Shifting Gears: Youth & Sustainable Transportation

Post by Actualizing Change program participant Karen. Full album of Youth Summit photographs by Mateusz Blach available at:


I asked for CYH’s support to help me make a podcast about youth leading the way on creating sustainable transportation options. My aim is to document (and eventually share) stories from youth involved in sustainable transportation, by interviewing them in person while we were convened at the Leading the Way Youth Summit (held in Calgary from May 10 to 12th at the University of Calgary).

Karen rides the C-Train for the first time with Calgary transit planner Desmond Bliek and podcast guest Paul Hillsdon. (Photo © Mateusz Blach, Face/Nod)

I’m happy to report that I was able to carve out time from the Summit’s extremely packed schedule of lectures, groups projects and keynote speakers, to record five interviews with Youth Summit participants, each lasting approximately 15 minutes. During these interviews, I spoke to the delegates about what actions they had taken in their local communities, what inspired them to do so, and what they see on their horizon for continuing to advance sustainable transportation where they live. I also connected and got to know others working on sustainable transportation in a number of ways (as professionals, as community members, and hybrids) closer to where I make my home here in Vancouver.

My goal in setting out to make this podcast was simple: help youth to celebrate and get to know each other’s work in making sustainable transportation delightful, welcoming and enjoyable in their community. Growing up and spending almost my entire life in Vancouver, I am well-acquainted with the benefits associated with not being dependent on a car. Whether it’s getting to enjoy my city and neighbourhood’s public spaces and natural assets, having money for my vital non-transportation expenses (like knitting), staying active and healthy by walking and cycling regularly, or being confident in the quality of the air me and my loved ones are breathing, I recognize and am grateful for their legacy of a, for the most part, livable city. (Nobody’s perfect.)

Karen and a breakout group brainstorms bicycle network improvements around a Calgary transit-oriented development site. (Photo © Mateusz Blach, Face/Nod)

As I learned more about planning and sustainable transportation, it became quickly clear to me that this was far from the norm for cities growing across Canada and North America (or indeed, even in many other parts of the Metro Vancouver region). Seeking out participants for the podcast, I came to realize how much I could learn from my interviewees and delegates about living in places across Western Canada. Sustainable transportation, I soon learned, is just one thread of truly fascinating stories of how towns and communities are growing and coming into their own as places people love, cherish, want to stay in and want to see succeed, sustainably, in the long-term — and that sustainable transportation is a key component to bringing that about.

Right now, I’m in the process of editing the podcasts and scripting introduction segments for the podcasts. This will ensure that the interviews are accessible and interesting, both for people who are new to the topic, as well as for those who might already know a thing or two about transportation. I’m excited to get to share what I’ve heard — and when the podcasts are available, I look forward to hearing what how people like them and how I can improve them, to get better at making more!