It was an invitation on Facebook that committed Katie Peddell to turning off
your lights. She's also committed to turning off her lights, the lights of
all her friends, and to celebrate just being with friends sans technology.

Katie Peddell is president of Georgian College Students Council. It was in
this capacity she was browsing the net in search of team building
activities. She stumbled on Earth Hour. First held in Sydney, Australia,
last March, Earth Hour saw 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses turn away
from all electricity and technology for just one hour. It reduced the
city's energy consumption by 10.2%, the equivalent of taking 48,000 running
cars of the road for an hour.

The more Katie researched, the more determined she became that Barrie could
also be a city-wide participant in Earth Hour.

This year it's on March 29 from 8 to 9 pm. Earth Hour has gone global this
year and Canada is the leading nation with more than 35 cities having agreed
to participate. Cities like toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver
have committed to support action for climate change by turning off lights at
the CN Tower, Ontario Place, Toronto Eaton Centre, the Royal York Hotel,
Honest Ed's, and on and on. A celebration gathering will be held at Nathan
Phillips Square.

www.earthhour.org was launched by the World Wildlife Fund in December and
since doing so, over 47,000 individuals and 2,600 businesses have signed on
to participate across Canada.

Katie Peddell became so committed to this venture that she took it to a
college meeting where VP Bob Kennedy redirected her to Sybil Goruk of the
Barrie Chamber of Commerce. Sybil invited Katie to reach many business
owners at the Mayor's lunch in February and Katie was quick to agree. So,
at every plate around every table was a letter from Katie with an invitation
to participate in Earth Hour.

"See your world in a whole new light," says Katie, inviting individuals and
businesses to register on www.earthhour.org and begin to plan individual or
group activities in celebration of our planet.

While it certainly raises awareness about how much electricity we consume,
this one hour commitment can bring together neighbours who can sit around a
fire, enjoying candlelight or lanterns, and playing games like our
grandparents did. Or, families can barbecue dinner and eat by candlelight,
ignoring cell phones, blackberries, emails, computers... it all goes off.
Even Facebook.

This will be something like the great eastern seaboard blackout of three
years ago when a warm August day turned into the energy-sapper that turned
out our lights. Benefit? People saw stars, some kids saw them for the
first time. People enjoyed the quiet. They went outside in the quiet. And
funny thing, they cared about each other.

Earth Hour promises a similar experience. First, commit. Then, sign up.
Then plan for your one hour of energy inactivity and get ready to have an
enjoyable time.

I'd love to hear about how you spend Earth Hour, and about your kids'
reactions to this.

And Katie? Thanks for waking Barrie up to this opportunity to participate.

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