This activist shared the fact that before she had children, she spent too much of her time going through life pretending that what she was doing had any importance. Howarth felt she was putting her time into accumulating money so it was possible to decorate her home, have holidays abroad, be in cottage country on summer weekends, skiing in the winter, buying nice clothes, attending special functions. But the conversations came to hold no meaning. Sharon could not go back to that there had to be a change.
“After my time being with my family, I tried to go back to real estate,” she told me at the Toronto Reference Library, “but I was feeling my children and all young people needed me to be doing something more meaningful with my time. It had to be something that would make life better for them, rather than just be collecting money.” She then read a passage by Nelson Mandela which included, “It doesn’t serve the world to play small,” she boomed with enthusiasm.
“Most people are afraid of their power, not failure.” I felt that he wrote this for me,” Howarth continued while people passed by us. “It was as if I was being given permission to move in a direction that I felt would give my life a more worthwhile purpose”.
We both agreed Mr. Mandela emerged from a twenty five year jail sentence to become president of South Africa, all to end apartheid. “He just simply walked out of prison after 25 years and ended apartheid!” Shocking but true and few people actually realize that as fact.
Around this time, Howarth heard an advertisement on CBC radio about a planting program going on at Spadina Quay Wetlands, which took place on a Saturday. She thought planting trees could only be good for society so she decided to go. After this event, she found more opportunities for planting of native trees, plants, and restoring wetlands, many within the Toronto boundaries. including an outing on the Rouge River.
Her research also resulted in helping an organization to put up a cow fence beside a creek and joining other volunteers for Toronto Regional Conservation Authorities. She was given a specific spot at the Don River East, where she went on a monthly mission, monitoring of specific native flora and fauna.
Eventually, these planting events took her into the political arena, where decisions were made about government programs and what happens to public land. Sharon then got involved in the committees that oversaw the Don River and the Toronto Portlands.
At this juncture, the Provincial Government then proposed the Portlands Energy Centre, a gas burning power plant, be located in the Portlands. This led this activist to become informed on the issue of global warming and climate change. Being open minded, she allowed herself to be educated on the topic. “I felt something terrible was going on,” Howarth continued. “In time, this led to the realization that global warming and climate change was the most critical issue of our time.”
Government is continually looking at how they can increase tax dollars. Developers come along and say, if they are allowed to put in high rise condos, this will bring in a large amount of tax dollars for the city. This leads to approval of developments and, often, includes the sale of public land at bargain prices. “But, this is all short term thinking. A condo must have services”. She counted with her hands the things that would be needed. “You need roads, transportation, hydro, hospitals, schools, and water supply–you need infrastructure! The taxes that will be collected will never cover the cost of these, so there is a constant shortfall. Once the government sells land, it is gone from being in public hands”, she clamored, wringing her hands with energy.
“I want people to know how powerful they are, that one does not need a lot of money to make a difference, and how much fun ‘speaking-up’ can be,” she added, making a gesture to me. “I have enough to pay for a room and food. I have the FREEDOM to make a positive difference and speaking up, about what I see as a critical issue. This is my idea of recreation!
If you are interested in learning more about this topic go to http://www.citizensclimatelobby.ca/ , or call her at 416-604-5783