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Nelson woman launches fundraising campaign to awaken the electorate

Laura Sacks (left) and Barbara Bergen hold a copy of Tom Rand's book. — Michael Jessen photo

Following a hectic 27-year career in the world of TV commercial production, Barbara Bergen chose the relative calm of designing and manufacturing cremation urns.

She left behind 14-hour days and a constantly ringing cell phone in the big city of Calgary for the small city seclusion of Nelson.

But her placid life was shattered one night in April after listening to a talk by climate change expert Tom Rand.

Now Bergen is back in the business, hoping for one more chance to deliver the goods.

She has started an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the cost of a documentary film about Rand and three TV public service announcements asking voters to choose candidates who have a plan for dealing with climate disruption.

Her newly launched passion project to both save the planet and influence how you vote comes with a price tag of $97,000.

With a June 6 deadline to make her dream happen, Bergen is counting on social media and word of mouth to reach thousands of supporters. (After nine days, 20 people have contributed $4,430.)

If you want to help Bergen take her idea to market, go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/waking-the-frog-a-documentary-film-ad-campaign/x/10680981 and make a donation. Then use social media like Facebook and Twitter to help the cause go viral.

Rand is the author of Waking the Frog: Solutions for Our Climate Change Paralysis as well as a renowned cleantech investment advisor and entrepreneur.  His talk in Nelson enthralled an audience of 300 – but especially Bergen.

Helpless to hopeful

“I went from helpless to hopeful,” she said in a recent interview, sipping tea at her plank dining room table. “He converted me.”

Bergen contacted Laura Sacks, the Nelson area organizer for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby which had sponsored the Rand talk.

Sacks immediately came on board with Bergen’s idea.

“Lately I think a lot about the ripple effect of our actions,” said Sacks. “Imagine our impact when we fund this campaign and get the message to a broader audience, these ripples can turn into huge waves of change.”

Bergen admits to being “slow to ramp up concern” about global warming but “sat up and took notice” after viewing Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth and Leonardo DeCaprio’s The Eleventh Hour.

“But I was always busy with work and felt our government was going to look after it.”

Bergen said Rand distilled the problem and outlined a map of solutions.

“I was deeply affected by Rand’s talk,” she said, adding “I came away inspired with hope that we actually can do something.

“Tom’s message absolutely has to get out there in the mainstream media.”

Insurance for the planet

What really struck a chord with Bergen was Rand’s comparison of taking care of the environment just like people take care of their homes and cars – with insurance.

“That’s something everyone can comprehend,” she said. “And the price is a cup of coffee and a donut per person per week. If we subsidize developing countries, it’s a cup of coffee and five donuts a week.

“That’s not very much to pay for the planet’s insurance when you think about it,” she adds. “That distills the problem down to a solution.”

Bergen is firmly convinced that Canada’s federal government has to become more concerned about climate change.

“Tom gave us the tools with a carbon tax as a first step. Green bonds for financing the transition from fossil fuels are another,” she said. “I know a lot of people would love to put their RRSPs in green bonds.”

Bergen said Rand’s examples of successful Canadian renewable energy companies like Sparq Solar, Woodland Biofuels, Hydrostor and Morgan Solar illustrate that the transition is possible.

These climate change solutions exemplify the information Bergen sees as vital knowledge that voters need to know about before the scheduled October federal election.

Scripts for three public service announcements about how to transition to clean energy are being prepared pro bono by an advertising agency.

Vote for candidates with solutions

“We must vote for the candidates who will present meaningful solutions to climate change, not vote for those who we think will win,” she said.

With 20 years experience in Toronto and seven in Calgary as a line producer and executive producer, Bergen has worked with a world class roster of directors on projects that have won Bessies, Clios, a London International and a Cannes Lion.

Now she’s back, plugging a product and wanting to give people and the planet a bang for the buck.

“It’s about the most important and worthy project that could be found,” Bergen concludes.

“This is something that we can all do collectively to work toward a better future,” adds Sacks.

“Even if you can’t contribute directly, we would greatly appreciate you spreading the word to your friends, family, and social networks. Together we can make a difference.”