk Energy initiative, and why we are promoting a national week of dialogue. Let’s Talk Energy Week is meant to encourage people to learn about, think about, and have conversations about energy. For my part, I am making a daily pledge during the week – some small way that I will participate in the energy story every day. I’ll share my story on Twitter, and I hope you will join the conversation, too.

Let’s Talk Energy Week – It’s ON!

 

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