Volunteer Spotlight: Mel Lefebvre

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Mel began volunteering with Environment Lethbridge as our Volunteer Photographer in January of this year. We asked her to share her thoughts about sustainability, superheros and time travel.

How long have you lived in Lethbridge? 

I have lived in Lethbridge for almost two years. We moved here from Montreal for work.

Why did you choose to volunteer with Environment Lethbridge? 

I have a background in environmental advocacy, as well as a Bsc in environmental science from McGill University. I’ve always maintained a passion for the environment, and I remember being fascinated with birds and dinosaurs as a child. I have worked with the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and a handful of smaller community groups in Montreal, so getting involved with an environmental group in my new town was simply inevitable. I also have a journalism degree, and a great little camera that wasn’t being put to good use, so when I saw the callout for a photographer, I knew that was my chance to contribute to a great organization.

How would like to see Lethbridge be more sustainable? 

The recycling situation in Lethbridge is quite upsetting for an easterner like me. In Montreal, we have weekly curbside recycling and compost pickup. Moving to Lethbridge has been like a timewarp back to the 80s where so much energy is wasted debating the recycling issue. In the meantime, so much recyclable material is filling up landfill space – something our very own Mayor has said was unsustainable. The issue has been voted on three times, and shut down three times by city council. I just don’t get it, especially since smaller communities around Lethbridge have seen the logic and economic and global benefits of curbside recycling programs. Curbside recycling makes a simple conservation measure accessible for everyone, since not everyone has the means to travel to the three recycling centres the city offers (which has been scaled back from seven recycling centres!), and not everyone can afford to pay for private recycling pickup, though that’s a great option if you have the means. Recycling shouldn’t only be for people who can afford it. I find this issue very frustrating, and embarrassing!

What’s your favourite book? 

I can’t possibly pick one book. So here are a few of my favourites: Memoirs of a Geisha (Richard Golden), Year of Wonders (Geraldine Brooks), The Red Hourglass (Gordon Grice), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver), and so many others. One of my favourite genres is historical fiction with a twist, like political and biblical stories told from the female perspective (like the Red Tent and Zipporah, Wife of Moses).

If you were a superhero, what powers would you have? 

In the movie/book, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, at one point, the characters get a hold of this laser-gun-thing that, if you zap someone, they immediately understand the perspective of the person firing the gun. I think that would be a handy super power. Also, flying, because that would just be so cool.

If you could go back in time, what one thing would you change? 

Only one thing?!?!?! Oh my gosh. My altruistic answer, that has noting to do with spending my time reading instead of looking at silly pictures of cats and sloths on the Internet, would be to change the patriarchal system that reinforced the perception that women were subordinate to men.  I’m not sure when that began, I’d broadly guess it was many thousands of years ago, but it would be great to live in a world where it was just accepted, without ever having to pause for thought, that, yes, these amazing humans who can grow life inside of their bodies ARE equal to men! (By equal, that doesn’t mean ‘the same,’ btw, if we get in to that debate). The world would be a much different place. Lethbridge would probably have curbside recycling, or, heck, maybe not even the need for it because life might be more sustainable in general! Who knows. It’s a nice idea.

What would you do if you won the lottery? 

I’d probably buy a large tract of land and build a communal-style housing system so that I could live with friends and family again. In the end, I’d save so much money on plane tickets!

Where is your favourite place in Lethbridge? 

I do love the coffee shops Lethbridge has to offer, but what takes my breath away is any point in town where I can see the mountains. When I go to the Crossing branch library and turn into the parking lot, the Rockies jump out at you and it’s just mesmerizing. The coulees are also pretty cool!

Describe your perfect day. 

Right now, my perfect day would be something simple, and it would begin with lots of sleep and waking up feeling well-rested (props to my toddler who has finally been sleeping through the night!). I would then grab a cup of coffee and drink it while going for a nice, long, sunny walk. What would make the day perfect would be no time constraints, so, I can wander and meander to my heart’s content. Somewhere in the day it would be fun to find some random live music, possibly enjoyed with a picnic, then a quick kayak trip followed by a tasty meal, then wrap it all up with a book in bed.